Lord Ashcroft released another batch of constituency polls earlier today, this time revisiting some of the Lib Dem seats where he had previously found close battles. In Lord Ashcroft’s previous polling in Lib Dem seats he’s often found wide variation from one seat to another, and it’s the same here – in some seats the Lib Dems are holding on against the national tide, in other seats they are doing very badly indeed.

Camborne and Redruth was an ultra marginal between the Conservatives and Lib Dems at the last election. In June 2014 Ashcroft polled the seat and found a close three way battle between the Conservatives, Labour and UKIP. The picture in this poll is far less exciting – a very lead 13 point Tory lead.

North Devon and St Austell and Newquay both had narrow one point Tory leads last time, this time they had more comfortable seven and six point leads for the Tories.

North Cornwall, St Ives and Torbay all saw much less movement. Torbay and North Cornwall both had neck-and-neck ties when Ashcroft last polled them, this time he found a one point Lib Dem lead and a two point Lib Dem lead. St Ives has gone from a one point Lib Dem lead to three points, showing almost no swing from LD to Con at all since the general election.

Turning to the two Lib Dem seats where Labour is the main challenger, Julian Huppert in Cambridge has now opened up a nine point lead over Labour, reducing the swing from LD>Lab to just three points, which would be exceptionally good in a LD/Lab seat.

Finally Lord Ashcroft re-polled Sheffield Hallam, Nick Clegg’s own seat. Naturally this is the poll that got the most attention, as he continues to show Clegg trailing Labour. Voting intentions were CON 16%, LAB 36%, LDEM 34%, UKIP 7%, GRN 6% – a whopping great swing of 19.5% from LibDem to Labour. The Lib Dems criticised the poll for not including candidate names, saying this would have boosted Clegg. Lord Ashcroft pre-empted the criticism by saying that he already asked the constituency specific question and feared putting candidate names in the question would give too much prominence to that as a factor and would risk showing too much of a candidate effect. Both are perfectly justifiable arguments – the reality is we don’t know. Constituency polls have been very rare in the past, so we don’t have lots of constituency polls with and without candidate prompting from previous elections that we can compare to results to make a judgement. There is simply no evidence that would allow us to judge whether candidate prompting in constituency polling is less or more accurate.

341 Responses to “Lord Ashcroft returns to the Lib Dem battleground”

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  1. Is this the first election where constituency polling has been so widespread? I don’t remember it happening so much in 2010.

  2. Is it me or should Labour have taken seats like Cambridge ! This is heading for a Dead-heat . People voting for least hated

  3. Interesting stuff.

  4. According to Mike Smithson – ComRes, Survation and YouGov will all be performing snap leaders’ polls filling tomorrow’s Magnificent Seven debate.

  5. Filling = following

  6. Is the sampling so small as to be discounted?
    If not, then my original forecast stands,interesting to see William Hill’s odds. Might be worth a shilling or two either way at 5/1 CON or 14/1 LAB.

  7. The Cambridge poll was conducted when most students weren’t there. I’d take it with a pinch of salt.

  8. @David in Oxford – The sample size is 1,000 per constituency – did you even read the links?

  9. @Chris Green

    Your point is well taken. As other seats are showing students voting for LibDem in much lower numbers than 2010, this may make Cambridge a much closer race.

  10. @raf

    Number Cruncher is saying there “could be as many as five snap opinion polls”

  11. @Bill Patrick – Yes, for two reasons. One, it’s the first election where UNS is not only dubious but outright misleading. Two, Lord Ashcroft has effectively “donated” a large sum of money to fund these polls, partly for his own political reasons, partly for his personal interest, but partly for the public good.

  12. @Omnishambles

    That many? It seems an expensive way to measure a transitory judgement.

  13. @ Chris Green
    No, I am not a statistician, but you obviously know more, and that 5/1 shot looks like coming down very soon, given that the stats are genuine. Just thought it might be worth a punt at those odds.

  14. @AW

    I assume they’ll be no polling over the Easter holidays?

  15. @AW

    They’ll = there’ll.

  16. @raf

    Yeah I don’t know if it’s true, but NC usually has accurate info. The snap polls seem pretty much worthless to me but it must be a good advertisement for the polling company.

  17. @Chris Green, Brian Nicholson

    Apparently the LD (MP) in Cambridge (Julian Huppert) is stating openly that he voted against the increase in tution fees!

  18. @ Johnny,

    I’d add that Huppert is fairly exceptional in terms of both his representation of the academic community that comprises much of his constituency (and whose members are likely to be higher information voters than average) and his opposition the Government. He’s been a compelling advocate for issues his local supporters care about in a way that other Lib Dems have not, and I would expect his vote to hold up better than most of his colleagues.

  19. I wonder if Lord Ashcroft might have considered doing some of the Sheffield Hallam field with candidate prompting and some not.

    It’s just not a normal situation whereby most people might well not have heard of any of the candidates and therefore within reason it matters not much who they are. Even party leaders in normal situations don’t seem to have such a distorting effect on the VI. Generally they are chosen in fairly safe constituencies and are rarely in danger of losing.

    It’s worth finding out how much of Clegg’s local popularity (or otherwise) is due to himself vs general LD unpopularity.

  20. As a Green, I can attest for Huppert being a good, and at least locally, popular Lib Dem. As someone in the science community as well, he’s in a minority in Parliament and was always in with chance of saving his skin. Saying that, he’s recently started to go back on the “realistic chance” of opposing fees, so may get some flack for that.

  21. On the subject of prompting for candidates, Ashcroft did ask about party contact rates, and in Sheffield Hallam 75% of respondents said they had heard from the Lib Dems. The majority of people in the constituency know who their candidate is. I could be wrong, but I can’t see prompting by candidate name having that great an effect on the topline figures.

  22. @ Keith P,

    You’d think he’d want to do it just as a point of general academic interest. With the amount of money he’s throwing around, he might as well double the same size in two of the polls (I’d do Clegg’s seat and one where the Lib Dem incumbent has less notoriety) and compare his CVI question to the named candidates one.

    If nothing else, if he’s going to do this again in 2020/October 2015/whenever the next election surely he’ll want to know what the optimal question format is?

  23. Anyone want to talk about Oxford East ? LD/LAB marginal where Andrew Smith may or may not be standing again. CONS got 7,000 votes last time. LAB majority was < 1,000. The orange boards are already everywhere!

  24. @ Spearmint

    Excellent point.

  25. In the previous thread, Simon asked if it’s correct that Survation also do some constituency polls – as indeed they do, and others – especially at by – election times.

    For those who are not already aware of it, it’s worth noting that wikipedia have a comprehensive listing of all constituency polls, with links


  26. YouGov/Sun poll tonight – Tories have a two-point lead: CON 36%, LAB 34%, LD 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%

  27. YouGov/Sun – Westminster Voting Intention: CON lead by 2. CON 36, LAB 34, LD 8, UKIP 13, GRN 4. http://opinionbee.uk/poll/2060

  28. UKIP on the rise!

  29. With changes:


    CON 36 (+1)
    LAB 34 (-2)
    LIB 8 (+1)
    UKIP 13 (+1)
    GRN 4 (-1)

    Fieldwork 31st-1st

  30. Crossbat11


  31. With changes

    CON 36 (+1)
    LAB 34 (-2)
    LIB 8 (+1)
    UKIP 13 (+1)
    GRN 4 (-1)

    Lib Dems on the rise!

  32. @David In Oxford

    Andrew Smith is indeed standing in Oxford East again. Your figures are from the result in 2005. Smith had a majority of 4,500 in 2010 and will win easily next month. A majority of 10,000 could be on the cards for him. Greens and Lib Dems will fight hard for second place.

  33. @ David in Oxford,

    Are the Lib Dems going to take a Labour seat with 8% of the national vote that they couldn’t win with 23%?

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess “No”. This seat looks marginal in the same way Pontypridd is marginal.

  34. MoE stuff.

    Still waiting for the smoking gun.

  35. On second thoughts:


  36. Evening all..

    The good news for Labour……

    “Nick Clegg’s own seat. Naturally this is the poll that got the most attention, as he continues to show Clegg trailing Labour. Voting intentions were CON 16%, LAB 36%, LDEM 34%, UKIP 7%, GRN 6% – a whopping great swing of 19.5% from LibDem to Labour”

    The bad news for Labour…well see tonight’s poll.

    It’s not good.

  37. We have had 35/35 and 36/35 ,can the big two get to 36/36 and then on to 37?.

    Whats a realistic upper limit ?

  38. @ Allan Christie,

    Not to worry, they have the SNP to prop them up! :)

  39. @07052015

    36/36 is the upper limit. Tories can’t go higher due to their weakness in inner city areas. Labour can’t go higher because of Scotland.

  40. The fact that Ashcroft gives so many LDs a fighting chance (even) is a surprise. I am a little more pessimistic and regarding Clegg, mentioning the name would be a two edged sword I would have thought.

    Polldrums, otherwise.

  41. @Spearmint
    “@ Allan Christie,
    Not to worry, they have the SNP to prop them up! :)”


    Come on @AC. Fiiiiiiight!

  42. 07052015
    Whats a realistic upper limit ?

    I guarantee the total won’t go above 100%!

    My guess would be the big two on no more than 78.

  43. @ 07052015,

    37% should be entirely achievable for Labour (although who knows if they can pull it off). I’d say it’s a reach for the Tories- they haven’t really done that well post-omnishambles, so they’d have to win over some voters who have been avoiding them for years. OTOH their recovery has gone fairly well for the second half of March and there is some crazy stuff in their crossbreaks in the March churn report, so it’s not impossible.

  44. @07052015

    “We have had 35/35 and 36/35 ,can the big two get to 36/36 and then on to 37?.”

    I think so! The way I see it, a big chunk of the Lib Dem collapse is going to Labour and Tory VI while UKIP and the Greens will be squeezed further.

    I expect to see the Tories and Labour above their 2010 voteshare

    Realistic upper limit… maybe 38, 39%

  45. @Spearmint

    How can Labour exceed 36% without doing much better in Scotland. I’m sorry, I can’t see it.

  46. Labour seem to poll lower on election day so i expect these polls to be way out. I can’t see them doing more than 32%

  47. By the way – not 38/38. For one of them to get 38, the other would have to do worse, realistically speaking. 36/36… maybe that’s possible

  48. @ RAF,

    The Scottish collapse only took 1.5% off them. So to get 37% they’d need a pre-SNPocalypse GB VI of 38.5%- a bit ambitious, but far from unattainable by the standards of the second half of this Parliament. It would require the unwinding of basically everything that happened in 2014, but we’d expect the smaller parties to be squeezed as polling day draws near so I think they could do it… if their campaign is good and Miliband performs well in the debates.

    …yeah, it’s going to be 36%.

  49. As I have said before, I still think Lib Dems will do much better than what they are currently polling, I put them on 28 to 34 seats.

    Cons are still looking at 318 and Labour will get around 250-255.

    Sadly though for David Cameron & Nick Clegg, as my wife will tell you, im rather rubbish at predicting things.

  50. @07052015

    I doubt it. And if 37 does happen, Cameron may have the dubious distinction of being the first sitting PM to improve his party’s vote share but lose re-election since Attlee in 1951.

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