Ipsos MORI have conducted a new poll of marginal seats for Reuters. The poll covered marginal seats currently held by Labour, in which the Conservatives need a swing of between 5% and 9% to win (that’s seats with majorities between 10% and 18%, so some pretty distant hopes in some cases – the top end of that scale will be places like Bridgend and Blackpool South. To get a majority the Conservatives need a swing of about 7%, so this sample of seats is either side of that.)

Current voting intention stands at CON 37%, LAB 41%. This represents a five point swing from Labour to the Conservatives. In comparison MORI’s last national poll showed a swing to the Conservatives of four percent, so as with all the other polling we’ve seen of Lab/Con marginal seats, the Tories are slightly outperforming their national swing… though not by that much.

Depending on where the cut off point was, a five point swing might not be enough for the Conservatives to win any of these particular seats polled! With the polls narrowing the battleground is now seats slightly more marginal than these. The poll was conducted over the weekend, so is entirely before the budget.

UPDATE: The full tables for MORI’s poll are here. A few other interesting findings. The Lib Dem share of support in these seats was 11%, but of that 77% said they might change their mind. It suggests some potential for tactical voting, but for it to happen people probably need to think their seats are marginals.

MORI did indeed ask people if they lived in a marginal seat, 30% said they did not, and 45% didn’t know. Of course given that these are seats with majorities of between 10% and 18%, this isn’t a huge surprise. By most historical definitions these aren’t marginals! There was no second choice question in this poll, so we can’t say who would benefit from tactical voting if it did happen. The closest are the final questions which asked people what outcome voters thought would be best for the economy. Amongst Lib Dem voters 53% thought a Conservative majority or hung Parliament with the Conservatives the largest would be best, 30% thought a Labour majority or hung Parliament with Labour the largest party would be best.

The purpose of the question, incidentally, was to test people’s reaction to the idea a hung Parliament would damage international confidence in the UK’s economy, and the result was that it didn’t really seem to figure highly in people’s preferences. 28% of people thought a hung Parliament would be best for the economy, 23% thought it would be best for international confidence in the economy – lower, but not vastly so.


324 Responses to “MORI poll of marginal seats”

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  1. Inconclusive, but interesting. Not long ago, any Labour supporter would have bitten off your arm for this, now they might be a little disappointed.

  2. Oooo! Now that’s interesting. Here in Edgbaston, the sitting MP had a 6.2% majority in 2005. What with boundary changes this time, it would notionally have been 5.5%. This 4.95% swing poll cuts that down to a very fine margin. We really could go either way. Do you think Gisela’s having sleepless nights? It’s no wonder shes been busy in the constituency lately.

  3. Hi Guys ,

    i’ve posted this comment before so sorry for overlap but to make head nor tail of this poll one is advised to go onto the Daily Telegraph’s site. They have a superb swingometer

  4. I don’t know what to make of this.

    I guess the issue is whether the mo is with Lab or Cons.

    Funny thing is I missed a call last Saturday whcih after doing 1471 I found was Ipsos Mori. So, there you are my constituency is one of those in the poll.

    Now if I’d been available what would that have done to the results – probably nothing.

  5. Far more importantly than the headline voting figures was the analysis at the end of the Reuters article – that Lib Dem voters have enough votes in those marginals to swing the seat.

    Given the well-documented character of the Liberal Democrat membership as being more centre-left than the incumbent leadership, this indicates that tactical Lib Dem voting will secure Labour a victory in these marginals.

    Two questions are created then:
    a) what are the right circumstances/ messages for the Labour campaign to persuade those Lib Dem voters to go ‘red’?
    b) what are the right circumstances/ message for the Tories to persuade those voters to go ‘blue’?

  6. Cap’n Scooby – Lab’s offer/promise of Referendum on AV. I can’t see them going much beyond that this side of the GE.

  7. Uniform National Swing can be a wee bit silly.

    a 5% swing (UNS) for example suggests that the tories would gain 4 seats in scotland and I tihink about 9 in the South East of England…

    some might logically conclude the latter is more likely than the former…

    Sean Fear pointed out yesterday that London has an exaggerated swing… I have tried ot make the case that I think Wlaes also has… I think there is an argumen this year with immigration and jobs so high up the list that the midlands will produced an exxaggerate swing..

    Make your own minds up by all means, just my thoughts…

  8. Ipsos Mori’s marginal poll I read as none of the 53 seats would go to conservatives… correct me if I am wrong please?

  9. @Colin Green

    Oooo! Now that’s interesting. Here in Edgbaston, the sitting MP had a 6.2% majority in 2005. What with boundary changes this time, it would notionally have been 5.5%. This 4.95% swing poll cuts that down to a very fine margin. We really could go either way. Do you think Gisela’s having sleepless nights? It’s no wonder shes been busy in the constituency lately.

    ———-

    Colin, a 6.2% majority would only need a 3.1% swing to fall. (Or, under the notional measure, a mere 2.75% swing).

    So I think you can count Gisela out…

  10. @Mike N

    I had forgotten all about that.

    I remember it being announced last year in the wake of the expenses scandal as a way of ‘renewing’ democracy or some such guff. At the time, every commentator and his dog ridiculed it as shameless vote-chasing by GB. It certainly is not a recipe for eliminating corruption that is for sure.

    With the Tories so far ahead in the polls, it was easy for Cameron to pooh-pooh the idea. But now, with tactical Lib Dem votes being the key…God, yes, if that referendum is in the manifesto then it becomes a killer weapon for Labour on marginal doorsteps.

  11. Marginals where the Tories need a 5% to 9% swing. so these 56 marginals would in seats numbered 88 to 172 on the Tory target list. Doesnt help much if we dont know what end of the scale these replies have come from.

  12. If to win these seats the tories need a 5% swing minimum but the MORI poll shows only a 4.95% swing, am I correct that not one of these seats (based on the Uniform national swing) goes blue?

  13. @Cap’n Scooby

    Two questions are created then:

    a) what are the right circumstances/ messages for the Labour campaign to persuade those Lib Dem voters to go ‘red’?

    b) what are the right circumstances/ message for the Tories to persuade those voters to go ‘blue’?

    ————

    a) is easy. As Labour cannot win an outright majority at this GE. LibDems in those marginals should vote Labour in order to achieve a Hung Parliament. The LibDems will then hold the balance of power.

    b) Not sure there is an argument. Why would LibDems want to vote Conservative and deliver a Conservative majority government?

  14. Adrian,

    “Marginals where the Tories need a 5% to 9% swing. so these 56 marginals would in seats numbered 88 to 172 on the Tory target list”

    Edgbaston is a 6% marginal and is number 47 on the Conservative hit list.

    David In France,

    “a 6.2% majority would only need a 3.1% swing to fall”

    Fair point. I expect to see a good fight then.

  15. As I mentioned in earlier post, I missed a call from Ipsos Mori last Saturday, but my marginal constituency is one of the “definites” that will return a Con MP in the GE so it’s way below target seat 88.

  16. David in France,

    “As Labour cannot win an outright majority at this GE…”

    It is unlikely that Labour will win an outright majority – not impossible.

  17. Eoin Clarke

    I think you’re right

    Since the swing required would be 5%+ for those seats -that means the Tories wouldn’t win any of them. They would likely win up to No 87 target seat, but that wouldn’t include the 2 SNP seats, nor do I think it would include all the 18 LibDems -so they would win only about 66 from Labour (if the swing in those marginals was the same – up to 5%)

  18. @Eoin Clarke

    If to win these seats the tories need a 5% swing minimum but the MORI poll shows only a 4.95% swing, am I correct that not one of these seats (based on the Uniform national swing) goes blue?

    ———-

    A swing of 4.95% from Labour to Conservative (as suggested in this poll) would see the Conservatives gain about 60/70 seats.

    They need the swing to reach over 6.5% to have a realistic chance of a small majority.

    So, no, theoretically on an exact UNS no seat requiring a 5% swing would turn blue on a swing of 4.95%. In practice, there would of course be no such precise UNS.

  19. So MORI poll shows no gains for blue in any of these seats….. that is quite a resounding finding….

    not one?

    I note there are quite a lot of undecided and i think 6% of men selected UKIP, maybe there is still a bit of room for Tory gain…..

  20. @AL J and David in F

    thank you kindly……

  21. @Mitz

    David in France,

    “As Labour cannot win an outright majority at this GE…”

    It is unlikely that Labour will win an outright majority – not impossible.

    —————–

    Fair point, Mitz. My apologies.

    I should have said that, based on this poll, there is no chance of Labour having an outright majority. (And very small chance based on all polls thus far).

    They could, of course, finish as largest party. And would then – perhaps – want the support of the LibDems. Who, if they have any sense, will demand PR (or similar) as the price of their co-operation.

    In other words, a Hung Parliament – and that PR demand – is party time for the Lib Dems. They should vote to achieve such an end.

  22. Amen to that – and apologies for splitting hairs.

  23. I have a theory that there is a limit to how much the Tories can outperform in marginals, especially as we get closer to polling day. This poll suggests the gap between the country as a whole & the marginals is narrowing. The gap I suspect would cease to exist to all practical purposes if the Tory lead declines to 2 or maybe 3%. I accept however that I have no proof.

  24. @Dave in F,

    Do you mind if i ask for your GE prediction? I think i’d like to put a bet on it :)

  25. This appears to confirm the narrowing trend has resumed after the vote shares stabilised for a couple of weeks.

    For LibDems voting strategically, it may pay to vote Conservative under some circumstances so that Nick Clegg can form a majority in a hung Parliament with either Tories or Labour. This would strengthen his negotiating position.

  26. Anthony’s update would appear to suggest that it is naive and perhaps worng to assume Liberals will automatically do a deal with Labour.

    I have suggested for some time that I don’t think a Lib/Lab pact is at all possible…

  27. Colin Green, looking top left on the target seats, Edgbaston is number 47 but needs a 2.75% swing. Dont confuse % majority with % swing required.

  28. Barnaby

    I think you’re right. As the polls tighten the higher swing in the marginals will also diminsh -until there is not benefit at all.
    It was accepted just a little while ago that he swing was about 2% higher in the marginals.

  29. I may well be wrong, but it seems to me this poll doesn’t really tell us much about the actual election outcome.

    It seems the poll was restricted to seats which the Conservatives would need to take to secure an actual majority. So, if they were heading for a majority (in the current state of play), this would give us interesting and useful data about the size of that majority.

    But they aren’t, at the moment it looks like a hung parliament, so it doesn’t tell us much. A poll of seats where they need a swing of 0 to 5% might have given us a picture of what the balance of seats hung parliament might be, but they just weren’t included.

  30. This doesn’t tell us a lot. It implies that will take most of their top 100 but not a lot else from Labour.

    Maybe more usefully – it suggests that you can add up to 2% on to the Tory national lead as the marginal polls suggest the Tories are doing a tad better where they need to.

    So Anthony’s poll of polls says 37 31 18. In reality that 6% lead is up to 8%.

  31. An interesting snippet from the article is that 77% of 11% Lib/Dems could change their vote, and this splits 53/30 to the Conservatives, so the talk of tactical voting, if it actually occurs, would benefit the Conservatives over Labour by more than 5/3. I think at the moment this squashes talk of LibDems voting in favour of Labour. More importantly it would indicate that in a ‘hung parliament’ the LibDems would rather support a Conservative government than a Labour government.

    As I suspected this almost certainly means that Cameron, at the time of this poll, will be the next PM.

  32. “http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/retailing/article7075394.ece”

    January retail figures rated downwards. “The larger fall in January sales has raised fears that the country’s economic recovery in the first three months of this year will fall short of the 0.3 per cent rise in GDP recorded between October and December 2009”
    []

  33. really interesting comments on this site.

    sorry to be so dumb but can anyone explain calculation of swing?

    it does not appear to be as simple as % of Labour/Conservative poll lead from GE figures.

  34. Since we’re talking about what the Lib Dems would do in the event of a hung parliament, what are the chances of Lab and Con getting exactly the same number of seats, rather than having 1 more or 1 less? That would be a fantastic negotiating position for Nick Clegg, though he personally would be to blame for anything that went wrong “that wouldn’t have happened if he’d chosen the other lot”.

  35. Bill Roy

    The 5/3 split you commented on, was only about the economy. If you had asked who had been best for education, employment, health and fairness then there may have been a different result.

  36. The preference of the Lib/Dem supporters is interesting. One thing that it would indicate is that a Conservative-LibDem coalition (to get rid of Brown/Mandelson/ etc.) would prove extremely popular among Lib/Dem supporters perhaps. I wonder if talks have started between underlings (not directly between Cameron and Clegg) as to the possibility of such?

    I wonder, purely hypothetically of course, what the polls would be like if the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats announced they would ‘work together in government’? I could well imagine the agreement would be something like:

    – Parliament for a fixed term of 4 years
    – Ministries/Cabinet posts shared on say a 5 -2 basis
    – Neither will contest against a sitting MP of the parties
    – Labour held seats to be contested only by the party who is in second place to them
    – The proposal for the Canadian style of economic reform being implemented (taking the people with you)
    – A universal free vote on introducing PR (actual system to be agreed within 18 months)

    This must I feel be a possibility at the moment, and I would think that it would win an overwhelming majority of support among the electorate?

  37. Theo,

    It is assumed that if the swing to the Tories is enough for them to win seats in the 5% – 8% range, then any seats that are even more marginal than that will definitely fall to them.

  38. Although of course a statistical possibility, I would hate to be in Nick Cleggs shoes in such a situation!

  39. @Sunbeam

    Maybe more usefully – it suggests that you can add up to 2% on to the Tory national lead as the marginal polls suggest the Tories are doing a tad better where they need to.

    So Anthony’s poll of polls says 37 31 18. In reality that 6% lead is up to 8%.
    ____________________________________

    Which still isn’t enough for an overall majority.

  40. Sorry, my above post was in reply to Colin Green’s post.

  41. Colin Green,

    Obviously a dead heat is theoretically possible, but it has to be vanishingly unlikely. Would love to get a straight answer out of Clegg on that one though!

    Bill,

    All interesting conjecture, but I can’t help but think that on the issue of voting reform the Cons and the LibDems are diametrically opposed, and that this one issue would make any formal alliance between the two parties very unlikely.

  42. The only people in Copeland who have any idea that it’s supposedly a “key marginal” are party hacks. Everyone else I’ve spoken to is completely convinced it’s a safe Labour seat.

    If I had a pound for every time I heard the phrase “you ccould put a red rosette on a monkey in these parts….” I’d be very rich indeed.

  43. @ Colin Green

    In the event of Lab and Con getting the same number of seats, then actually, he would be much more constrained in his decision. IN line with the official line that “the party with the moral mandate to govern gets first chance at forming a government”, Clegg would feel compelled to offer that chance to the party with the larger share of the vote.

  44. Copeland is, incidentally, one of those seats where my notional figures are significantly different to the Rallings and Thrasher ones. They give a notional Labour majority of about 13%, I give it a notional majority of about 18%

  45. thank buddha for airport wireless:

    @Bill Roy

    “An interesting snippet from the article is that 77% of 11% Lib/Dems could change their vote, and this splits 53/30 to the Conservatives, so the talk of tactical voting, if it actually occurs, would benefit the Conservatives over Labour by more than 5/3. I think at the moment this squashes talk of LibDems voting in favour of Labour. More importantly it would indicate that in a ‘hung parliament’ the LibDems would rather support a Conservative government than a Labour government.”

    ahem: er, the question asked was ‘what is the better post election scenario’. *Not* ‘are you intending to vote tactically in these Lab*-Con marginals where your preferred party has no chance of winning: and if so, for whom’.

    Past data on *that* issue however (in similar circumstances i.e. where Tories have a chance of power/ of retaining power) suggests LD voters go for Lab by 2:1.

    But that was *not* the question asked here so your point is completely flawed !!

    When/ if we *do* get TV questions- as we may in polls in the week or two leading up to the election itself- we will have an *indication* of potential TV.

    But TV is predominantly an in-the-booth phenomena and its impact can only ever be fully calculated via exit polling.

    On this poll itself:

    it reinforces the evidence from the other marginals polls (excluding that now ancient AR poll) of only a minor marginal premium compared to the 7% multi pollster UNS.

    So it is very good news for Labour.

  46. Mitz

    “I can’t help but think that on the issue of voting reform the Cons and the LibDems are diametrically opposed”

    I remember talking to a Conservative activist about this once. he seem to suggest that it was certain that the Lib Dems would want PR as their number 1 non-negotiable requirement for a coalition government but that the Tories know it would mean an end to Tory majorities for ever.

    If the LDs start taking their 20-25% fair share of seats rather than 10% or so, The second party would have to be pushed below 30% to even think of a majority government. Perhaps having a say in the way PR is set up and having the first go at coalition government is a price worth paying for not being the opposition.

  47. @EOIN CLARKE

    “Anthony’s update would appear to suggest that it is naive and perhaps worng to assume Liberals will automatically do a deal with Labour.

    I have suggested for some time that I don’t think a Lib/Lab pact is at all possible…”

    It is no more naive than to think that the parliamentary LD party will do a deal only with the Tories

    So ‘IMHO’ (remember)……….

    because- IMHO- I’ve neither seen nor heard evidence to suggest Clegg won’t do a deal with any specific party. What he has done is to set out his tests for cooperation ina hung parliament and whoever gets the most seats will be asked to satisfy them.

    No LD front bencher has explicity ruled out doing a deal with ANY party. And rightly so tcatically.

    IMHO- irrespective of what a sub set of likely LD voters say in one poll of a sub set of seats- Clegg will do a deal whoever he can get one from whilst retaining his and his parties principles as set out in his four tests.

  48. But in any Tory/LD partnership, the Tories would be the bigger fish, and would not countenance PR under any circumstances.

  49. whilst these may be seats Labour would hope to hang on to, a 5% swing compared to a UNS of 4% can’t give the Tories any cheer at all, surely.

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