Our latest daily polling figures (fieldwork 11th-12th March for the Sunday Times) are:
- Conservative 37%
- Labour 33%
- Liberal Democrat 17%
- Others 13%
In the last week our daily polls have shown a further narrowing of the Conservative lead. Until last weekend our daily polls had been consistently showing a Tory lead of about 6 points, all five of our polls last week have shown a lead of 5 points or less, suggesting the true position is now a Conservative lead of around 5 or even 4 points. On a uniform swing this would leave Labour the largest party and even if the Conservatives outperform in marginal seats, they would still be far short of an overall majority.
The narrowing in the polls since January has coincided with more positive economic ratings for the government. Since the country formally left recession our trackers on economic optimism have improved and the Conservative lead on the economy has narrowed.
The Conservative emphasis on cutting the deficit also seems to have resulted in the public expectation that a Conservative government would be more “painful”: our Sunday Times poll yesterday showed respondents thought the Conservatives were both more likely than Labour to make cuts to frontline services, and also more likely to raise taxes.
The government have announced the budget date as 24th March. Our polls after the last two budgets showed sharp falls in Labour’s support as Alistair Darling was forced to deliver bad news to the country. This time Alistair Darling needs to both avoid denting growing public optimism on the economy, and reassure the City without making voters think Labour would be as brutal as the Conservatives.