And we’re off! Today is the first day of the proper general election campaign and the rollercoaster of polls continues. ComRes/ITV News/Daily Mail have released a new poll putting the Conservatives four points ahead — their biggest lead since September 2010 — which is the complete opposite of yesterday’s YouGov shocker. According to ComRes, the Conservatives are currently on 36 per cent, Labour has dropped to 32 per cent, Ukip is on 12 per cent, the Lib Dems on nine and the Greens on five.
As with the YouGov poll, the fieldwork was conducted after the Paxman Q&A on Thursday but the numbers are favourable to David Cameron. Many of the perceptions we already had about the party leaders have been reinforced: half think Cameron would make a better Prime Minister than Ed Miliband — compared to 29 per cent for the Labour leader, a drop in four points since the last ComRes poll before the debates. Around half describe Cameron as ‘arrogant’ while a similar number see Miliband as ‘genuine’. Two thirds said they thought Cameron is ‘good on television’, more than double the number for Miliband, while 60 per cent said the PM is ‘strong’.
The endless message from Conservative HQ of competence vs. chaos also appears to be getting through. When asked about the outcome of the election, 45 per cent said they would prefer a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, compared to 42 per cent for a Conservative-led government. For the alternative, 23 per cent would prefer a Labour-SNP coalition, while just 18 per cent would prefer a Labour-led government.
So, why is there such a shift in just 24 hours? As psephologists love to say, ‘it’s just one poll’. The headline numbers all remain within the margin of error and this volatility suggests that no one really has a lead. Lord Ashcroft will release his latest national poll this afternoon, as well as the next YouGov tracker this evening, so we’ll find out if the rollercoaster continues or whether there are any trends emerging.