Stephen Tall notes how the big parties are losing support:
Tories 38% (-2%), Labour 23% (-1%), Lib Dems 18% (-1%)
Remarkably all three major parties have, according to our monthly average, shed support in the past month. I think that’s the first time this has happened in all the months I’ve been writing LDV’s poll round-ups. In fact, if you look at the past two months (ie, post-‘Expensesgate’), the Tories have dropped from 43% down to 38% (-5%) and Labour from 28% to 23% (-5%).
The Lib Dems can take some comfort that our support has remained steady at 18%, and we appear not to have been too badly hit by the relatively minor expenses indiscretions of a handful of our MPs. Equally, we’ll be disappointed that at a time when both Labour and the Tories have taken big hits, losing one-tenth of the public’s support, we have done no more than hold our own.
Tall concludes that the election isn’t a foregone conclusion:
The FT this week published an analysis by academics Niall Ferguson and Glen O’Hara, Do not count on the Tories winning just yet, highlighting quite how unpredictable the coming general election actually is:
The reality is that the electoral position of the Tories is significantly weaker than that of Labour 12 years ago. Opinion polls have the Tory vote hovering between 36 and 40 per cent. This is nowhere near Labour’s poll position in early 1995, close to 60 per cent. The polls then probably overstated Labour support but the fact remains that the Conservatives have yet to win over the majority of voters.
I broadly agree with Tall. The Tories might be the highest in the polls, but their support is very soft: people are against Labour but have no enthusiasm for the Tories. More and more people are foregoing the two big parties altogether, in an acceleation of a trend that goes back half a century.