So, No Change There

Mike over at Political Betting has posted a handy set of numbers:

The following show the average annual opinion poll ratings from ICM for the Conservatives over the past ten years and although there has been a small improvement the figures remain pretty consistent.

1995 29%
1996 30.4%
1997 29.2% (General Election 31.4%)
1998 29.6%
1999 30%
2000 32.5% (excluding petrol crisis surveys)
2001 31.25% (General Election 32.7%)
2002 31.2%
2003 31.7%
2004 32.25%

Has there ever been this degree of stability in a major Party’s polling numbers? (Mike’s data go back to 1995, but I don’t think there’s much change in the 1994 or 1993 numbers: we can date the Tories’ opinion poll slump fairly precisely to September 1992, when Mr Heseltine announced his pit closures.) Having grown up in the 1980s, when polls bounced up and down wildly between elections, and no Parliament was complete without the Government having a twenty-point deficit in the polls somewhere along the line, I still find these unchanging numbers strangely gripping.