Voter intentions

In the past six months, the Conservative lead in the polls has increased to what would now constitute a considerable majority in Parliament. However, further volatility in the polls is still possible in the lead up to the next General Election (up to two years ahead). The party conference season is always an interesting time to look at polls, so what are the pollsters saying right now? This is Populus’s take:

Each party gained some bounce in the polls from its own party conference, but as the new political season opens against the extraordinary backdrop of banking failure, financial chaos and economic gloom, the basic dynamics of British politics seem largely unaltered. The voting polls suggest that a small number of voters – perhaps 3%-4% have reverted to Labour from the Lib Dems and smaller parties. The Conservatives retain a strong overall lead.

The Populus party conference poll for The Times found that nearly half of those saying they would vote Conservative in an election tomorrow would do so not because they positively support the Conservatives, but just as a vote against Labour; around half (mostly the same half) also say that they do not regard themselves as strong supporters of the Tories and may well end up voting differently.

So the result of the next election must still be regarded as an uncertainty. Even a hung parliament looks possible.

How can VCOs plan for this uncertainty? The first thing to do is to consider what a Conservative government would mean for your organisation. Previous posts (here and here) have suggested some implications, as does the driver on Conservative focus on social justice. We can also look to local politics - the Conservatives now control a large number of local councils which may provide an indication to how a Conservative administration might govern. The outcome of the next election can be described as a high-impact, highly unpredictable driver, which means that scenario planning is a good way to anticipate and plan for the future in this area. For more on scenarios, see our guide to scenario planning Picture This, or read this discussion in our forums.

You can read more on the changing political landscape in the new edition of the Voluntary Sector Strategic Analysis which will hit the shelves shortly! (If you are an NCVO member, a free copy will also be hitting your desk).

Update: In the autumn Brown enjoyed a 'bounce' in the polls as the public reacted positively to his measures on the economy. However the latest news from the pollsters Populus (January 2009) suggest that the brown bounce is over:

The ‘bail-out bounce’, which caused a significant improvement in Labour’s poll position during the autumn, has come to a halt the first polls of 2009 suggest. The government’s support settled at the sub-Michael Foot level of 26% throughout the summer, according to the average of published polls, but then rose steadily to a monthly average of 28% in September, 31% in October, 33% in November and 35% in December. During this period the Conservative poll lead shrank from an average of 20% in August to only 5% in December. January’s Populus poll for The Times finds that the Labour poll deficit has now doubled to 10%, with a sharp upswing (from 9% in December to 15%) in the proportion of people who voted Labour in 2005 saying they would now switch to the Conservatives.

Last updated at 15:08 Mon 18/May/09.
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