THE huge surge in support for the Liberal Democrats continued with a new poll putting the party on 30% – up 10% in a week.
The latest findings are further evidence of the dramatic increase in the popularity of the Lib Dems among voters, and follow a clutch of polls suggesting the election is now a three-horse race.
The Guardian/ICM poll puts them in second place behind the Conservatives, who are on 33% (down four) and sees Labour third on 28% (down three).
It is the first time Labour has been in third place since the ICM series began in 1984, and its rating was its lowest since last October.
The Conservative score was its lowest since July 2007 and the same as the party achieved when going down to defeat under Michael Howard in the 2005 election.
It follows an earlier YouGov poll which put the Lib Dems on 33% (up three points since a similar survey published on Saturday), ahead of the Tories on 32% (down one), with Labour trailing on 26% (down two).
The dramatic findings are the latest in a string of polls suggesting the impact of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg’s widely-praised performance in Thursday’s historic first prime ministerial debate could be even greater than previously thought.
A ComRes poll for ITV News and The Independent last night put Labour and the Lib Dems level-pegging in joint second place behind the Tories.
It shows the Conservatives up one point from yesterday on 32% while the Lib Dems are down one on 28% - the same as Labour which are up one.
ComRes said this would still make Labour the largest party with 279 seats - 47 short of an overall majority - with the Conservatives getting 245 and the Lib Dems 94.
Gordon Brown made a joke about short-lived political honeymoons. David Cameron took off his jacket and dropped a political broadcast attacking Labour to make a personal plea for voters to avoid a hung parliament.
The leaders of the two main parties spent yesterday scrabbling to rewrite their General Election plans as Nick Clegg, the telegenic Liberal Democrat leader, continued his spectacular surge in the opinion polls.
Generals are fond of quoting that no battle plan survives the first contact with the enemy. Neither the Tory nor Labour battle plan survived the first ever televised debate of the three main party leaders last Thursday.
Mr Clegg’s surprise success in the televised debate and the chord that he has struck with the voters is the political equivalent of the volcanic ash cloud that has closed the skies over Britain.