YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph is now out. The topline figures, with changes from YouGov’s last poll, are CON 39%(-2), LAB 29%(+2), LDEM 19%(+1).

A two point change in Conservative and Labour support is, of course, within the margin of error, but it fits into a wider pattern. While I think the change in MORI’s poll at the weekend was mostly down to a more Labour sample, there were signs of genuine movement to Labour as well. We also saw a shift towards Labour in ICM’s poll taken at the same time.

On a uniform swing this would leave the Conservatives just short of an overall majority, and being a far more plausible figures than the extreme swing in MORI’s poll, I’d expect this to further fuel the media speculation about a hung Parliament. While this is a much less comfortable position for the Conservatives, in reality I expect that a 10 point lead would still deliver the Conservatives a reasonable majority.

Polling results are projected into election results using a uniform national swing, but it’s quite possible that the Conservatives could out perform UNS. It seems implausible for the Conservatives to be doing well in the inner-city North and we know for sure from polling there that they are doing much worse in Scotland. These places have few Conservative targets so it matters little, but if they do worse in one place, they must be doing better elsewhere to arrive at the topline figures and we have polling evidence to suggest they are doing better in Con vs Lab marginals.

On the subject of which, YouGov also carried out a parallel poll of Lab-Con marginals in the north (as far as I can tell, this was the 32 Labour seats in the North-West, North-East and Yorkshire and Humberside that the Conservatives would need to win to get a majority of 1 on a uniform swing). YouGov found voting intention in those seats to be CON 42%(+8), LAB 36%(-8), LDEM 12%(-5). Changes are from the 2005 notional election results, and suggest a swing of 8 percent. This compares to a national swing of 6.5% in today’s nationwide YouGov poll – if marginals elsewhere behave like those in the North, this would deliver a healthy Conservative majority.

YouGov also asked a question intended to see how tactical voting would impact this, and here I am less confident. YouGov told respondents their seat was the type of Conservative/Labour marginal that would decide the election and asked again how they would vote. Not surprisingly, the effect was to further increase the Conservative lead to 43% to 35%, the equivalent of a 9% swing, and if echoed in other marginals enough for a large Conservative victory.

My worry over that approach is that a fair chunk of people don’t know whether or not their seat is a marginal. In the 2008 PoliticsHome marginal poll 20% of people didn’t know which parties were in a position to win their seat. Only 34% of people in Con v Lab marginals correctly identified their seat as such, 45% of people in Con vs LD seats did, 29% of people in Lab vs LD seats. A fair chunk of Lib Dem campaigning especially consists of positioning themselves as the party best placed to defeat the incumbent, so saying in the question itself that the Conservatives are best placed to beat Labour risks overestimating the level of anti-Labour tactical voting. The 2009 PoliticsHome poll of marginals showed no obvious sign of tactical voting harming Labour in Lab v Con seats.

Anyway, that’s something of an aside. Even leaving out the tactical voting question, the main findings of the poll are that the overall share of the vote doesn’t appear to be enough to guarantee the Conservatives a majority, but in at least one group of marginals, they are outdoing the national swing by enough to get a majority.

125 Responses to “YouGov show Tory lead down, but doing well in Northern marginals”

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  1. 6 of the last 8 polls have put the Conservatives on less than 40%, in the range 37%-39%. An increase in UKIP support since last year may be responsible for that to a certain extent, although I know UKIP take support from all the parties.

  2. Surely as the election starts people will be more likely to know which seats are marginal.

    Also currently very few people know about boundary changes, again this should change as the election draws near.

    In marginals it is difficult to make sense of the polls too and many of those less likely to vote who are not counted in the polls may be more motivated when they realise their seat is marginal.

  3. @Paul, most people don’t care much about politics and every leaflet that comes through their door in the campaign will say a different party is best placed to win. Confusion marketing, no doubt leaving confused people.

  4. @Andy

    Yes, there has been a pretty clear drop here. In October, Conservatives ranged from 40-45, in November 37-41.

  5. 8% swing in the marginals, 9% swing when prompted that the seat was marginal – suggests the Conservatives aren’t going to benefit a great deal from tactical voting, although perhaps they also won’t suffer from it either (one reason they won so few in 97 was tactical voting).

    I have been looking at electoral swings recently and it’s certainly in the marginals where elections are decided. In particular it’s how well you can do to over-achieve in marginals – for instance, in 1997 Labour took around 50% of the seats in which they needed a 10-18% swing to win, against a national swing of 10%. If the Conservatives are to win a majority, they need their campaigners to win them a good deal of ‘big swing’ seats.

  6. The marginal polls are further evidence that most, if not all, of the 2 plus improvement for Labour is from Scotland in the wake of Glasgow by-election win.

    19% is relatively encouraging for the Lib Dems particularly as their support seems to be concentrated in the centre and south of England.

  7. WMA 39:27:19 and CLead 12. There is very weak evidence of a reduction in the CLead but the bottom line is that there are (probably) 181 days or so until the next election and over the last 181 days the CLead has been 14.5 +/- 1.5.

    We now have a Retrospective for the Ipsos/Mori poll and it was indeed 6 points out – even worse than the 5.6 on the Retrospectives.

    Given that the Scots seem to be the only place that don’t think Gordon Brown is wierd, as Anthony says the real swing to C may be higher.

  8. Encouragement in this for both main parties, although we need another with less than 12% lead before we can be reasonable sure Labour have narrowed the gap, although it does look to be the case.
    The marginals piece, which is encouraging for the Tories, is no surpirse and confirms what many of us on here have been saying for some time. Namely than an 8% con lead at GE will be enough for workable majority and 6% or thereabouts enough to sneak home.
    LD’s must be a little deflated, especailly if they believed the Angus Reid.
    NB) The average of the others on the other 6 recent polls showing the cins below 40% has been 17% and here it is only 13%- if repeated in other polls soon the Cons may become a little concerned.

  9. @Phillip JW

    I think you over-estimate the population of Scotland!

  10. Tories leading in key northern marginals. 10% lead in the national poll.

    Not a bad position to be in, considering the High Street today has just announced another 4000 job losses, with Borders calling in the administrators. ie – its still the economy stupid.

    It would be remarkable if, in the election, Labour polled less that 27%. I hope they do. But still remarkable if they did. But piling up votes in Scotland will not help them.

    What is important is the ‘others’ and yet again we have evidence of how dangerous to the conservatives that UKIP can be.

  11. Statto

    The latest westminster poll for Scotland showed a 9 plus improvement for Labour. This Yougov poll showed a 2 plus improvement. Two nineths is not far off the relative population of Scotland’s to Britain’s.

  12. The good news for the Tories (though not so much for the Scottish Tories) is that if Scotland is the only region where things aren’t going to plan for them it doesn’t really make much difference since there are only 10 seats at most the Tories could gain in there anyway.

  13. I think Satto may have a point. If labour is doing much better in Scotland can it be right that they are doing equally as bad in England?
    Surely the polling sample in Scotland would be far less than that in England (not sure about Wales) meaning that we can’t give equal weight to Scotland data. Perhaps Labour are actually doing better in England after all!

  14. Sorry Statto for getting your name wrong!

  15. An interesting occurence thought today was the new UKIP leader saying that a hung parliament is the best outcome. certainly not for the country or economy thats for sure. How many prospective UKIP voters would really want a hung parliament or worse labour as largest party. Would this not frighten some back into voting Tory rather than suffer again with labour selling the UK down the river via europe. I think the tighter it is come polling day would be to the Tories benefit so enabling them to say EVERY vote for them counted so please do not waste yours in some protest vote.
    Some very important events to come yet, the PBR being the first, here darling will have to admit that the recession was worse than he expected and then say what he is going to do re the deficit. From a party that said we were better placed to weather the recession and in fact will be last to come out of it, what message does that tell the voters. We got it wrong but please vote for us again?

  16. Paradoxically, UKIP will probably do best if the polls just before the election show a large Tory lead because voters who might vote for any of the main parties may think the election is a foregone conclusion and will be more likely to vote UKIP in those circumstances. If it’s a tight race UKIP probably won’t do too well.

  17. A credible trend – will it carry on? However please do look out for YouGov’s announcement of today’s question which was a straight IN or OUT of the EU – which no-one has asked in ages. At last the froth and nonsense over Lisbon is out of the way, and we can get down to the real question – do we stay in or get out. All the main parties just offer variations of staying in (even as a Labour supporter of the EU, I thought that the Tories EU manifesto was the most Europhile in decades with a string of great pro-EU policies) , so this could be a genuine test of UKIP/BNP support.

    6 of the last 8 polls have put the Conservatives on less than 40%, in the range 37%-39%. An increase in UKIP support since last year may be responsible for that to a certain extent, although I know UKIP take support from all the parties.’

    Not really; I cant see many Lib Dems against the EU or the Greens. Let’s not forget business loves the EU as well…. Don’t overstate the UKIP vote; it’s centred on there will always be an empire lot…

    Tories leading in key northern marginals. 10% lead in the national poll.
    Not a bad position to be in, considering the High Street today has just announced another 4000 job losses, with Borders calling in the administrators. ie – its still the economy stupid.’

    Perhaps, but I always note that Howard – the Tory Leader -in Australia lost at the height of the boom. It’s not just the economy; time for a change after a decade of one party is what cost the Tories then…

  20. No conclusion that Labour are either up or down in Scotland as a whole should be drawn from the Glasgow North result. It might affect the morale of the Labour party, that’s all.

    Only centenarians in Glasgow North (if there are any in an area with such a poor health record) have voted in an election which did not return a Labour MP.

    In what sense has the polling from Scotland shown that Labour support is up? Not up from the 2005 General election.

    Given what we discussed on the previous page there will be no dramatic changes in Scotland and only a handful of seats changing hands. The issue of most interest whether Labour may be weakened enough for them to be at risk of being replaced as the party with the largest number of Scottish MP’s, due more to FPTP than to any huge change in voter opinion in favour of the SNP.

    Or not.

  21. Most of the 2% increase in Labour would be accounted by the major swing to them in Scotland would it not ?

  22. Another poll with the Tories below 40%. These rogue polls are like the buses – you don’t see one for months, and then six come along all at once!

    Only ICM now show the Tories at 40+ which will leave them vulnerable if Labour can edge up a couple of points and break 30%.

    @NBeale – I’m slightly confused by your last post as you say the lead has been 14.5 +/- 1.5% for the last 181 days, yet it is now 12%. So it’s -2.5% surely?

    The marginal results are interesting, although I would caution against putting too much confidence on a 1.5% differential in the UNS/marginal swing. A tiny movement of 1% from Tory to Labour over the next 6 months mean hung parliament even with that level of differential swing in the marginals. It’s also interesting to note that a number of posters on ConservativeHome are reporting a resurgence of the LDs in the south west – I’ve no idea whether its true or not, but we can’t assume from this poll that all regions are experiencing the same differential swing in favour of the Tories.

    It’s been interesting watching the reaction to the polls so far this month. A number of pro Tory posters have reacted firstly by assuming rogue polls, then by focusing only on the lead, now by blaming it all on Scotland and/or UKIP and expecting the marginals to sort it out. While Labour have not demonstrated any conclusive recovery yet, something has happened to the Tory vote. Repeat the movements since November 5th between now and the GE and things will get interesting. I appreciate we’re only meant to talk numbers here, but something has made these changes happen, and if it is that people are turning off the Tories as they get closer to power they might yet be in trouble.

  23. @Stephen – “rather than suffer again with labour selling the UK down the river via europe” – apart from being a little off AW’s comments policy, I think you’ll find the largest transfers of power to the EU were the Single European Act and Maastricht, both voted through without referendum under the Tories. Just to remind you.

  24. Trevorsden

    There’s more than UKIP in “Others”, and their vote must be too dispersed to win many, if any, seats so your aversion to a significant vote for UKIP must be because you assume that their votes would otherwise mostly have gone to the Conservatives.

    Is your assumption sound?

    Some of these voters may not have voted previously, or at least in the last couple of elections but they think a new right wing party is more promising than tired old Cons who /had their day and messed it up/ are no different from Labour/wimps/etc, etc.

    It’s also said that UKIP are taking votes from all parties.

    That seems hard to explain, but remember the C2’s who voted for Thatcher. They were looking for a strong leader. They were impressed with TB at least initially and Left and Right have nothing much to do with it.

    Perhaps a lot of people drop in and out of the vote for a variety of reasons and there is generation change too. I’d certainly expect that many former Labour voters may not have any enthusiasm for voting in this election for a party which they feel has let them down.

    If that is an important factor, the other parties could increase their share of the poll without persuading a single new or swing voter to vote for them notwthstanding a small UKIP share.

    It may be so that had UKIP not been standing in any particular constituency, that all its voters would have tuurned out to vote Conservative, but I am not aware of any evidence other than the fact that it might seem (especially to a Conservative) logical.

    I don’t suppose you otherwise think that UKIP voters are logical. Migt there be an inconsistency here?

  25. It is very interesting that the evidence suggests the tactical vote is now swinging *against* Labour, even if the scale is not yet certain.

    On that question of scale, might a useful first estimate be to take 9% (swing) of 34% (potentially swinging)? That gives about 3%, which is still not to be sniffed at and suggests that the battleground has pushed up the table even *before* polling results are taken into account.

  26. Andy Stidwell

    Please look at the discussion of the Scottish polling on the previous thread. My estimate is that there will be a surplus of 33 Labour MP’s over Conservative.

    That Cons might gain 10 is less likely than that they would lose the one they have, and less likely than Alex Salmonds 14. Predictions of those who have looked at individual seats can see Conservative gains in the range 1-4.

  27. We haven’t heard much from the Tories in weeks in the news which probably explains why their lead is slipping. I suspect as the election campaign starts they will claw back a couple of points.

    As Anthony points out they are widely expected to outperform in the marginal seats and they have a huge amount more to spend on campaigning than Labour which will help them, especially in the marginals.

    I think we will get back to a 12 point lead in the election which, combined with the performance in the marginals should allow them to outperform the Uinform Swing projections.

    I’m still hanging my hat on a robust but not spectacular majority of 53 seats but would put the range at 15 to 75 seats.

  28. According to Rallings & Thrasher, there are 24 Labour seats in the 3 northern regions within the list of top 116 Tory target seats:

    NE: Tynemouth, Stockton S

    NW: Chester, Bury N, Pendle, S Ribble, Rossendale, Blackpool N, Lancaster, Warrington S, Wirral S, Morecambe, Bolton W, Bolton NE

    Y+H: Colne Valley, Calder Valley, Cleethorpes, Brigg, Bradford W, Halifax, Dewsbury, Keighley, Elmet, Pudsey

  29. Anthony

    Partisan comment is one thing, but partisan over-optimism is also unhelpful.

    Perhaps the many partisan posters on here should remember that in the past each of the main parties have lost – failed to win – been cheated of their due – by the intrangisence, stupidity, selfishness, ingratitude and ignorance of the electorate.

    They have talked up their chances before and been disappointed on the day, and it’s never their fault. It’s never the policies, it’s always that they didn’t get their massage across.

    If their leaders are so smart, their policies foolproof, and their selfless hardworking candidates full of energy and enthusiasm to hold the executive to account, how is it that they are such poor communicators that half the electorate don’t think any of them are worth voting for, and most of the rest vote for some other party?

    A little realism would do, modesty would be too much to expect.

  30. To make it 32 seats in those regions (which would go up to number 139 on R+T’s target list overall) you would have to include these seats:

    Sefton C, Barrow, Copeland, Carlisle, Batley, Hyndburn, Weaver Vale, Lancashire W.

  31. PHilip JW
    I think you will find that Scotland accounts for about 10% of the British population.- whereas 2/9 equates to 22%

  32. There is a clear break from the Tories since Cameron’s Lisbon announcement on March 4th. They were as high as 44 and now as low as 37. This is all about Lisbon and nothing else. Mabye a little about the SUN letter and labour supporters coming home but all the rest about Lisbon. Before the november 4th announcement they were consistently in the low forties and they have dropped since then in a dramatic way . You look across the world at other elections and when conservative candidates have such a break with a segment of their party it almost always leads to electoral disaster for them.

    Brown and Mandelson have to get credit for making Lisbon about the tories when they were the ones in power who promised the referendum and went back on their word. Brown had Ireland move up their second vote to be able to box Cameron in. Brown also hypocritically went after Cameron when he was in power and went back on his word. Cameron if he was in power would have had a referendum first. Cameron made a mistake using cast iron even though he qualified it if the issue hadn’t become law yet. Cameron should not have used cast iron. Even though he didn’t lie anything that can be spun as a lie after all the lies from other leaders hurt Cameron on trust.

    I think people are underestimating Lisbon with the conservative voters. They are extremely rigid voters. I have read conservative columnists say that among their group of friends the majority who have always voted conservative now won’t vote conservative anymore. This has penetrated deeply into their ranks. I have read blog after blog about how tory voters will now not being for them. All you have to do is look at pre lisbon announcement tory polls in the low to mid forties to post lisbon now as low as 37. These polls show a very wounded party. These aren’t practical people who will get that it is the law now and the UK isn’t going to be taken out of the EU. They won’t settle for having cameron be able to stop more powers taken away and negotiate when croatia comes up for EU membership in 2012.

    I think a lot of Labour’s rise has to do with these rigid voters saying they will stay home or now vote for UKIP. It will be interesting to see UKIP’s vote and other parties vote at the next election. It will surely be far greater than 2005. Since Cameron’s Lisbon address on November 4th the other vote has also went up. I don’t see why Labour would rise besides a smaller electorate and people saying they would stay home. We aren’t close enough to an election yet for the incumbent party to gain right before an election.

    We could look back at November 4th as the day Brown stayed in power. These rigid voters make up a significant part of the tories right flank and it has penetrated into the mainstream of the right flank just not the fringes.

    I always thought tories had a decent chance of getting to 326 because Labour’s vote was concentrated in Scotland and the tories would do better in the marginals and could get a majority with an 8 percent victory instead of a 10 percent win. But Cameron has now used up that advantage with Lisbon and now his right flank has abandoned him and he didn’t get any more support from the center from this. Also the momentum from having dispirated activists can’t help and Labour’s traditional gain from an incumbent party gaining closer to an election could really hurt the tories.

    Labour could also rise further closer to an election because this time some lib dem voters who fear the tories winning this time unlike in other elections could return to Labour. So cameron could get squeezed on the right because of Lisbon and from the left because of lib dem voters returning.

    UKIP is out to destroy the tories and Cameron and are bragging they will cost them 50 seats. I don’t see that happen but the UKIP threat to the tories is real and won’t go away. Normally you could say that the election isn’t for many months and some of the other vote will slip and the tories will get some support back. But this time I think the other vote will hold up because of Lisbon and at most the tories can only hope to get some support back from the right flank.

  33. Graham
    Does that mean 10% of polling is done in Scotland?

  34. Labour close the gap in November. Is it 2008 or 2007?

    Sadly for Labour, this tends to be as good as it gets.

  35. The slight overall rise in Lib Dem support, allied to a clear drop in their vote in both Scotland and the Lab/Con marginals in the North, suggests voters are polarising to the other parties where the Lib Dems are out of it and that their vote is now concentrating in their more winnable seats where they have an established presence. There has been evidence from many sources of a Lib Dem resurgence in the SW, too, not least on Consevative Home.

    This might suggest that it’s bad news for the Lib Dems as they could struggle to make many gains in new seats, but they may hold more of their existing seats against the Tories than some pundits have suggested, especially since there has been a definite recent drop in Tory support. (How much of this is due to David Cameron and Michael Gove making utter asses of themselves on Wednesday remains to be seen, but it may pass.) If the Tories don’t make major gains from the Lib Dems, they will struggle to get a majority.

    I think a hung Parliament looks ever more likely. Many voters appear to want rid of Labour but are not totally convinced by Cameron, so a Con/Lib Dem coalition may be an attractive option and Clegg has not ruled it out.

  36. Mandelson and Brown also have to credit for now making the tories seem to be in cahoots with Murdoch and the SUN. That has also hurt the Tories even though Labour was far closer to the SUN when the SUN supported them than the Tories are now with them.

  37. The key question is how low of a margin could the tories win with if they are around 39 at the election. Throw out the swingometer and understand that Labour’s support will hold in inner cities because of issues like cuts and will hold in scotland from the 2005 election.

    But almost all of labour’s downfall in their national vote could be in the marginals where swing voters are much more independent and labour has also been hurt by issues like immigration.

    Labour down from 35 to 29 if almost is all concentrated in the marginals in england and wales hopefully throws the swingometer out. You see a loitle of this in polls where Labour is at 39 same as last election in scotland and down to 23 in the UK and wales Now we are seeing they are hurting the marginals. This goes along with their terrible showing in norwich north even though that was a unique election with their local popular mp quiting.

    Is it possible for the tories to win a majority with a 6 percent win if Labour holds their vote in scotland from 2005 and holds their vote in inner cities from 2005. Didn’t Labour do much better in inner wards in the local elections this year than other areas. We need a new swingometer for this election.

  38. Forget the 39 because that doesn’t work with the other parties. But could the Tories be at 37 and Labour be at 31 and the tories still get a small majority if Labour’s vote in concentrated in scotland and inner cities and their vote is way down in the marginals.

  39. Philip JW,

    The population of Scotland is approximately 1/12 of the whole population of GB.

  40. JOHN B DICK:

    My guess for Scotland would be Labour 36, Conservative 5, so not much different from your prediction. When I said 10 seats before I meant 10 possible seats the Tories could win. I wouldn’t expect them to win all of them.

  41. What percentage does the population of inner city seats in the England where labour’s vote is holding up compared with 2005 make up of the rest of the country? If Labour’s vote is holding up in the inner cities compared with 2005 that makes a big difference in the marginals. I remember hearing during the local elections this year that Labour’s vote in the inner cities in England held up while they had a big swing in the negative direction of the same 8 percent like in this poll in the marginals. Even if Labour is way down in the marginals it still might be tough for the tories to get 116 seats with a narrow overall victory margin because I don’t see any evidence of lib dem vote down in the marginals in England and actually they are looking strong in the southwest.

  42. Contrary to some of the assumptions I’ve seen from Tories on other blogs, the UK has had a Labour Government in the past/present because England has voted for it. In the past 60 years there have been perhaps 4 years (?) in which Scots/Welsh Labour MPs have made the difference and allowed a Labour Government which England hadn’t voted for. But that was pre-devolution.

    IF there is a close election and IF Labour narrowly hang on to power through the election of Scots/Welsh Labour MPs, I’d anticipate a severe English backlash.

    It would be better for relations between our several countries if that didn’t happen, but Slovak independence happened because the Czechs lost patience with Slovak demands for greater autonomy.

    Scots Independence may yet happen because the English decide to repeal their Act of Union with Scotland – whether the Scots want that or not.

  43. Just wondering if the Iraq enquiry is a giant Labour scab waiting to be picked.

    OK, it was a while ago now, but still provokes strong feeling in people I speak to.

    On the face of it the Lib Dems probably have most to gain but the Tories can at least hide behind their claim that they wouldn’t have supported action had they known then what they know now.

    The result will not be known or course until well after the election, however based on current form (hutton, butler, £s for peerages, I could go on), this is likely to be not relevant. What might be is how high on the news agenda this story runs and the media narrative accompanying it.

    the first unknown unknown of the run in?

  44. I’m highly dubious of YouGov’s methodology in this…

    Since they operate as a self-selected online panel, the quality of their sample is going to be an issue to start with. And it’s going to be magnified substantially when they limit to regional areas, which must have reduced their sample rate.

    One major issue is if they were able to properly verify that people they polled actually do live in the constituency they ascribe to them. Unlike phone or postal polling, this is entirely dependant on information provided by the person who has offered their opinion for the poll.

    Do you have access to the internals on this poll? How do they verify residency? How did they handle weighting in what must have been substantially limited sample sets? Was the main voter intention question asked before or after they had been told the seat was marginal?

  45. OldNat:

    Are you forgetting that the Tories won the popular vote in England in 2005? I know Labour still won more seats but that’s because the boundaries are so out of date.

  46. Whether the electorate knows it is in a marginal seat is irrelevant for the moment, the parties certainly know. I would expect during the campaign, there would be screaming headlines from the Conservatives – I know most don’t bother reading the literature, but the voter will be unable to miss the point before the leaflet is binned. This is where the Ashcroft factor should come in – the message can be repeated several times. The colour of the local paper will also be significant.

  47. in light of this poll and the ukip offer to cameron by UKIP it would be interesting to see if he announces a new ‘cast iron’ policy on the EU.

  48. Something odd I’m noticing is that although you can find Labour supporters online and in activist circles, it’s almost impossible to find them among ordinary people. Among my peers, I don’t know anyone who will admit to still supporting Labour even though most of them voted Labour at the last general election. This is totally unscientific, of course, but it raises two intriguing possibilities:

    1. that a lot of people are too embarrassed to openly support Labour, in much the same way that many people used to be about the Tories at the height of “the Nasty Party” period.

    2. Possibly more people will vote Labour than the polls suggest, though this would require that public embarrassment affects how people answer questions in polls

    @ Alec – “These rogue polls are like the buses – you don’t see one for months, and then six come along all at once!”

    Silly comment. There’s only been one rogue of late – the one that reduced the Tory lead to six points. No one has described this one as rogue and indeed it reflects one of the extremes we’re already familiar with (the other extreme being polls that give the Tories a 17 or even 19 point lead). It may reflect a small shift to Labour, as Anthony suggests, or it may not.

  49. @James Ludlow – relax a little – it was a joke, based on the longstanding reaction here of most posters to anything that resembles a better poll for Labour. Just remember the reaction when the first poll showing a 10 point lead came out.

    @Andrew Myers – “We haven’t heard much from the Tories in weeks in the news which probably explains why their lead is slipping” – This is an example of the trend noted above. I’m not quite sure where you get this excuse from, but it’s curiously optimistic. I’ve heard plenty from the Conservatives since Nov 5th. They had extensive coverage over Lisbon, I’ve read of all kinds of plans to cut Whitehall carbon emissions, they’ve rowed back to an extent on media reforms that got a lot of coverage, Boris has been well reported with his dealings over the London Arts Council appointment, the head of ACPO has said their proposals for elected police commissioners would be disastrous and then there was the embarrasment about PMQ’s this week, to name but a few issues. They have had plenty of coverage, but much of it hasn’t been very good.

    There is a general view among many posters here that a poll with any negative message for the Tories is either wrong or will be reversed in due course and that the Tory lead will rise naturally regardless. Taking the electorate for granted is the graveyard of most politicians in the end. I have no idea what the GE result will be, but I can foresee some scenarios where the Tories support could be severaly damaged. The rumbling investigations into Ashcroft’s donations for example – in his book he claims to have donated millions more to the party than has ever been officially declared – imagine the impact on Cameron if overseas donations are found to have been accepted, and what would marginal voters think if the campaign money was dodgy?

    Equally, there are many, many issues that could further derail Labour. Best not to make too many assumptions, but the message from the polls and many posters on ConservativeHome is one of increased nervousness.

  50. There are two worries for the Conservatives:

    1. As recovery from the recession strengthens, Labour might gain. They can claim that it was their approach to the global recession which worked. Furthermore they can ask what would have happened, had the Conservative approach been adopted? The answer is that the UK may have experienced a much deeper recession – as was the case in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.

    2. If the polls do narrow further, the Conservatives may panic. If they do panic, they may lurch – as they did in 2001 – to the right. And, in doing so, turn off many voters. Or they may start to squabble in public over issues such as Europe or levels of Public Sector cuts.

    In short, although a Conservative majority is undoubtedly the most likely outcome of a GE, things could still change if things run Labours way for a month or two.

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