What the polls are saying about the parties...issue by issue

May 16, 2011, 3:23 AM GMT+0

As we approach the big day, the pollsters are nearly as nervous as the politicians. Will our final predictions be right?

My particular worries concern the effect of voter turn-out and tactical voting, which seem likely to have a bigger effect than usual. Pollsters this time have one consolation: with eight of us adding to the pile, and most days being within margin-of-error of each other, it looks as if we’ll all be more-or-less right or more-or-less wrong.

Before it all becomes irrelevant, here are some interesting further details from polling to be found in the right-hand column of our homepage:

  • Cameron leads Brown as ‘best Prime Minister’ by 32% to 25%, with Clegg on 22%. However, Clegg has the best ratings for how well he’s doing as party leader, with Cameron second and Brown third.
  • On taxation, the Tory lead over Labour is 7% and over the Lib Dems it’s 8%.
  • On ‘best party for the economy’, as well as education and employment, Conservatives and Labour are neck-and-neck with 1% or less between them, and the Lib Dems somewhat behind.
  • On the NHS, Labour lead Tories by 5% with Lib Dems – surprisingly perhaps – trailing by a further 13%.
  • On immigration, Conservatives lead on 38% with Lib Dems a distant second at 19%.
  • On Law and Order, Conservatives are on 39% to Labour’s 24%.

That's enough numbers. It adds up to a confused picture in an often confusing campaign.

The debates propelled Nick Clegg into the centre of our living rooms as an attractive anti ‘old politics’ figure, but perhaps he will regret not making more of the moment to push distinctive and forceful policy ideas. If he fails to make the big breakthrough (and that remains a big ‘if’), it will be because the electorate did after all worry about those old familiar policy themes.