Over on ConservativeHome there are details of some polling commissioned by Lord Ashcroft (and presumably, though he has an annoying habit of not mentioning who carried out the polling, conducted by Populus). Ashcroft commissioned three parallel polls with identical questions – a telephone poll of Conservative marginals with Labour in second place, a telephone poll of Conservative marginals with Lib Dems in second place, and an online national poll.

The online national poll had topline figures of CON 37%, LAB 37%, LDEM 11%. It was conducted in late August, so at the time all the polls were showing very tight Labour leads, and is largely interesting only because if Populus did conduct it, it’s the first time we’ve seen an online poll from them.

In the marginal seats, the poll used the same trick I did back in the PoliticsHome polling of marginal seats from 2008. First it asked people their voting intention using the standard question, THEN it asked them their voting intention again saying “thinking about your own constituency and the parties and the candidates who are likely to stand there, which party’s candidate do you think you will vote for in your own constituency at the next general election?”

This makes a relatively minor difference in Con -v- Lab seats (mainly it reduces the proportion of people saying “other”, presumably because some people out there would like to vote Green or BNP or something, but don’t normally have a candidate from that party to vote for). However, it makes a major difference in Con -v- Lib Dem seats. In a normal voting intention question in Con -v- LD seats the Lib Dems are in third place on 18%, asked using the constituency specific wording they are on 31%. Labour are 7 points lower using the wording asking about people’s own constituencies.

The reason for the difference is most likely tactical considerations – people answer Labour to a normal voting intention question because that’s the party they really support, but know that they happen to live in a seat where Labour could never win, so actually vote Liberal Democrat. I found exactly the same pattern when I first asked the question in this form for PoliticsHome, but the fact that it still produces the same pattern of results is very good news for the Liberal Democrats – it suggests that in Con -v- LD seats many (but not all) Labour supporters will still vote LD tactically.

In the Con -v- Lab marginals, voting intention with changes from the general election were CON 35%(-4), LAB 44%(+8), LDEM 12%(-5). This is a swing of 6 points (the equivalent of a Labour lead of about 5 points in a national poll), so suggests Labour may be doing somewhat better in key marginal seats than in the country as a whole.

In the Con -v- LDem marginals, voting intention figures are CON 39%(-2), LAB 19%(+6), LDEM 31%(-8). This suggests that the Conservative vote in these seats is largely steady, with the Lib Dems losing support towards Labour. Most national polls have the Lib Dems down by much more than 10 points (between 10 and 15, depending on the pollster), so this suggests that while they are doing badly in marginals, it’s not as badly as national polls would suggest. If this pattern was repeated in Lib Dem held marginals, the Conservatives would make moderate gains from them.

The other questions in the poll show an electoral pretty much evenly divided. 47% think the country is going in the right direction, 49% the wrong direction; 48% think the cuts are too deep and too quick, 50% think they are about right or too shallow; 46% think things are difficult now, but will get better in the coming years, 51% think the economy will be no better in 3 or 4 years.


109 Responses to “Lord Ashcroft poll of marginal seats”

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  1. @Chou,

    I think it’s because Ghurka is technically one of those words that is its own plural, like sheep. Not that they are in any other way like sheep.

    For what it’s worth, any problem that non-English speaking Ghurka children may cause initially will dissipate faster than you can say “Anglo-Nepali”. Schools in the East End of London have been struggling with classes full of non-Anglophones for decades and generally manage to get them fluent in a year or two.

    The real problem is those who arrive as adults without a word of English, and four decades later still haven’t a word of English.

  2. @ All

    Dispatches (C4) tonight was good. Should be able to see it again online.

  3. @Statgeek
    Dispatches programme.

    I am not sure anyone is interested in Tony Blair. He is a has been.

  4. He was the future once….

    (Cameron’s best ever line, IMO).

  5. @Chouenlai

    Having both been educated at Oxford, the two Eds are probably aware of the old establisment motto: “Never apologize, never explain.”

    Probably from this attributed to Admiral John Arbuthnot Fisher:

    “Boldness has genius, power and magic in it … Never contradict. Never explain. Never apologise.”

  6. I posted this before with a Guardian link which has gone into moderation. So hopefully this time without the link will work.

    It would appear the Libyan NTC are refusing to co-operate in handing over any information to the Scottish prosecutors regarding the Lockerbie bombing. Libya’s interim justice minister reportedly said the case is closed.

  7. On the British Army website there is a reference to the Brigade of Gurkhas. On that basis, I’ll claim total victory for now.

    Even if there is no such word, it still doesn’t excuse putting an apostrophe in a plural. For that, the penalty should be life imprisonment without parole. It is a mistake which says everything you need to know about the undisciplined Tory mind of Chouenlai.

  8. Grammar ain’t so important, next you’ll be wanting to cut off hands for stealing bottles of water

  9. @Liz

    Well some folk like to keep tabs on people of the past. People of his ilk are worth watching, so you know where they are at all times. :)

    @Neil A

    I think that was the first sign that Cameron was probably going to be more than a handful for Blair, than previous opposition leaders.

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