According to the latest ComRes poll, the Conservative lead over Labour has slipped to 7 points (fieldwork was done between 29th and 31st January - so after the 0.1% growth figures for Q4 2009 were released). The figures are Con 38% (nc), Lab 31% (+2), LD 19% (nc), others 12% (-2).
On a uniform swing, according to the UK Polling Report calculator this would give:
This would be very, very close to what in my view is the best it could get for the Lib Dems in terms of influence. The Tories would be 30 seats short of a majority as stated with the Lib Dems on 48 and hence able to give them a majority on specific issues. However Labour are only 50 short of a majority themselves and hence it would be very close to being able to vote as a majority on specific issues with the Lib Dems too.
Here's a quirk though. What would happen if the Lib Dems managed to go up one more percentage point at the expense of the Tories?
That's right, a dead heat between Labour and the Tories in terms of seats and the Lib Dems able to form a small majority with either of them.
I am not saying any of this is likely. It's still too early to call it but you can bet your bottom dollar that the leaderships of all the parties are war-gaming these scenarios right now. It's been a long time since the possible result of an impending general election was this close (18 years to be precise).
The next few months are shaping up to be a roller-coaster ride, for everyone involved with politics.