There is a new ComRes poll in tomorrow’s Independent, with topline figures of CON 36%(-3), LAB 25%(+3), LDEM 19%(+1). Others are collectively on 20%.

The topline figures would appear to show a swing back towards Labour – the 11 point lead is still enough for the Conservatives to secure an overall majority, but is the lowest Conservative lead since the end of last month. However, it’s important to note that ComRes have made a substantial change to their methodology this month.

Regular readers will know that ComRes used to use a method of past vote weighting that was quite confusing, and which seemed to result in them weighting to different targets each month. That’s now gone, and they are now weighting recalled past vote to a target made up 75% of the last general election result, and 25% the average of ComRes’s last 12 polls. My expectation is that this should result in some more consistent, less volatile figures.

ComRes’s new past vote weighting should on paper be almost identical to ICM’s method. Note that this doesn’t mean ComRes’s methodology is entirely comparable to ICM’s – there are still important differences. ComRes use a “squeeze question” to coax intentions out of people who don’t give a voting intention, ICM don’t. Secondly, ICM then rellocate 50% of don’t knows to the party they voted for in 2005. ComRes reallocate don’t knows to the party they identify with (and, as far as I can tell, they re-allocate all of them).

Other questions in the poll included which party people trusted more to “decide where spending cuts should be made” – 31% said the Conservatives, 21% Labour and 14% the Lib Dems, so pretty much in line with voting intention.

UPDATE: Full tables are here.

There is a new YouGov poll in today’s People newspaper. Topline figures, with changes from YouGov’s last poll, are CON 40%(+2), LAB 24%(-1), LDEM 17%(-1). As with YouGov’s Friday poll, the changes are all within the margin of error and given that the fieldwork for this must have taken place only a day or two later than YouGov’s last poll, I expect that’s all the difference it down to.

Norwich’s University & College Union have commissioned an ICM poll for the forthcoming by-election in Nowich North. The topline voting intention figures for the by-election are (with changes from the general election shares of the vote) CON 34%(+1), LAB 30%(-15), LDEM 15%(-1), Green 14%(+11).

This is the equivalent of an 8 percent swing to the Conservatives, pretty much in line with national polling at the moment, though beneath those figures the actual shift has almost all been from the Labour party over to the Greens. The sample size was only 500 (and once don’t knows, unlikely to votes and so on were taken out, the voting figures were based on only 294), so there’s a hefty margin of error, but the Conservatives start the race slightly ahead.

This is of course an early poll – the by-election campaigning has barely started and Labour haven’t even named their candidate. 18% of the people ICM contacted weren’t even aware there was a forthcoming by-election, and 24% said they didn’t know how they would vote (as usual ICM re-allocate a proportion of these people based on how they voted at the last election, without this adjustment the figures would have been CON 35%, LAB 28%).

New YouGov poll

YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph has been published. The topline figures, with changes from YouGov’s most recent poll, are CON 38%(-2), LAB 25%(+1), LDEM 18%(nc). There is a slight fall in Conservative support, but the changes are well within the margin of error. Support for other parties doesn’t seem to be subsiding much yet at 19%.

The Telegraph’s report is here, but only contains a few more findings. David Cameron leads Gordon Brown as best PM by 35% to 18%, the poll also asked whether people would prefer tax rises or lower public spending – 31% said less spending, 12% higher taxes and 48% a mixture of the two.

Economic Optimism #2

As promised, it’s time to take a wider look at economic optimism again.

The graph above shows four regular monthly trackers of economic optimism. GfK NOP and Ipsos MORI both ask people each month if they think the economy will get better or worse over the next 12 months – these are the net figures of those thinking better minus those thinking worse. TNS ask a similar question for the Nationwide, but asking about the next 6 months. YouGov in the Telegraph polls ask about how people think their own household will fare over the next 12 months.

Since we last looked at the graph in April, you can see the nacent turnaround in economic optimism then has grown into a full scale recovery now. MORI is so far the only company to show net economic optimism in positive territory, but everyone shows the public becoming more and more optimistic about what lays in store for the economy. Note that this doesn’t mean people are optimistic about the economy now – other questions show people still think it’s in a pretty dire state – but they do think things will improve in the next twelve months.

What does this mean politically? It’s harder to say than people think. The naive response is to assume the economy getting better means the government recover support – after all, the economy going down the pan damaged their support, didn’t it? In a fair world it would, and I suspect to some extent it does, since optimism is likely to make people feel warmer towards the fear in charge than despair. However, the Major government notably failed to make any political recovery to match the economic recover at the tail end of the last Conservative government, and a good argument can be made that people thinking the recession is ending will make them less risk adverse and more willing to risk a change of government.

Speculation aside, let’s look at the figures. Here, once again, we have the average of the economic confidence figures, and Labour’s average lead in the polls each month.

Still some relationship there at the early stages – Labour went down at about the same time, recovered a bit at about the same time and so on. The relationship seems to break down entirely though from the start of this year: economic confidence has returned, but doesn’t seem to have done Labour any favours at all. It appears economic troubles dragged the government down, but there’s no sign yet of economic recovery picking them up again.