If David Cameron liked the YouGov poll in the Telegraph last Thursday, he will love tomorrow’s News of the World. For the first time since the bottled election it has commissioned ICM to poll the marginals. You rarely see this – it’s difficult and very expensive to do. The result? That the boy Ashcroft done well. It suggests Cameron would make net gains of 131 seats, a 64-seat majority (Brown has 65 today). The last time the NOTW did this poll, Brown called off the election – then (story, pdf), it suggested Labour would lose almost 50 seats. The damage has more than doubled since. As you would expect from such a lead, Cameron is also ahead on the issues, the biggest lead being immigration. Given immigration remains the public’s top priority (click here if you don’t believe me) this puts the Tories in very good stead indeed.
I have done my NOTW column on this for tomorrow’s paper. What jumped out at me from the poll (which will be on ICM’s website tomorrow) was how Brown is being squeezed from both ends. The DE social groups are deserting him and the As were never really with him. The over-65s, the group that is most likely to vote, are also most likely to vote Tory. Nor is there any difference in Tory support from marginals in the south, midlands and north. You could scarcely ask for better demographic and social split. The alliance that took Thatcher to power is regrouping behind Cameron – in the marginals, at least.
Now and again, you hear grumbles about how Cameron should get rid of Ashcroft. Answering the odd embarrassing question about his tax status is a small price to pay for the kind of organisation that can bring a result in the marginals, creating a different weather system in the very places it is needed most. But as I say in my column tomorrow, at this rate it won’t be Ashcroft wot won it, it’ll be Brown wot lost it. And how.