Craig Paterson poll analysis: Cameron vs Miliband, who won?


CommonSpace poll analyst Craig Paterson takes a look at how the General Election is shaping up according to this week’s polls, and gathers some interesting data collected after the first leaders debate event on Thursday night

SO THAT’S IT, this coalition government that everyone said would never last (myself included) has ended its five-year term. Six hundred and fifty MPs are heading back to their constituencies to try and convince the electorate to vote for them again. Well, almost all of them.

Eighty are standing down this time round, including former Labour foreign secretary Jack Straw, former Tory party leader William Hague (more on him in a minute), Lib-Dem party grandee Sir Menzies Campbell and former prime minister Gordon Brown.

The last PMQs of this parliament was a bruising one for Ed Miliband and Labour. They walked into a trap set by the Tories the day before when George Osbourne refused several times to rule out a hike in VAT during intense questioning from the treasury select committee.

The last PMQs of this parliament was a bruising one for Ed Miliband and Labour.

Labour thought this was a perfect weapon to bash the Tories with at the next day’s PMQs, which is why Ed Miliband got up and asked his prize question: “Will you raise VAT after the next election?”, allowing Cameron to deliver his response perfectly – “No”. It was a perfect trap, sprung right there in front of the whole house and beamed out live onto three separate TV channels.

Job done for the Tories, time to pack up and go fight the election, or so they thought.

We then had a rather bizarre attempt by William Hague (the leader of the House of Commons) to stab the Speaker of the House John Bercow in the back by changing the rules on how speakers are elected.

This brought outrage from all sides of the house. MP after MP stood up to have a go at William Hague, shouts of “withdraw the motion” and “shame” echoed around the chamber and the government was defeated in a vote 228 – 202. The final act of Mr Hague and of the government was a farce and a failure.

The final act of William Hague and of the government was a farce and a failure.

All week, the polls have been neck and neck; eight polls out since Monday and the average across them all has been:

CON – 33.75 per cent

LAB – 33.87 per cent

LIB-DEM – 7.63 per cent

UKIP – 14 per cent

GREENS – 6.13 per cent

OTHERS – 5.25 per cent

Still no one pulling ahead but it’s worth looking at some England-only polling data. The average of the last six polls all conducted in March:

CON – 35.7 per cent

LAB – 33.2 per cent

LIB-DEM – 7 per cent

UKIP – 15 per cent

GREENS – 7.2 per cent

OTHERS – 2.2 per cent

The Tories generally just need to win England to win the election. Couple that with my expectation that they will make gains up here in Scotland with Labour’s expected losses and the Tories are edging closer to victory.

Finally, we had the first of the TV ‘debates’ last night (click here to read more), and a snap poll taken immediately after the program by ICM of 1,123 people gave David Cameron the win.

Snap ICM Poll

“Who do you think won the debate?”

Cameron – 54 per cent
Miliband – 46 per cent

ICM also asked a whole series of questions to respondents – they don’t make for good reading for Labour.

“Who do you think would be good in a crisis?”

Cameron – 46 per cent
Miliband – 21 per cent

“Who do you think would be more decisive?”

Cameron – 54 per cent
Miliband – 29 per cent

“Who do you think would be more respected around the world?”

Cameron – 58 per cent
Miliband – 19 per cent

“Who had the more appealing personality?”

Cameron – 46 per cent
Miliband – 42 per cent

“Who had the best arguments?”

Cameron – 46 per cent
Miliband – 44 per cent

“Who sounded more convincing?”

Cameron – 48 per cent
Miliband – 44 per cent

“Who actually answered the questions asked?”

Cameron – 44 per cent
Miliband – 37 per cent

But it wasn’t all bad for Ed Miliband and Labour:

“Who do you think was more spin than substance?”

Cameron – 49 per cent
Miliband – 35 per cent

“Who do you think would have the courage to say what’s right?”

Miliband – 51 per cent
Cameron – 35 per cent

“Who do you think understands people like me?”

Miliband – 48 per cent
Cameron – 25 per cent

“Who do you think would govern in the interests of the many not the few?”

Miliband – 55 per cent
Cameron – 27 per cent

So lots of things for Labour and Tories to chew over this weekend. Both are claiming a victory in the TV showdown, the polls however still don’t show any one party pulling ahead.

There are reasons for this, one of them being the tendency of Survation to poll Ukip higher (has a bigger effect on the Tory vote) than the the vast majority of other polling companies – 18 per cent in their most recent one compared to between 10-14 per cent from most other polling companies.

The continued march of the SNP has begun to slow down ever so slightly. Can they actually do it and get 50+ seats? Who knows, this election is shaping up to be the most interesting in living memory.

The campaign proper has now begun, what awaits us over the next five and bit weeks who knows; one thing is for sure, we will have dozens and dozens of opinion polls between now and 7 May, all with their own take on the potential outcome.

Picture courtesy of UK Parliament