Then only days later a poll in yesterday's Observer (carried out at the same time as the Guardian poll) shows that Labour has closed the gap to only 6 points (with 31 per cent against the Tories' 37).It is the poll Gordon Brown has been waiting for. Suddenly and belatedly as usual, it has become conventional wisdom to talk of a hung parliament. Now, some of us have been arguing this is likely for months, and my colleague Mehdi Hasan and I went into it in some detail back in June, when Mehdi was if anything surer (I thought then and -- shock horror - still think now -- that a small overall majority for Labour is the most likely outcome). Indeed, yesterday's poll and the apparent trend reminded me that, after I dared to suggest in my new year predictions (some wrong, some right), that the two main parties' positions in the polls would switch by the end of this year Iain Dale, the aimiable and popular partisan Conservative blogger, reacted with "cackling laughter" and said "In your dreams, sunshine".
Actually, I have always felt a hung parliament was a real possibility after the next election, and it is only latterly that I have swung to the view that a reasonable Tory majority is the most likely outcome.
In fact, private polling commissioned by Number Ten is today showing just that.
Strangely enough, even if this isn't a rogue poll (and I'd bet money that it is) David Cameron won't be unhappy. He doesn't want his troops to take anything for granted, and polls like this will help people redouble their efforts.
I really do think we need to think of a nickname for James Macintyre. His views and predictions are so bizarre that they encourage us to think of him as the British equivalent of Comical Ali. No serious political journalist I know thinks a Labour victory is a likely outcome of the next election. Either he knows something the rest of us don't or he's playing the role of a partisan hack rather than a political journalist. And not for the first time.