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Poll: 'bailout bounce' not enough to save Brown

By Gary Gibbon

Updated on 04 February 2009

Gordon Brown's "bailout bounce" is still unlikely to translate into victory in the next general election, according to an exclusive Channel 4 News/YouGov poll of key marginal constituencies released today.

The poll gives Labour a 36 per cent share of the vote - two points down from the 38 per cent they polled in October.

The Conservatives' share remained steady at 43 per cent, increasing the Tory lead over Labour from five to seven points.

Download full results

Read the full poll results for yourself.
Download the poll (.xls)

The Lib Dems' rating went up by one point, from 12 to 13 per cent.

The next election could be a mirror of the last, said YouGov pollster Peter Kellner, with the Conservatives winning a majority of 60-70, compared with a Labour majority of 66 in 2005.

"That is a useful lead for the Tories, but with the next election possibly 15 months away, their lead is not yet enough for them to say 'game over'," he said. (See Kellner's full analysis here.)

The research took place in the 60 constituencies where Labour achieved a majority of between 6 and 14 per cent in the 2005 general election. Though they are not the most marginal seats in the country, David Cameron must win over their voters if the Tories are to win a working majority in the House of Commons.

Watch Gary Gibbon's analysis

In October, in the aftermath of the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers and the UK's government banking bailout, our poll gave Brown a massive "Churchillian" lead, but saw Cameron as top choice for PM after the next election.

In October, although 41 per cent of respondents said Brown was the better leader "right now in the middle of the economic crisis", only 26 per cent chose him as the better PM after the next general election. Cameron was the choice of 27 per cent and 36 per cent respectively.

"That is a useful lead for the Tories, but with the next election possibly 15 months away, their lead is not yet enough for them to say 'game over'"
Peter Kellner, YouGov pollster

Today the gap between the two leaders has narrowed: 34 per cent picked Brown as the best crisis PM and 28 per cent picked Cameron. 27 per cent chose Brown as the best post-election PM, and 34 per cent plumped for Cameron.

Worryingly for Brown, 58 per cent of respondents think he is "refusing to acknowledge the full depth of the economic crisis". However, a similar number - 53 per cent - think Cameron is "talking the economy down for political purposes and risks making things worse by damaging confidence".

Sixty per cent agreed the Tories did "little or nothing to help the victims of the recession" in the 80s when unemployment climbed to three million. These respondents were divided over whether a Cameron government would do more to help victims than Margaret Thatcher's: 42 per cent thought Cameron would be kinder but 43 per cent disagreed.

There was one firm thumbs-up for Conservatives past: 39 per cent thought shadow business secretary Ken Clarke would be a better chancellor than current shadow chancellor George Osborne, the choice of just 15 per cent.

Poll results - the breakdown

Who we polled
We didn't pick just any constituencies; we chose the Labour held marginal's where the Tories are in second place. They're not the wafer thin majorities but the seats with 6 - 14 per cent majorities, the ones that David Cameron needs to form a majority government.

Voting intention
Our poll shows in these marginals the Tories are ahead of Labour by 43 per cent to 36 per cent - that's a mirror image of Labour's victories in these seats and a YouGov analysis suggests it amounts to a 9 per cent swing to the Tories from Labour and a Conservative government with an overall majority of 60 - 70 seats.

Best PM in economic crisis
Now we also asked our sample who they thought was the best prime minister to govern Britain in the current economic downturn?

34 per cent wanted Gordon Brown to stay put for the crisis

28 per cent thought David Cameron would run things better even in the middle of a crisis.

A slight margin of victory there for Gordon Brown but compared with our previous polls even the "keep Gordon for now" group is diminishing.

Making a difference?
We asked if government policies to try to alleviate the effects of the recession were going to have a positive impact?

25 per cent thought measures including the VAT cut and loan guarantees to banks would help and were worth the money

64 per cent thought the government's measures weren't worth the money the government is spending on them. This is potentially very grim news for Gordon Brown who'd hoped his hyper-activity would reap some electoral dividends

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