The betting markets and leading pollsters are saying the Tory party will win enough seats to form a majority on May 6, even if widely expected to top the polls.
The latest Guardian/ICM poll puts the Liberal Democrats in second place on 30 per cent – up ten points. The Conservatives lead on 33 per cent, with Labour third on 28 per cent.
If repeated across the country at the next election, with a uniform swing, this would result in Labour the biggest party in parliament on 275 seats (down 81), the Tories on 245 seats (up 47) and the Lib Dems on 99 seats (up 37) – leaving Labour 50 seats short of a majority, and the Tories 80 seats short.
The betting markets and leading pollsters are saying the Conservative Party will not win enough seats to form a majority on May 6, even though they are widely expected to top the polls and remain favourites to win the most seats. The Political Betting website today shows betting on a Tory majority has decreased dramatically since Thursday’s debate, which resulted in a surge in support for the Liberal Democrats, to the detriment of the Conservatives.
Mike Smithson, editor of Political Betting, blogged:
“What seems to be happening is that Labour supporters see that switching to the Lib Dems might be a way of stopping what they had come to regard as inevitable – a Cameron majority government. So many questions remain.
“If opinion can change so much in such a short period can we expect more volatility with, perhaps, the Liberal Democrats returning to their usual place in the hierarchy – in third place behind Labour and the Tories?“
The latest snapshop polls show the Liberal Democrats maintaining their momentum since Thursday, last night’s Sun/YouGov daily tracker putting them on 33 per cent, the Conservatives on 32 per cent and Labour on 26 per cent. However, Julin Glover, on The Guardian website, cautions against Lib Dem over-optimism:
“There are other signs that the Lib Dem advance may be flaky: the party is drawing support from people who didn’t vote in 2005, or who have been uncommitted. Clegg’s party may find it hard to sustain such support, but there has also been a strengthening of loyalties among people who backed the party in 2005 and who, until now, have been less certain than past Labour and Conservative supporters that they would vote the same way this time.
“But remember that, in 2005, the Lib Dems managed to get just over 22% of the national vote, slightly better than most polls suggested beforehand. An advance from that to the mid-20s – or better – is perfectly possible. The crucial thing now is to establish where the party’s new support is coming from.
“Early polls suggest the Conservatives are losing out – the 34% registered in the Sunday ICM poll is the lowest support since September 2007 and is not far off Michael Howard’s 2005 score.“
Leading US pollster Frank Luntz, a former Bush strategist, told Al Jazeera at the weekend that Cameron was now unlikely to get a majority, though he remained likely to win most seats. Luntz, best known in Britain for his Newsnight focus groups, said:
“Clegg is averaging about 20 per cent right now, by the time you do this programme again next week, I think he is gonna be around 24/25 per cent; David Cameron, who was averaging about 38 or so, I think he is gonna be down to 35 or 36; Gordon Brown has been averaging somewhere around 32/33, I think he’ll be down to 30.
“The two leading candidates are gonna come down slightly, and the third candidate is going to come up, that’s going to make the next debate even more important than this one… and the week after, when it’s on the BBC, it’ll be the most watched tv programme in modern times.“
“At the end of the day, you still have to give the election to Cameron, but you can no longer say he is going to win a majority – I think Britain is going to have a hung parliament.”
And Peter Kellner, president of YouGov, told Sky News earlier that he now believed a formal coalition government was the most likely outcome, rather than a minority government followed by a second election six months later.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.