Weekly polling review: Labour standing still at best
We’re back to five polling companies this week, with the usual daily polls from YouGov and one each from Lord Ashcroft, Populus, Opinium and Ipsos Mori. The average of this week’s numbers gives the following for each party (change from last week’s figures given in brackets):
- Con: 33.4 (+0.1)
- Lab: 32.7 (-0.2)
- LD: 7.5 (+0.2)
- UKIP: 14.4 (+0.3)
- Green: 6.5 (+0.4)
While the normal caveats apply, it’s notable that in the course of the past five of these weekly polling averages we’ve never seen Labour’s support increase: the best the party has managed is standing still, but otherwise it’s been a constant (if gentle) decline since 13 February’s high of 33.9 per cent. As the figures indicate, it’s hardly a rout, but at the same time it’s not what the party needs.
The Conservatives, by contrast, do seem to be making modest progress, but the pace of their advance is such that even if it represents a genuine trend and one that continues until May it won’t be enough to secure them a majority.
Given the two main parties have only seen minor changes to their level of support this week, the projected share of seats in the new parliament remains the same as last week:
- Conservatives: 284 (38 short of majority)
- Labour: 279 (43 short of majority)
- LD: 16
- SNP: 48
- Other: 23
Assuming the recent trends observed for both Labour and the Conservatives are real, and assuming they continue more or less unchanged until the election (admittedly a big if, but bear with me) then the outcome is still likely to be a hung parliament, albeit with the Conservatives in a much stronger position.
If Labour support falls to 31 per cent and the Conservatives manage 35 per cent then the latter would still be around 15 seats short of an outright majority, but could manage to put together a coalition without the need to rely on the SNP. Such a coalition would need the support of the Liberal Democrats and probably some of the Northern Ireland parties as well, so it would not necessarily be a particularly stable solution.
Of course, there’s still a long time between now and May and we still have a few weeks to go before the dissolution of parliament at which point the campaign will begin in earnest. What is clear is that unless one of the two main parties can open up a substantial lead a hung parliament remains the most probable outcome.