Opinion polls

Poll update: no surges, no meltdowns, just business as usual

The unpredictable nature of daily opinion polls continues.

So far this month Labour has been as high as 35% and low as 29%, while the Tories have peaked at 34% and dipped as far as 27%. The Lib Dems have bounced around between 6% and 10%, while Ukip has been the most inconsistent of all, polling up at 24% and down at 13%.

This jumble of numbers tells us little in isolation. Were the polls to coalesce around either the top or bottom of some of these extremes, a pattern might start to emerge. Until they do, one of the most useful things we can do is once again look at the trends. And here it is still business as usual. There are no surges or meltdowns in evidence. Instead, the gap between Labour and the Tories continues to narrow, and both parties continue to slip further in vote share. Labour’s average so far for November is 32.9%, down a full point on October, while the Tories are currently on 31.3%, down 0.5 points:

Poll averages June - November 2014Ukip are up 1.1 points to 17.1%, their highest ever average. The Lib Dems are sitting on 8.0%.

You might not think it from the tenor of recent headlines, but Labour is still on course to be the largest party in a hung parliament. It’s the one prediction I have stuck with throughout this blog’s existence, and for the time being I intend to go on sticking with it.

The one thing that would make me reconsider is evidence the SNP are a sustained and widespread threat to Labour in Scotland, rather than one that feels – so far – sudden and scattershot.

Were it to appear that Labour is on course to lose up to a couple of dozen Scottish seats, I doubt the party would be able to offset this with enough gains in England and Wales to still end up ahead in the House of Commons.

But even then, Ed Miliband won’t have actually “lost the election” – I’ve added the inverted commas to paraphrase this week’s headlines – until all the votes have been counted. Nobody, not Miliband, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Ukip or the SNP, has won or lost anything. The general election, in case you’re wondering, has yet to take place.

In the meantime, here’s how the current poll trends fit in with the broader patterns of the past 12 months:

Poll averages December 2013 - November 2014

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