William Hill has installed the Conservatives as favourites to win the next General Election but the latest ConservativeHome poll of polls suggests that a lot more progress is still needed. David Cameron’s Conservative Party enjoys a 37.8% to 32.8% advantage over Labour but it’s not enough to give the party a parliamentary majority. The LibDems remain subdued below 20% but there are few signs that the Conservatives are poised to win back many of the thirty and more seats lost to the LibDems at recent elections.
A recent YouGov analysis of daily changes in public opinion suggested that the Tory poll rating did not rise because of the ‘Vote Green’ campaign, for example, but, first, as a response to Labour’s ‘Black Wednesday’ and, second, in response to the ‘halo effect’ of May 4th’s results.
What David Cameron has begun to achieve – through his greener, gentler Conservatism – is to make the Conservative Party "socially acceptable" again. The FT has editorialised that the Conservative Party has lost its tendency to embarrass Middle England. This factor is particularly strong amongst women. That is why more voters unhappy with Labour are now voting Tory rather than LibDem. That is a crucial change.
The Tory recovery is particularly strong in the south and among professionals (‘Curtisland’) but weaker in the north and amongst strivers. In recent weeks – following Triple Whammy Wednesday – David Cameron has repeatedly highlighted law and order issues (eg prison building and the Human Rights Act) and this may begin to help Tory standing amongst the strivers.
It is still not clear what impact Gordon Brown will have on Labour’s fortunes. Most polls have tended to suggest that his impact will be negative but these are hugely hypothetical findings. (1) The nature of the internal Labour party election and (2) the messages he emphasises as the likely new Labour leader will be the most significant influences on his standing versus David Cameron.