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Polling Observatory#3: Cameron narrows the gap

This is the third of a regular 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 noise; the underlying trends – in which we are interested and 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. Further details of the method we use to build our estimates of public opinion can be found here.

Our estimates for the end of May show the Conservatives at 35.7% (up 1.2% on last month), Labour on 40.6% (up 0.2%) and the Lib Dems on 8.3% (down 1.5%).This continues a trend of mild recovery for the Tories and decline for Labour which stretches back to the start of spring. The Labour lead has narrowed by nearly four points since its peak in early March, with the Conservatives recovering by over 2 points and Labour falling back by slightly less.

While a recent ComRes poll showing the parties tied has attracted attention, this looks like an outlier. The trend is clearly in Mr Cameron’s favour but, our model suggests he still has some ground to make up.

The Lib Dems, perhaps not helped by headlines detailing their decimation in the local, Welsh and Scottish elections, fall down close to their all-time low of 7.5% after staging a modest recovery over the last couple of months. Nick Clegg will be hoping this is a blip, as he can ill afford a further fall in support.

Rob FordWill Jennings and Mark Pickup

Published inBritish PoliticsPolling Observatory

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