Our latest daily polling figures (fieldwork 25th-26th March for the Sunday Times) are:
- Conservative 37%
- Labour 32%
- Liberal Democrat 19%
- Others 13%
The Conservative lead has remained at about four points. The British Airways strike did not seem to have any effect on voting intentions, but it is still too early to be certain what the impact of the budget will be. Our Sunday Times poll conducted on Thursday and Friday showed the Conservative lead moving up to 5 points, an insignificant change in itself, but in line with small increases in the lead from other companies' weekend polls.
If repeated at the general election, a five point lead would almost certainly result in a hung Parliament. On a uniform swing this would leave Labour with the most seats, but polls are continuing to show the Conservatives doing better in marginal seats, so in practice they would likely emerge as the biggest party.
Our polling on the budget in the Sun and the Sunday Times revealed a broadly negative reaction. 51% thought it was a bad budget, compared to 31% who thought it was good. 44% thought it was dishonest and 47% thought it would make them and their family worse off, with only two percent expecting to be better off.
The budget also gave economic optimism a knock, perhaps serving to remind people quite how bad the economic situation is. Immediately before the budget net economic optimism (the percentage of people expecting their financial situation to improve over the next 12 months minus the percentage expecting it to get worse) stood at minus 10. By the time of our polling for the Sunday Times it had dropped to minus 24. Growing economic optimism appears to have been one of the factors behind Labour's recovery over the past few months; if sustained this reverse in economic optimism could result in the Conservative lead growing again.
The Chancellors' election debate in on Channel 4 tonight. In the Sun last week, we asked who people would prefer to have as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Liberal Democrat treasury spokesman Vince Cable led on 24%, followed by Alistair Darling on 20%. Shadow chancellor George Osborne trailed on 14%.