This coming Wednesday is exactly one year until the Scottish independence referendum, so there are a couple of Scottish polls in the Sunday papers. ICM in the Scotsman on Sunday have referendum voting intentions of YES 32%, NO 49%, Don’t know 19%. It looks as though there is also a new (presumably Panelbase) Scottish poll in the Sunday Times, though there is no sign of it yet.

Lord Ashcroft also has a new poll out, this time of a group of marginal seats. It’s not the battleground poll of lots of different groups of marginals, this one is focused up on the the 40 most marginal Conservative seats – the same group he polled back in 2011, and effectively the seats that would decide between Labour or the Conservatives being the biggest party within a hung Parliament (though it includes 8 Con vs Lib Dem seats, not just Con v Lab marginals).

The key thing to look at here is whether the marginals are behaving like the country as a whole, and what we can tell about the Lib Dem v Conservative battleground, something the national polls don’t really tell us much about. Firstly, looking at the Con v Lab marginals, the vote shares are CON 29%, LAB 43%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 11%. The Conservative lead across this group of seats in 2010 was 3 percentage points, so this reflects a swing of 8.5 points, so actually larger than the swing the national polls are currently showing (which is about 6.5 points), good news for Labour.

Now looking at the Con -v- Lib Dem seats. As in 2011, Lord Ashcroft has asked voting intention twice in the poll, first asking a standard voting intention question, then asking people to think specifically about their own seat and asking how they would vote there. This is something that was first used in the big PoliticsHome polls of marginal seats back before the last election – it makes hardly any difference when you ask people in most seats, but makes the world of difference when you ask people living in seats where the Lib Dems are in contention, presumably picking up tactical voting considerations.

On the standard question, voting intention in those Con -v- Lib Dem seats is CON 33%, LAB 24%, LDEM 18%, UKIP 14%. That’s the Conservatives down 8, Labour up 11, Lib Dems down 21(!). However, ask the localised version of the question and it shifts to CON 32%, LAB 18%, LDEM 29%, UKIP 12%. Clearly some Labour voters are still willing to vote tactically for the Liberal Democrats. This reflects a swing of only half a point from Lib Dem to Conservative in these seats. If the same happened in seats the Liberal Democrats were defending against the Conservatives, the Lib Dems would probably be extremely happy.

112 Responses to “ICM in Scotland and Ashcroft in the marginals”

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  1. nother fred

  2. @Amber Star

    At the moment you’re probably right that even if Con picked up every UKIP voter, it wouldn’t affect the result in those most marginal seats… but it would make a difference in target seats further down the list, and consequently to Labour’s majority/largest party prospects.

    We are talking up to a 100 Tory MPs here.

    Farage will wait until after the EU elections before making his decision about a Westminster constituency (in Kent)… at a time when he is in the strongest position to strike a deal.

    @nick p ““Yes it’s true that there are anti-Lab voters too, lots of them. But I’m pretty sure the anti-Con “party” is the biggest party of them all.” ” I’ll disagree and say the anti-Lib party is bigger.”
    We have not had a poll on what Alec has averred on several occasion, which amounts to: “all politicians are carp”
    That being the case, the polling evidence that Cameron is best as being a politician, must be counting in Ed’s favour. I hope DC keeps it up. Ed’s Attleeish characteristics will yet triumph at the last.

  4. @Amber


    All of those were out-with the UK government’s power. Try harder.

    I was really referring to an internal crisis, along the lines of rioting.

  5. @ Billy Bob

    I agree & IMO, Farage is looking for a deal where he gets something (I know not what) in return for not mounting much of a 2015 campaign; & he may be expected to/willing to go as far as fielding no UKIP candidates in marginal seats.

  6. The anti-Lib party wasn’t very big in Eastleigh, was it? But I would argue the anti-Tory party was quite big enough.

  7. Chris

    If you want Ashcroft’s one poll to be the absolute proof Labour will win and ignore the VI over the last few month’s then so be it, I beg to differ.
    What were the last 2 YG results 4% 5% yep Labour are well out in front, personal ratings of Leader, well lets be kind and not go there, still if you think it’s all over so be it.


    I’ve been a farmer for the last 26yrs being a optimist is essential and usually works in the long run. We’ve got about 6 farm cats but no tortoises, maybe I should get one, I like that image, are thay any good at catching rats.

  8. turk

    “If you want Ashcroft’s one poll to be the absolute proof Labour will win and ignore the VI over the last few month’s then so be it, I beg to differ.”

    Every single poll over the last few months gives Lab a healthy majority. Every single one from every single pollster.

    So differ away, but don’t confuse it with anything to do with evidence.

  9. @turk – again DESPITE the leaders ratings, every poll, ever single last one and now a marginal focused poll, show’s steady Labour leads – sorry if these polls aren’t giving the result you want but don’t shoot the messenger

  10. @ Turk,

    Maybe very slow rats. ;)

  11. @ Alec

    “I always knew there was something deeply sinister about the retired majors and the blue rinsers.”

    As it happens I spent quite alot of time in the old DDR as I used to stay for the hols with a German family whose “Mutti” had a sister who lived in the East we used to visit with a boot load of Coffee, sanitary towels and other goodies from the West! AND yes, it always struck me how the SED (Communist Party led Socialist Unity Party) had a similar grass roots party organisation to the neighbourhood box-file recorders that my local Conservative Association had. Interestingly in the wards I knew it wasn’t retired Majors and Blue rinsers, but largely older ladies who had been in service – these working class Tory natter boxes were brilliant at picking up neighbourhood gossip and who was linked with who etc. – invaluable information for political networking at grassroots level ……the Stasi were slouches compared to these old biddies!!!Ha!

  12. This is a very interesting poll that many of us who love to predict elections have been awaiting. Sorry but elections are won in marginal seats only.

    The swing in Con/Lab marginals is greater than average national polling swing which is a minor blow to Tories but the problem is that they are losing too many votes to UKIP. We must wait and see whether UKIP bubble bursts or not. I think they will Euro Election but they will have a problem keeping it going for a whole year to GE2015.

    As I said after local elections 4 months ago, I can see LDs holding most possibly all their seats where Tories in second place. I believe LD vote will be down in such seats but the Tory vote will decrease more dueto so many suporters switching to UKIP. My previous analysis seems to be backed up by Lord Ashcroft’s Poll.

    Obviously this poll has a much larger sample than the average poll and it certainly picks up the tactical voting just like those from PoliticsHome in 2008 and 2009.

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