When you sit down to do a marginals polls one consideration is where you draw the line: what is a marginal? The thing you want to avoid is under or overshooting the real battleground – the risk is that you poll lots of seats that need a swing of up to 5% and find a swing of 10%, enough to win lots of seats you didn’t bother polling.

That’s the sort of thing that’s happened in the third of Lord Ashcroft’s three sets of marginal polls – full details here. He polled the four most marginal LD -v- Lab seats, Norwich South, Bradford East, Brent Central and Manchester Withington. These need a swing of up to 2.1% to go from LD to Lab, which unsurprisingly Labour get easily. The average LD => Lab swing in these seats was 15%, confirming that the Lib Dems are doing much worse where they are up against Labour and easily enough to unseat almost all Lib Dem MPs with Labour in second place. In practice of course we can’t actually be that confident that voters in a tight LD-Lab marginal will behave the same way as in a seat where the Lib Dems have a 20% majority, so it’s a bit of a shame Ashcroft didn’t include some more challenging LD-Lab fights like Cambridge, Hornsey & Wood Green or Bermondsey.

An interesting thing to note is that the Greens are doing notably well in a couple of these seats. In Norwich South they are in second place on 20%, but that was one of their target seats anyway, they are also doing well in Manchester Withington, up 8 points on 10%.

While it’s hardly a LD-Lab battle, Lord Ashcroft also polled Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas’s seat. Voting intentions there with changes from the general election are CON 18%(-6), LAB 33%(+4), LDEM 5%(-9), GREEN 32%(+1), suggesting an extremely tight race between Labour and the Green party.


193 Responses to “Ashcroft polling of LD-Lab marginals”

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  1. “The Grand Unified Theory of Carpness posits that the major anti-Miliband swing against Labour won’t begin until the election campaigns are underway, so we’ll have to see what these marginals look like next spring.”

    ——————

    Well, there are two theories. Yours is the Standard Model. The alternative is that greater exposure to Miliband will result in people realising he’s not really an Emmissary from Planet Carp and his stock will rise.

    Of course, a third theory might be there’ll be little change in how he’s perceived, and a fourth is that there will be a change but it’ll make little difference to VI. There’s also, of course, the question of how Cameron may change in how he’s perceived…

    In the Multiple Universe Theory of Carpness of course, all these things will happen. Question is, which one happens in our Universe? Probably something carp, anyway…

  2. Emissary…

  3. 42

  4. YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Labour lead up three to five points: CON 33%, LAB 38%, LD 8%, UKIP 11%

  5. @EWEN LIGHTFOOT

    “Did anybody else notice that Tory MP proposing a directly elected PM last week ?”

    ———-

    Wonder what Boris would make of that?

    And why should Tories stop at PM? A directly elected Deputy PM would be fun, and would Gove be up for a direct election? Let’s free the Education Secretary from the tyranny of centralised party rule…

  6. @Carfrew

    The way the old model is disintegrating, my guess is that all four theories of yours will be up and running in different situations. The question we won’t know until the day after the vote is how strongly the various theories played out – and where.

    For example, there’s a strong feeling among many in Scotland that Labour under EM is slipping far too far to the right (in economic policy, for example) in order to please ‘Middle England’. This view is bolstered by Labour playing poodle to the Unionist (Tory) cause in the Referendum, but even without that the state of the Labour party leaves many of us very perplexed.

    So will press bashing of EM make any difference north of, say, the M62? Only if it produces New(ish) Labour Mk II, as seems likely, despite EM’s attempts to look like Labour old style – but the question we’re all asking is “For those on the Left, what alternative do we have?” For those north of the Border the questions and answers are a bit different – but in the UK context things look dire.

  7. Quite a low UKIP score tonight, but seems to be more to Labour’s benefit than the Tories’.

  8. Hello Nick P. Lovely on the beach. Better poll for Labour, in mOE.

  9. @Muddy

    6 x 8

  10. What I mean is – what sort of Labour party is EM proposing?

  11. Thanks Nick – lowest Yougov UKIP result since 16 April from what I can see.

  12. 6 x 8?

    No – 6 x 7!

  13. @John B

    Well it’s possible that Ed is currently only offering enough to avoid frightening horses, sufficient for the floaters in marginals and without giving the press too much of an angle, whereupon once elected he can be bolder.

    Of course, Labourites may worry that they similarly hoped for more from Blair but it didn’t necessarily work out quite as expected in that regard…

  14. Still leaves ‘others’ on 10% – provided we’re aiming for 100%

    So no bouncing Juncker effect…….

    Have people decided that Labour is going to win and that the European question is going to be put on the back burner?

  15. @John b

    re: 6 x 8…

    I see The HHGTTG has passed you by then…

  16. @Carfrew

    Taking a step back and looking at the overall scene, could it be argued that EM finds himself in an impossible situation? He relies on the votes of people who will be disappointed by his inability/unwillingness to act boldly; such people have suffered during the years of austerity – not that they were necessarily in on the ‘boom years’ in the first place – whilst those whose votes EM needs in order to win have no wish to see any leftish policies being implemented. Has the SDP finally won?

  17. @Carfrew – 10.17

    The what?

  18. Carefree
    Talking of Gove….
    Another little squib that a Tory MP let off last week was saying the IPPR was not independent of the Labour Party, that was on the same day that the Cool son apology was given, so it sank without trace, but will doubtless rise to the surface at some future point proving that Ed is carp beyond reasonable doubt in this or any other universe.

  19. @AW

    Thanks for that clarification. Essentially we’re in agreement that the first question will potentially affect responses to the second. You think it will improve responses to the second question, bringing them closer to actual VI. I’m far from convinced by that, and still think that implicitly questioning the initial response would be more likely to make responses to the second question diverge from actual VI.

    Our differences of view would of course disappear if someone got around to doing a test as I suggested and it found no significant differences whatsoever whether the constituency question were asked second or on its own!

  20. @Carfrew

    Had to go onto internet to work out THHGTTG – I thought the definite article was part of the title.

    No – it hasn’t passed me by, of course, but the answer was 42 and not 48.

    Anyway, up early tomorrow, so off to bed

    SL, ATFATF!

  21. @ John B,

    We might dub that one Swing Theory… (I’ll get my coat.)

  22. The curious thing about Labour is that they spend all of their time carefully crafting policies to appeal to people who will never vote for them (welfare reactionaries, little englanders etc).

    If they just went hard Left, going all out to appeal only to Labour loyalists and disaffected left-wing LD’s, and promised to renationalise the energy companies, banks, and railways, and tax the rich, they’d almost definitely secure a working majority on a 36%+ vote share.

    Lest we forget, Blair at the height of his unpopularity secured 36% and a sizeable working majority.

  23. @John B

    “No – it hasn’t passed me by, of course, but the answer was 42 and not 48”

    ———

    The answer was 42, but the question wasn’t 6 x 7…

  24. Do any of you good people know if the 8% polled by the LibDems in Norwich South is the lowest ever polled for a sitting MP?

  25. @Carfrew
    @John B

    “THHGTTG”

    Or H2G2 in internet-speak.

    “but the answer was 42 and not 48.”

    One theory is that the Ultimate Question was “what do you get when you multiply six by nine”. It works if you use base 13.

    Can you tell I don’t go out much?

    Anyway, I liked Carfrew’s Quantum Polling Theory. It appealed to my p-brane.

  26. As far as Scots are concerned, the chance to leave behind Middle/Little England will either have been seized or rejected before they are called upon to make a decision about the next Westminster government. So either it won’t matter much, or they must resign themselves to Miliband (or, perhaps, try to orchestrate a Lab-SNP coalition).

    Anyway, I’m not sure what they have to complain about: they still like Gordon Brown and however dead-handed Ed Miliband may be, he is certainly to the left of Gordon Brown.

    Meanwhile n rUK, the “Juncker Surge” appears to have lasted for about 24 hours…

  27. “One theory is that the Ultimate Question was “what do you get when you multiply six by nine”. It works if you use base 13.”

    ——-

    Thanks Muddy, “It all makes sense now”.

    \Marvin

    ;)

  28. SATIVASID.
    Having worked in Norwich 1988-93, I have to say that 8% seems rather high for the LD.

  29. @ Dr. Mibbles,

    If they just went hard Left

    They tried that one in 1983 and it got them 8 million votes for socialism. Mind you, half that manifesto is now cross-party consensus (gay rights, anyone?) and there’s been a surge of enthusiasm for nationalisation now that people have had to live with the alternative once more, so it might be worth another go. Plus the lingering death of Tory England gives them more room to manoeuvre. But the party has PTSD.

  30. @Carfrew

    Indeed – ‘though Douglas Adams claimed that he didn’t make jokes in base 13.

    But he might have been joking.

    Either way, it’s not as confusing as this week’s polls.

  31. “Meanwhile n rUK, the “Juncker Surge” appears to have lasted for about 24 hours…”

    If we’re talking Europe, surely that should be ‘Serge’?

  32. I think Ed Miliband takes the view that it’s all very well getting elected with 43% of the vote and getting a stonking big landslide majority, but the mandate you get is not really the sort that previous versions of Labour would have liked to be saddled with.

    I think he’d be happier with a modest but working majority and doing some recognisably traditional Labour things – but in a modern context, if that is possible.

  33. @Spearmint

    “This supports the “priced in” hypothesis of Miliband carpness, at least provisionally- Labour voters are not impressed with him but they’re voting Labour anyway.”

    @TOH

    “That’s probably true but it could still be a very potent factor with the current “don’t knows who mean to vote.”

    I think your speculations both have some truth about them. I’ve thought for some time that the already declared Labour voters are unlikely to desert the party because of Miliband, despite any misgivings they may have about his leadership, but I also think he may be a suppressant on Labour’s potential vote. This is where I agree with TOH. The question that will decide the result of the next GE is to what extent the current undecided voters will drift to the Tories on the basis of a motivation to keep Miliband out.

    Where Labour may have the edge here is that the undecided voters are a notoriously eclectic and unpredictable bunch and may have all sorts of reasons why they wouldn’t touch the Tories with a bargepole either. Undecided in that case could well mutate into a decision not to vote at all. Basically I’m describing 35% of the electorate here.

    As for tonight’s YouGov, well, let’s just say that it would appear that the Feast of the Great Crossover hath now passeth. :-)

    Back to the footy. All we are saying, is give us a goal (sung to the tune of John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance”).

  34. Ashcroft has the right to spend his money how he likes, and we must be grateful for his services to polling, but as Anthony says the chosen ‘marginals’ in this set don’t tell us much we didn’t know already.

    I’d have been fascinated to see Bermondsey and Old Southwark, and other less marginal in 2010 seats that many come very close.

    Based on that Brighton Pavilion poll I’d say Caroline Lucas looks good to get a second term.

  35. Odd to be rooting for the USA as the underdog against Belgium.

    The Europeans go one up in extra time, which feels like a shame, but it’s been a generally illuminating experience to watch ‘lesser’ footballing nations perform way better that the home nations.

    We can no longer claim that it’s something to do with how our league’s work, as many players from other nations play in the same leagues. All I can think of that’s left is that British footballers seem unerringly dim and under educated. Overseas players seem in many cases much more intelligent and capable of thinking.

    Imagine Wayne Rooney acting as a pundit on French TV, talking French. Just doesn’t work.

    [Just in case anyone thinks I’m having a go at England here, don’t worry – as we Scot’s used to say in days gone by, at least you’re there. Scotland is in an even worse state.]

  36. “Imagine Wayne Rooney acting as a pundit on French TV, talking French. Just doesn’t work.”

    Or indeed as a pundit on English TV, talking English.

  37. @Crossbat11
    “Where Labour may have the edge here is that the undecided voters are a notoriously eclectic and unpredictable bunch and may have all sorts of reasons why they wouldn’t touch the Tories with a bargepole either. Undecided in that case could well mutate into a decision not to vote at all. Basically I’m describing 35% of the electorate here. ”

    Or of course, many might vote UKIP, who were very successful at getting previous non-voters at the recent local elections.

  38. “Anyway, I liked Carfrew’s Quantum Polling Theory. It appealed to my p-brane”

    ———-

    Obviously it was only scratching the surface, leaving out of the model things like Quarks and Neutrinos and the Higgs Field, never mind String Theory etc., partly for reasons of brevity but mostly because I struggle to grasp them.

    (I think there’s a version of the Schrodinger’s Cat thought experiment in which Miliband is both carp and not carp at the same time, and you have to have an election to collapse the wavefunction to find out whether in practice he’s carp or not…)

  39. @PhilH
    Thanks for taking up my suggestion and arguing it out with Mr W. Pity he didn’t do the research in 2010, perhaps you could remind him in 2015 (I’m too disorganised!).

  40. Car few,
    EM would have to be living in a box to be carp and not carp at the same time. Perhaps the Wesrminster bubble is the answer.

  41. “Or indeed as a pundit on English TV, talking English.”

    Just how pleased for the lads can you be?

    USA get a goal back in the second period of injury time. Cracker.

  42. “… but mostly because I struggle to grasp them.”

    That’s how it’s supposed to be. “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics.” Feynman (attrib.)

    And what would happen if you put Carfrew’s Carp in the box with Schrodinger’s Cat?

  43. @Cossbat11
    @Pete B

    Correct me if I am wrong but most of the polls I have seen give Labour a lead over the Tories amongst the DKs when they are asked about where their normal party affiliations lie. i see no reason to believe that when voting the DKs would not split along the lines of those that have already declared a VI.

  44. It would be simultaneously terribly unpopular and on course to win an election.

  45. @Muddy Waters – as physicists say, it is possible to understand quantum physics while simultaneously not understanding it.

    Or something like that.

  46. @MrN – Hehe. Outstanding insight!

    @Alec – or maybe that it’s possible to know either Milliband’s position on the polls or his political momentum, but not both simultaneously.

  47. Typo “…in the polls…” not “on” – obviously.

  48. @Alec

    What a spellbinding 30 minutes of football the extra time turned out to be in the Belguim v USA game. And there was me thinking about switching it off and going to bed after about 70 minutes of the game. I’m glad I resisted the temptation now. Brilliant entertainment and well worth staying up for.

  49. “And what would happen if you put Carfrew’s Carp in the box with Schrodinger’s Cat?”

    ———–

    It would prompt an occurrence of spontaneous symmetry-breaking resulting in the formation of a new particle to sit alongside the Fermions and Bosons: the “Carpon”. But obviously one wouldn’t want to carp on* about it…

    *(Well, someone would have said it if I didn’t. Even if not in this universe…)

  50. ‘The question that will decide the result of the next GE is to what extent the current undecided voters will drift to the Tories on the basis of a motivation to keep Miliband out.’
    CB
    It’s a fair point – but it is worth recalling that – bar 1992- all closely fought election campaigns since 1951 have favoured the Opposition rather than the incumbent. Moreover, 1992 had already recently seen a change of PM.

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