This is the sixteenth in a series of posts that report on the state of the parties as measured by opinion polls. By pooling together all the available polling evidence we can reduce the impact of the random variation each individual survey inevitably produces. Most of the short term advances and setbacks in party polling fortunes are nothing more than random noise; the underlying trends – in which we are interested and which best assess the parties’ standings – are relatively stable and little influenced by day-to-day events. If there can ever be a definitive assessment of the parties’ standings, this is it.
It seems that, for David Cameron at least, April really was the cruellest month.
The sharp decline in Conservative support we observed in spring has now definitely levelled off, as for a second successive month we find little change in public opinion. The Conservatives recover slightly to 31.8%, 0.8% up on last month, but still six points down on where they were at the beginning of the year. Labour are also stable, at 41.7% down 0.3 points on last month’s record high. The gap between the top two parties remains ten points, which if reflected in general election voting would almost certainly deliver Ed Miliband’s party a large majority in the House of Commons.
The junior coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, remain more or less unchanged, their 8.3% rating returning them to the level of two months ago after a brief dip last month. Over 18 months of poll ratings in the 7-10% range suggest that what is left of the Liberal Democrat support base is pretty loyal to the party. UKIP continue to notch up similar shares, particularly in internet polling, but we have not as yet been able to compile the necessary data to run reliable estimates on their support. We hope to begin doing this by the end of the summer.
Robert Ford, Mark Pickup and Will Jennings