Many punters are getting terribly worked up over a poll that appeared in yesterday’s Observer, produced by Ipsos Mori. This is, more or less, down to its findings, showing the Tory, Labour and Lib Dem percentages at 37:31:17, which gives the Tories a lead of only six percent. This is the lowest Tory lead for some time, and the reaction has been predictable: Tory cheerleaders have gone into “rogue poll” mode (which, in translation, means “poll that brings news I don’t want to hear”), and some Labour supporters have gone so far as to predict victory in the next General Election, which is probably the more daft of the two.
What can be said of this poll is that it is one poll, and one only. More usefully, one could put it in context by looking at the trends shown over time in polls carried out by other organisations: if these were to start showing a decline in the Tory lead, then the news would be more significant. What is also clear is that the numbers above do not add up to 100%: there is a significant 15% for “others”, for which read UKIP (taking votes from the Tories), the BNP (taking from both Labour and Tory, but probably more from the former), and Greens (taking votes from the Lib Dems). Any of these, while not capable of winning seats in any numbers, could have an influence where majorities are small.
But Young Dave would do well not to dismiss this poll out of hand: after all, close to the 1992 General Election, more than one poll had an 8% Labour lead, and they ended up losing.