ComRes have published a new poll of voting intentions in LD-Con seats in the South West for ITV. Full details are here. The topline figures are CON 44%, LAB 13%, LDEM 26%, UKIP 10%. Given these are all seats that the Liberal Democrats won in 2010 this is a huge turnaround – in 2010 the Lib Dems had an overall lead of 8.5% over the Tories in these seats, now they are 18 points behind, a whopping great swing of 13 points. If there was a uniform swing of this scale across these seats the Lib Dems would lose the lot.

Depressing for the Lib Dems, but wholly at odds with previous polling evidence in these seats. Lord Ashcroft has polled Lib Dem held seats pretty comprehensively, so we actually have constituency polls in 12 of the 14 seats included in this sample, and they paint a very different picture. Compared to the 13 point LD>Con swing in the ComRes poll Lord Ashcroft found an average LD>Con swing of about 4 points.

The difference between these two sets of polling is much larger than can explained by margin of error – they paint a genuinely contradictory picture. If ComRes are right the Lib Dems have collapsed in their heartland and face wipeout, if Ashcroft are right they are holding up against the tide and should retain around half those seats.

Explaining the difference is a little harder. It could, of course, simply be that public opinion has changed – some of Ashcroft’s polling was done late last year… but most of the Lib Dem collapse in support came early this Parliament, so this doesn’t ring true to me. Looking at the rest of the methodology both polls were conducted by telephone, the political weighting was much the same, the turnout weighting not vastly different.

My guess is the difference is actually a quite a subtle one – but obviously with a large impact! Both Ashcroft and ComRes asked a voting intention question that prompted people to think about their own constituency, candidates and MP to try and get at the personal and tactical voting that Lib Dem MPs are so reliant upon. However, looking at the tables it looks as though ComRes asked that as the only voting intention question, while Ashcroft asked it as a two stage question, asking people their national preference then their local voting intention. The results that ComRes got in their constituency question are actually extremely similar to the ones that Ashcroft got in his initial, national question.

This sounds weird, but it’s actually what I’d expect. When I first wrote the two stage voting intention question back in 2008 my thinking was that when people answer opinion polls they want to register their support for the party they really support, not a tactical vote or a vote for their local MP… and even if you ask the question slightly differently, that’s the answer you are going to get. If you really wanted to get people’s local voting intentions, you needed to first give them the opportunity to express their national support and then ask them their local support.

That though, is just the theory. As I’ve written before when writing about constituency polls of Lib Dem seats and marginal polls of Lib Dem battlegrounds, we don’t really have the evidence from past elections to judge what the most accurate methods are. Hopefully we’ll get enough different constituency and marginal polls over the next three weeks to give us the evidence to judge in the future.

Meanwhile tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 35%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 5%

320 Responses to “How badly are the Lib Dems doing in the South West?”

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  1. How s the Tories will win 295 thingy going, when it looks like they ll struggle to hold finch lye and folders green

    Monkish ambles

    Uns has never worked in the way you’ve described. There has always been quite serious regional variation. Uns is itself an average swing…what is clear from the Ashcroft polling and it is pretty extensive is that on current polling, the Tories will lose dozens of seats to labour …

    Now a) the polls could be wrong or b) there could be a last minute swing to the Tories… You yourself got terribly excited by the poll which showed the Toriies on 37% a few weeks ago. Fellow posters on this site talked of a Tory surge to 40%. This turned out to be mirage.

    Dave is on his way out. That much is clear, what the actual centre left government arrangement is remains unclear

  2. Omnishambles

    Sorry my spell check is playing funny games!

  3. I wish I’d thought of the user name “Monkish Ambles”.

  4. Just wondering if the primary school places today may become an issue? I pondered this previously, but seeing the relative unpopularity of the free school policy today, and the news that more children than ever can’t get into their chosen primary is one issue that may have high exploitative value in some marginals.

    I’s be interested if there are any Labour activists on here that could provide any insight.

  5. @James Peel

    The Tories may lose fewer close marginal seats to Labour than might be expected given even a regional swing. In some previous elections the swing in close marginals (particularly marginals gained at the previous election and where the new incumbent is standing again) has been a lot less than in most other types of seats.

  6. @TimBick

    The YouGov nowcast is showing 5 UKIP seats but when you look at the seats YouGov gives them two definitions:

    Too close to call: South Thanet, Dagenham and Rainham, and Great Grimsby

    Leaning UKIP: Thurrock and Clacton

  7. @ukelect

    That’s better but still looks a bit confusing. The gold standard is the BBC hexagon style they used in 2010, recreated here:

    Isn’t that just beautiful?

    @james peel

    Yes there has always been regional variation, that isn’t new. But UNS used to be a good approximation overall. However the regional variation combined with the rise of SNP, UKIP, Greens and so on, means UNS is unreliable even as an approximation.

    Finchley and Golders Green is a pretty bad example because the poll was conducted during Passover and it has a large Jewish population which leans heavily Conservative.

    I know you think 295 or higher ain’t gonna happen, there’s no point arguing about predictions. You know what I’m predicting so we’ll leave it at that and see what happens.

  8. The Telegraph – promoting tactical voting, with an interactive guide.

    The result for instance, is that if you “really, really don’t want” Ed Milliband, is to vote Lib Dem in Brent Central or UKIP in Dagenham.

    Other choices are available if you “really, really don’t want” David Cameron.

  9. @chrislane1945

    I’ve just walked the dog, getting some nibbles and maybe a glass of wine to have while watching the debate at 8. Life can’t get much more exciting, who needs bungee jumping?

  10. Gary Gatter
    I shall be watching the football, so I hope AW opens a thread in order that I can follow all your exclamations of …??%%!!… at the same time.

  11. @BristolianHoward

    Are the politicians playing football?

    I find the debates refreshing, rather than having everything filtered through our great press.

  12. The Telegraph have Cameron telling a meeting tonight that he wasn’t invited to the debate.

  13. @Omnishambles

    I like that 2010 BBC Hexagon style map! Very impressive.

  14. Panelbase Con 33% Lab 34% UKIP 16% Lib Dem 8%

    Grn 4% Labour Lead down to 1 point

  15. SAFFER
    Other choices are available if you “really, really don’t want” David Cameron.

    Prehaps unsurprisingly, that option for Glasgow North East – supposedly safest LiS seat – suggests: You should vote for anyone other than: SNP

    I never suspected that Willie Bain was a tory mole! :<)}

  16. Martin W

    Is Cameron really saying?

    Hope you enjoy!

  18. SAFFER

    I think their model needs a bit of work doing on it. I get the same result for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey – Beaker’s seat.

  19. new thread

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