What does it mean if Labour leads in the polls and yet voters expect them to lose?
In spite of the current consensus among professional pollsters that Labour will have the most seats after the next election, a YouGov poll conducted for Red Box reveals that the public still believes the Conservatives will end up the winners. Among Conservative voters, the proportion who believe their party will win is 72 to 7, among Labour voters it is 57 to 15, while both Lib Dems and Ukip supporters (by margins of 54 to 5 and 36 to 10 respectively) believe that the Conservatives will end up ahead.
On Sunday, we also saw that when we asked what election outcomes people wanted, preferences for either a Conservative majority or a Conservative-LibDem coalition outnumbered preferences for either a Labour majority or a Labour-Lib Dem coalition, even among a sample where Labour were ahead in voting intention. These are mere straws but to me, if they suggest anything, it's that tactical or uncertain votes will break against Labour.
I still expect risk aversion to be a significant factor in the election campaign proper, as people consciously or unconsciously assess their situation and wonder if they really want change. I believe the Lib Dems will do much better than their current showing, which means fewer votes for Labour, and that there will be a significant return of Ukippers to the Conservatives. A projection of current numbers gives Labour a clear lead in seats, but prediction is a different game, a guess about human psychology, and if I were betting I would go for the Conservatives to end up with a tiny lead.