For the fourth month in a row Populus has the Conservatives on 36%, this month with a small swing from Labour (33%) to the LibDems (20%).
Peter Riddell thinks the consistent lead of around 4% is an achievement for Cameron – but a long way off where he needs to be:
"Some Tories have been moaning that the party should be much farther
ahead, given Labour’s troubles. But the current poll ratings are hardly
surprising because, despite fears of an increase in interest rates on
Thursday, real incomes remain high, inflation low and employment
strong, thanks not least to the inflow of workers from Central Europe
and cheap goods from Asia."
Focusing just on the opinion of women adds another 3% to the Conservative lead, whilst with men there is a 3% drop. Men and women are further polarised when they are presented with the hypothetical situation of Brown vs Cameron: Cameron’s lead amongst
women doubles to 12% and his draw with Labour amongst men becomes a Labour lead of 3%.
A crude assessment using their current angle on crime as an example would be that Labour are still pushing the men’s vote by focusing on a hard-headed approach, whilst the Conservatives continue to court the women’s vote by, quite rightly, being "understanding" about the causes of crime.
The Times’ leading article today questions whether Cameron should now begin to move to "more macho terrain", but is uncertain whether he has enough credibility with men to do so at this stage. One thing that is clear is that party strategists will increasingly be factoring in the differences in opinion between genders in their approach to issues.
The Poll of Polls will be updated later this morning.