Opinion polls

How the polls have behaved during the campaign

A total of 70 polls have been published since the formal start of the election campaign on 30 March.

The Tories have been ahead in 26 of them; Labour ahead in 34. The parties have been tied in 10:

opinionpolls2

This graph may appear rather inconclusive, but look closer and you can spot a few trends. Labour has had far more spikes downwards than upwards in the second half of the campaign. The party has touched 30% or below on five occasions, whereas in the first half of the campaign it never dipped below the early-mid 30s.

The Tories have hauled themselves up a couple of points or so. No longer are they troubling the early 30s; almost all of their ratings of late have been in the mid-30s. But they are not achieving any spikes upwards – at least, nothing to match that sudden (and undoubtedly rogue) jump up to 39% earlier in April.

Neither the Tories nor Labour have established a consistent lead, but this too is significant. There has been no “crossover”, something the Tory party campaign team – perhaps unwisely – publicised as inevitable. There has also been no swing back towards the mainstream parties: another trend that was foretold over-confidently by a number of pundits.

Instead the three smaller parties have maintained a fairly steady presence in the polls, albeit bouncing around between a range of scores that, in the case of Ukip, has ballooned as large as 11 percentage points.

Here are the parties’ highest and lowest poll shares:

Conservatives: highest 39%; lowest 30%
Labour: highest 37%; lowest 29%
Ukip: highest 18%; lowest 7%
Lib Dems: highest 12%; lowest 6%
Green: highest 8%; lowest 3%

As for the poll of polls, I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise to learn that it has barely shifted since the campaign began. One month ago, the Tories were on 33.6% and Labour were on 33.8%; the latest figures are 33.9% for the Tories and 33.6% for Labour:

pollofpolls

Labour has led the poll of polls on 15 occasions; the Tories on nine occasions.

Trying to make sense of the polls this past year has never been dull. Quite the reverse. It’s been fascinating, it’s been bemusing, it’s been maddening. And in less than week it will be over. I shall welcome the clarity, but I shall certainly miss the intrigue.

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