Weekly polling review: No Budget bounce for Osborne
Five organisations have released national polls this week: YouGov, Lord Ashcroft, Populus, Panelbase, Opinium and ComRes. The average of this week’s numbers gives the following for each party (change from last week’s figures given in brackets):
Con: 33.9 (+0.7)
Lab: 33.8 (+0.7)
LD: 7.5 (NC)
UKIP: 13.3 (-0.8)
Green: 5.5 (-0.2)
With all of this week’s polls being conducted post-Budget it appears that George Osborne’s announcements have not had a major impact, at least as far as the gap between the Conservatives and Labour are concerned. The Liberal Democrats remain on 7.5 points, roughly where they’ve been all month, so there seems to be no evidence of a Budget bounce as far as the other coalition partner is concerned.
Last night saw David Cameron and Ed Miliband appear on the same programme (but not head to head) to put their case to the nation as the election campaign gets underway in earnest.
ICM did a flash poll of over 1,000 viewers that handed the win to the Prime Minister, who pipped the Labour leader by 54 per cent to 46 per cent in terms of who performed better. An eight-point gap is substantially better than the gap between the two men’s general approval ratings (the last Opinium poll for the Guardian put Mr Cameron on -1 and Mr Miliband on -24), so Labour supporters may well consider the showing a win too.
However, since both main parties have seen their numbers improve slightly this week there’s no real change to the predicted outcome: Our projected share of seats in the new parliament is as follows:
Conservatives: 285 (37 short of majority)
Labour: 279 (43 short of majority)
Next week we will see the dissolution of Parliament, at which point the election campaign will go into overdrive. Whether this will disproportionately benefit the front-runners or allow the smaller parties a greater share of the limelight remains to be seen, but unless either the Conservatives or Labour can open up a lead then the outcome is unlikely to change.
The SNP seem secure in their share of the vote in Scotland, and unless Labour can reverse the trend and keep most of their Scottish seats there seems to be no way for them to gain a majority.
Indeed, the two big parties are so finely balanced right now that without some form of Scottish support there seems little that can break the deadlock. Even if the Liberal Democrats could replicate their success in 2010 they still wouldn’t be able to offer enough seats to either party to form a majority government.
Given that the Conservatives and Labour are variously unwilling or unable to work with the SNP it appears increasingly unlikely that a majority government can be formed in May.