The headline figures for the latest polls are splashed all over their respective newspapers. On the European front they are as follows:
YouGov: Con 23, Lab 27, UKIP 26, Lib Dem 9, Green 9
ICM: Con 26, Lab 29, UKIP 25, Lib Dem 7
ComRes: Con 20, Lab 24, UKIP 35, Lib Dem 6, Green 7
It’s clear from the sheer disparity that pollsters are still adapting to the entry of UKIP into the market as a serious player – are Farage and co clear leaders by a margin of 11 points, are they in close contention with Labour to win it or are they battling the Conservatives for second place?
Part of the risky business of polling is that you need to see the eventual result to hone your methodology – for some firms that will mean triumph, for others it will mean embarrassment, but it’s all part of the learning process.
What is clear is that a sizeable number of voters still only intend to back UKIP at the Euros, and then seek another party for the General Election. Here are the 2015 numbers from the same three polls:
YouGov: Con 34, Lab 37, UKIP 13, Lib Dem 9
ICM: Con 31.4, Lab 30.7, UKIP 13.4, Lib Dem 15.1
ComRes: Con 29, Lab 33, UKIP 19, Lib Dem 8
Again there’s some variation there, but the broad story is that while UKIP are gaining from the increased willingness of the electorate to shift their vote depending on the type of election, the same effect means many of their 2014 voters intend to pick larger parties come 2015.
Aside from the election predictions there are a couple of interesting findings from ComRes on the NHS. Just as voters tended not to believe Miliband would ever deliver on his energy freeze policy, they have greeted his new GP pledge with distinct scepticism:
I expect a Labour government would deliver Ed Miliband’s promise that anyone should be able to see a GP within 48 hours
Don’t know 27%
More generally, the pollster also found that the stereotype of Labour being trusted with the NHS is apparently rather overblown:
The NHS would be safer under Labour than under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition
Don’t know 29%
Of course, that may simply mean that voters don’t trust the Coalition or the Labour Party with the health service – but it certainly suggests that Labour’s assumption that it can always play the “Save the NHS” card is overconfident, to say the least.