No – don’t get excited – tonight’s poll doesn’t show one. Today’s YouGov poll for the Sun has perfectly normal topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 42%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 6%. Once again it is well within the range of the 9-10 point leads that YouGov have been showing for the past couple of months.
As yet there is no sign of any Olympic effect. I wouldn’t necessarily expect one, but I wouldn’t rule one out either, in the same way we saw a (brief) Jubilee effect straight after the Jubilee weekend. Two things to remember:
First, why these things happen. After the Jubilee I saw several comments saying how absurd it was that it affected the polls. Why would someone think “Oh look, the Queen has been there a long time, better vote Tory”? Well, that would be absurd, but the reasons things like this can affect the polls is more straightforward. First there is a general feel good factor – if people feel generally more positive about the country and the way things are going they may be more likely to support the incumbent government. Secondly, and in my opinion probably more significant, is the absence of bad news – looking back over recent months an average month for the government has at least a few party rows, a couple of controversial policies, a spattering of bad news, perhaps a rebellion and, on recent form, a U-turn or two. With the Olympics totally dominating all news coverage the next couple of weeks will have significantly fewer of all those things, so you can imagine how the absence of bad news may have an effect.
Secondly, remember that if there is an Olympic effect on the polls it will be probably be temporary. The Jubilee effect, if it ever existed, only lasted a couple of days. A positive feeling from a big national event fades; once the Olympics and silly season are over the normal news agenda and the trail of bad news stories that governments have to cope with will resume. If the Olympics does have an effect, it is unlikely to be long lasting.
UPDATE: I haven’t seen it mentioned on twitter or by the Indy, but the voting intention fgures from ComRes’s monthly poll have now appeared on their website here. Topline figures, with changes from their previous telephone poll a month ago, are CON 33%(nc), LAB 44%(+2), LDEM 10%(-3), Others 13%(+1). Certainly no sign of any Olympic boost there either!