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

    This, to all intents and purposes, makes no sense. It’s the use of preferences that stops it being FPTP.

  2. @Robin

    AV punishes those expressing their true preference in the sense it never rewards them: they’re wasting their time, and they’ll quickly realise that. It’s definitely exclusionary – minor party voters are rarely rewarded with seats, and merely used as ammunition for the established parties – just a more convoluted way (with preferences) of going into the booth, holding your nose and voting Labour for fear of Tories.

  3. “What you want is the’German System”

    Thee’s rather more to the German system than the voting system. Most significantly that it’s a federal republic with a written constitution.

  4. @RogerH

    OK, but it addresses very little. Like changing it to two-round voting – it may be a different system, but you may as well be supporting FPTP. Exclusionary majoritarian system vs exclusionary majoritarian system with preferences…

  5. @Ewen

    Would definitely have that!

  6. R&D
    “The NHS is amazing.”

    It absolutely is & I’m pleased to see it seems to be serving you well. I have cancer & the NHS has been amazing – from the Consultants to the technicians.

    Brilliant value for money & I’m glad we have it.

  7. “it may be a different system, but you may as well be supporting FPTP.”

    Don’t agree. It’s the fairest system for a constituency-based system and it avoids the ‘wasted vote’ issue. It’s not a proportional system but it’s ridiculous to claim that something is the same as FPTP when it clearly isn’t the same.

  8. These Polls show that Labour has not defined a clear Message for the floating Voters. (Ian Wallace defected).

  9. @RogerH

    It’s an exclusionary system, and I wouldn’t mind so much – if people would stop lecturing us that it excludes to come out and vote. Voting Green for thirty years to see them used as ammunition for Labour is frankly a wasted vote to me – I may as well have just voted Labour. I didn’t say it was FPTP, I said for all the good it does, it may as well just be.

  10. Having absorbed the quantities involved here, and so on, (see RM’s post and Anthony’s summary0 I am a bit more than suspicious about this poll, and will await the great and good Ashcroft (did I ever write anything detrimental about this saint of a man?) and if he confirms Comres, then – ooh, interesting!

  11. I’m inclined to go for the written constitution first then worry about the voting system.

    Sadly, we need limits to the powers of leaders however they are chosen, especially when they command the direct support of relatively few voters.

    Perhaps these limits might be less if they somehow get 50% of the electorate behind them (good luck getting that many these days).

  12. @Howard
    “Ashcroft (did I ever write anything detrimental about this saint of a man?)”


  13. @R & D

    Couldn’t agree more about the NHS. I’ve had a lot of treatment over the years with hip and pelvic fractures complicated by having MS and limited mobility.
    I’ve had lots of physiotherapy, hydrotherapy you name it, I’ve had it.
    The NHS is precious and we should look after it.

  14. KeithP
    I’d go for a proportionate voting system first, on the basis that a lot of good things would flow from this. Hence why I keep banging on about the German system, it seems the obvious , off-the-peg solution AND this country thought it up and put it into place in Germany, which might encourage our Euro-sceptic brethren to support it.

  15. @Craig

    “AV punishes those expressing their true preference in the sense it never rewards them: they’re wasting their time, and they’ll quickly realise that. It’s definitely exclusionary – minor party voters are rarely rewarded with seats”.

    The point of AV isn’t to punish or reward parties, it’s to give constituencies a more representative delegate. That’s the point of it. Iit does it better than FPTP or any form of List PR, where there are no really local delegates. You may think that doesn’t matter. I think you’re wrong.

    Advocates of STV will raise it as being a squaring of the circle. It isn’t. We know this becasue the system is in use in a few places and we can see how it pans out. It doesn’t make it easier for small parties to gain representation. There are, for example, fewer political parties in the STV Parliament of Malta than there are in the Commons i.e. just 2, and those 2 parties aren’t about to give up their hegemony any time soon. And on top of that your local delegate is one of 5 in a large constituency. And he may not need your vote any more than a Westminster MP in a safe seat does.

    To be short, there is no system which can’ provide everything that you’d want. Fortunately, we have 2 Houses in Parliament, but we don’t elect anyone to one of them. My contention is that we should, and we should use the most proportional system of voting to elect it – the unrestricted St lague list system. But whatever system you might chose for it, until the Lords represents something talking about the defects of the Commons is premature. We must, as Roger H suggest, look at the whole system.

  16. Just for balance on the NHS, I have had cancer for 11 years now and I had to go private to get a biopsy which gave me the diagnosis, my GP as refused me the biopsy on the NHS! If I had waited for eventual GP approval I would have been dead within two or three years.Since then absolutely brilliant private care which I am still getting.

    Similar problems with the NHS locally when I developed cardiac problems. This time the consultant was useless so i had to go private again and my problem is now well controlled and I even had a pioneering procedure so that I no longer need warfarin. The private health insurance i have is worth every penny IMO.

    I am not trying to knock the NHS and indeed both the consultants I use also work in the NHS and some of my treatment has been in NHS hospitals. What I am trying to show is that individual experience is not a guide to how well the NHS is performing.

    One thing is clear if the NHS is to continue the taxpayer (and not just the rich taxpayer) is going to have to pay a great deal more due to our aging population and the cost of technical advances. I hope there will be a sensible mix of public and private investment in the NHS as we have seen with Hinchingbrooke Hospital for example.

  17. AV works well in Australia; the point is simple it’s the person least hated who gets in.

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

    Nate Silver spends his spare time trolling UKPR?

  19. It’s Mike Smithson!

  20. I’d have guessed Dan the man whose name is ban[ned]… But he blogs at the Telegraph not NI.

  21. Dan does repeat the same, boring mantra about Ed Miliband, though – hence my guess.

  22. Charles Stuart

    Turnout in 2009 was 35% 2004 39%.
    This time round considerably more media coverage primarily because of their Obsession with UKIP .

    I would anticipate around 40% Still low but the effect of 100% certain to vote will not be quite as significant
    Sadly I think UKIP might edge it but a Sunny Day could bring out the Labour Vote.

  23. This poll is hardly surprising, not many Cons are going to switch to Lab from 2010 and vice versa – understandable in the Labour case as their share was a nadir.

    Miliband is relying on Lib Dem switches and Kippers who voted Tory last time – hardly a strong position to be in. NI can certainly do something about the latter and then we could be talking majority territory for Cameron.

  24. TOH,

    “I am not trying to knock the NHS …”

    There’s certainly no need for you to tell us that. No-one in their right mind would think you were knocking the NHS. Heaven forfend!

  25. AIUI Ashcroft is to publish his poll on the 23rd. This is also very good of him, so that the actual elections tomorrow will be already over, and thus his results will not have had any possible influence. Some of you will say (apart from the discussion about whether published poll results themselves influence voting) that this may not have been considered. I believe that the truth lies in the magnificent sense of public duty, once again exhibited by this paragon of virtue.


    That is a truly weird post could you explain please. I was certainly not trying to knock the NHS as i was careful to explain.

  27. “…magnificent sense of public duty…”

    Well they don’t give out peerages for nothing, you know.

  28. @Jack

    I agree AV works OK in Australia. But it isn’t “the person least hated who gets in”, though that is often asserted.

    It is true that if more than 50% of voters rate you last you wont be elected – a situtation wihich can and probably does happen under FPTP.

  29. As a good European I would say that the NHS is pretty good at the sharp end, it has saved my life twice, but a number of other European countries have health systems that I would trust as much. For routine stuff other health services are at least as good and sometimes better. What this has to do with polling I am unable to fathom.

  30. Good Afternoon All.
    Bad news around for Ed M.
    Some of us saw this a few years ago.

  31. @ Euro-prediction

    CON 22, LAB 27, LDEM 8, UKIP 29, GRN 6, BNP 1,

    Which is what I calculate the polls to be saying. Haven’t taken turnout into account so It’ll be wrong,

    It’d be much more fun if we had Eurovision voting. “Le UKIP douze points” and so on.

  32. PI,

    It’d be much more fun if the results were read out in Romanian.

  33. Even though there’s none in my area I think tomorrow’s results will be more interesting than Sunday’s, even if in three months’ time they’re all largely forgotten. Four months of nothing but Saltire threads could be an ordeal, though.

  34. “Good Afternoon All.
    Bad news around for Ed M.
    Some of us saw this a few years ago.”

    Well done chris.

    Do remember that life is motion though.

  35. rmj1

    “What this has to do with polling I am unable to fathom.”

    Oh dear.

  36. @ Chrislane

    You saw him eating a bacon sandwich years ago? Where was that?

  37. Really good news Paul – about your DVT as well as the NHS being good!

  38. Is all this stuff about Ed and bacon more anti-Semitism? I think I must have missed the story but keep coming across mentions of it.

  39. It’s a ridiculous story on the Independent’s web site. Apparently he can’t eat a bacon roll in a prime ministerial manner.

  40. Perhaps EM should have taken advice from the Royals.They never but never
    Eat in public.Too easy to be photographed looking silly and rather uncouth.I
    doubt he will make that mistake again,but it is hardly a reason not to vote for
    His party I would have thought.After all it did Cameron no harm to be snapped
    Wearing a Mickey Mouse towel.

  41. Thanks Sue.

  42. Ann in Wales

    “After all it did Cameron no harm to be snapped wearing a Mickey Mouse towel.”

    Maybe he would have got a majority if that photo hadn’t been taken! :-)

  43. Major lost in 1997 after he was spotted in a Little Chef. Before that he was heading for a landslide.

  44. “@ valerie

    The NHS is precious and we should look after it.”

    It’s a bit late for that sentiment now.

  45. Rosieanddaisie

    Hope your DVT clears up quickly and that your soon out of pain.

  46. SHEVII.
    Your irony was lost on me.
    The point is that Ed M was never going to appeal to non Labour people. This is confirmed by the Marginal Seat survey by M. Ashcroft.

  47. Thanks TOH. Its pretty minor really in the scheme of things but the pain is annoying.

    Like all things, it won’t last.


  48. Sorry to contradict Ann in Wales but the royal family eat in public all the time. At garden parties people sit in rows to watch her eating cakes – bizarre I know but nonetheless true.

  49. Why did I say her? I meant to say her majesty the Queen.

  50. rmj1

    Seems unwise – Marie Antoinette might have said something about eating cakes – if she had a head.

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