After last week's CommRes poll in the Indie - which I still regard as something of an outlier - slashing the Tory lead to a single point and then an ICM poll in the Guardian (usually my pollster of choice) showing a 15% Tory lead, I'm not sure what to make of the Times' Populous poll, which again slashes the Tory lead to 4 points and puts the Lib Dems on 17%. For the first time since the spring, Populous have the Tories under 40% - on 39%. Another notable point - which seems to be supported by other polls - is that the core Labour vote looks ready to turn out again, after an election or two of staying at home. Additionally, Labour voters are less ready than they have been to consider voting Tory and Gordon and Alistair are seen as the best people to lead us through the recession - hardly a suprise given the appalling performance of the Conservative economic team lately.
Running this through the inestimable Mr Baxter's Prediction Machine (obligatory caveat - this does assume a mythical universal swing across the country), leaves Labour as the largest party, but 22 short of an overall majority. In local terms, that sees the Tories retake Solihull, Birmingham Edgbaston, Stourbridge and Wolverhampton South West. I'd be stunned if they failed to evict the Lib Dem in Solihull, but I have heard good things about the ground campaign in Edgbaston and Gisela is a survivor down there, so I'd predict recounts at the least.