The Ipsos Mori research for the Evening Standard found the Conservatives on 32%, Labour on 29%, the Liberal Democrats on 9% and Ukip on 14%. Asked about Miliband as leader, the poll found just 13% of the public think he is ready to be prime minister and his approval rating was lower than that of the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg.
Among Labour supporters, 58% said they were dissatisfied with his performance as leader.
It also suggests Miliband now he has the highest level of dissatisfaction among leaders of his or her own party since records began 20 years ago.
Miliband’s supporters are likely to point out the poll was conducted at a time when he was facing an onslaught of anonymous briefings against him from some within his own party.
However, the new numbers are likely to pile further pressure on the Labour leader to raise his game as he prepares to give a major speech on Thursday about why people should vote for him to be the next prime minister.
The gap in support between the two leading parties has narrowed in recent months, but Labour is still around two points ahead of the Conservatives at about 33% in the poll of polls amalgamating different surveys. Commentators also point out that according to the BBC seats calculator, Labour would still have more seats than the Conservatives based on the Ipsos Mori shares of the vote.
Speaking to Sky News, Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, dismissed the new poll, saying the numbers have been “bouncing around for months”.
According to Ipsos Mori, Labour is down four points since October to 29%, while the Conservatives are up two points to 32% – still a very low share of the vote for any party hoping for a majority.
Bobby Duffy, head of public affairs at Ipsos Mori, told the Standard: “The interviewing for this poll was conducted at the height of the very public discussion of a possible challenge to Ed Miliband’s leadership of the party – and it looks like it’s had a significant effect on public opinion.”
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