Eleven weeks to go

Here are this week’s polls

YouGov/S Times (13/2/15) – CON 32%, LAB 35%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
Populus (14/2/15) – CON 31%, LAB 33%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 15%, GRN 5%
ICM/Guardian (15/2/15) – CON 36%, LAB 32%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 9%, GRN 7%
Ashcroft (15/2/15) – CON 30%, LAB 31%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 16%, GRN 8%
TNS BMRB (16/2/15) – CON 28%, LAB 35%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 18%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (16/2/15) – CON 32%, LAB 32%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 16%, GRN 8%
YouGov/Sun (17/2/15) – CON 33%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 15%, GRN 7%
YouGov/Sun (18/2/15) – CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%
YouGov/Sun (19/2/15) – CON 32%, LAB 33%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%
Populus (19/2/15) – CON 31%, LAB 32%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 17%, GRN 6%

With the exceptions of the rather anomalous looking ICM poll with its four point Tory lead and the TNS poll showing its typically larger Labour lead (two outliers I discussed here), the polls have returned to the same picture we’ve had for the whole year so far – a very close race with Labour just ahead. The UKPR polling average stands at CON 32%(nc), LAB 33%(-1), LDEM 8%(+1), UKIP 15%(+1), GRN 6%(-1) – none of those figures has moved more than one point away from that so far this year. The race is pretty much static.

Scottish and Constituency polls

Survation put out their monthly Scottish poll for the Daily Record this week, giving the SNP a slightly reduced but still very healthy 17 point lead over Labour. Lord Ashcroft released four polls of Conservative held UKIP target seats, showing UKIP just a point behind in Castle Point and only three points behind in Boston and Skegness. I wrote about both here.

Week 7

  • The Conservatives started the week promising to cut sickness benefits for fat people or addicts who refuse treatment. This is an interesting example of policy and how to look at public reaction to them. At one level such policies are popular – by 57% to 28% people support stopping sickness benefits for overweight people who don’t seek weightless treatment, by 64% to 23% people support stopping sickness benefits for addicts who don’t seek treatment. However, the potential downside for such policies, especially for the Conservatives, is if it reinforces the party’s image problems of being seen as heartless or unconcerned for the less well off. The same polling found 40% also thought the policy was uncaring and heartless.
  • Labour started the week talking about economic policy and had their policies endorsed by Lord Mandelson, the former business Secretary. There was a YouGov poll in the week asking if the endorsement of various retired politicians was an asset or a liability – 52% thought Mandelson’s backing a liability, only 7% an asset. Tony Blair’s endorsement was seen as little better – 14% an asset, 61% a liability. The reason for both is the same – most other politicians were seen an asset by supportwes of their own party, a liability by their opponents. Blair and Mandelson (and Michael Howard) were seen as liabilities by both their opponents’ supporters and their own parties’ supporters. According to today’s news Peter Mandelson is now warning Labour against their tuition fees policy, so perhaps his criticism will be an asset!
  • On Thursday party donations for the end of 2014 were announced. The Conservatives received just over £8million, Labour just over £7m, the Liberal Democrats £3m (the party had a record year of donations, despite their precipitous drop in support since 2010), UKIP £1.5m and the Greens a quarter of a million. There was some polling on party donations last weekend, showing people pretty cynical about both main parties – by 48% to 30% people think Labour should try and reduce Union funding, by 52% to 25% people think the Conservatives should try and reduce their business funding. Around two thirds of people would support a cap on business and trade union donations, 51% would support a cap on individual donations to political parties, only 19% would support taxpayer funding.

Projections

The latest forecasts from Election Forecast, May 2015 and Elections Etc are below. Elections Etc and Election Forecast both have Labour and the Conservatives pretty much equal in predicted seat numbers, May 2015 are projecting Labour to have more seats, but not by very many.

Elections Etc – Hung Parliament, CON 281(nc), LAB 282(+1), LD 23(nc), SNP 40(-1), UKIP 3(nc)
Election Forecast – Hung Parliament, CON 282(+2), LAB 280(-3), LD 25(-2), SNP 40(+3), UKIP 2(nc)
May 2015 – Hung Parliament, CON 266(-3), LAB 275(+1), LD 26(+2), SNP 56(nc), UKIP 4(nc)


159 Responses to “Eleven weeks to go”

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  1. @ Colin

    I think he was talking about rUK politics Amber-ie the bit not devolved to Scotland.

    There is no “rUK” in UK general election politics, Colin. We are one nation for the 2015 election. That’s what David Cameron was “delighted” about after the referendum (according to the BBC quotes which you shared).

  2. Colin

    Classic knock-about Conference stuff from Cameron, but he wasn’t talking about rUK.

    “She’s right. They’ve picked out the wedding list.They’ve booked the honeymoon – probably to North Korea. They’ve set up a joint account – unlimited overdraft obviously. And so if you vote for anyone else apart from the Conservatives, you are voting for this outcome: Labour in Government. Ed Miliband in Downing Street and the very real prospect of Alex Salmond coming in through the back door.

    “Like a horror movie – he’s back. Only this time – he’s not running Scotland, he would have the decisive say in running a country he wants to see abolished – our United Kingdom.

    “Isn’t it appalling that Labour won’t rule out this outcome, that they would wrap themselves in the flag one minute and the next be prepared to work with a bunch of people who would rip up that flag given half a chance? Spineless. Weak. Unprincipled. Short-termist – that, my friends, is all anyone needs to know about today’s Labour party.”

  3. @OldNat

    Sounds like Cameron’s a more than a bit rattled

  4. @Amber

    I think the point being skirted round is that most people are happy that democracy is alive and well in Scotland, as long as the SNP are not part of any government that might have power over England. Never mind that while 63.8% of England voted for coalition parties (and 46.2% of Wales), only 35.6% of Scots voted for them (22.7% of the entire electorate – less than 1 in 4).

    Back in 2011, after the Holyrood Election, I mentioned to someone that if the results had translated into Westminster seats, the SNP would have been sending 40+ MPs to Westminster. I also stated that the English electorate would not like it one bit, despite Scotland having a coalition it did not vote for imposed on it by England’s electorate.

    #hypocrisy

  5. I make it that UKIP’s 17% on 19th Feb is their highest ever score with Populus.

  6. One though regarding Lord A’s point about private polling counting towards Constituency spending limits.

    Does anyone know if the polls become public would they still be counted anymore as they would just be for public information rather than for a private party campaign?

  7. Not that Lib Dems are likely to want to publish more polls but in a different context a party that came third previously say might want to poll to show the public they were in first/second place and thus the main challengers “x winning here”.

    If you commissioned a public poll to show this would that be campaign spending?

  8. @Wes (From two threads back – your post of February 19th, 2015 at 9:10 pm)

    “The new Vote for Policies site is up – http://voteforpolicies.org.uk

    Thanks very much. I enjoyed it in 2010 too. Not too many surprises for me on a personal level. Perhaps being into politics, I can sense which party is behind which policy.

    “So far showing great results for the Greens – and last time I feel that became a bit self-perpetuating, with Greens sharing it more because it showed them ahead; and also therefore those with Green sympathies more likely to engage with it.”

    I didn’t take notice of the national results last time, but in my own (supposedly) safe Labour seat of Glenrothes (26 surveys completed):

    – Scottish National Party 44.8% (+23.1)
    – Scottish Green Party 35.5% (+35.5)
    – Labour 9.3% (-53.0)
    – Liberal Democrats 5.2% (-2.5)
    – UKIP 3.5% (+2.5)
    – Conservatives 1.7% (-5.5)

    With 26 samples, I’m not getting too excited. Your comments on the Greens might well be true.

    Is anyone else seeing unusually high Green effects in their seat when using this site?

  9. @ Northumbrian Scot

    Here’s my understanding of the situation you describe (I’m not an expert but I have studied the available information):

    If the primary purpose was private polling then it is a constituency expense.

    The contract or agreement which was made at the time the polling was commissioned is the determining factor. If the Party authorises publication after seeing the poll, it doesn’t change the nature of the original, commissioning agreement.

  10. But when discussing the LibDems 100 polls, we also need to keep in mind that the campaign spending regulations only apply to specific time periods in the run up to an election.

  11. AMBER

    OK-you clearly see no irony at all in Labour’s position vis a vis SNP.

    That takes chutzpah :-)

  12. ODNAT

    Yep-knockabout indeed-but deadly serious from his point of view -and from Labour’s.

  13. @Amber Star

    Do you know who is polling East Ren.? It seems an unusual one to poll, maybe Ashcroft as he likes doing seats of party leaders – but reports say there were a lot of questions in Labour policy so that doesn’t seem to fit.

  14. Colin

    Repeating Churchillian rhetoric that didn’t even work for Churchill will doubtless have resonated with those few in the hall that were awake.

  15. Couper

    According to my info, Populus were polling in East Ren, specifically testing reaction to various Labour policies.

    This was prior to Murphy’s Don’t attack “the mainstream middle class speech”.

  16. @ Statgeek

    What I find most amusing about David Cameron’s speech is that the Tory Party have not actually ruled out accepting support from SNP MPs.

  17. OLDNAT

    If that was the audience .

  18. @ Colin

    OK-you clearly see no irony at all in Labour’s position vis a vis SNP.

    What Labour position is that, Colin?

    See my post @ Statgeek – because, unless there’s something important of which I’m unaware, the real irony is that the Tory position is no different from Labour’s.

  19. Colin

    Well, if the audience was Tories in Scotland who were tempted to vote Lab in NE Fife to stop the Nats, it was a pretty daft one!

    Highlight of the Conference, however, was Ruth Davidson saying that the Tories ‘would be “ruthless” in targeting seats in the run-up to May 7.’

  20. COLIN
    I think he was talking about rUK politics Amber-ie the bit not devolved to Scotland.

    Was the inclusion of the “not” accidental?

    If so, that would be entirely relevant to EVEL or whatever devolution England wants/gets, but that’s not the way his statements have been reported.

    If it’s meant then presumably he wants to prevent non-unionist candidates standing for Westminster.

  21. @ Couper 2802

    I don’t know who was doing the East Ren polling or why they were doing it. It could have been Jim’s campaign; it could be any of the rival campaigns or it could be an MSM commissioned poll because they’re hoping to get a story out of it.

  22. @Amber

    For me, the irony is that both Conservative and Labour have for too long been unable to win whole areas of the UK, so concentrate on where they can win, and blatantly ignore safe or unattainable seats, and it is coming home to roost for both parties at the same time.

    For once democracy might just be the winner.

  23. @ Statgeek

    For me, the irony is that both Conservative and Labour have for too long been unable to win whole areas of the UK, so concentrate on where they can win, and blatantly ignore safe or unattainable seats.

    It’s refreshing for me to see your comment. Because for 13 years, Labour were accused of not concentrating on their core areas and of having policies which appealed to areas which were never going to be ‘solid’ Labour. So thank you for putting a different perspective on this.

  24. AMBER

    @” the real irony is that the Tory position is no different from Labour’s.”

    Ah-now we approach common ground, though-sadly- I wouldn’t describe Cons’ opportunities in this regard as “no different” to Labours.

    Can we agree that SNP must be smiling quietly as they count the spoils to come. Like a 19th C Tart to the Aristocracy-acknowledged by none of them-desired by them all. :-)

  25. I don’t think the Tories have specifically ruled out accepting the support of George Galloway either.

  26. @ Colin

    Can we agree that SNP must be smiling quietly as they count the spoils to come. Like a 19th C Tart to the Aristocracy-acknowledged by none of them-desired by them all.

    I take your point but must add:

    Common ground rather depends on whether you are using ‘tart’ in a gender specific way.

    And I’m not so sure that the SNP are smiling quietly and counting the spoils to come. The referendum slipped away from them, despite the Yes campaign’s apparent momentum so they’ll not be counting any chickens before they’re hatched.

    Furthermore, it could be argued that the SNP’s best case scenario is to be excluded from having any influence in Westminster before a vote is cast (i.e. the Cameron conference speech scenario!). This scenario would certainly allow the SNP to avoid making the hard campaign and policy choices that surely follow from having a potential stake in the governance of the UK.

  27. At this stage in the runup to the 2010 election the main pollsters were giving the Tories a lead of 6 – 9% – not far off the final outcome of a Tory lead of 7.3% though support for both parties declined in the final month probably due to Cleggmania. The main difference this year is that support for the smaller parties has shown itself well in advance of the election – rather reminiscent of the February 1974 election when the Liberals made five by-election gains in the preceding 18 months and the SNP took Govan from Labour.Despite the campaign surge by Thorpe in Feb 1974 the Liberal revival still fell short of its earlier by-election promise , and that makes me wonder whether something similar will happen this year.Are we going to see UKIP, the Greens and the SNP fall short of their recent polling levels and if so which of the main parties stands to benefit most? Prima facie if the Greens fall back to 2 – 3% the obvious beneficiaries appear to be Labour and the LibDems, whilst a decline in UKIP support to -say – 6 – 8% would help the Tories though less overwhelmingly so. Any significant fallback in SNP support will clearly boost Labour. Only 75 days left to find out – it is worth noting that little has changed in the last 75 days!

  28. Graham
    whilst a decline in UKIP support to -say – 6 – 8% would help the Tories though less overwhelmingly so.

    I’d like to know what you’re smoking. I ‘d like to try some!

  29. @Statgeek

    “Is anyone else seeing unusually high Green effects in their seat when using this site?”

    Yes. My seat, a Tory marginal which Lab expect to win, and where LD will be even more nowhere than last time, shows:
    Green 27.9%
    LD 22.4%
    Lab 21.9%
    Con 14.8%
    UKIP 13.1%

    The only declared candidates at present are Con, Lab and an independent. My guess of the out come is 45% Lab, 40% Con and 5% each for the other 3 (ind <1%)

  30. If the East Ren polling is Populus, they did private polling for the Better Together campaign, so it could be any of BT’s components. If Labour policies are being trialled though, it’s more likely to be for them. Though given the relentlessly negative campaigning we can expect to see along the lines of “Vote Mebyon Kernow, get DUP”[1], the pollster could be trying out negative lines.

    I do wonder if the potential vulnerability of Murphy’s seat could lead to an over-concentration of SLab’s resources and attention there. Even though its middle-class profile and lowish Yes vote (37%) should make it even safer than it looks on UNS, there must be a worry that the SNP might come up through the middle. Even trying to squeeze the 30% Conservative vote might not work as some Tory voters might be more interested in doing down their traditional enemy and switch to SNP.

    The same problem of a vulnerable leader may also have the same effect for the Lib Dems. Of course their embattled MPs may feel that anything that keeps Clegg out of their constituencies is a good thing.

    [1] (Yes I know OldNat nicked it from Wings). This is probably still less implausible than some that have already been proposed and I fully expect a Lib Dem leaflet to appear in Cornwall,aimed at transplanted Irish fisherfolk who might be tempted by pan-Celtic solidarity. With bar chart.

  31. Just dropping in from Canada to observe that in 2010 88.1% of the UK elecorate supported either Conservative, Labour or LD. In the third week of February 2015 that remains stubbornly stuck at around 73%, with Labour and Conservative within a statistical margin for a tie.

    Meanwhie the LDs and their supporters are being portrayed as being ecstatic that their support is at somewhere between 26% or 39% of what it was in 2010.

    Even if they do not win a single seat the truth is that UKIP and Green support, if the polls are even remotely accurate, will have gone from 4.1% to roughly 20% in less than four years and the combined SNP/PLaid Cymru vote from 2.3% to 5%.

    As an observer of elections and political situations for over fifty years it strikes me as very odd that few if any on this list do not recognize that there is complete crisis of confidence in the two parties that have governed the UK since 1945.

    Neither, currently, can support the respect of more than a third of the electorate and one leader only commands the support and respect of 36% of his party members and the other 55%. That is 18% and 22.5% respectively of the total electorate.

    Meanwhile we know that the leader of one insurgent Party commands the respect of 61% of his members, but do not know about the other because their is a basic refusal by the pollsters to ask the public about her at all.

    Meanwhile the pollsters themselves are using an antiquated method of calculating outcome of this election based on 2010 weighting of results that everyone knows will not happen.

    ICM, as best I can tell from my limited knowledge are the worst offender (and I have written to both ICM and the British Polling Council this week), take the numerical value of 18- 21 year olds and quite literally cut it in half, in that because they did not vote in 2010, they were 14-17, they arbitrarily assign those most likely to vote a value of .5 instead of 1 if they are definitively voting.

    The consequence of this is that while Lord Ashcroft and YouGov found 18-24 year old support for the Green Party running 2nd at 20% to 26%, the ICM poll found Green support running 6th at 6% and overall LD support at 10%.

    As someone who spent three years on an Adviosry Committee of Political Parties to the Chief Electoral officer of Canada I find the potential manipulation of polling data offensive to the democratic process.

    Our youth are already totally alienated from the electoral system, but to have a polling company systematically weighting polling outcomes to skew youth results is fundamentally wrong.

    Don’t believe me as an international observer, go and read ICM’s explanation of what it does with weighting policy. I was chagrined when i read it, especially after I completed calculations with regard other pollster from similar dates.

    If I am wrong I stand to be corrected and apologize to both ICM and other pollsters, but in recent years I have seen polls so out of whack with actual election rsults that it left me wondering if we should allow polling at all during the writ period..

  32. James Peel
    ‘I’d like to know what you’re smoking. I ‘d like to try some!’

    What exactly is your point? That a decline in UKIP support to 6 – 8% is totally unrealistic – or that if it were to come to pass the Tories would benefit overwhelmingly?

  33. Fisher latest “prediction”

    Forecast Election Day Seats (with approximate 95% Prediction Intervals)
    Con: 337 (219 – 471)
    Lab: 265 (140 – 376)
    LD: 21 (14 – 30)

    Total 623 so once we remove 18 for NI, and 1 for the Speaker, that leaves 8 seats available for SNP/PC/UKIP/Green/Independent.

    In his next prediction, on the basis of historical precedents, the Habsburg dynasty will once again dominate Europe (with Lazlo as plenipotentiary to UKPR).

  34. People of all political persuasions, on this side of the border, have opined that the Scottish Tory hopes of recovery is best created by “Bavarianisation”.

    Alex Massie doesn’t go quite that far, but …..

    http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2015/02/ruth-davidsons-blue-collar-conservatism-subtly-rebukes-david-cameron/

  35. Sorry. That was Fisher back in Oct 2013!

  36. OLDNAT

    Fisher latest “prediction”

    Which Fisher? Initially I thought you meant Stephen of that ilk, but his most recent blog on elections etc seems rather more realistic, claiming to have input from Prof C. See http://electionsetc.com/2015/02/16/labour-need-to-tempt-not-terrify-the-voters-they-have-lost-to-the-snp/#more-878

  37. OLDNAT

    Oops! Posted before I saw your Oct 13 correction!

  38. That a decline in UKIP support to 6 – 8% is totally unrealistic

    It is.

  39. Sorry. That was Fisher back in Oct 2013!

    If you look at the comments here…most of us, rightly, thought fisher was talking nonsense…it was obvious even then that the tories were not going to win 337 seats at the general election.

    He is more sensible now…but still thinks the tories will beat labour by 2.3%…his swingback model has been what’s been the problem with his “predictions” since 2013, and, as you can see, fisher still is factoring in quite a bit of swingback, as Unicorn has pointed out.

  40. OLDNAT

    That is a great article by Alex Massie.

    A glimpse into the future me-thinks.

  41. @ James Peel

    … fisher was talking nonsense..

    That seems a bit harsh, doesn’t it? His argument was set out clearly in the working paper he used to launch his model (at the time of the projection that @OldNat has just retrieved). He summarised the pattern of historical swingback that had been seen in prior elections and a full 20 months before the date of the election he put together a model projecting the profiles of VIs and seat tallies that would be seen if the present election tracked the average of previous elections.

    If UKPR folk were prescient enough to identify this as ‘nonsense’ then they must have had a canny capacity to foresee the future. I don’t see how anyone could have stated in advance that swingback would not work this time as it has done in the past.

    I don’t think that it advances the debate at all to accuse someone of ‘talking nonsense’ when they go to meticulous efforts to build and maintain a model based on transparent assumptions and operations.

  42. Sorry – failed to switch off bold after the word “average”. Something to do with trying to make two font changes at the same time.

  43. If I hadn’t been concentrating on the Abedeen v St Mirren game, I wouldn’t have put up that daft Fisher post!

    Amazing, however, to see how much things have changed in 16 months.

  44. unicorn old boy…

    It wasn’t that hard…ukip were on about 11% in October 2013, the boundaries hadn’t changed and the labour party was about 6 points ahead…

    It really didn’t take an Einstein to realise that the scenario in which the tories got a majority of 22 in an election about 18 months away was very unlikely….

    Myself, HHemmelig who never graces this part of the website, peter crawford and countless others said fisher was bollox…and we said it at the time, as a look at the archive will show.

    What was less foreseeable was the collapse of labour. local election results which nobody pays any attention to, other than rallings and thrasher, also belied fisher big time….

    sorry it didn’t require psychic prescience to realise that fisher was talking poppycock. I also still suspect that his “swing back” model still inflates the tories…I haven’t see the tories on more than 270 for ages….but then again what do i know?

  45. @Unicorn

    I think the consensus on UKPR was that Fisher was indeed talking nonsense, even 16 months ago, though most people were respectful of his approach, and his valiant attempt to foresee the future through transparent and rigorous methodology which was always (I think) acknowledged by him as experimental.
    The view then, as now, was that as conventional swing against the government had not taken place, we could not expect conventional swingback.

  46. James Peel
    ‘That a decline in UKIP support to 6 – 8% is totally unrealistic

    It is.’

    If you read my original comment you will find that I was not predicting anything but merely contemplating possible scenarios and what might follow from them.That said, I don’t consider it outlandish to suggest that at the end of the day UKIP will fail to reach double figures in terms of % vote share.

  47. @Guy

    When I searched “vote for policies” in Twitter, quite a few of the hits were of green supporters. I guess they believe that they have a better chance that way.

  48. @Graham,

    I agree with a lot of what you say, although inevitably it falls into the realms of speculation. None of us can be sure whether the current support for the smaller parties sustains itself all the way to polling day or, if it doesn’t, where their votes may go if their existing support melts away. You’re right to say that, in theory, Labour stand to benefit most if the SNP and Green vote declines, and quite possibly if the more recent, softer UKIP converts decamp too, but the extraordinary possibility of the UKIP, SNP and Green vote holding up remains. I think we’re on course to see the lowest combined Labour and Tory aggregate vote of all time in May.

    Where I agree totally with what you say is the significance of the flat and inert Tory vote that remains impervious to both good and bad political news for the Government. The fact that we’re so close to the election without any discernible recovery becomes a more significant factor as each day goes by. The cries of “foul and it’s all beastly and unfair because the voters should be more grateful etc etc”, are faintly risible, and coming from increasingly anguished, bewildered and predictable sources, but it has seemed pretty plain for some time, reflected in these extraordinary opinion polls, that there exists very little enthusiasm amongst the electorate for re-electing this Government. They have remained stubbornly unpopular and unloved for virtually this entire Parliament and there’s no sign at all that the electorate’s opinion is changing about that.

    However, what the polls are also clearly saying is that there is no settled will amongst the voters about what should replace this Coalition Government. HM Opposition, the alternative Government in waiting, is relatively unloved too, albeit still marginally ahead in the relegation dogfight. Hence we’re on course for a dog’s breakfast of a hung Parliament, I think.

    One interesting thing to look out for is at what stage panic might break out in the Tory Party if these polls don’t start moving? When does bewilderment and frustration, some of it being seen already in Conservative circles, turn to desperation. They’ve circled the wagons quite well thus far but how long will that last when they keep having to stare at these awful polls for them, week after week as the clock ticks down towards May?

    My hunch is give it about another four weeks.

  49. Opinium

    http://ourinsight.opinium.co.uk/survey-results/political-polling-17th-february-2015

    Latest Opinium poll (17 – 20 Feb):
    CON – 35% (+2)
    LAB – 33% (-2)
    UKIP – 15% (+1)
    GRN – 7% (+1)
    LDEM – 6% (-1)

  50. CROSSBAT 11
    Thank you for your post, with which I fully agree, on a bad day for the men from Villa Park and Cold Trafford.

    The question for Labour is whether Ed M and his team can get the country to listen to him, but I hear that on the ground Labour has a vigorous campaign going in the target seats, in England, at least.

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