The Tories have surged into a three-point poll lead over Labour after chancellor George Osborne offered help to savers, pensioners and first-time buyers in his last budget before the general election.
The latest Opinium/Observer poll suggests the Conservatives have enjoyed a marked “budget bounce” as they jump by three points compared with a week ago, to 36%.
Labour is down two points at 33%, while Ukip is unchanged on 14%. The Lib Dems are also stuck, on 7%, while the Greens have dropped one point to 6%.
The findings will encourage Tory MPs and activists who had become anxious that they were not opening a clear lead over Labour as the 7 May election neared, despite a steady stream of good news on the economy over recent months.
Labour, meanwhile, will be hoping that the Tory lift in the polls is short-lived and that the election campaign proper will see their support rise back to 35% or above.
The poll also shows Ed Miliband and Ed Balls still lagging way behind their Tory counterparts David Cameron and Osborne when voters are asked who they trust more to run the economy.
Some 42% said they trusted Cameron and Osborne more, while 21% cited Miliband and Balls. The 21-point lead for the Conservatives is two points up on when the question was last asked in February.
Osborne also enjoys solid public support, marking a turnaround from the period after his “omnishambles” budget of 2012, when his reputation was in the doldrums.
Almost twice as many voters (43%) now think Osborne has been a good chancellor, as say he has been a poor one (24%).
Opinium found voters responded positively to individual announcements in the budget, with a clear majority believing that more populist measures were both credible and would make them better off.
Some 75% said plans to raise the tax-free threshold, first to £10,800 and then to £11,000 in 2016, were “believable” while 61% said the measure would make them better off.
Similarly, 64% thought his decision to freeze petrol duty was credible, and 59% said it would have a positive effect on their finances.
There was better news for Labour in a Survation/Mail on Sunday poll which showed no post-budget bounce for the Tories. Ed Miliband’s party were on 34 points – a four-point lead over Cameron’s party on 30. Ukip had 17 points while the Lib Dems were on 10 and the Green party three.
Labour also led the YouGov/Sunday Times poll with 35% over the Tories 33%. Ukip were on 14% with the Lib Dems on 8% and the Greens 5%. The SNP/Plaid Cymru polled 4%.
Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 1,979 GB adults aged 18+ from 18 to 19 March 2015. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.
This article was written by Toby Helm Political editor, for theguardian.com on Saturday 21st March 2015 19.15 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010