Summary of August Polls
Most politicians will tell you that "the only poll which counts is the one on election day" - which, in one sense, is of course true - and will pretend that they don't pay too much attention to polls.
It is certainly the case that, no matter how good the polls are, no party can afford to get complacent, and no matter how bad they are, there is no point in giving up.
However, polling methodologies have improved immensely since they called the 1992 election badly wrong (which is why comparisons of the huge leads which most pollsters gave Tony Blair in the mid 90's with the more modest but still healthy leads DC has now are misleading).
David Cameron has warned Conservatives not to take victory at the next election for granted until and unless we actually win, and he is absolutely right about that.
There is, however, a reason that I keep making the argument that the Conservaties have a chance of winning Copeland. Many people locally, knowing that they have had Labour MPs continuously for seventy years, assume that this is guaranteed to continue. It isn't. With boundary changes and the current national swing, the Copeland seat is currently too close to call, which means that there is everything to play for.
Copeland Labour party obviously realise this, which is why they are resorting to desperate smear tactics such as accusing the Conservatives of being anti-nuclear (24% of the local working population here are employed in the civil nuclear industry and many more have jobs dependent on it) and opposing investment in the local NHS. Neither of these allegations are true.
Political Betting reports this morning the latest YouGov poll in the Telegraph, which is yet another August poll putting the Conservatives in the range 41% to 43%, Labour in the range 24% to 26% and the Lib/Dems in the range 17% to 19%.
YouGov - CON 42: LAB 26: LD 18
MORI - CON 43: LAB 26: LD 17
ICM - CON 41: LAB 25: LD 19
ComRes - CON 41: LAB 24: LD 18
Nick Sparrow, boss of ICM, wrote to Mike Smithson who runs PB.com a week or so ago, responding to recent comments on that blog suggesting that August polling is somehow unreliable. He makes a strong case that this isn’t correct by looking at his polls in the August ahead of the past three general elections and what actually happened.
Nick notes that comparing Guardian ICM polls for the August before a general election with the result you get:-
August 1996 poll suggested that Labour were ahead by 12%.
The result - Labour won by 13%
August 2000 poll suggested that Labour were ahead by 10%
The result - Labour won by 9%
August 2004 poll suggested that Labour were ahead by 3%
The result - Labour won by 3%
August 2009 poll suggests that the Tories are ahead by 16%
Well, we'll see soon enough what happens. As I say, everything to play for.