Issues & Ideas | 19th March 2015

Here’s how the polls have changed since last year’s budget

The three key changes while we wait for reaction to this year’s…

Photo: Getty

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We’ll have our first post-budget poll tonight from YouGov, which is likely to be seized on by many if it has the semblance of a headline, but we really need to wait a week or so to see if Osborne has changed anything in this race.

But how have things changed since last year’s budget? Three things have happened.

The Tories caught Labour

This is three-quarters about Labour falling from 36 to 33 per cent…

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…and one-quarter about the Tories ticking up from 32 to 33 in the past month.

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The Tories have been locked in a 30-33 per cent band for three years, after winning 37 per cent of in 2010. [1] For a long time it seemed unlikely that would be enough for them to beat Labour on votes or seats, but the SNP surge has changed that.

Ukip drifted up and down without lasting effect

They dipped down to 12 per cent in the summer (“I always knew they’d dip” said every wizened Westminster pundit), before bounding back during the party conferences. They dominated debate as 2014 wound down, and peaked at 16 per cent in mid-November.

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But a year after last year’s budget they are pretty much as they were.

The Greens nearly caught the Lib Dems

This is the most stark change: the Lib Dems have shed votes throughout the past year. They dipped in June 2014 and were regulated to sixth in the political agenda thereafter, as every paper focused on Ukip, the Greens and SNP (along with the “Big Two”).

The Greens’ rise has been the most remarkable. They surged shortly after last year’s budget, reaching 5 per cent as summer began, and then kept rising in late 2014 after being excluded from the debate proposals.

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But then that interview happened.

As for the Lib Dems, they aren’t overly concerned by their national demise. They think their locally popular MPs can help them hold onto more than half their seats in May (despite losing 70 per cent of their vote).

[1] That’s of the GB-wide vote; polls are GB-wide – the Tories won 36 per cent of the UK-wide vote.