Labour are up three to 34% in this week’s Ashcroft National Poll, extending their lead over the Conservatives to nine points. UKIP have risen a further two points to 19%, while the Liberal Democrats continue their dismal run, falling back to 6%. The Tories’ share, 25%, is their lowest in a published poll for a year. We will see in the next few weeks whether this is a blip in the midst of a volatile period or something more troubling for David Cameron (and, as ever, it is worth bearing in mind the 3-point margin of error).
Most voters said they expected the economy to do well over the coming year, both for themselves and the country as a whole. Conservative voters were not surprisingly the most optimistic, but a majority of other parties’ supporters, including Labour’s, were also confident. On one level this is good news. But as I pointed out in the context of my marginal seats poll, which found a similar picture, it also shows that economic optimism does not necessarily translate into a Tory vote – or at least not yet.
As the election approaches Labour will start to ask voters whether they feel better off than they did in 2010. Few currently answer in the affirmative. Though half of Tories said the country was now better off than it was four years ago, only 38% said the same for themselves. Overall, 36% said they and their families were worse off and 43% said this was true for the country. Half of UKIP voters said things had got worse on both fronts.
The problem Ed Miliband will have with this question is that few think the situation would have been any better had Labour been in charge. Seven voters in ten said they thought things would have been just the same or even worse had Britain had a Labour government since 2010. This includes two thirds of Lib Dems, 71% of swing voters and 84% of UKIP supporters – indeed only just over half of Labour voters themselves thought either they or the country would be any better off had their party been in office since the last election.