NEW POLL: What’s the main reason you think the Tory poll lead has all but evaporated?

Today’s YouGov poll in the Sunday Times suggests the Tory lead over Labour has amost disappeared, and that Labour may even end up the largest party after the general election (which would reflect the exclusive LDV election prediction published here at the start of February).

Nor is today’s poll a flash-in-the-pan. None of the last 12 polls has shown the Tories reaching 40%, the psychologically crucial hurdle most feel they need to be able to clear to be sure of a working Commons majority. Only one of those polls has shown Labour below 30%, and – sigh of relief from Cowley Street – the Lib Dems appear not to be being significantly squeezed.

So, what is causing this serious dip in the Tory party’s fortunes? That’s the question Lib Dem Voice is asking today in our Twtpoll, already tweeted to our 1,651 @libdemvoice Twitter followers:

The poll closes tomorrow morning, and will be reported in our Monday morning Daily View 2×2.

For me, the main reason is as I suggested here three months ago:

… the Tories, and especially Mr Cameron, have lost sight of their strategy of detoxifying the brand. … the complacency of the Tory leadership [is] that they have done enough to convince the public the Tories have genuinely changed, and that it’s now safe again to revert to their true, Thatcherite type in order to unite the party.

What was once a depressingly effective Tory strategy of ‘love-bombing the Lib Dems’ – talk big on the environment, civil liberties and democratic reform while promising no policies – has been jettisoned in favour of throwing red meat to the right-wing (blaming ‘big government’ for the recession, and tax-breaks for marriage and millionaires). Thank God.

Instead of sticking to his guns, and determinedly staying the course in the moderate, centre-ground to reassure floating voters, Mr Cameron has felt it safe to shore up his core vote. In doing so, he has reminded those voters, who were slowly being won round to the notion that maybe this time it might be safe to vote Tory (and at the very least get rid of Labour and Mr Brown), that the party Mr Cameron leads is still the same old Tories.

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26 Comments

  • Can’t we have a Poll where we can select more than one answer as its obviously not just one thing but a combination of things

  • Is it just they are fighting this election with last election’s thinking? They seem trapped in their assumptions of the electorate as if they think saying `vote for change` is enough. Change to what? The electorate are aware that they didn’t ask this question of Blair in ’97 and they won’t fall for that again. At least Brown is providing some answers (along with us) and I doubt if we’ll be below 20% come May 7th. The six priorities he has are so `motherhood and apple pie` they just seem fatuous.

    Perhaps voters see through the non-answer `pick and mix` airbrushed Cameronism – and want to know the HOW as well as the WHAT?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 28th Feb '10 - 3:04pm

    I think most of these options overestimate the attention which ordinary people pay to the daily cut-and-thrust of politics.

    To my mind the most plausible reason for the trend is simply that the economy is improving, and people feel more confident about the future, and therefore more inclined to stick with the government rather than taking a leap in the dark.

    In short, “It’s the economy, stupid”.

  • Stanley Theed 28th Feb '10 - 3:15pm

    Cameron is like a shop manager who has put on a new shop front and dressed the windows nicely, but the electorate are hopefully aware that stock inside the shop has not changed. In trying to attract new customers without much success he is now trying to ensure he does not lose his existing clientele.

  • None of the above. The media narrative has become entirely about Gordon Brown’s ability to do the job rather than the certainty of a Tory victory.

    GB is coming across as ‘honest bloke doing his best and being picked on’ which started with the disastrous attempt by the Sun to attack him because of his handwriting. ‘He cant do the job’ doesnt work if people look at their own situation and feel it is beginning to get better. Political hacks completely misjudged the likely public reaction to the Prime Minister showing a fiery temper when he is supposed to be sorting out a crisis – turns out they rather like the idea.

    By contrast the Tory leadership team look effete and privileged.

    The ‘tidal wave for change’ narrative appears to have been lost for good by the Tories. Their best bet now is probably to beg Ken Clarke to player a higher profile role in the campaign.

  • Cheltenham Robin 28th Feb '10 - 4:18pm

    In short, “It’s the economy, stupid”.

    Yes but the rest of that slogan reads “It’s change versus more of the same”

    I think the Cameron train has run out of steam, he’s been around for over 4 years now, he’s not new and exciting any more particularly to the media.

    If I was on the terraces (football that is, not Houses of Parliament) I would be singing “boring boring Cameron”

  • Anthony Aloysius St 28th Feb '10 - 5:10pm

    Cheltenham Robin

    But I hardly think that can explain it. After all, Cameron has been boring for a lot longer than the last few months!

  • I think it is because they are putting forward free market solutions to problems cause by too much free market. Also there is a huge “other” vote out there that feels disenfranchised on right wing knee-jerk issues like Europe and immigration.

  • The Tory vote is still around 39 in most polls, the one out today is wrong for a few reasons. They have the London vote as 39 Labour 19 Tory. No way can that be correct. I wonder if it is the wrong way around?
    They have also changed the way they are working out the Labour vote, which is adding 3% to the Labour vote, and how can they have the Lib/Dem vote down to 16%.

    The question on here should be WHY is the Lib/Dem % so low?

    The talk is that those that left Labour over the Iraq war to vote Lib/Dem in the last election, are now returning to the Labour party.

  • There’s always a swing back to the governing party as an election approaches. Grumbling subsides, and “better the devil you know” gains ground. The puzzle this time is how that can possibly still have happened in the teeth of the Brown Bully story.

    Can it be that Brown actually gains from this story, because it shows that at least he gets upset when things go wrong, and cares passionately about what he is doing? Whereas Cameron and Clegg exude self-satisfaction, self-assurance and a kind of well-fed complacency, which is totally at odds with what is happening to real people out there?

  • “Can it be that Brown actually gains from this story, because it shows that at least he gets upset when things go wrong, and cares passionately about what he is doing? Whereas Cameron and Clegg exude self-satisfaction, self-assurance and a kind of well-fed complacency, which is totally at odds with what is happening to real people out there?”

    Any opportunity 🙄

  • Tabman, what we’re being asked to explain is a Labour poll resurgence, at the expense of both their opponents I fear. I hasten to add that I personally think Brown is a disaster, and I wouldn’t myself think the better of him for his behaviour! However, if you don’t like my explanation for what is happening in the polls, perhaps you can try giving your own?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 1st Mar '10 - 12:31am

    Surely the question for the Lib Dems has to be this. Given Cameron’s lacklustre achievement, was it really so wise to put a Cameron-clone in charge of the party? Is this why the Lib Dems are languishing in the mid-teens in the middle of what is essentially a contest of unpopularity between the other two parties?

  • To make a change, you have to feel safe in making it. When the economy was awful, there was a feeling that any change was for the better; when economic times are better after a long run of one-party government (see 1997), people feel like it wasn’t possible for the dark days to return with a change in the faces at the top. When economic times are in flux- like now- oppositions run the risk of appearing inexperienced bordering on the trite. Too much to lose, don’t switch horses in mid-stream etc. In times of ambiguity, maybe better the devil you know?

  • Painfully Liberal 1st Mar '10 - 11:45am

    From a slightly prosaic point of view, I notice that the Conservative decline in the polls has coincided twith the start of the “long campaign” expense limits. Could there be an extent to which the Conservative campaign is being affected by no longer being able to throw money at seats in quite the same way?

  • Matthew Huntbach 1st Mar '10 - 12:11pm

    When you look at the sort of things the Tories are saying, even when they mean well it’s clear they are just so out of touch with real life. The more they say, the more chance something from them hits you as someone who knows about the thing they have put forward some wizard scheme for, and you think “Huh, these people don’t have a clue”.

  • David Allen 1st Mar '10 - 12:38pm

    I agree with most of the above posts, but would just add one further point. The particular -ism that is taking this planet by intellectual storm these days is denialism. Faced with the choice between “pain, now, urgently” and “wait on a bit, maybe those cuts will never have to happen”, the denialist’s choice is clear!

    Of course it so happens that economists may agree for altogether more respectable reasons, but, economists do not vote en masse, denialists do!

  • Is there actually a Labour revival – various threads on PB.com about the adjustment factors used by various polling companies (which I don’t pretend understand the minutae of). However YouGov have shown very similar shares in their raw data, but a closing lead when the figures come out of the adjustment number cruncher.

  • Anthony Aloysius St, I voted for Clegg because I liked his vision for the Liberal Democrats and for Britain, not because I thought he was a Cameron clone. I still like his vision for the Liberal Democrats and for Britain, and I still don’t think he’s a Cameron clone.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 1st Mar '10 - 2:39pm

    “Is there actually a Labour revival – various threads on PB.com about the adjustment factors used by various polling companies (which I don’t pretend understand the minutae of). However YouGov have shown very similar shares in their raw data, but a closing lead when the figures come out of the adjustment number cruncher.”

    There’s certainly been movement over the last couple of months, even if YouGov is completely ignored. The Tory lead over Labour according to the other pollsters has decreased by 3.5 points between December and February (that figure remains the same whether or not Angus Reid is included).

    On the other hand, the average lead so far this month according to the other pollsters is still 9.25 (8.3 without Angus Reid). So the belief that the lead has shrunk to 5-6 points (or even lower) does rest almost entirely on the recent YouGov polls. It will be interesting to see whether it’s confirmed by other pollsters over the next few days.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 1st Mar '10 - 10:25pm

    Although tomorrow’s YouGov tracker is showing a lead of 7, up from yesterday’s 2, there is also a new ComRes poll for the Independent showing a lead of only 5 (37-32). That is down from 8 in their last poll a week and a half ago, and more significantly is the lowest Tory lead in a ComRes poll since December 2008.

    Together with MORI’s 5-point lead at the end of last week I think this does suggest it’s not just YouGov.

  • Even if the polls swing back in the Tories’ favour in the next few days, what this last weekend has shown is that the Tory lead is vulnerable and much of their apparent support soft, too soft, perhaps, to oust hard-working Lib Dem MPs.

    I have always been dubious of the school of thought that says fighting Tory seats is futile at the coming General Election, our only gains will be from Labour. On the contrary, I think we have every reason to get stuck into the Eastbournes and the Guildfords, the American (sorry, Ashcroft) money might not be as invincible as we had thought.

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