There is a Populus poll of marginal seats in tomorrow’s Times, Peter Riddell’s commentary is here. The headline figures in the poll is CON 38%, LAB 38% and this has resulted in a flurry of excitement from twitterers, but what it means depends upon which seats were polled.

Populus’s poll sampled Labour held Conservative targets from 50-149, so excluding the 50 Labour-v-Conservative seats with the smallest majorities. By Peter Riddell’s calculations, these seats had shares of the vote of CON 31.4%, LAB 45.3% in 2005. On that basis this poll represents a swing of about 6.7%, just short of the sort of figures the Conservatives would need for an overall majority.

Of course, we haven’t had a national Populus poll for a month so we can’t say for certain if this poll suggests a larger lead in the marginals than at a national level. For the record though, the swing this poll suggests in the marginals is the equivalent of a 10 point lead nationally, a larger lead than most polls from other companies have been showing in recent weeks.

367 Responses to “Populus poll of marginal seats”

1 6 7 8
  1. I swear that was going to be my prediction ;)

  2. OLD NAT Yes it’s all in the…………… ;-)

  3. Eoin is that the result or your view?

  4. @Paul Croft,

    There will of course be returning voters, as well as tactical voters. My point is that there is no reason to think that opinion polls won’t pick this up. I am quite sure Anthony finds a number of voters who say they identify with Labour, didn’t vote in 2005 but plan to vote LibDem in 2010. The poll figures will have already factored this in.

    If you are suggesting that there will be people who tell the pollsters they identify with Labour, didn’t vote in 2005 and still don’t intend to vote in 2010, but actually will vote and do it tactically for the LDs, where is your evidence for suggesting this is more likely than them doing what they said and not voting?

  5. Mr Wells – why should people ignore propaganda? Why should I submit to being propagandised.

    eg – “What I was saying was a truism: ‘for huge numbers of electors, memories of the 1979-1997 Tories remain bitter’. ”

    What evidence is there for this truism? None. He is not saying ‘in my opinion’ – he is stating it as a truism. To rebut this look at the last local govt elections which saw huge numbers of seats falling to the Tories. This is not speculation it is a fact.

    By your rules I am not allowed to give examples of the bitterness the electorate feel NOW for labour. Well lets stop the propaganda then.

  6. @Maurice,


  7. Julian – there are some (for example, Populus asked in their marginals poll), but to get the most out of them I think you need ones that have comparable results from the 2005 election campaign.

  8. 4% gap though! Closer and closer! Can I hear DC shaking in his very expensive shoes? Quick let’s go for positive change tact and ditch the woe is UK!

    Comeon Tories must be getting anxious!

  9. Greggie, I’ve been anxious for months now. Ever since the conference dip in fact. But it is within MOE and there have been two other recent polls with a 2% lead so its not that new.

  10. Another interesting poll, the Tories only 3% above their 2005 result and Labour only 4% below theirs. The Libs may be key to this election and their performance thanks to tactical voting may well allow them to retain more seats than polls suggest.

    The political scene seems to have stagnated somewhat as the elction draws close.

    “Just as ‘New Labour’ detoxed the Labour brand of 1975-1992,”

    Yes-New Labour-ie Tony Blair .

    That was Blair-this is Brown
    That was then-this is now.

    Some of “Blair’s Conservatives” of 1997 , like me, remember what went before Margaret Thatcher.And that we were prepared to swap a Conservative Government-albeit the squabbling, self obsessed rabble which it had become , for a “Socialist “Government made us think very hard about what it was like before 1979.

    I remember the Wilson Governments-and believe you me Thatcher’s Conservatives were a god send for what laughingly passed as “British Industry” in that era-when Red Robbo ran British Leyland, and British “management’s” daily task was to keep the Unions & the Government happy -sod the customers.

    Anyone who worked in Industry , as I did, through those administrations will be having flashes of deja- vue right now.

    Toxins can seep back , unless you keep taking the medicine.

    But Blair is gone-this is Brown-and the Brothers seem to be gathering again.

  12. Neil A
    I believe a combination of PR and a properly federal UK would correct some of the current nonsensities.

    We’re on the same wavelength there. My own view is that full fiscal autonomy for the four home nations and a much weaker federal executive is the only long term prospect of any sort of UK holding together.

  13. The other side of the border is interesting and I dont think Tory gains can be ruled out up there.

    Argyll&Bute, Perth&N.Perthshire and Angus are all possibilities, outside chance of Stirling and East Renfrewshire.

  14. Al J @Sue

    “If the Conservatives cannot pull ahead in these marginals after millions spent on them ….”

    Have you considered that it might be that the Conservatives cannot pull ahead in these marginals BECAUSE OF THE millions spent on them?

  15. Eoin Clarke

    “I wonder how much of politics is down to long term trends rather than short term bullygate or Cashcroft stories.”

    You could have something there. The progress of the SNP over the last half century has been so gradual as to be imperceptible.

    They won’t make much progress at this election either, but they may well move into a position where FPTP flips in their favour on a tiny swing at the following one and they take a majority of the Scottish seats unless Labour get in in 2010 and change the voting system.

  16. Yes, there seems to be very little discussion of trends here. The trend in the marginals over recent months is a declining Tory vote, an increasing Labour vote and a further narrowing. A Tory double digit lead is now a small Labour lead.

    If the current trend continues to show similar Labour momentum over the next 8 weeks, the party will hold enough of its marginals. Then we have a Labour govt with an overall majority.

    That is where the trend is taking us even if the media, and many others, cannot believe it.

  17. I tried to post this last week, but couldn’t seem to get registered. So this is my first successful effort of getting a posting here. So please be kind to this maiden effort.

    Some of you may need to look more closely at that marginal poll and not be taken in by the hype. Try checking which constituencies were actually polled.

    Firstly all labour marginals where the tories came third were not included. Watford (tory target 40), Edinburgh S (tory target 76), Ochil (tory target 87), Hampstead (tory target 120). On a 6.7% swing all 4 of these go tory!

    Secondly the polls 50 – 150 targets seats are different from the tory top 200 target seats shown on this site. Their 50 – 150 poll includes Bury S (11% swing), Ealing Central (notional tory after boundary changes), Coventry NW (11%) swing, Edmonton (11% swing), Lewisham W (15% swing), Stalybridge (11%). Inclusion of these large labour votes within that 6.7% calculation surely means that the swing percentage would have been higher than 6.7% if only those in the tory 200 target list were included. To make up for these additional seats there are tory top 200 target seats omitted such as targets 111, 114,117,127,129 – all of which would also have gone on even on this swing.

    Thus from the tory top 200 target list point of view the swing % is surely higher than 6.7 and there are at least another 9 extra seats that would fall on top of the predicted 97. So it is 97, plus 9, plus even more when the swing is corrected.


1 6 7 8