There is a new poll by CrosbyTextor in the Sunday Telegraph, conducted in the top thirty Conservative target seats. I believe the poll was taken in the top thirty Conservative target seats using my notional boundary figures – the list is here. It matches the breakdown as given in the Sunday Telegraph of 20 Labour held seats, 10 Lib Dems and 1 SNP seat.

The share of the vote in these seats at the last election would have been CON 38.1%, LAB 30.8%, LDEM 24.5%, Others 6.6%. Today’s poll has party support in those seats at CON 41%, LAB 17%, LDEM 18%. Unless there is an unfeasibly high figures for others, I suspect the figures have not been repercentaged to exclude don’t knows so we can’t do a proper swing. Assuming the others are only a bit up on 2005, 8% say, the figures would be something like CON 49%, LAB 20%, LDEM 21% – the same sort of swing the national polls are showing.

Unsurprisingly these figures suggest easy victories for the Conservatives in these seats (though it would be interesting to see the breakdown between those 20 Labour held seats and 9 Lib Dem held seats), but with twenty point Tory leads in the national polls that’s no surprise – the key marginals at the moment aren’t the top 30 target seats that would see Labour lose their majority. It will be those targets further down the list that will determine if the Conservatives manage to get their own majority and how large it would be.

26 Responses to “CrosbyTextor poll of marginal seats”

  1. You write “The share of the vote in these seats at the last election would have been CON 38.1%, LAB 30.8%, LDEM 24.5%, Others 6.6%.”

    Surely that should be Lab 38.1%, Con 30.8%.

  2. It is stretching the imagination to see the Tories gaining Perth & N Perthshire from the Scottish National Party. The Scottish sub sample from the ComRes/Independent poll was: SNP 39%, LD 21%, Lab 19%, Con 13%.

  3. I agree with your view Anthony that the missing 24% must include Don’t Knows/Won’t Votes as well as Others and suspect the actual fiures would be something like 49/21/22/8 .
    I guess that this CrocbyTextor outfit are connected with the well known Lynton Crosby and Mark Textor who has in the past used push polling in Australia and had to pay heavy damages to an Australian Labor party MP in 1995 .
    I guess this outfit are not memners of the BPC and the detailed data will not be made available for proper analysis .

  4. Kenny – no, it’s Con 38%, Lab 30%. It sems slightly counter-intuitive given these are seats that the Conservatives don’t hold – the reason is because Labour hold 2/3s of them, the Lib Dems hold 1/3… but the Conservatives are a very close 2nd in all of them.

  5. Kenny – no Anthonys figures are correct . Think logically there are 20 Lab/Con marginals where Labour have a narrow lead over the Conservatives and 9 LibDem 1 SNP seat where Labour are well behind the Conservatives . Aggregating them gives the figures Anthony has calculated .
    This makes it impossible to deduce what is happening in LibDem seats . Overall the LibDem support is down 2-3% but logically it could be being squeezed in the Lab/Con marginals and steady or even slightly up in the LibDem seats . The detailed data may give more clues .

  6. Having read the article, the poll figures make more sense – they are a comparison to a poll in the same constituencies a year ago, showing a substantial swing to the Conservatives. If the polls are comparable, is it not a reasonable assumption that the next 50 marginals would show a similar swing? The missing 24% is, of course, still a problem – what was the comparable figure a year ago and how is it explained?

  7. It’s a pity we can’t see the individual seats but as the sample in each would be pretty small the margin of error might mean they weren’t that much use.

    Of course my interest would be in Perth in particular and specifically there ( and elsewhere) what was happening to the “Also Rans”.

    Perth & N Perthshire 2005.
    SNP: 15469 (33.7%)
    Conservative: 13948 (30.4%)
    Labour: 8601 (18.7%)
    Liberal Democrat: 7403 (16.1%)
    Other: 509 (1.1%)
    Majority: 1521 (3.3%)

    It’s clear in seats like Perth that a large number of labour and potentially Libdem voters vote SNP to keep the Tories out. But how will they vote in 2010, to keep the tories out or to defend the union.

    If Labour fall in line with the polls then they would be down near 4,000, but given that many almost certainly vote tactically already the 8,000 are probably a core vote that is more solid than that. I could see them shed 2,500 on current polls and i suspect even despite the feeling between Labour and the SNP the Tories would be lucky to get more than the SNP.

    Given that we can assume that most existing Tory and SNP voters would stick where they were, then the LibDems could be crucial. with 7,500 votes the libdems on current polls could fall to as low as 3,000.

    Now as with Labour many vote tactically already and with a new leader they might stage a revival ( or tear themselves apart) but there could still be 2,000 vote for grabs.

    Perth being fairly affluent (it is as close to a shire county as you can get in Scotland, if you’ve never been there go, it’s stunningly beautiful… that’s my tourist board bit) so they tories might pick up a majority, but it would still probably be less than the SNP would get from Labour.

    Rough prediction for 2010….

    SNP: 18,500 (40%, +6)
    Conservative: 15,500 (34%, +4)
    Labour: 6,500 (14%, -5)
    Liberal Democrat: 5,000 (11%, -5)
    Other: 500 (1%, 0)
    Majority: 2,000 (6%, +3)


  8. The GB-wide graphic accompanying the story in the print edition of the Sunday Telegraph looks decidedly odd to me. It has text stating that it is based on the old boundaries and a Lib Dem vote share of 18%, but I can’t see any seat turning from yellow to blue (e.g. LD holds across SW London and Cornwall). Furthermore, North Wales has turned blue except for Wrexham, but in Kent Labour holds onto some Thames corridor seats and a Thanet seat while losing Dover.

  9. Having tried to do marginals polls in the old days with Harris I would say that this needs to be considered with many caveats.
    First, it is difficult to find socio-economic and other variables for such an unusual set to target the sample and weight to.
    Second, polling Lib Dem held seats is very hard at this stage as the MPs tend to have a large personal vote which is not reflected when party lables alone are given. I would expect it to be much harder for the Conservatives to gain seats from the LDs than from Labour, for this reason, also because of tactical voting which does not figure as much in mid-term polls. This is one case when applying uniform swings i less likely to work.
    Third, as Anthony Wells says, the closest seats last time are not in actually the key ones which will be close next time, or are needed for the Tories even to be the largest party, never mind whether they would win an overall majority (im a hypothetical election now, which there isn’t going to be).
    Finally, in fact I doubt the value of polling in marginals, despite the logic, as they do not tend to behave very differently as a set, and even if they do, it’s very hard to measure accurately in anything other than an exit poll (which is beased on marginals at general election time). Overall, just like byelection results are not good guides to potential swings, the best evidence at present is the standard national polls.

  10. There are a still lot of leftwing disbelievers who are scetical about Tory chances in THIS seat or THAT seat. Well WAKE UP people.
    It happened in ’96 to the Tories. Were you up for Portillo? Not so funny when its a Labour or Lib Dem front benchers is it?
    Still think, after Crewe and Glasgow, that it cannot happen to you?
    THINK AGAIN. Muahahahahahahahaha!

  11. I find the combination of statistics for seats held by different parties highly dubious.

    What reason could be given for wanting to conceal differential swings in seats which behave differently, except to attempt to control the conclusions to be drawn?

    I find it hard to believe there is a uniform swing either across the country or between the parties, so until a more accurate breakdown is revealed any information contained within these surveys should be treated with high caution.

    My suspicion is that there is an obvious conclusion here – namely that either the Labour-held tory target seats or those held by LDs is proving more resilient than the other (polls and policy positions would suggest Labour is weaker).

  12. Peter: you are making a mistake in treating this result as worthy of analysis. There is much of value you have told us on this site which is informative and thought provoking. Your efforts are wasted on this unworthy poll.

    The inclusion of SNP held seats is so inapppropriate that the only rational response is to assume that there is nothing of value here, and at the very least to resolve to treat with extreme circumspection any future poll from this source or more likely reject it outright and unseen.

    Maybe Thomas is right, but it is always more likely that these people just do not know what they are doing.

    Anthony: A building manager colleague once explained to me that there was Architect’s language, Builder’s language, and building site language. Do you think I have made my point clear enough above?

    Do you have any horoscopes for the latest election day or perhaps 25 January 2010, my guess for the referendum?

  13. I must admit a Burns Night referendum date looks good for me…

  14. I do have some doubts about the details of this poll, but I think it just generally confirms the message of others.

    I disagree that the LDs have massive personal votes, with the implication that they bar national factors. In 2001 and 2005, yes, because people in those seats didn’t want a Tory government and opted out of the national contest.

    The May 2010 election will be the first where the LDs have to defend a lot of seats against the Tories when they are challenging for government, and when who governs is the clear choice. It is time to acknowledge that fact.

  15. In 1979, the most recent parallel, the Liberals went down from 13 to 11 (percentage down from 18% to 14%). I have no problem imagining the LDs may lose up to 20% of their seats in 2010.
    However, Joe might also consider that by then either the Conservatives may be so strong that it is obvious they are going to form the next government, in which case there may be some cold feet about limiting their strength; or alternatively if it is really close, by definition their standing will be nowhere near as strong as at present.
    The current Conservative lead seems to me to be based more on Labour government unpopularity than a huge Tory surge throughout the country. Lib Dems are less likely to suffer large swings.

  16. If one wants to change the government (unless one is actually a strong supporter of a centre/left party or fringe party) , I suspect the case for voting Conservative rather than Lib Dem personalities is pretty strong.

    I also think the electorate is less keen on the kind of parochial (or worse) campaigns the LDs run – they resonated around 2003 because people didn’t want the Tories nationally.

    It is true that if the current polls continue to May 2010 (which is when it will be), there could be a 1983 kind of effect when the Tory share loses several points at the end, helping the LDs, but if the Tories were doing less “well” I suspect it would be because Labour had recovered a bit, with a similar projected Tory share of the vote, but a greater squeeze on the LDs.

    Robert Waller is correct, however, that the Liberals did well defending seats in 1979 – but it was such a small number of seats anyway it doesn’t prove much that they can defend 60 seats.

  17. The referendum is proposed for St Andrews day which is November 30th 2010 about six months after the last date for a UK election, but before the first Tory Budge, although we may get an autumn statement.

    It will be interesting to see if that has an impact on what appears in manifestos about the Barnet Formula.

    It’s looking like all the candidates for Scottish Labour Leader are back tracking on Wendy’s “Bring it on” line, and only Mike Rumbles for the Libdems seems to be serious about backing it, so it may well be that we can’t get the bill through Parliament.

    However the Bill itself may well be debated prior to and indeed during the UK election campaign so expect the SNP to make passing it an election issue, so that people have a right to say and for the other parties to be portrayed as anti democratic and ruled from London if they oppose it.

    That’s politics for you.


  18. Looking again at the issue of Liberal MPs holding on disproportionately well in 1979, I think they were able to squeeze the still substantial 1974 Labour vote in several.
    Plus there were some further Liberal improvements such as Twickenham, Richmond, and Totnes.

    My basic point, however, is that the large number of Lib Dem seats now is a part of the extra large anti-Tory national swing we have had, and most are quite marginal. I don’t believe these places are immune to large swings, although they are generally tougher than government held seats.

  19. JJB, your comments are clearly coloured by a blue tinge and will be read as such.

    I’m not convinced that public choices are formulated on a single axis of political difference and I think any partisan commentator will be hurting their chances by allowing just such a delusion to cloud their analysis.

  20. Indeed.

    However, to assume the Lib Dems are immune from large swings when people want to change the government (if that is what happens in May 2010), is inaccurate, as I’ve explained.

  21. I think the LibDems have a problem in that under Clegg they seem closer to the Tories in policy terms but in reality they should be targeting Labour.

    In 2005 all the seats they lost were to the Tories and next time the Tories will be stronger. In contrast they gained far more seats from Labour in 2005.

    Oddly enough as they seem to be sharing in the same slump north of the border as Labour they actually have ( with the help of some Tory tactical voting) a good chance in three Scottish seats Edinburgh south, Aberdeen South and Edinburgh North & Leith.

    In all three they are within between 500 and 2,000 of Labour with both the SNP and Tories also ran’s. If the SNP takes votes from labour or their supporters vote tactically all three seats are more than within LibDem reach.

    The closed SNP seat is target No 72.

    The Tories have nine Libdem seats needing less that a 2,000 vote swing and on current polls they should take them all. On a 5% swing which is possible they Tories would take twenty seats.

    Labour have five target libdem seats within 1,000 votes, but on current polls wouldn’t be favourites to get any.

    On this basis I wouldn’t expect the Libdems to be down by more than 10 seats and they should be focusing their attentions on attacking Labour.

    From an SNP perspective Argyll & Bute, is the only one that looks in any way vulnerable, so they may well actually do Okay north of the border.

    As to other seats what the SNP could gain on current polls are;

    Dundee West, Falkirk, Glenrothes, Kilmarnock, Lanark, Ochil and Paisley (N) are all possible on current polls, but none easy. Add that to Argyll and we would have our current seven MP’s plus eight to make it fifteen, five short of Alex’s target of twenty.

    Having said that our record is 11 MP’s out of 72 and 30% of the vote so 15 out of 59 and a third of the vote would still be the best result in our history and set us up nicely for a referendum ( which if we did this well Labour would almost certainly oppose) and the elections in 2011.


  22. JJB, I wouldn’t describe LDs as immune to swings, but that their dynamic modulates the effect of any swing and therefore insulates them against some of its impact.

  23. Peter

    In relation to the tactical voting patterns of lib-dems and labour voters – the Scottish Parliamentary voting breakdown provides some clues as to where these votes go. If we assume that the Regional vote is an indication of the voters’ first preference then by looking at how lib-dem and labour regional voters cast their FPTP votes we can get an idea of tactical voting.

    For Roseanna Cummingham’s Perth constituency – 31% of labour regional voters did not vote labour in the FTPTP vote.
    13% voted SNP
    8% voted Tory
    7% voted Lib Dem (not very tactical)
    3% were spoiled

    Lib-dems proved slightly firmer with only 22% of them lending their votes to other candidates.
    10% voted SNP
    9% voted Tory
    1% voted labour

    The difference in the number of tactical votes from these two parties was only just over 300 net votes in favour of the SNP.

    In North Tayside however 37% of labour voters switched
    21% voted SNP in FPTP
    8% voted Tory
    4% voted Lib Dem

    Among lib dems 31% used their FPTP vote for another party
    20% voted SNP
    8% voted Tory
    1% voted labour

    This means the net gain for the SNP from tactical swiitches from labour and the lib dems was about 1,000 over the Tory candidate.

  24. Peter:

    I don’t disagree with anything you say but I live in Argyll and Bute and I wouldn’t dare predict the result especially after I was wrong in Glasgow East.

    What I am sure of is that Alan Reid, the LibDem MP will not be in second place and the Concervative will be. If the LibDem manages to lose enough votes to take him below the Conservative, they will mainly go to the SNP rather than the Conservative and the SNP will win.

    It’s a three way marginal.

    It will either be 1 LibDem 2 Con 3 SNP 4 Lab or 1 SNP 2 Con 3 LibDem 4 Lab

    What use is a Lab/Con swingometer in a case like that?

  25. John Dick,

    Although a long way from Argyll, it is a seat I have long watched (the widow of a former MP was a friend). I agree that the result is too close to call, and I suspect that you are right that Alan Reid will either hold it or fall to third place. If he is in second place, then it could either be because (a) Cons have failed to regain enough votes in what (south of the border) should be a natural Tory seat, or else (b), if the SNP have failed to maintain their position, and so fail to repeat for Westminster their Holyrood success.

    There is another alternative – possible if not that likely – 1 Con; 2 SNP; 3 LD; 4 Lab

    As for Labour, the only relevance here is how many of them swing behind Alan Reid to keep SNP out. They certainly won’t be switching to Conservative !

    Paul H-J

  26. The SNP in their free newspaper for this constituency claim that few vote positively for the LibDem, but modtly to keep Con, Lab, Con+Lab or SNP out.

    If that were reallly so, then the LibDems should win in every seat. Thre is some truth in it though. In this former Con seat, the Labour but tactical voters must already have gone over to LibDem, and may not wish to change to SNP or risk change for fear of letting the Tory in. There arn’t so may Labour votes to lose.

    When it was a Con seat, the MP John Mackay was on the pragmatic one-nation stream of the party. Unionism apart, he could be in the SNP to-day. Wasn’t it a National Liberal seat before that?

    Neither NewLabour or the swivel eyed free marketeers ever were welcome here.