Over the past two days, we’ve had polls from four different pollsters, and all of them show big leads for Labour. Yesterday, Populus gave Ed Miliband’s party a 15-point lead — the largest lead the pollster has ever shown for Labour. Today, Ipsos MORI shows Labour ahead by 11 points and TNS BMRB have them up by 12. The latest YouGov tracker gives Labour a nine-point lead, although averaging their polls over the last week makes it more like ten points. The precise margins may be different, but all of these results would — if replicated in a general election — result in a large Labour majority and hand Ed Miliband the keys to 10 Downing Street.
But while voters say they would vote for Miliband’s party, they still don’t seem enthusiastic about making him Prime Minister. In that Populus poll, 68 per cent said they were dissatisfied with David Cameron, but even among those a majority said they’d still prefer to have him as PM than Ed. And Ipsos MORI found that the public rates David Cameron as ‘stronger’ on most of the qualities it tested. In particular, he posts big leads on being ‘eloquent’, ‘Prime Ministerial’, ‘tough enough for the job of Prime Minister’ and ‘smart enough for the job of Prime Minister’. Miliband only comes out ahead on two qualities — ‘understands people like me’ and ‘will protect British jobs’ — and by much smaller margins.
At the moment, it seems the public’s low opinion of Miliband is outweighed by its even lower opinion of the government (net approval rating: -34). But will that last until election day in 2015? As the 2010 election approached, we saw Labour’s poll rating recover somewhat — not because people were warming to Gordon Brown’s government, but because they weren’t particularly enamoured with the apparent alternative. If Cameron — with all that eloquence, toughness and smartness — couldn’t prevent his lead being eaten into, it seems unlikely that Miliband — without it — will be able to. But of course, with the boundary review blocked, Labour may only need one or two points of its lead left by 2015 to claim a majority anyway.