Lord Ashcroft has commissioned a poll of voters in Eastleigh ahead of the by-election, due for the 28th February. It’s due for release at midnight, but rather embarassingly the Guardian managed to break the embargo and shove it on their website at ten to six. While they’ve taken it down again, the whole of twitter have already retweeted it, so we know that it will show CON 34%(-5), LAB 19%(+9), LDEM 31%(-16), UKIP 13%(+9).

More to come after midnight, no doubt, but the poll would appear to confirm that the race starts out, as expected, as being between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. Interestingly enough, while the Liberal Democrats have done extremely well at recent local elections in Eastleigh, the figures here suggest a decline in their vote of much the same size as in their national polling.

UPDATE: Lord Ashcroft’s analysis and tables are now up on his website. It is indeed extremely close – the difference between the Conservatives and Lib Dems is all down to turnout (the poll actually found slightly more Lib Dem voters than Conservative ones, but the Conservative ones said they were considerably more likely to vote).

312 Responses to “Lord Ashcroft polls Eastleigh”

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  1. Can Lab claw any back or are they still likely to switch to back LD even in coalition?


  2. I wouldn’t be surprised if UKIP get higher than 13% and push Labour into 4th. People are becoming less hostile to UKIP and concentrated campaigning produces converts.

  3. I think you could see a few switches to the National Heath Party.

  4. I’d apply some extreme caveats to early pre-campaign by-election polls, especially after the recent experience in Bradford where the eventual result turned earlier polls on their heads.

    That said, I think Eastleigh will become, as this poll suggests, a Tory v Lib Dem run off and, without Huhne’s personal vote, I think the Tories will probably sneak it on a reduced percentage share of the vote. I’d also be surprised if the turnout exceeds 50% and, while Labour will improve on their 2010 showing, they’ll come a distant third. The UKIP vote will melt away as polling day approaches, probably drifting to the Tories or abstentions.

    Of course, the joker in the pack, and the factor that could make this poll, and my prediction, look very silly, is the NHA candidate. Could he/she be to Eastleigh what Galloway was to Bradford?

    I’m really looking forward to this by-election!

  5. Hmm. Tight one. Given direction of travel, I’d say Con win.

  6. Crossbat – as far as I can recall there weren’t any polls conducted in Bradford West, so nothing to turn on their heads!

  7. The people of Eastleigh were not aware that the NHA Party would stand when Lord Ashcroft conducted his poll. IMO, the VI for this poll would look very different if the poll was conducted now.

  8. Interestingly enough, while the Liberal Democrats have done extremely well at recent local elections in Eastleigh, the figures here suggest a decline in their vote of much the same size as in their national polling.

    Proving it’s not a local election? The change in Lab & Con VI is also exactly in line with national polling.

    As for the other major story. The basic changes to GCSE remain. The emphasis in English will be on pre-1900 lit and in history on the learning of “key” facts in British history.

    The rote memorising of context-less facts is usually regarded as the lowest form of learning but Gove cites an American academic who says the opposite.

    The weirdness of the British system! in which a whimsical education minister (& Lab ones proved no different in the past) dictates what children will be taught in the Europe’s most centralised education system on the basis of a trendy book, one he probably read in the back of his ministerial car in a traffic jam. curriculum

  9. So what’s likely to happen if the NHA stand? Take mostly off Labour? How much would they take from the others?

  10. @Anthony W

    “Crossbat – as far as I can recall there weren’t any polls conducted in Bradford West, so nothing to turn on their heads!”

    You could well be right and I imagined them, but I’m sure I saw some early polling suggesting Labour were cake-walking it and Galloway was the beneficiary of a late and undetected surge. It could have just been canvassing returns or media speculation, but you get my drift. By-elections are notoriously febrile and unpredictable political events and I can see Eastleigh being an absolute roller-coaster ride as the nation’s focus descends on the town and political big-hitters from all parties drop in to press the flesh.

  11. Er, given there’s another EU summit on and it’s bound to kick off and the NHA candidate will be standing, is there a possibility Labour could come below UKIP?


  12. My feeling is the NHA party won`t do too well in this election…Apart from the Stafford scandal,there`s no issues screaming death of the NHS at the immediate present…Nevertheless,they probably will take votes mainly off Lib and Lab and represent a headache to them.

  13. This (the polling) is a bit before the event, even Howling Laud Hope hadn’t declared himself as a candidate when it was carried out.

    It’s possible a rightwards leaning out-of-Essex Hutchins (Con) may staunch some of the flow to UKIP.

    If it is Goodall (LD), he is a Baptist, a technician, councillor, from a police family, candidate in the policecrimecommissioner elections…

    Will one of the other parites pick a candidate to set the campaign alight?

  14. @CARFREW
    “if the NHA stand”

    They have announced that they are standing and will name their candidate tomorrow. IMO they will take from all 3 main parties.

    This is what they are saying: “Fellow co-chair Richard Taylor, who twice successfully contested the Wyre Forest constituency and served as an Independent MP on the basis of the popular local concern at the rundown of Kidderminster Hospital, added:
    “Our new party has been formed by frontline healthcare professionals to fight back against political sleaze and defend the NHS and public services from increasing commercialisation and privatisation, and to campaign for a fairer, healthier and more just society.
    “We are open to all who share our concerns, and we will call on the people of Eastleigh to support us and take a united stand against a political class that has put its own narrow self- interests before the ordinary citizens of this country.”

  15. I really am not a fan of single issue politics. Just looked up the NHA website- their policies are a work in progress but, despite a list of NHS policies I pretty much agree with, there is no hint of how they would be achieved, who would pay for it assuming they are not cost neutral.

    I don’t think they should be standing unless there is some rounded political content to their proposals. Right now it just seems like a facebook thumbs up if you like the NHS.

  16. I always thought Huhne was a distasteful character. After today’s revelations, as reported in the Times, that suspicion is confirmed.

    “As for the other major story. The basic changes to GCSE remain. The emphasis in English will be on pre-1900 lit and in history on the learning of “key” facts in British history.”

    It’s not all bad news then.

  17. Obvious but a lot will depend on candidates.

    Looks impossible at the moment for voters to try to make sure that they DON’T get their least preferred option – whatever that may be.

  18. Correct me if I’m wrong, but,
    as said above
    “the figures here suggest a decline in their (LibDem) vote of much the same size as in their national polling”

    So I done my own calculation, based on 2010 vote.
    Should 35% or half of the almost 70% of voters in 2010 vote on 28 feb, with an electorate of 77500, then the poll suggests a result of;

    CON 9180, LD 8370, LAB 5130, UKIP 3510, OTH 810.

    The percentages of this, suggest a national poll of;

    CON 31.6, LAB 39.1, LD 8.1 OTH 21.2

    Which gives Labour a Majority of 90. Almost the same as the nationals polls are showing at the moment.

    Interesting? :)

  19. Interesting poll figures compared to those fag packet calls if mine this morning based on typical Eastleigh multipliers on national VI or GE vote share.

    My figures were
    Con 39.6
    Lab 25.2
    LD 22.0

    but caveated that Tory share would be likely to come down due to UKIP’s showing.

    So I’d got 47% for combined Ld+Lab (I forget now: are we supposed to call that LALA?) whereas Ashcroft has 50%. The split of these latter figures is where the interest lies. If Ashcroft’s figures are correct then the LDs are far outstripping the performance that UNS would suggest, with Labour significantly under performing compared to their historical Eastleigh vote.

    Which raises the question: are these genuine indicators of Eastleigh’s real political convictions, or are the Lab supporters of Eastleigh so certain of defeat that they will be tactical LD supporters?

    Another angle: in 2010, the Lab vote share in Eastleigh was WAY down on what one would have expected on UNS. From 92-05,Lab in Eastleigh got a consistent vote of about 0.55-0.60 times its national percentage. But in 10, that multiplier almost halved. Was that a genuine and long-term rejection of Lab by Eastleigh voters? Or was it massive anti-Con tactical voting given that the Tories lost by a whisker in 05? If it’s the former, that has massive repercussions for predictions of GE15 result based on UNS. If it the latter, then Lab need some feet on the ground pronto. Convince 7-8% of the electorate not to vote tactically,but to support Lab, and jab away at the Tories on Europr in the hope that UKIP take another half a dozen points off them.

    Then it could get REALLY interesting.

    All that said, I suspect it’ll be a LD/Con slugfest with the win decided by how well UKIP do.

  20. An EU budget bust up would do no harm to the Conservatives’ chances here by suppressing UKIP. Cameron wouldn’t be that short termist would he….?

  21. @eftylampton

    Your figures:

    Con 39.6%, Lab 25.2% LD 22.0%

    My fag-packet figures using different parameters but taking a cue from your method:

    Con 22%, Lab 18.8%, LD 27.6%, UKIP 8.1%,
    Others/don’t knows 23.5%.

    Ashcroft (after adjustments presumably):
    Con 34%, Lab 19%, LD 31%, UKIP 13%

    We’d make a great team.

  22. Tory candidate confirmed at Maria Hutchings

  23. BB

    Yeah but if you square my figures, dice them, slice them, liquidise them, freeze them, chuck them out and work out some other figures weighted for how repulsive Chris Huhne appears to be, astonishingly you get Ashcroft’s numbers.

    So I was right all along.

  24. I think the Liberals might just edge this one out.

    UKIP is splitting the right which is a new phenomenon in British politics, and the left are uniting. Labour have a boost for sure, but I think many will be tempted to vote technically again. They hate the Lib Dems for making a deal with “the devil” but they hate “the devil” much worse. The Tories are still more hated by Labour than the Libs.

  25. @leftylampton

    The selection of Hutchings (if Daniel Hanan is to be believed – and some would say he has had his nose to the ground in selection battles for some time now) continues the longterm rightward drift of the Conservatives. If my hunch is correct LDs will play this constituency with a super-clean, non-conformist small “c” conservative. Add in UKIP.

    That leaves a lot of room for Ed to develope into, if not in Eastleigh then in other constituencies.

  26. Interested in colleague’s views and predictions. They do vary somewhat!

    I think like Ashcroft, better to await the candidate list.

  27. ‘not like Ashcroft’!

  28. Why will the candidate list make any difference?

    It will be

    Person you’ve never heard of #1
    Person you’ve never heard of #2
    Person you’ve never heard of #3

  29. Just read in FAZ ‘Cameron making threats to quit talks’

    So yes, whoever predicted that, you got it spot on it seems.

    I read in the NRC H that netherlands gets a rebate too. They also get some goodies arising from Rotterdam importing everything.

    They are all ‘at it’ of course.

  30. MITM

    Oh, sorry, see as it unfolds then.

  31. Good evening everyone

    Asteriods and solar superstorms notwithstanding, the Eastleigh by-election looks likely to be a photo finish between the Tories and the LDs.

    I suspect the Huhne millstone may ultimately be too much for the LDs to bear, even though their dominance at council level will mean they’ll have the most organised campaign.

  32. Using the theorem that starts “If it takes a man a week to walk a fortnight” I have just worked out that if enough people vote Labour then they could win this seat.

  33. Shevii,

    “their policies are a work in progress”
    “there is no hint of how they would be achieved, who would pay for it assuming they are not cost neutral.”

    I don’t mean to cherry-pick your post, and I sympathise that the potential intervention of a single-issue candidate from the NHA may be politically unwelcome from all sides in a by-election, particularly from a Labour perspective, but disparaging them for the reasons above is a bit rich, is it not ?

  34. Prediction – lib dem hold 33pc Tory 32pc lab 13pc UKIP 18pc

    I think the Lib Dems will scrape through.

    The initial poll is a simple reaction to this week’s events.

    Sympathy for Huhne is quite high…despite that I personally think speeding is a serious offence and the biggest scandal is how taking points on speeding is flippantly disregarded by the arrogant car driving population. Speeding costs lives remember!!

    But I still think the lib Dems will win – and they’ll put themselves back in the game and change the narrative in the run up to the GE

  35. Also the thing with the NHA, it’s not as if they need a full spectrum of policy, as they will never be a government, its more about sending a message that people are concerned about how the National Health is being handled.

    I doubt George Galloway has a manifesto for his time in government as he will likely never be in government, didn’t stop Bradford voting for him as they wanted to send a message.

    That message was, Shariah 4 UK, but it was a message nonetheless.

  36. “Sympathy for Huhne is quite high”

    What gives you that idea??? I see people saying that its a shame a promising career has ended, but that is is no way an expression of sympathy for Huhne himself, even his own son has a few strong words for his poor excuse for a father.

  37. The NHA Party are ahead of the game. They have already started campaigning on twitter. There is also a NHS flash mob planned in Kings Cross on 15th.

  38. Ashley
    The offence was not speeding. It was perverting the course of justice by bullying his wife into accepting the original offence.
    He is a public figure in high office & I hope that he is made an example of.
    The question arises, what else has he lied about for his own benefit?

  39. Oh my, I’m actually hoping that the libdems lose, you guys that are giving them a chance are scaring me!! Winning would be a vindication of the rightwards “drift” in the dems and would make the removal of clegg sometime this year improbable. Losing this bye on the other hand, opens up an entirely different kettle of fish, depending on the scalescale

  40. Labour should stand down in favour of the NHS candidate

  41. @Richard in Norway – I totally agree. Labour should make a pact with the NHA Party.

  42. RiN (11.28)

    Interesting point. As long term readers will be aware, I have wanted rid of Clegg, Alexander et al virtually since the election. Could this (loss of left wing voters in a LD seat) be the turning point which persuades what is still (imo) the majority of the party to make the decision for change at the top. I would like to think so but it does seem that Clegg is immovable.

  43. Okay, I’ll make this snappy.

    By-elections which have published opinion polls nearly always develop into 2-party battles. If the Lib Dems are in close contention, they usually go on to win (partly because they can tactically collapse the party in third place and partly because they are supposed to be legendry by-election campaigners).

    The figures speak for themselves.

  44. We need to wait to see exactly what Ashcroft’s polling says, especially if he asks some other interesting questions as is his wont. But my initial impression is this is almost exactly the poll that the Lib Dems would like – just behind so they don’t get complacent but with lots of other votes to squeeze. In fact if they don’t have a poll like this, they usually invent one a few days before polling day. Now all they need to do is hope they haven’t managed to alienate all their activists so they can run a campaign. Luckily they are in a seat with a lot to start with.

    It will interesting to see how Clegg plays the campaign. It would be wise for him to keep as low a profile as decently possible (remember 39% of his own supporters think he’s doing a bad job.[1]), but I’ve a horrible feeling that he’ll be everywhere. One thing that Ashcroft’s poll ensures is that, if the Lib Dems do now lose the seat from being so close at the start of the campaign, then there will be a lot of recriminations.

    One thing a short campaign in Eastleigh will do is give the Tories very little time to get their vote organised. Everyone applying UNS to previous election results has to remember that the main response to by elections is often not to vote at all. This may be particularly true of discontented Conservative voters when there isn’t time for the Party to organise to get the vote out.

    It would have been very difficult for the Conservatives not to choose , Maria Hutchings, but I can see it causing all sorts of problems:

    (i) She may not actually take many votes from UKIP. After all it’s Cameron and the government their voters are dislike. One more MP with the same views as them won’t make much difference.

    (ii) She may however frighten off some more socially liberal, pro-EU Conservatives

    (iii) She could in particular encourage current Labour voters to hold their noses and vote Lib Dem (again?). I would imagine that Lib Dem HQ have already combed her past utterances for scary quotes for use in targeted leaflets

    (iv) She will be constantly asked about difference between her and Cameron and the government. Even if she manages to say nothing of substance through the campaign (and she doesn’t strike me as one of life’s Trappists), it will make her look foolish.

    [1] Latest ST poll. Only 9% of Tories think the same about Cameron. But Cameron’s problem is that that 9% is entirely made up of MPs, MEPs, party activists and members of the media.

  45. And on the stroke of midnight, Lord Ashcroft post and data emerge from purdah:


  46. @RiN

    “It was perverting the course of justice by bullying his wife into accepting the original offence.”

    Who says he bullied his wife? Her? Well she would – she’s up for the same offence.

  47. Interesting fact from Lord A’s tables:

    Before adjusting for turnout, the Lib Dems lead. The figures are:

    Con 15%
    Lab 11%
    L/D 17%
    UKIP 6%
    Green 1%

    Will not vote 12%
    Refused 8%
    Don’t know 29%

    What puts the Tories in front is 57% of the their voters are “Absolutely certain to vote” (Lab 45%, Lib Dem 31%)

  48. This will be v interesting!

    I’m going with the LDs losing this, the are doing terribly nationally, and this whole affair does not make them an attractive for Labour voters to tactically vote.

  49. There are two sets of data in Lord Ashcroft’s tables that I find interesting.

    The first: VI adjusted for turnout before assumed reallocation of DK/refusals in Table 3
    Con 33%
    Lab 21%
    LD 29%
    UKIP 15%
    Based on a weighted total of just 314

    The second is those whose VI was identified in the 2010 election and who are currently DK/refusals:
    Con 46
    Lab 8
    LD 89
    A share of these figures has subsequently been reallocated back to their original party. Its stating the bleeding obvious to say that its obvious from that why the LD figure has increased by 2% in the published table at the expense of a 2% drop for Labour and a 1% drop for the Conservatives.

    But, if you think about it, that reallocation back must be a nonsense. Labour (and UKIP) get next to nothing back from the reallocation, because their 2010 votes were minimal. Yet there’s a vast swathe of LD supporters, which Populus assume will either go back to the LDs (30%) or nowhere at all. Yet everything about this by election says that that assumption is false, and that Labour is in with a fair shout of picking up significant numbers of the undecided LDs. LIkewise, UKIP could expect to pick up a some undecided Conservatives.

    So, in summary, this is a case where the DK reallocation makes a nonsense of the published figures. And I suggest that the vote share in Table 3 (as above), ignoring any reallocation, is a better representation of this polling data.

  50. Sorry, I meant a 1% increase for the Conservatives

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