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. It looks as though they had a big oversample of 2010 Tories, which is why the Tory figures were down-weighted.

  2. The populus tables were very skewed this week prior to weighting. Massively oversampled 2010 Conservatives.

    According to Table 1 the number of 2010 Conservative voters should have been 542, but 624 were sampled, 82 too many.

    Current unweighted VI was 581 a drop of 7% in Conservative VI, amongst those who voted in 2010, since 2010.

    After weighting to compensate for oversampling, current Con VI was 497.

    Sampling of 2010 VI was almost perfect at 385, should have been 386.

    Current unweighted VI was 531, a 38% increase in VI since 2010. Labour were weighted down to 523.

  3. @Hawthorn @Gazprom


    I won’t be watching it live but

    I’ll definitely listen to it live, probably on the radio, but I’m tempted to watch Adam Boulton and the Sky News coverage starting at 19:00 WEST. Any commentary there is likely to be as negative as it gets re both the Progressive Alliance and UKIP.

    Expats without access to the UK TV channels might care to note that it’s available live worldwide on BBC Radio 5 [internet streamed] from 18:30 UTC and BBC World News TV from 19:00 UTC.

  5. So had a fun night. Around 2.00 AM the bus driver decided to play dodgems and bumper cars with the semi-trailers that were whipsawing across the road as we were going down an incline on the Coquihalla Highway. At one point all the passengers heard metal scraping on metal. Was asked by bus driver to fill out a report, but am now finally in Vancouver.

    The road contractor hadn’t got any sanders or snow ploughs out and it was a combination of snow and freezing rain coming down at the time

    @ Pete B

    It seems to me that what Ashcroft has found in the latest 8 polls is that in the LD-Con marginals a certain number of Lab and Green swing voters are deciding to choose LD to prevent Conservative gaining the seat.

    This is much more prevalent than Conservative voters supporting LD in LD-Labour marginals and definitely even more so where SNP is concerned in Scotalnd.

    That’s why Clegg is in so much trouble and maybe he is viewed as being on the right of the Party and being held responsible for taking his Party into coalition with the Conservatives.

    @ Unicorn

    I see that Populos has an unweighted value for LD against 2010 of 36.9 and a weighted value of 41.06.

    This again seems hight to me.

    I also see that they are downweighting UKIP from 276 to 230 in their sample.

    Would love to see how some of these pollsters are weighting Green.

  6. interesting, acc. to smithson, the populus poll shows a 4.5% swing from C to Lab in England and Wales, since 2010…

    this figure is strangely consistent with other polls.


    I too got the YouGov invite, downloaded to my Android and all seems well (though it does say nothing upcoming). What device are you using?

    That nowcast link doesn’t work for me. Or at least, it recognises my postcode, puts me in the right constituency, but that’s it.

  8. Not directed at you James in particular.

    PB was way off in 2010 partly convinced I think by the weight of money on the Tories as, I believe, bookies kept longer odds on Labour holding seats longer than the polls suggested to draw money aiming to re-balance their exposure.

    They weren’t the only ones though all except one of the polling companies principles invited to forecast the result called a Cons OM.

  9. @ Barbazenzero

    Some BBC election progams have been embargoed here in Canada, so posting of appropriate urls at the right time would most likely be appreciated by some.

    I hope to be sitting in the Vancouver Airport by then waiting for my flight to Heathrow.

    From mountain village home to the sweet and pleasant land :)

  10. Ok so… after each leader gives their 1 minute answer to the question, there will be an 18 minute free-for-all to debate the question.

    An 18 minute free-for-all. Jesus.

    This could go really well or really badly for any of them. Ultra fertile gaffe territory. Can you imagine how stressful this will be for the campaign managers and spin doctors.


    I don’t fancy Julie Etchingham’s job chairing that 18 minute free for all.


    Bon Voyage. Enjoying the notes from your journey.

  13. Prof – she good though way better than Burley.


    “What’s George Bush got to do with it, he’s an American”


    He is? This explains many things…


    I shan’t be able to see the debates live ‘cos will be out for the eve, so will have to catch it later. I trust no one will be giving away any spoilers…

  15. @Omni

    It’s going to be like that great game show Fifteen-To-One. In the free-for-all segment each leader will be asked if they want to take a question from the moderator or nominate an opponent to answer it.

  16. I wonder what it is with this apparent link between Tory supporters and the ownership and management of polling organisations? I knew about YouGov being founded by Nadhim Zahari, the Tory MP for Stratford, and that the current CEO is Stephen Shakespeare, former Tory Parliamentary candidate, and Lord Ashcroft’s political background needs no further elaboration, but I’ve happened on two other examples as well. Andrew Cooper, Conservative peer and former strategy director at No 10 and adviser to the Tory Party, is a director of Populus, and TNS/BMRB is owned by WPP boss Martin Sorrell. Sorrell’s links to the Tory Party are more tenuous, I accept, but he’s often popping up in TV and Radio studios offering sympathetic opinions.

    One such example would be unremarkable, two would merely be coincidental perhaps, but four separate polling organisations with clear Tory Party links?? A bit odd, I think, unless somebody’s now going to tell me that ICM, Ipsos/Mori, ComRes and Survation are all owned by current or former Labour politicians!

    By the way, I imply no political bias here at all, and Populus and TNS/BMRB, have tended to be “Laboury” pollsters, but it’s surprising to see the links, I have to say.

  17. “…or nominate an opponent to answer it.”


    Would be fun if they all kept nominating Cameron…

  18. State of play in London according to Yougov nowcast

    Safe Labour, Labour hold = 37 seats

    Barking,,Bethnal Green & Bow,,Brent North,Camberwell & Peckham,Croydon North,Dulwich & West Norwood,Ealing North
    Ealing, Southall,East Ham,Edmonton,Eltham,Erith & Thamesmead,Feltham & Heston,Greenwich & Woolwich,Hackney North & Stoke Newington,Hackney South & Shoreditch,Hammersmith,Hampstead & Kilburn,
    Harrow West,Hayes & Harlington,Holborn & St Pancras,Ilford South,Islington North,Islington South & Finsbury,Lewisham, Deptford,Lewisham East,Lewisham West & Penge,Leyton & Wanstead,Mitcham & Morden,Poplar & Limehouse,Streatham,
    Tooting,Tottenham,Vauxhall,Walthamstow,West Ham,
    Westminster North

    Safe Labour gains from Lib Dems – 2 seats

    Brent Central, Hornsey & Wood Green

    Safe Labour gains from Conservatives – 2 seats

    Brentford & Isleworth,Hendon

    Conservative hold – safe conservative – 18 seats

    Beckenham,Bexleyheath & Crayford,Bromley & Chislehurst,
    Chelsea & Fulham,Chingford & Woodford Green,Chipping Barnet,
    Cities of London & Westminster,Croydon South,Hornchurch & Upminster,Kensington,Old Bexley & Sidcup,Orpington,
    Putney,Richmond Park,Romford,Ruislip, Northwood & Pinner,
    Uxbridge & Ruislip South,Wimbledon

    Conservative held seat likely Conservative – 1 seat
    Enfield Southgate

    Conservative held seat likely Labour – 1 seat
    Enfield North

    Conservative held seats leaning Labour – 2 seats

    Croydon Central, Ealing Central & Acton

    Lib Dem held, leaning lib dem – 1 seat

    Kingston & Surbiton

    Too close to call – Conservative held, labour contender

    Finchley & Golders Green
    Harrow East
    Ilford North

    Too close to call – Lib Dem held, labour contender

    Bermondsey & Old Southwark

    Too close to call – Labour held, UKIP contender
    Dagenham & Rainham

    So summing that up


    Labour held, safe labour 37
    LD held, safe labour 2
    Cons held, safe labour 2
    Cons held, likely labour 1
    Cons held, leaning labour 2

    Total 44

    Cons held, safe cons 18
    Cons held, likely cons 1

    Total 19

    LD held, safe LD 3
    LD held, leaning LD 1

    Total 4

    Too close to call
    Cons vs Lab 4
    LD vs Lab 1
    UKIP vs Lab 1

    So range for Labour is 44 to 50 (current 38)
    range for Cons is 19 to 23 (current 28)
    range for LD is 4 to 5 (current 7)

    If you split the too close to call seats 50/50 the expected London seats are, with change from 2010 in brackets

    Labour 47 (+9)
    Cons 21 (-7)
    LD 4.5 (-2.5)
    UKIP .5 (+.5)

  19. Aberdeen in the news:


    In other news…there’s some debate thingy on the telly tonight. Not sure if I’ll tune in. My spreadsheets are more enthralling. :))

  20. Richard

    That summary looks correct to me. Thanks.

  21. @Hawthorn

    The surprise for me was the UKIP vs Labour too close to call in Dagenham. Looking at twitter though, there is some noise there backing that up.


  22. Statgeek.

    I am not surprised by this newspaper article.

    It has been a deliberate SNP policy on Aberdeen City Council to make these complaints about other councillors, no matter how trivial the problem.

    And Jennifer wrote regular very biased articles to support YES in the paper before the referendum.

    I hope to be sitting in the Vancouver Airport by then waiting for my flight to Heathrow.

    Bon voyage and hope you have a pleasant trip.

    If you are communicating from an Android, your best way to listen might be to install the free version of TuneIn Radio from Google Play. That accesses all the BBC stations without needing a VPN. Occasionally some sporting stuff is blocked, but this won’t be.

    Radio 5 is their national 24-hour chat station, BTW.

    A quick look at lifehacker gives:
    How can I watch the election 2015 debate in the UK and abroad?
    It’s tonight (Thursday 2nd April), from 8pm to 10pm BST[1] on ITV and ITV HD (that’s channel 3 on Freeview and YouView, 103 on Sky). You can also watch it online at ITV.com or on TV Catchup.

    The live stream will also be available on the ITV News YouTube channel, and access to streaming the debate live is unrestricted so you can stream it from anywhere in the world.

    I’ll check out the YouTube situation and post URLs for any open streams I spot just before 18:00 UTC.

    [1] If UKIP have penetrated anywhere in the UK it must be in “time control”, as almost everyone seems to stick with the old GMT and BST time zones rather than the internationally recognised WET and WEST zones shared with the island of Ireland and England’s oldest ally, Portugal.

  24. New Panelbase poll

    CON 33 (-1)
    LAB 33 (-1)
    LIB 7 (+2)
    UKIP 17 (+2)
    GRN 5 (–1)


  25. RAF
    It’s going to be like that great game show Fifteen-To-One. In the free-for-all segment each leader will be asked if they want to take a question from the moderator or nominate an opponent to answer it.

    Yes, and Sandi Toksvig would be a great moderator for tonight.

  26. Richard. Excellent summary of London as it stands. Thank you.

  27. @barbazenzero

    ” If UKIP have penetrated anywhere in the UK it must be in “time control”, as almost everyone seems to stick with the old GMT and BST time zones”

    What have GMT and BST got to do with UKIP?!

  28. SORRY ignore those tables I posted with Panelbase, they are the old tables.

  29. @ Richard

    I am loving your posts. Even if some of the assumptions are not quite right (I have no reason to doubt them) it makes state of play a lot easier to follow

  30. @Richard

    That would be a very good result for Labour. Based solely on my knowledge of the consttuencies, i would rate Labour chances a little differently.

    Almost certain:
    Hendon (C)
    Brent Central (LD)

    Brentford and Isleworth (C)
    Hornsey and Wood Green (LD – Big swing required here and a top line LD incumbent but this is looking like a Lab gain)
    Ealing Central & Acton (C)
    Croydon Central (C)
    Ilford North (C)

    Toss Up:
    Enfield North (C)
    Bermondsey and Old Southwalk (LD)

    Very unlikely:
    Harrow East (C)
    Battersea (C)
    Finchley & Holders Green (C).

    I would also be grateful for you personal view on the data.

  31. @ Omnishambles

    UKIP is against the BST (but if the continent is doing the stuff, then the UK would be on the same zone as Europe all the way to the Ukraine and Russia).

    Oddly, on this one thing they are right. Energy consumption actually goes up, accident rates ditto, and I felt the need for extra hours (not to mention that before it could have been shaken off, I put another 6 hours on the top of it).

    The whole thing is based on outdated principles of energy consumption by households (putting on the light ….)

  32. Barbazenzero

    Agreed. Whatever happened to Sandy Toksvig? I haven’t seen her on TV for a while. Mind you, I watch much less of the thing than I used to.

  33. Looking at my post, my jet lag could have affected it.

    I don’t know how conscious UKIP is about BST, but they are against it.

    The moving of the clock is a German invention from WW1 (so the discussion should have been nicer last year). It did work for them. However, our power consumption has changed (fridge, cooker, computers, etc), so the one hour change actually increases the power consumption to a statistically significant, economically indifferent degree (it’s my not so friendly dig at the “p” value).

    It is also true that road accidents go up the week after the change of the clock, although it is not statistically significant, but the dead and the maimed hardly likely to complain about this.

    My time zone for the next 6 days is 7 hours ahead of the BST, and would be only 6 without this game.

  34. @ RAF

    Sandy Toksvig chairs a ‘news quiz’ on R4

    What have GMT and BST got to do with UKIP?!

    Sorry if that was in some way partisan. I am certainly no student of UKIPpery but whenever it was that they first got into the news I seem to recall their “standing up” for things like Imperial measures no longer in use outwith the British Isles. Milk was sold in Imperial pints even in supermarkets IIRC from my last visit to the UK last December.

    If the entire Kingdom wants to retain them along with GMT and BST that’s fine, but in the case of time zones you won’t find them on a Microsoft or Android operating system either, or even on my current Samsung TV. That must be confusing to some.

    If a primary school teacher looks at these threads perhaps s/he’ll let us know what is taught about time in schools nowadays.

  36. @ Omnishambles

    Well finally a pollster who shows weighting for Green and I agree that at 28 to 60 the 2010 value is overepresentative of the Green actual value of support Green had in 2010.

    But why downweight to 8, why not 14?

    Can someone please explain?

  37. RAF
    Whatever happened to Sandy Toksvig? I haven’t seen her on TV for a while.

    She appears on the odd QI or HIGNFY but I haven’t noticed her appearing regularly on any TV show since the most recent series of 15 to 1.

    She does broadcast regularly on BBC Radio 4, principally as presenter of the News Quiz at 18:30 WEST on Fridays.

  38. @ Andy Shadrack

    “But why downweight to 8, why not 14?”

    Because the DKs are not weighted.


    Imperial meaures are used in some other places, notably the US.

  40. @Barbazenzero @ Syzygy

    Thanks both.

  41. “It is also true that road accidents go up the week after the change of the clock, although it is not statistically significant”

    As this is a complete population count, not a survey, the concept of statistical significance is not relevant.

  42. @barbazenzero

    UKIP talk about imperial measures because it distinguishes the UK from the Continent. But the fact that we use pints, miles, stone, etc have absolutely nothing to do with “UKIP penetration”. The majority of people (of whatever political party) use them because that’s what we’ve always used – there’s no pressing reason to change. Milk is still sold in pints but so what? The litre value is on the label too.

    Also imperial measurements *are* used outside the UK

  43. @RAF

    I’m an amateur at this, just reporting what Yougov are showing on their nowcast!

    But I’ll give it a go

    From your list

    Almost certain:
    Hendon (C) – nowcast Safe Labour, so agreed there.
    Brent Central (LD) – nowcast Safe Labour so agreed there.


    Brentford and Isleworth (C) – nowcast has this Safe Labour, so you are being a bit conservative in your estimate.

    see here
    Ashcroft agrees, he polled in Oct 14 and Lab 45, Cons 32, LD 10

    Hornsey and Wood Green (LD – Big swing required here and a top line LD incumbent but this is looking like a Lab gain)

    Agreed, although this looks safe Labour from Yougov nowcast and Ashcroft poll there is that private poll that ‘may’ indicate things are closer than they appear.

    Ealing Central & Acton (C)

    Nowcast as ‘leaning labour’, so agrees with your ‘likely’.

    Croydon Central (C)

    Nowcast as ‘leaning labour’, so agrees with your ‘likely’.

    Ilford North (C)

    Nowcast has ‘too close to call’, and if you look at the graph the conservatives are in the lead. No Ashcroft poll unfortunately, so can’t comment more than that. It could be a strange sample for Yougov, or it may mean they are picking up some local factors as they possibly are in Dagenham.


    Toss Up:

    Enfield North (C)

    Yougov has Likely Labour, and the graph shows Labour clearly in the lead. Ashcroft polled them in Oct 2014 with Lab 44, Cons 34, UKIP 12, so that matches Yougov classification.

    Bermondsey and Old Southwalk (LD)

    Yougov and Ashcroft agree, too close to call.

    Very unlikely:

    Harrow East (C)

    Yougov too close to call, with Cons in slight lead. Ashcroft polled in Dec 14 with Cons 40, Lab 37, UKIP 13, LD 6, Green 3. So it is close, but looks Cons leaning, with not too many Greens or LD’s to squeeze. You are probably right.

    Battersea (C)
    Yougov too close to call, with Cons in slight lead. No Ashcroft poll, but Green and LD numbers are low. As above, it is close, but you are probably right.

    Finchley & Holders Green (C).

    Yougov too close to call, Cons and Lab basically equal, Green and LD numbers very low. No Ashcroft poll. I’d say neck and neck,

  44. David Welch

    When I read Stargeek link I though could this be the SNP playing games, you seem to confirm my suspisions

  45. So after 8 polls in my week, in which I average YouGov and Populos I have:

    Con up +1.1%
    LD no change
    UKIP -.1%
    Nationalists+other -.2%
    Green -.5%

    Who else will we have this week?

    But it is all starting to look very familiar with the two major parties shrinking back to 67.7% combined

    Dare I opine that the efect of the “non-debate” is wearing off and now tonight we might see the effect of seven of them talking at the voter.

    Also I am noticing some movement between Conservative and Green and LD with Populos.

    Imperial meaures are used in some other places, notably the US.

    Well sort of. Yet another example of two peoples divided by a common language.

    I think their LBs are the same, but their TONs, PINTs and GALLONs definitely aren’t.

  47. Used to live in Wandsworth and I would agree with Raf and others Battersea is a longshot for Labour -sadiq khan is confident enough in Tooting to send troops to work and there is a council by election on general election night in a tory ward

  48. @ ProfHoward

    But as it is a week, it is a sample, not a population.


    “I too got the YouGov invite, downloaded to my Android and all seems well (though it does say nothing upcoming). What device are you using?”

    Mac Laptop OS X Yosemite

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