Does this point to a Labour standstill or small decline?
In the week before Christmas Anthony Wells of UK Polling Report put forward the theory that Labour’s standing in the polls was closely linked with how optimistic the public were about the economy or the level of consumer confidence.
Thus while the world economic storm was dominating the headlines in the September – November 2008 period these two indices were actually seeing sharp rises which coincided with the Brown bounce.
The argument was that people felt things were getting better inspired, possibly, by a sense that the situation was under control. Also, of course, motorists and mortgage payers were seeing sharp reductions in their costs.
Well now comes the real test for the thesis. The latest Nationwide consumer confidence numbers are out and show a dip as seen in the chart above. Will this be reflected in the January voting intention surveys?
We shouldn’t have too long to wait. Fieldwork for the January Populus survey for the Times starts on Friday and continues over the weekend and we might also see one or two polls in the Sunday papers. The Sunday Times YouGov poll often comes out at this stage in the month and there might just be ComRes and ICM as well.
If this does stand up then the theory promises to be a great tool for gamblers – particularly those betting on the general election markets. (William Hill’s wide range of UK political prices are generally available daytime only)
For if you can predict with a level of confidence that it’s getting better or worse for the government then it might be wise to bet before the voting intention polling numbers come out.
The trouble is, of course, that the bookies read PB as well and if the Wells thesis is correct then they will be soon adjusting their prices in line with these two indices.