The Guardian/ICM poll found that 40 percent of those surveyed say the Tories are better at dealing with economic issues than the Labor Party, up from 28 percent two months ago. Only 24 percent said Labor would be preferable, up from 19 percent in June.
The poll found respondents are still more likely, by 3 percentage points, to say they would vote for Labor. But the numbers show one of the party's biggest issues might be slipping away.
Prime Minister David Cameron and his party face the voters in 2015.
Peter Kellner, an analyst with the polling firm YouGov, told The Guardian opposition parties need a strong lead on the economy to win. He cited 1992, when Labor failed to defeat John Major, and 1997, when dissatisfaction with the economy gave Labor a commanding majority in Parliament.
"Unless there's some very particular hot topic at the time, it's always the economy, stupid, when it comes to an election," he said. "The economy is the biggest thing where character matters. The questions is whether the leader up to the job of protecting standards of living. It's a general view of competence, rather than a specific positional view."
ICM interviewed 1,001 adults by telephone Aug. 9-11.