Lord Ashcorft has published some new polling of marginal seats, full details here. As with the ComRes marginal poll in the week the seats polled were mostly ultra-marginal seats – in this case, the 12 most marginal Con-Lab seats, the 12 most marginal Lab-Con seats, but whereas the ComRes poll was a single sample representing the most marginal 40, these were 24 individual samples, one from each seat. Ashcroft also added two seats that are less marginal, but thought to be good for UKIP: Thanet South and Great Yarmouth.

The fieldwork for Ashcroft polls was done between the 31st March and the 18th May. During that period the average Labour lead in the national polls was about 3.5 points: that’s the equivalent of a uniform swing of 5.25%. The average swing in the twelve CONSERVATIVE ultra-marginals seats was 5.5%, The average swing in the twelve LABOUR ultra-marginals was 6.5%.

That means that in contrast to the the ComRes poll in the week, the swing from Con-to-Lab in Conservative ultra-marginals is pretty much in line with the national swing, a fraction of a percentage point better for Labour compared to the national figure. In Labour-held ultra-marginals the swing is a little larger, which is what we’d expect to find (parties do a little better in seats they hold due to the incumbency effect of the local MP).

It’s not a very exciting finding – swing in Conservative marginals not vastly different to other seats – but it’s one that gives me some confidence in the poll. The reality is that come general elections marginals as a group are not usually vastly different to other seats. The swing is sometimes a little bigger or smaller, new incumbents normally do a little better, but the contrast isn’t normally vast.

While I excluded them from the sums above (as they were selected because they were unusual, so would have skewed the sample) I should comment on those two extra seats polled – Thanet South and Great Yarmouth. Both were chosen because there was an expectation that UKIP would be doing well, and in both cases it proved to be true – both had them in a very strong third place, with 28% in Great Yarmouth and 27% in Thanet South. Their strongest performance though came in a seat that was part of the normal sample of ultra marginals – Thurrock, where Ashcroft found them at 29% and in second place behind Labour. Thurrock was also one of the seats where UKIP did extremely well in Thursday’s local elections.

UPDATE: Actually I’ve just spotted that the fieldwork in the Tory held seats was done earlier than the fieldwork in the Labour held seats. So comparing the swing in Con-Lab seats to the swing in national polls at the time the polls were done shows no difference at all (both show swing of 5.5%). Comparing the swing in Lab-Con seats to the swing in national polls at the time those polls were done shows Lab doing about 1.5 points better in seats they already hold.


241 Responses to “Ashcroft poll of marginal seats”

1 2 3 4 5
  1. I think people on the main are attracted by ‘vision’. Looks, weirdness etc don’t matter if the Leader can articulate the ‘vision’ for Britain. Tony Blair in the 90s certainly did. According to the polls EM has got popular policies somehow they need to be packaged up into a coherent vision and sold to the GBP. That is why I think he needs a very good marketing team behind him.

    Remember ‘Come home to Labour’, ‘Education, Education, Education’, ‘Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’

    EM needs some of that marketing genius. Maybe the person is still around and Lab can rehire them.

  2. Allan Christie

    Yet, given the degree of personal attack by parties on the leaders of other parties, presumably they believe that diminishing favourable views of their leaders will lead to electoral success.

    Meanwhile the perceptions of their own boss apparently doesn’t matter.

  3. Does anyone know if there’s been a publicly expressed statement on when the coalition will break up recently? Or is it still the intention that it will dissolve with the parliament?

  4. RobbieAlive

    Gray is right, all those councillors were defectors. This is from the ES in March:

    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/nineteen-london-councillors-defect-to-ukip-in-one-year-9208142.html

    Ukip is becoming the “go to” party for fed-up councillors in London’s most deprived boroughs, with 19 defecting to the anti-Europe party in the past 12 months, experts said today.

    […]Fifteen Conservative and four Labour councillors have switched allegiance to Nigel Farage’s party since March last year, according to Ukip.

    The defections are concentrated in outer boroughs, with Havering, Hounslow and Barking and Dagenham each now having four Ukip councillors.

    Lawrence Webb, who won a by-election in Havering to become the capital’s first Ukip councillor last year, said the defections showed that the party did not just draw its support from “disaffected Tory voters”. All four councillors who have defected from Labour have been in Barking and Dagenham.

    So they had no councillors elected in 2010 and these more recent defections were mainly caused by deselection of candidates. As far as I know none were then reelected, though I think one came fairly close in Barking

  5. The ‘exit poll’ must be different folk than in the main poll as field work for the main poll was a while ago. Is that factored into these simultaneous equations?

  6. “Survation/MOS *Super Fresh* VI Westminster. Fieldwork FRIDAY, (chg vs May 11) CON 27 (-1), LAB 32 (-2), LD 9 (-1) UKIP 23 (+4), AP 9 (+1)”

    Just tweeted

  7. Oldnat

    I don’t think anyone is saying that perceptions of Party leaders is not a factor, but just that current perceptions of EM are already reflected in the VI figures.

    Surely the point about character attacks is to change the standing of the the opposing leader and depress the VI with it.
    That’s different from saying that EM’s standing in the current polls somehow implies that people’s voting intentions will change as the election approaches.

  8. In the above, I presume that AP is a typo for OP – Other Parties ????

  9. Back in the 1996 PNS was Lab 43%; Con 29% A year later at the 1997 General Election the outcome was Lab 43% Con 30% – so very little movement over the final year of that Parliament.
    I was very puzzled by the BBC obsession yesterday with Labour having gone backwards since 2012.. It would have been very surprising had they not done so – 2012 was midterm – which we are now well beyond – and in the immediate aftermath of the omnishambles Budget that year.Some electoral recovery by now was only to be expected.. I might add that no mention was made of the fact that the Tories actually led – according to Rallings & Thrasher – in the 2011 PSN at the time of the AV Referendum..Compared with that year, therefore, Labour has improved its position in relation to the Tories.

  10. Muddy Waters

    That makes sense.

  11. Could be “alternative parties”.

    23% must be highest UKIP score? 27 for Cons and 32 for Lab are very rubbish too.

  12. @Origimbo

    Danny Alexander and Eric Pickles were on the BBC election show. They said that the coalition would continue right through the election campaign until a new govt was formed post election.

  13. RM
    Funnily enough those LB councillor defections seem to match the ratio of 2010 voter deserters from Con and Lab to UKIP. Spooky.

  14. @ Rog Mexico

    Ta. With noted exceptions, UKIP, where they stood in London, seem generally to be behind the Greens & ahead of the Lib Dems.

  15. @COUPER2802

    Thank you. I’m afraid I missed that bit.

  16. ALLAN CHRISTIE

    [a small selection]

    “The future aint red.”

    “The north is spray painted purple”

    “that’s almost the size of the Isle of Arran gone purple.”

    “You’re missing the point.. Labour are above criticism.”

    “Okay EM is wonderful and beyond criticism. I should had read the rule book.”

    “The south is blue the north is purple”

    et-purple-cetra …………………………………………..

    They should impress new readers looking for original political insights.

  17. @Howard – “After all 100% of Labour-polled supporters will vote Labour, come what may.”

    That seems to be contradicted by the proportion who say they may change their mind before the election. There are also those who are certain-to-vote but currently don’t know to take into account.

    Looking at IpsosMORI “when did you decide how to vote” the percentage of Labour voters who had made up their mind before the election campaign was relatively high compared to the other parties in 2010… in other words, they weren’t picking up floating ‘don’t knows’ during the campaign.

    http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/poll.aspx?oItemId=2410&view=wide

    How much of this was to do with the leader’s debates, and is it possible ‘don’t knows’ are disproportionately affected by the best PM question?

    Thinking about 1997, my memory was that few had a very clear idea about who Tony Blair was… the real donkey work had been done by Philip Gould, Peter Mandelson, Harriet Harman etc doing the rounds of TV studios night after night for years on end… which brings us to “which party has the best team”.

  18. @Allan Christie

    “Okay EM is wonderful and beyond criticism. I should had read the rule book.”

    For as it says in the Bible (Millibands 13:1):

    ‘Thy personal ratings shalt remain negative. Never, under no circumstances, shalt they improve. So sayeth the Lord.’

  19. BB
    I meant to add ‘at present’ but pressed enter too soon. All polls are a snapshot, thank you for the reminder though. i thought all of us here knew that (well perhaps not quite all, some actually know the result of an election in a year’s time).

  20. Tonight’s YouGov (Westminster VI)

    Lab 35, Con 34, LD 9, UKIP 13

    according to pb.

  21. @howard

    The other factor is the degree to which LD support has historically surged (picked up ‘don’t knows) in the run-up to elections.
    Ukip currently seems to be exhibiting that tendency.

  22. Rich

    It is unbalanced-but in fairness it has been so from the other side of the seesaw. The phenomenon has been discussed often here.
    It is just a feature of the site.

    Re ganging up & harassment-again, in fairness this is restricted to one or two individuals. Engagement across the political divide without that element takes place too.

    On a personal note I hope you keep chipping in Rich. The polls should encourage our small band at present.

  23. Tim Shipman: Two Liberal Democrat MPs have told the Sunday Times that Nick Clegg should resign. One says DPM is leading the party to electoral suicide.

    The cracks are appearing in the dam wall. Let’s see if they can hold onto some MEPs then see what happens. The “Party of IN” having no European representatives would have a depressing humour to it.

  24. Update: John Pugh and Adrian Sanders are the two Lib Dems who have broken cover. Pugh claims 12 Lib Dem MPs want Clegg out now.

  25. Cameron planning tougher migrant laws according to tomorrows paper.

    He said the same 4 years ago. Few believe him and how many UKIP supporters will it get on side?

    The thing is – even in areas the govt control (non EU) the Office for National Statistics data out on Friday show a big rise in visas issued to groups such as non-skilled workers of 10%.

    Then there’s student visas up 14%. Those are not university students buy short term students – the group far more likely to overstay, or work in the black market depriving others of work.

    More university students are what the UK wants – they pay high fees and are far less likely to work illegally or overstay visas.

    I can’t take Cameron seriously on this. How serious are they on hitting the 100k when visa approvals are up so much in the past year, and to groups that we need the least?

  26. “The “Party of IN” having no European representatives would have a depressing humour to it.”

    Even more ironic if the party of “out” get in……

  27. It will be interesting to see if there’s a post-election bounce for UKIP. They have certainly had no shortage of coverage…

  28. To add – uni students are issued ‘study visas’ and people coming for short term courses offered ‘student visas’.

    There’s many dodgy language and business schools set up that economic migrants apply to get a student visa, which is then used as a stepping stone for work, and this has an impact on the low paid and unskilled in the UK. Its not well regulated.

  29. NI21, the most interesting party in Northern Ireland right now, pick up their first seat in local government. With the Alliance moving away from a non-sectarian small-u unionist stance to a very public equidistant position between unionism and nationalism, there may just be a space for NI21 as a party for unionists who aren’t all about flegs.

  30. Colin

    I think those might be Friday mornings yougov polls. There’s no mention in Smithsons twitter timeline nor on his website after the local election results began coming in.

  31. @Stan J

    Well I haven’t the foggiest in case An Independence for Europe split the UKIP vote…

  32. @ Colin
    “On a personal note I hope you keep chipping in Rich. The polls should encourage our small band at present.”

    For god’s sake!

  33. “For god’s sake!”

    Bully.

  34. Robbie Alive

    If the Good Lord didn’t approve of small bands, she would never allowed big bands to be replaced by pop groups in the 1960s.

  35. Good to see that the Northern Ireland Green Party has had a councillor elected (under STV) to the new Belfast Council.

  36. gray

    On circularity: I can see the chicken-and-egg problem, and London was likely problematic for the sheer number of candidates UKIP would needed to have rounded up (since the councils were all-up…30 boroughs would mean 1500+ candidates). I don’t expect them to get that far in the West End; it’s more that they weren’t in better shape in more of the East End that surprises me…though there may be a lot of places in the East End that they did well, just not well enough.

    I said this on here when the nominations went in for Havering and UKIP had only managed to put up 30 candidates for the 54 seats. Havering was always going to be their best shot of getting councillors in London by far – they had won the by-election and even in 2010 had got over 10% in some wards. Not only was the demographic perfect for them, there is still a large Labour vote in many wards and the presence of the various residents groups means that it is possible to win a ward on 30-35% of the vote.

    So they should have had enough warning to find candidates and plan. In actual fact they only put up full slates in 5 of the 18 wards with a token candidate or two in the rest.

    They did win the remaining two seats in Gooshays where they had won the by-election. But they failed to take the other four full-slate wards (some fairly narrowly). However they did pick up four other seats in three wards where they didn’t have full slates (and failed in a fourth by only three votes). Indeed there were probably seven wards where their sole candidate was either elected or came a close enough fourth to make it almost certain that three UKIP candidates would have been elected; as well as Heaton where their only two candidates came 300 ahead of the elected third. With Gooshays they could easily had 27 councillors rather than 7.

    It doesn’t really bode well for their targeting strategy nationally, though it’s possibly it is looking at examples like that that has pushed them into doing it.

  37. @R&D

    Rawnsley undoubtedly writes well but has since forever been very downcast about Labour’s chances in the GE. He’s an ultra Blairite with a supercillious manner who damns with faint praise (if Ed is lucky) any Labour approach that differs from that used by TB.

    He fails to recognise that times have changed and that being in Opposition to a Coalition just a few years after a major slump in a GE, means what it realistically achievable for Labour (even if it had the most charismatic leader on Earth) is somewhat less than in 1997 and 2001. TB’s approach in today’s UK would not be any more successful that EM’s. Perhaps even worse.

    This doesn’t mean Labour does nor have issues to tackle, including some of those he points out. It does mean that those issues are anywhere near as significant as he makes out. For example: Labour is still on course to win the next GE. Had you said this to Labour voters after 2010, they would not have believed they could return to power at the first attempt. A sense of perspective is required.

  38. @ R & D & Oldnat

    “Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remember’d;
    …..
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    etc

    [Obviously a reference to the Righteous Brothers!]

    To sleep: perchance to dream . .

  39. @ROGER MEXICO

    Thanks. I wasn’t aware of that. And I agree with your points also. It can be a little anarchic, and people will have principles you don’t necessarily agree with, but I think I’d prefer that over a party full of automatons.

    @RAF

    Well that was my thinking, otherwise I don’t have the foggiest either.

  40. Bill Patrick

    NI21, the most interesting party in Northern Ireland right now, pick up their first seat in local government. With the Alliance moving away from a non-sectarian small-u unionist stance to a very public equidistant position between unionism and nationalism, there may just be a space for NI21 as a party for unionists who aren’t all about flegs.

    Well NI21 have certainly had an interesting election but probably not in the way that they would like:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-27554527

    Looking at the transfer sheets, their one elected candidate mainly seems to have got there by benefit of UKIP and Sein Fein voters.

  41. @Roger Mexico:
    They would probably have hit a ceiling in Havering with some of the Residents groups blocking up some wards. They did well in Brooklands and Havering Park (both cases of an unlucky miss more than anything), and Emerson Park is a great example of where a full slate might well have won it for them (how many UKIP voters tossed second/third votes to the Tories?). Heaton is another such case (the lack of a third candidate just gave a seat to Labour). However, in placeslike Cranham (about 9500 of 12750 votes to the Residents) they were going to get blocked out.

    From what I can tell:
    -Cranham, Hacton, Harold Wood, and Upminster were going to go to popular Residents groups.
    -Emerson Park, Heaton, Mawneys, Rainham and Wennington, Saint Andrews, and South Hornchurch are places where full slates might well have swept (or, failing that and given the seeming tendency of a lot of split votes to be Residents/UKIP, both sides putting up partials and trying to steer voters to joint slates).

    One thing in UKIP’s defence, though, is that it isn’t always easy to find people who want to run for things. I say that as a sitting local party chairman (albeit in the US, not UK) who has had to /beg/ people to run for things within my committee so we didn’t end up with nominations coming from the floor and had people not join my committee because they didn’t want to waste a night every month with a meeting. I really do get a feeling that some of the infamous splits talked about elsewhere on here come down to the fact that if you’re not Labour/Conservative (and even if you are one of them in some areas), to try and contest an area you might well end up basically throwing names onto the ballot…and that can often end poorly.

  42. RAF I I agree with you points.

    Please let us remember that LP won more seats than Con, LD, UKIP and Greens added together. They only have to repeat that performance in General Election to be returned to Government (OK NI not included). Leader’s personal polling, these thing go up and down ask TB, to be in a winning position with a relatively unpopular leader gives the opportunity to make changes in presentation,as has been mentioned above presenting the team more for instance.

  43. RAF I I agree with you points.

    Please let us remember that LP won more seats than Con, LD, UKIP and Greens added together. They only have to repeat that performance in General Election to be returned to Government (OK NI not included). Leader’s personal polling, these thing go up and down ask TB, to be in a winning position with a relatively unpopular leader gives the opportunity to make changes in presentation,as has been mentioned above presenting the team more for instance.

  44. RAF I I agree with you points.

    Please let us remember that LP won more seats than Con, LD, UKIP and Greens added together. They only have to repeat that performance in General Election to be returned to Government (OK NI not included). Leader’s personal polling, these thing go up and down ask TB, to be in a winning position with a relatively unpopular leader gives the opportunity to make changes in presentation,as has been mentioned above presenting the team more for instance.

  45. @RAF, R&D. Re: Andrew Rawnsley

    The most telling comment on Rawnsley’s piece BTL was the poster who referred toan earlier Guardian piece “Local and European elections: the main parties’ hopes and fears” by Rowena Mason (herself no great fan of the Labour Party).

    “Labour should gain 300 to 500 council seats to show it is on course to win the general election next year”.

    “If the [Conservative] party loses anything more than about 200 seats, it will start to look poor for the prime minister”.

    Of course there’s now reason why AR has to agree with her, especially as the Observer is theoretically a separate newspaper. But it does put his comments into perspective.

  46. http://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/vyi24hfu2j/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-140523.pdf

    Today’s YouGov.

    The results on the question of whether Ukip & Farage are racist or not should give pause for thought for anyone in the major parties thinking of pandering to Ukip. They’re toxic to most major party supporters and agreeing with them will risk alienateing supporters e masse.

    I’m also glad to see 76% disapproving of the nasty comments made about Tara Erraught.

  47. ROBBIE ALIVE

    @”For god’s sake!”

    I don’t think he reads the OPs Robbie-and if he did he would surely wish for universal encouragement from them , for all.

    At least that would be my perception of Him-encouraging the Over Dog as well as the Under Dog as it were.

    But I know nothing of these doctrines & if you wish to invoke the Almighty as a partner in the” encouragement “to which I referred , then who are we few here to refuse ?

    I will now try to imagine Him smiling beatifically as he reads this morning’s YouGov. with me.

  48. Well it will be all over today -and then we can get to the big question..

    How will UKIP fare in the forensic spotlight of a UK GE campaign.

    The Economist’s view is clear :-

    “UKIP will not survive the scrutiny of a general election campaign anything like so easily as it has a European campaign which is in itself reviled. Racists and rogues are the sorts of representatives many Britons think the European Parliament deserves. Westminster is a different matter.”

    It won’t happen unless DC makes it happen.

    The Mathew Paris solution-or Carswell & Bone’s ?

  49. i think people are missing a point.

    If UKIP is making this a four party game, then let’s take tat populous poll nd put it in the UKPR mixer

    Con 27
    Lab 32
    LD 9

    That’s a 46 seat majority apparently.

    Yes, UKIP will prevent Lab getting that 40% we used to say was needed (although 35% would do for Lab) but it also means that they can get a majority was a lower share of the vote.

    If UKIP fall back Lab gain too, if they don’t Lab win. There’s no way back for LD and the bell is tolling for Cam et al.

    That is the real, hardly reported story of Thursday’s poll. Swiftly supported by Ashcroft’s poll which is another coalition death knell.

    In a way it would be better if UKIP tole the Euros because it keeps the deluded smug for a while longer before they all sleepwalk into opposition.

1 2 3 4 5