Tuesday also sees what is probably the last poll on the Crewe and Nantwich by-election, this time from ComRes. This must be the most heavily polled by-election for many, many years (perhaps ever – though the days when by-election polls were the norm are beyond my memory) perhaps reflecting both the extreme rarity of a by-election the Tories might win, and the importance the media are suggesting it has for Gordon Brown’s future.

The full figures for the ComRes poll show a Tory lead of 13 points (the shares of the vote are not yet available). This would be a crushing Labour defeat on a swing of about 15% and if media rumours about the Crewe and Nantwich result being a trigger for moves against Gordon Brown are any more than media fluff, he will be in trouble.

While this is much larger than ICM’s lead, it’s actually what we would expect to see – remember that ICM’s figures are based on the projection that many of the don’t knows, who are mostly former Labour voters, will end up voting Labour come the actual election. Their unadjusted figures showed Conservative leads of 12 points and 15 points before the re-allocation. ComRes in contrast don’t reallocate don’t knows in the same way, so their findings are broadly in line – they just made different assumptions about how this will translate into votes at the ballot box.

UPDATE: The full figures are CON 48%, LAB 35%, LDEM 12%. Forget my earlier explanation about the difference between this and the ICM poll being down to ICM re-allocation of don’t knows. Unusually for them, ComRes also reallocated their don’t knows on the assumption that they would vote for the same party they did in 2005. The unadjusted totals would have had a Conservative lead of 15 points.

UPDATE 2: Just for fun (well, actually not just for fun, for £500) there’s a competition on PoliticsHome to predict the majority in the by-election, enter here


15 Responses to “ComRes show a 13 point lead in Crewe and Nantwich”

  1. I swear I’ve seen much bigger swings at by-elections in the late 80’s and 90’s, in similar circumstances, so it seems plausible to me that the Conservatives should win fairly easily here. That campaign with the “toffs” was ludicrous at best. I mean, didn’t Labour come to power by appearing to be more to the right than ever before?

    If that’s what they call an election campaign they really have lost it next time.

  2. The difference between an excellent result and a spectacular one would be if the Tories can secure a swing closer to 15% than 10%. Swings of around 15%+ are usually an indication that the governing party is on the way out.

  3. He probably won’t thank me for reminding people of it, but back in 1997 Peter Kellner used to profess a theory that, if a government’s vote fell by more than 10 points in the last by-election they were on their way out, if it’s vote fell by less than 10 points they would be re-elected.

    Up until 1997 it worked as well. Since then the rule has managed to predict two thumping great Labour defeats at the 2001 and 2005 general elections, so has quietly gone to whatever place it is where silly theories go to die.

  4. I’d prefer to be cautious about this,
    and go for a 5-6% lead.

  5. Apologies for completely off topic post but does anyone know where I can find out which way different MPs voted in the Embryo Bill (and all bills if possible)? I’ve tried Hansard and Theyworkforyou.com but can’t seem to find it.

    Again, sorry for being completely off topic but you guys are the only political whizz-kids that I know :)

  6. Steven – BBC Politics maybe,
    but Broadsheets newspaper web-sites might.

  7. Thanks Joe – just found it on BBC politics.

  8. Not quite the monster swings of the the early 1930s and the 1990s but as William Rees-Mogg wrote in [i]The Times[/i], it does seem as if the political pendulum is swinging back to the Conservatives now, the last time it did for them was thirty years ago in the late 70s when they were winning by-elections whilst in opposition.

  9. [ “He probably won’t thank me for reminding people of it, but back in 1997 Peter Kellner used to profess a theory that, if a government’s vote fell by more than 10 points in the last by-election they were on their way out, if it’s vote fell by less than 10 points they would be re-elected.

    Up until 1997 it worked as well. Since then the rule has managed to predict two thumping great Labour defeats at the 2001 and 2005 general elections, so has quietly gone to whatever place it is where silly theories go to die. ” ]

    Various Tories insisted in 1996 that if real disposable incomes rose for 12 consecutive months before a General Election, the government couldn’t fail to be re-elected.

    They did and they didn’t.

    The law broke down because of the events of September 1992. In any case, the reverse was of course true in April of 1992.

    As for by-elections, the size of the fall is probably not the issue – it’s whether the main opposition party gets the votes…

  10. It would be a bonus for the Conservatives if they could win more votes than the last general election, ie. 14,162. Quite often parties win by-elections without attracting any additional support, (partly because of the inevitable fall in turnout).

  11. I know the media is saying Crewe & Nantwich is a 2 horse race – but as i have said before – the Liberals play dirty tricks at by-elections & it would appear that Labour is doing the same with the “Toff” tactic – it’s time the Labour Party stopped playing on class issues of the 1920’s and came into the modern world. They have more MP’s from privileged backgrounds than the Tories anyway

    [edited…try and keep things non-partisan please Mike – AW]

    This could well be a very tight one for the Tories – especially when they can’t control the message the other two are putting across on the doorstep .

  12. if comres is right the con’s may have a wide majority in the seat on a scale to be able to hold on at the next election pred maj 4000-7000 (mike will say far to big your dreaming well kmaybe not if the polls are to be taken as they are.

  13. The Lib Dems were on 18.6% last time. I think the strong probability is that they’ll go down rather than up. (Incidentally that share in 2005 was the Lib Dems/Alliance’s highest ever share in C+N, beating even 1983).

  14. The ‘Oracle’
    Good heavens you’re not getting windy are you Mike? If the Bookies get this one wrong and some have the Tories at an unbackable 25 to 1 ON to win at Crewe then it will be astonishing indeed.
    What do you mean by saying that the Tories can’t control the message the others are putting out on the doorstep? The others equally cannot control what the Tories are saying!! It’s a level playing field.
    Stand by for the first Tory by election victory over Labour since well-almost since Elvis died! Put away the smelling salts Mike…

  15. In terms of swing there is the more recent example of Dunfermline.

    By election result; Lib Dem 12,391 (35%), Lab 10,591 (30%).
    General election 2005; Lab 20111 (47%), LibDem 8549 (20%).

    That’s Labour down 17% and the LibDems up 15%, which is a huge swing in very recent times, only 2006.

    And of course we know what happened in 2007.

    Peter.