2015 Result:
Conservative: 8117 (15.7%)
Labour: 18646 (36%)
Lib Dem: 18047 (34.9%)
Green: 4109 (7.9%)
UKIP: 2668 (5.2%)
Others: 187 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 599 (1.2%)

Category: Ultra-marginal Labour seat

Geography: Eastern, Cambridgeshire. Most of the Cambridge council area.

Main population centres: Cambridge.

Profile: Covers almost all of the City of Cambridge. While Cambridge is best known for its university, it is also an important regional and retail centre and a home to much hi-tech industry and engineering. Around one in five of the adult population are in full time education and the seat has an well above average proportion of graduates, with just under half of adult residents holding an undergraduate degree.

Politics: All three of the main parties are competitive here, it was held for the Conservatives by the historian Robert Rhodes James until 1992, then was a Labour seat for thirteen years before, like many university seats, swinging strongly to the Liberal Democrats in 2005. The 2005 Lib Dem victor, David Howarth, served for only one term before successfully passing his seat onto Julian Huppert. In 2015 it was regained by Labour.

Current MP
DANIEL ZEICHNER (Labour) Educated at Trinity School and Cambridge University. Former trade union officer. South Norfolk councillor 1995-2003. Contested Mid Norfolk 1997, 2001, 2005, Cambridge 2010. First elected as MP for Cambridge in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 12829 (26%)
Lab: 12174 (24%)
LDem: 19621 (39%)
GRN: 3804 (8%)
Oth: 1702 (3%)
MAJ: 6792 (14%)
Con: 7193 (17%)
Lab: 14813 (34%)
LDem: 19152 (44%)
GRN: 1245 (3%)
Oth: 1166 (3%)
MAJ: 4339 (10%)
Con: 9829 (23%)
Lab: 19316 (45%)
LDem: 10737 (25%)
GRN: 1413 (3%)
Oth: 1541 (4%)
MAJ: 8579 (20%)
Con: 13299 (26%)
Lab: 27436 (53%)
LDem: 8287 (16%)
Oth: 1055 (2%)
MAJ: 14137 (28%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
CHAMALI FERNANDO (Conservative) Barrister. Sought Liberal Democrat nomination for London mayor in 2007 before defecting to the Conservatives in 2009.
DANIEL ZEICHNER (Labour) Educated at Trinity School and Cambridge University. Trade union officer. South Norfolk councillor 1995-2003. Contested Mid Norfolk 1997, 2001, 2005, Cambridge 2010.
JULIAN HUPPERT (Liberal Democrat) Born 1978, Cambridge. Educated at The Perse School and Cambridge University. Research scientist. Cambridgeshire county councillor 2001-2009. Contested Huntingdon 2005. MP for Cambridge 2010 to 2015. One of relatively few scientists in the House of Commons, Huppert has been prominent as a defender of science, evidence-based policies and as an opponent of pseudoscience.
PATRICK O`FLYNN (UKIP) Born 1965, Cambridge. Educated at Cambridge University. Former Daily Express journalist. Contested MEP for Eastern region since 2014.
RUPERT READ (Green) Educated at Oxford University. Academic. Norwich councillor 2004-2011. Contested Eastern region 2009, 2014 European elections, Norwich North 2009 by-election.
KEITH GARRETT (Remove the Politicians)
Comments - 977 Responses on “Cambridge”
  1. yes, this should be an easy Lib Dem gain. University people are much more motivated about Remain than the norm, and despite Zeichner’s voting record the Lib Dems only need 600 votes..

    Lib Dems will pick up Tory Remainers here as well

  2. Lib Dems presumably already benefitted from Tory tactical votes in 2015, if anything I think there might be unwind to the Tories on that front. LDs should recover slightly from their (thoroughly deserved!) abandonment by students in 2015, but that would have been a bigger factor in 2020. I guess my money would be on Huppert, but I don’t think it’s half as assured as some of you do.

  3. Until 1992 Cambridge was normally a Tory seat and the LibDems only became competitive here as a result of Tory tactical voting combined wit many voters deserting Labour over Iraq in 2005.There is far less incentive for Tories to now vote tactically here given their high national polling figures, and there has to be a serious possibility of them winning here from third place – as Labour did in 1992 and 2015.

  4. Zeichner is a decent bloke my mum met him in 2010 and she said he came across as very committed. His voting record shows he’s done all he can to hold this seat if it wasnt Julian Hubberts I’d be quietly confident of a Labour hold.

  5. Graham, I don’t agree that the Tories have a shot here. Firstly there will still plenty of tactical voting, since it’s very hard to spin this as anything other than a Lab-Lib marginal. Secondly I’m just not convinced the Tories would have a high margin here. The seat is mostly academics / students, science and tech industry, with some poorer urban areas. I don’t see the Tories winning a plurality in any of those demographics, even though the university may be less rabidly left than some.

  6. Graham is failing to understand something: the nature of political demographics has changed fundamentally since 25 years ago. The sort of Tory voters in seats like this have either died off or started supporting other parties as positions and issues have evolved. There are fewer Tory-voting dons and more left-leaning champagne socialists and liberal internationalists.

  7. Given this is just about the ‘Remain’ capital of England, I don’t think Tories can achieve a win this time, although their vote share will likely bounce back somewhat.

  8. Wellytab
    But the Tories were second here in 2010 with 26% of the vote! If the national picture stays more or less where it is now , I really don’t see it as unlikely that they can raise their share to circa 34%.

  9. If such voters like those here haven’t already been turned off by the Tories, and there is much evidence that they have, Brexit, or more specifically Theresa May’s desire to have the hardest Brexit possible, is likely to have made it a slam dunk

    Whilst such an economically succesful seat isn’t natural Corbyn territory, this ought to be perhaps the only seat the Lib Dems should be confident of taking back

  10. I thought London was the capital of remain

  11. I studied at this university in the late 80s. it’s far more left-wing now. academics and judges are much more lefty generally. my old ward, market hill, was the single most remain ward in the country..87% or some such voted remain. i think i know the 13% who didn’t…crusty reactionary dons who would have voted for General Franco!! doesn’t mean they’re wrong!!!

  12. I studied here at the time of the tuition fees rise. Strangely enough, I was the only person there who felt that the state handing out huge sums of money to mainly middle-class young people, while saturating the market with graduates and therefore actually decreasing the value of degrees, wasn’t really that progressive a thing to do, even though I personally benefited from it.

    I voted Lib Dem that year, but unlike everyone else never expected Mr Clegg to hold to the promise and wasn’t too disappointed when he didn’t. Besides, it only affected the next generation of students 😉

  13. I got a grant and didn’t have to pay any fees. Them were t’days

  14. Graham,
    I would rate current support for Theresa May amongst academics and university-oriented technology companies at <10%. Most likely direction for the Tory vote in Cambridge is down…

  15. I expect the Tory vote to increase here.

  16. Party vote shares in the Cambridge local elections:
    Lib Dem 37.15%
    Labour 37.07%
    Conservative 14.8%
    Green 8.2%
    UKIP 0.7%
    Ind 2.0%

  17. Going to be tight between Labour and the Lib Dems here. Either could win but i think the Lib Dems might if the election becomes even more brexit dominated.

  18. I’m not sure many Tories will switch either way: I’d guess most of the remnant Tory vote in Cambridge is fairly traditionally Tory and unlikely to get tactically scrunched more. Maybe a few Greens will shift, but they could shift to LD or Labour fairly evenly. I think the question is really on the LD/Lab swing not on tacticals.

    If the vote shares mirror the locals, it will be extremely tight, of course: the Lib Dems are narrowly behind in the constituency (narrowly ahead in the city, but minus Queen Edith’s) but tend to pick up a lot of the IND vote in Castle Ward at general elections as I understand it. Also worth noting: in the mayoral election, first-round votes in Cambridge city were as follows:
    LD 36.7%
    Lab 33.8%
    Con 14.9%
    Grn 8.4%
    Oth 6.3%

    The other way of looking at it is on swing: the Lib Dems moving up to near parity with Labour in the local elections this year is a seriously chunky swing since the last local election here in 2016…

    In other news, I’m getting “bad candidate” vibes about the Tory here, who apparently started repeating “strong and stable” at hustings meetings (looking like you’re hammering a party message may work in some places but it’s probably a bad plan in Cambridge!). Zeichner, amusingly, is apparently essentially using the “independent-minded local candidate” theming that Huppert was using two years previously! I suspect, much like Huppert, that he’ll find that even having voted against Brexit he can’t escape the views of his party leadership.

    I’ll be in this constituency over the weekend and may be helping out with some campaigning whilst there. 🙂

  19. The Green vote seems to have held up well, in the locals at least. The seat may hinge on where that goes. One thing to bear in mind is that actually, despite on the surface having more in common with Labour, the Greens have had more success working tactically with the Lib Dems. In an area so strongly opposed to Brexit, and rather in favour of voting and democratic reforms, there may be as many “mangoes” as “watermelons” in this constituency, and it would be oversimplifying to merely add the rather chunky Green vote share onto Labour’s total.

  20. interesting local race. that’s what i like about elections, the fact that it boils often down to local dynamics and tight, exciting fights.

    lib dems have to be favourite here.

  21. Bookies odds strongly favour the Lib Dems here.

  22. Yes, the bookies make the Lib Dems 1/4 in Cambridge.

    However, I would repeat that they were about 2% behind Labour in the County Council elections in the Cambridge constituency – the difference to the result for the City as a whole (as quoted above) is the Queen Edith’s ward, which is the South Cambs constituency.

    Conversely, there is good reason to think that the Lib Dems did at least as well in the South East Cambridgeshire constituency on 4th May, looking at the results for the County council elections and/or mayoral election.

    The bookies are offering a very generous 25/1 for the LibDems to make a gain there – they would need a 14% swing.

  23. One of the big reasons why the Lib Dems do so much better in local elections in target seats than in General Elections is that the power of incumbency is extremely high in local elections, particularly when councillors work hard as Lib Dem councillors usually do.. In Cambridge I suspect the Labour councillors work hard and hold more divisions in the constituency than the Lib Dems. Hence they survived a big swing to the Lib Dems compared to previous local elections.. I have a feeling that in this particular seat the normal rule of Lib Dems doing better in local elections may be broken…

  24. Interesting to see the difference between the county results and the mayoralty in cambridge I suspect Andrew111 has the answer to that above though

  25. There wasn’t really a great deal of difference between the County Council and mayoral election results in Cambridge.

    Lib Dem 37%
    Lab 34%
    Con 15%
    Green 8%
    Others 6%

    County Council
    Lib Dem 37%
    Lab 37%
    Con 15%
    Green 8%

    Looking at both with the Queen Edith’s ward excluded to reflect the constituency boundaries, Labour led by 700 votes for the council, and the LibDems by just over 100 votes in the mayoral.

    One real surprise was that the Tories fared just as badly in the Mayoral election where of course the overall contest was always going to come down to them and the LibDems.

  26. Labour are doing better in local government. They got 22% in Scotland when the latest Westminster voting intention polls place them on 13 to 18%.

    I think it is the Corbyn factor. This is why Labour did better at at the local elections than polls will indicate for May.

  27. Noticed Corbyn got a huge cheer by what seemed to be mainly student protesters outside Senate House when he arrived and left the BBC’s Election Debate! Any chance of Labour holding on here?

  28. Christian
    I don’t feel it can be ruled out, Zeichner has by all accounts been a very good local MP and he certainly has the benefit of being able to semi neutralise the Brexit attacks by pointing out he voted against triggering article 50. Lab also seem to think they can hold it since most everyone in the shadow cabinet has visited here at least once as have many big backbench Lab names including Chukka Ummuna, Yvette Cooper, Dan Jarvis, Harriet Harman, Stephen Kinnock and others. Finally with the Libs underwhelming performance nationally there certainly doesn’t appear to be a great wave to fight against. Too close to call either way I’d say.

  29. Yes.

    The bookies seem to think that it’s neck and neck with LDs at 4/6 and Lab 10/11. And YouGov’s megapoll thing makes it a narrow Labour win.

    For what it’s worth, I’d always thought a Labour hold was very possible.

  30. I think it seems that Labour will hold now they are rising in the polls and the LDs are static.

  31. Labour have got to be favourites here. They are polling better nationally than in 2015, while the lib dems are a tad worse. Cambridge is pretty left wing these days…

  32. As with Bath, this is a seat where the demographics couldn’t be better for the Lib Dems, making it essential that they take the seat

    But it looks like they won’t

    Outside London, Cambridge is easily Labour’s wealthiest seat in the country (following their melt down in Scotland) and if the Lib Dems message isn’t enough to convince voters here its hard to imagine them doing so in many other places where the de,ographics are less skewed in their favour

  33. Yes, it’ll be Labour barring 1) a polling error or 2) an outstanding local LD campaign.

  34. I seem to recall that 2010’s losers running again in 2015 did worse (or no better) when compared to a generic candidate from their party. Suppose they have all their baggage without any recent casework.

    Could the same problem befall Huppert (and Tessa Munt, Jo Swinson and a few other LDs, as well as Zac Goldsmith)?

  35. THE poll of 1000 university staff:

    LAB 54%
    LD 24%
    CON 7%
    GRN 5%
    SNP 5%
    OTH 5%

    Not sure whether this is a proper poll or a voodoo poll, but the results don’t surprise me.

    As for this seat I thought Huppert would win it back at the start of the campaign but I’d now expect an increased majority for Zeichner. Cons will be miles off.

  36. As I’ve mentioned before, Huppert actually did very well here in 2015 in that he retained a higher proportion of his vote share than any other Lib Dem candidate in England.

  37. Yes, I think it’ll remain quite marginal, but I now think Labour hold. Could be wrong, though.

  38. My guess is that there is a last week swing to Labour generated by a social media flood tide. If that is so, it is not going to be very discriminating between seats, other than that young voters are more likely to be changing their votes. If all this is so, The LibDems in Cambridge are liable to be swept away in the flood.

  39. You appear to be delivering your own ‘Social media Flood tide’ of postings about university seats.

  40. And why not, James?! We appear to have created a group of perhaps thirty “student seats” which behave as a spearate block, in much the way that coal-mining seats did a hundred years ago. The difference is that the student seats tend to be marginal, and may shift the result of the entire General Election.,

  41. Could the fact that many students will have finished exams by polling day on 8 June and will not be at their term-time address, significantly dilute the vote for Labour here?

  42. The vast majority of Uni of Cambridge students will still be around – May Week isn’t until a bit later in the month. This bloc may I suspect be more Labour than in 2015, with a shrunken Green vote. The ARU student vote might be diluted rather, of course, and I’d guess that may be even more heavily Labour than the Uni of Cambridge one. Squeezing the Green vote may be crucial to Labour getting the few extra points they need to put them over the line.

    I really don’t know what to expect here – I was canvassing here earlier in the campaign and it felt pretty positive, getting lots of good responses even in a traditionally Labour-leaning area of the city, but among my own age group it does feel like there’s a very real surge for Labour based on Corbyn’s popularity. I think there’s a possibility that both the LD and Lab vote shares will increase on 2015 at the expense of Tories and Greens.

    The one prediction I will make is that whoever wins may well hold the seat for a good while to come. This is Labour’s last chance to benefit from the coalition-years toxification of the Lib Dem brand, and conversely it may be harder for the LDs to leverage Huppert’s still-strong local profile if he’s out of parliament for another five years.

  43. Intelligent observations, Baillie!

    I think Cambridge is particularly susceptible to the Corbyn surge, if there is indeed one going on. Lab hold in my view!

  44. He’s a good guy James

  45. This was written by Phil Rogers who is a blogger/commentator on all things Cambridge :

    “….I do think John Hayward will increase the Conservative vote share slightly. My best guess is that he’ll end up on 18%.

    Rounding Keith Garrett down to 0%, that leaves 76% of the vote for the two leading candidates, Labour’s Daniel Zeichner and Julian Huppert.

    Both are battle-hardened campaigning veterans with large and effective teams of activists behind them. How will they fare this time?

    As noted above, while there are a lot of similarities with the 2015 contest, a great deal has changed too. One of the most significant factors in Cambridge election results is the extent to which the Lib Dems manage to “squeeze” the Conservative vote by persuading natural Conservative supporters to lend the Lib Dems their vote in order to keep Labour out. My impression this time is that the Conservative vote was a bit less squeezable at the start of the campaign, with Brexit clearly a factor, but has softened somewhat as the campaign has gone on and Labour have reduced the gap in the national polls.

    In terms of “feet on the streets”, there has been plenty of activity from both main parties. My impression is that, as usual, Labour have probably done more canvassing, and the Lib Dems are ahead in leaflet delivery. There seem to be more Labour posters on display across the city, but that was also the case in the last two General Elections, and in any case, as we saw with the Greens in 2010, posters don’t necessarily translate directly into votes. One noticeable change from 2015 is that the Labour student organisation, CULC, while still active, hasn’t been quite so prominent in the campaign this time – hardly surprising with University exams underway at the moment.

    So my best guess for the result of the 2017 General Election in Cambridge is… aggravatingly, not going to be revealed until the polls close at 10pm on Thursda… But here’s a prediction to keep you going until then: I think it could well be even closer than the 1.2% margin of victory in 2015.”

    So basically he’s saying “I don’t know”.

  46. Pretty pathetic way of saying “I haven’t the foggiest”…much more interesting when people have actual views.

  47. Peter,

    I believe he has predicted a very small swing to LD in Cambridge. Predicting a result closer than last time is one of the most precise predictions I have seen in this election, hardly sitting on the fence!

  48. Phil’s probably a fairly reliable source on this stuff, I’d trust his judgement – I do think it’s going to be immensely close. My student-age colleagues have definitely swung heavily to Labour here, but I’m getting more of a sense than I was that postgraduates and permanent residents may be edging back to Huppert compared to 2015. CULC not being prominent is a real concern for Labour; to hold on they’ll need to ramp student turnout as high as possible, and they were extremely active in 2015. I’m getting some murmurings that the Tory and even Kipper votes may be squeezing quite well on an anti-Corbyn basis, but I think Labour’s national momentum may carry them over the line here nonetheless.

  49. BBC reporting at the count that Labour is likely to hold this seat

  50. Labour not only hold, but utterly flatten Lib Dems in their best result here since 1997. Hugely galvanised student vote and national swing to Labour in all the right demographics for the seat – a very bruising defeat for the local party, and almost certainly sees Zeichner safe for a long while to come, though the LD organisation locally will see them continue to be the challenging party and I certainly wouldn’t rule out seeing Huppert vs Zeichner round four sometime down the line…

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