It’s a marathon, not a sprint

This weekend saw London host its annual marathon. Many would agree that distance running is a good metaphor for how we ought to approach psephology – it’s the longer-term trends rather than short term moves that matter.

That is, of course, until a voting intention poll is published, and everyone reacts. The Times slipped out a YouGov poll showing a five-point Conservative lead on Friday night, which ties with our poll from earlier this month for the biggest Tory lead this parliament. As Anthony Wells (who ran the poll) points out, this was conducted post-Syria, which was evident in defence moving up the table of issue salience, but also while the Windrush row was only in its earlier stages, and the Tories may have taken a hit from it subsequently.

ComRes had an interesting poll in the Sunday Express, which found that 47 per cent (+6) on a year ago agreed there was a need for a new centre-ground political party in Britain. As a percentage of each party’s current voters, the breakdown was CON 39 (+4) LAB 49 (+6) LD 64 (+6). On the one hand, you could argue that support being highest among Lib Dems is slightly embarrassing for that party given that they’re essentially being dismissed by their own voters. But on the other hand, the original Liberal Party won the same vote share and more seats in 1983 than in 1979, despite standing down in about half of them for the SDP. So don’t assume that such a party would “replace” the Lib Dems…

This should all perhaps have the health warning that not everyone’s idea of a “centre ground party” (or even the centre itself) is the same, and that they wouldn’t all vote for it. And +6 on a year ago, while statistically significant, isn’t that big of a swing. But there’s been a notable increase in chatter about a new party in recent weeks, and this finding will do nothing to damped in.

Ipsos has a new multi-country study for the BBC out suggesting that people worldwide feel their country is more divided that 10 years ago.

On Friday I joined (Lord) Rob Hayward and Core TV’s Rob Double for three segments to discuss Brexit, polling blackouts and the state of the race.

Lord Ashcroft, without directly referencing the Polling Committee set up by his former colleagues, adds his contribution to the debate that it’s prompted. Lewis Baston has an interesting take on the 1968 local elections, which saw a Tory landslide across the capital and beyond, while Mark Pack uses a sporting metaphor of his own to explain political persuasion and loyalty.

And finally Happy St George’s Day to fellow English people, but it might not be so happy if you want to the whole of the UK to have today off, although support for patron saints’ days to be bank holidays in individual home nations is very high, according to YouGov.

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