ComRes have a poll of marginal seats out tonight covering the forty most marginal seats with Labour and Conservative in first and second place (so 25 with Tory incumbents, 15 with Labour incumbents). Collectively the vote in these seats was CON 37%, LAB 37%, LDEM 18%, UKIP 3% at the last general election. In today’s poll ComRes found current support of CON 33%(-4), LAB 35%(-2), LDEM 8%(-10), UKIP 17%(+14). That’s a swing from Conservative to Labour of just one point, far lower than the swing shown in ComRes’s GB polls (it would be the equivalent of a national poll showing a Conservative lead of five points) suggesting Labour are doing worse in key marginals than in the country as a whole.

ComRes also break down the figures for the Conservative held and Labour held seats (though given the sample was only 1000 to begin with, caveats about sample size obviously kick in here). In the Tory held seats the Conservatives have a lead of 2 points (no change since the election), in the Labour held seats Labour have an 8 point lead (up 6 since the election). What that means is if these figures were repeated at the general election none of these Con/Lab seats would change hands at all – the Tories would hold theirs, Labour would hold theirs. In practice it wouldn’t work like that of course, there isn’t a uniform swing and some seats would probably switch in both directions, but it’s a suggestion that there isn’t really a swing to either Lab or Con in the key marginals.

A word about polls of marginal seats. I’m always a bit wary of reading too much into them. In theory they *should* be far more useful in predicting elections, in practice… perhaps not, probably because of how uncommon they are. They tend to be rare one-offs and show contradictory things: the last Ashcroft poll of marginals showed Labour doing better in marginals, the previous Ashcroft marginal poll has show the Tories doing a tiny bit better, this one shows the Tories doing much better. That might be different methods, or change over time (there are years between those polls!) or just normal margin of error. With so few such polls it’s impossible to tell – yet because they are so rare there’s a temptation to read a lot into them. You shouldn’t. Rarity of a poll doesn’t decrease its confidence interval. The good news is that this ComRes poll is apparently the start of a series, so assuming they are relatively frequent we will have a better chance to at least be able to look at trends and averages over time and how they relate to ComRes’s national figures.

204 Responses to “ComRes poll of marginal seats”

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  1. I’m getting page 1 of 72 from the ComRes download, but just the logo an a few lines and dots instead fo tables on pages 2-72… anyone else having this problem?

  2. @ Martyn


    We don’t thank you enough. What is that. 5 blog posts in 24hrs? Thank you for your efforts, and keep up the very good work”

    He’s still got the summing up to do for tomorrow!

  3. With 40 Seats covered at presumably an average of just 25 respondents in each anyone like to Hazard the MOE.

    [It’s 3%, in the same way a poll of 1000 people in GB has a MoE of 3%, despite there being an average of 1.6 people per seat – AW]

  4. Recent publicity might have made some less ready to admit to supporting UKIP – a version of 1992’s ‘shy Tory’.

  5. DrukenScouser

    I tell it as I see it! Though I am a Labour supporter (and one quite sympathetic to Ed as it happens) I am not on here to support Labour!

  6. Com-Res’ marginals don’t include any in Scotland, presumably because they are only interested in Lab/Com versions. And that is understandable. But it would be interesting to see a similar survey done in all Labour marginals – including those where SNP is the challenger, just to see if the same type of result came out, i.e. that in marginals there seems to be a greater loyalty to the incumbent than is found elsewhere.

    That is, if I have understood the Com-Res poll aright…..

  7. And, although late in on the act, thanks to AW for all the hard work.

  8. Or genuinely stop supporting UKIP. We don’t know yet!

  9. Ever so slightly OT but I’ve been informed that the artist known as @Pressman may actually be a well known polling blogger.

  10. It must be a very dull and predictable blog.

  11. Raf
    For those of us poor souls who don’t go anywhere but UKPR , can you hint who it might be ?

  12. Then again, given the various privacy policies AW operates, quite rightly, disregard the previous post.

  13. Amazing how many people miss the point that if there was a C lead at the last GE of 7% then on a uniform swing basis the Labour lead in the marginals should be 7% higher than the national lead.

    If this marginals poll is correct then Labour are doing MUCH worse in the marginals than national trends suggest. This could be a function of their Class War strategy which will be massively counterproductive in marginals.

    I have no doubt that such things can, have and do happen but I would imagine they are fairly rare and sometimes the perpetrators are caught and prosecuted. I also have no doubt that low level electoral fraud takes place with particular regard to postal votes. The trouble with posters like this is that they have a tiny little bit of factual content which is then blown up to look like a huge problem and encourage Mr outraged to vote (in this case for UKIP but it could be BNP or indeed others). I would doubt that is actually illegal(although the reference to whites not voting might come close) and the best way to deal with it would be for the returning officers to be more proactive and make it clear that anyone suspected of fraud will be pursued vigorously by the police without drawing attention to any particular communities.

  15. Why tomorrow’s election won’t tell you much about next year’s General Election:

  16. The marginals will always be different because those prone to switching will probably have voted tactically in the past to try to avoid their least favoured result. The only unknown is then how the UKIP supporters behave in a GE.

  17. nbeale

    “If this marginals poll is correct …………………………………………..This could be a function of their Class War strategy……….”

    Yes, if it is I s’pose it could be.

    [Do they have a class war strategy?]

  18. R&D,

    Yes. We’ve been out bricking houses and burning Jaguars every night for a week. We think it’s helping Mondeo Man feel comparatively better off.

    Those cartoons of Cameron as an obese cat wearing a top hat and smoking a cigar are helping too.

  19. Ashcroft’s poll of 26000 is released on Saturday. I don’t see the point of caring about this mini poll.

  20. I’ve got an idea. Why don’t all the pollsters pool their resources and pour them into one enormous opinion poll every few years. With a sample size of say, 60,000 per constituency? Then we could see- wait.

  21. Mr N

    Actually I remember the launch now. I though at the time that “Punch a Toff” sounded like a well-thought out policy – glad to hear you’ve added your own little tweaks.

  22. Prediction for Euros………….

    Lab 28%, UKIP 25%, Con 23%, LD 6%, Green 7%, SNP 4% , PC 1%, Others 5%.

    I am being mean to the LDs but I can see them coming below the Greens. I am probably more in hope than expectation with the Lab\UKIP vote but am judging that the London locals will boost Labour.

  23. Oh go on then. My prediction:

    UKIP 29
    LAB 28
    CON 21
    LD 7
    GRN 6
    SNP 3
    OTH 6

  24. As people are having fun guessing the result, I’ll do likewise. I think the key is turnout. I think turnout will be under 30%, probably about 27%. I don’t think holding local elections on the same day will have any significant effect on the turnout or the result and if anything, it might be the Euro elections that affect the local elections by making people more aware of UKIP and the Greens.

    If I’m right about turnout, I think the result will be:

    UKIP 36%
    Lab 23%
    Con 22%
    Lib Dem 8%
    Green 5%
    All others 6%

    For each 3% higher turnout than I guess, I reckon the Labour share will rise by 2% and UKIP and Conservatives will each lose about 1%. Thus, if turnout is 36%, I reckon that UKIP will get 33%, Labour 29% and the Tories 19%.

    I think that UKIP will win and win well because their voters are the most motivated to vote, while Labour and Conservative voters are the most apathetic. It’s not the result I’d like but it’s the result I think will happen.

  25. Thanks to dodgy scheduling, my article on why people should vote is coming out the day after the elections. As a consequence, I will shamelessly plug it here:

  26. Go on then:

    CON 23%
    LAB 27%
    LD 8%
    UKIP 28%
    GRN 8.1%

    I just took AW’s last poll- took a bit off the LD which was above their normal and an extra point for UKIP plus 0.1 extra for Greens as somehow I think they will poll higher than LD’s.

    Seat prediction- Greens one seat in London, LD no seats. Lab and UKIP equal seats and Con 4 seats behind them.

  27. A bit of perspective here because right now the polls are susceptible to ‘churn’

    This is how the parties were polling, on average, in the week before the European elections in 2009

    CON 37.1
    LAB 21.1
    LIB 17.8
    OTH 23.4

    I’m not exactly sure what % UKIP were polling nationally out of the ‘others’. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not far from what they are getting now. Coincidently at the actual European Election, both Labour and the Tories polled 74-75% of what they were getting in the Westminster opinion polls and the Lib Dems 77%.

    If, for fun you apply that to today you’d get;

    CON 24.0
    LAB 26.2
    LIB 6.9
    and UKIP proportionately would be 26.4

  28. Rosieanddaisie

    I suspect N Beale is referring to that PPB featuring a shrinking NG which certainly had a flavour of class war about it. If I’m right then I think he is stretching a point in saying Labour do have a class war strategy. Who knows, but if they do then I agree with him it will rebound on them in areas with a large numbers of Tory voters.

  29. If we are having a punt on who will win then my guess is

    UKIP 28
    Lab 26
    Con 25
    Lib 8
    Green 6
    Others 7

  30. UKIP 27
    LAB 27
    CON 21
    GRN 11
    LD 9
    OTH 5

  31. Will AW offer a prize even symbolic for the best guesstimate ?

    Mine would be

    Labour 30
    UKIP 30
    Con 19
    Green 7
    LibDem 7
    Others. 7

    (All rounded)

    On that marginals poll the Con seats where they were said to be doing well do have a significantly higher proportion of Southern and East Midlands seats. These are the areas where successive real and opinion polls show Labour has a real problem, even in the more urban areas. The Severn – Wash line could be even more starkly red-blue after GE 2015, except for a redder London and rural blue blotches in the West Midlands and North. I am assuming a no Vote in Scotland and for Labour then to regain a lot of SNP tactical votes in the GE.
    I wonder if the real Tory strategy is to grab 40 seats off the Libdems lose > 10 to Labour and hey presto a narrow Con majority government based on suburban, rural and southern (with East Midland) seats. Such a divided island is worrying….

  32. Excuse me for being a bit naive here, but I’m assuming local council elections will be taking place tomorrow in not only the 40 marginal seats polled by ComRes, but a whole lot of others too. We will then have real votes to look at and an opportunity to see how the parties are faring in particular constituencies, Alright, the turnouts will be low (30-40%), some people will vote idiosyncratically on local issues and not everyone will repeat their voting behaviour in May 2015, but it’s got to be a whole lot better than a few hundred people spread across 40 seats, hasn’t it?

    Of course, depending on who fares the worse, we should then expect much wailing and gnashing of teeth about how local elections are no indicators of general election results, how all the abstainers are going to turn out in 2015 and vote this way and that, how we should all ignore the statistics and how much bette it is to look at the national opinion polls (assuming they favour my side, that is!) blah de blah de………..

    In fact, the explanations trotted out by party spin doctors in the wake of the results are far more entertaining than the actual elections themselves! :-)

  33. My prediction for the EU vote

    UKIP 29.5%
    Labour 28.1%
    Tory 20.6%
    Lib Dems 8.2%
    Greens 7.3%
    others 6.3%

  34. Anthony:
    I would be very interested to see a “large sample” national poll that included a breakout on seat types (i.e. Con-Lab marginals, safe Tory, safe Labour, etc.). I’m particularly wondering two things:
    -Where are UKIP getting votes?
    -Are the Tories/Labour basically “running up the score” in their own seats or making ground in the other side’s safe seats?

    The other thing that would, of course, be interesting would be a poll in some “safe” LibDem seats to see how well their incumbents are likely to hold. The drop in the Con-Lab marginals is roughly in line with their national performance…but I’m still curious to see how far out the tide is likely to go on them.

  35. “but it’s got to be a whole lot better than a few hundred people spread across 40 seats, hasn’t it?”


  36. @ Crossbat

    “In fact, the explanations trotted out by party spin doctors in the wake of the results are far more entertaining than the actual elections themselves! :-)”

    I think it all depends on the slant the media put on it to be honest and how much justification there is for it. We know what Pressman would say but there will be a general consensus on the telly about what the results mean.

    Aside from some doubts such as whether UKIP finish first, the seat totals for each party will be very similar (I think) maybe 3 or 4 seats between first and third on the Euros.

    So the headline can be “massive” Tory losses and UKIP gains and UKIP win the Euros or it can be that the Tories are only a couple of seats behind Labour in what was going to be a difficult election for them with a year to go.

    Labour should get decent enough headlines on Friday morning which might just carry them through into the Sunday results which will probably be mixed.

    The LD’s have most to worry about- if they hold 4th place in the Euros and maybe hold their two London councils they might just get away with it but if not then they are in for some bad headlines.

  37. “it’s got to be a whole lot better than a few hundred people spread across 40 seats, hasn’t it?”

    A different selection of the electorate voting for different people for different positions in different organisations and for different reasons.

  38. “@ Anthony Wells

    “but it’s got to be a whole lot better than a few hundred people spread across 40 seats, hasn’t it?”


    Anthony, are you aware of any of the polling companies changing their polling processes in the run up to May 2015 ?

    Perhaps increased sample sizes ?

    Different weighting ?

    More focus on marginals ?

  39. @Charles Stuart
    I wholeheartedly agree with your analysis but I have a Psychey feeling that turnout is going to be REALLY high at 93%

    So Lab will lead with 67%, Ukip will have 14% and Con will have 0%. Nothing. Nada. Not a single vote. B*gger all

  40. The NHS is amazing. Can’t believe the speed with which the concern about DVT was dealt with: examinations, blood tests, injections, ultrasound scan all in less than a day just in order to prove I am fine and that the thrombosis is superficial, albeit very painful.

    Can never understand why people are critical of the service as all my experiences have been extremely positive.

  41. @Mr Nameless

    Re your article. You’re a Labour partisan, so you’re well aware you’re in:

    1) a party that rigorously defends the exclusionary FPTP system, precisely because it helps – like no other – to cement the established parties and punishes those that vote elsewhere (spoiler effect)
    2) a party where internal democracy is largely on the wain (indeed one of the first thing Ed done was getting rid of the shadow cabinet elections), where manifestos are decided in the upper echelons, conference votes ignored, MP selections tampered with in a variety of ways.

    …and yet your article lectures on how we need to “engage”, and change our democracy – within a system designed to stop just that.

    Also, I don’t understand how pointing out everything is politics via the Jack London quote addresses the point you’re all the same?

  42. UKIP 29
    LAB 27
    CON 22
    GRN 10
    LD 9
    OTH 3

  43. @Craig

    Exactly how does Labour support FPTP? It’s members argued and campaigned on both sides in the refereudum.

    And its leadership election is AV!

  44. @CRAIG: “a party that rigorously defends the exclusionary FPTP system”

    So rigorously that its leader campaigned for AV?

  45. @ Rosieanddasie

    ‘Can never understand why people are critical of the service as all my experiences have been extremely positive.’

    Generally agree with you but there are important regional variations as I have just discovered by moving from the IOW (dodgy) to the New Forest (excellent)!

  46. Ha. AV is all intents and purposes, just FPTP with preferences – hence why it was offered in the first place. We’d just end up as ammunition for Labour/Conservative in the final rounds, and never win seats of our own (look how marvellously well it’s working in Australia for the Greens!).

  47. RogerH

    ‘So rigorously that its leader campaigned for AV?’

    He campaigned half-heartedly at best! Short-term political expediency won out over longer term strategic vision. Plus ca change!

  48. @Craig

    “AV is all intents and purposes, just FPTP with preferences”

    Yes, under AV, a voter can express their true preference – precisely negating the criticism you made of FPTP, that it ‘punishes’ votes for minor parties. So presumably your objection to FPTP is different from the one you stated?

  49. Craig
    What you want is the’German System ‘ imposed on them by Attlee ‘s Govt after the war, and still going strong. Time we took our own medicine.

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