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. Very interesting.

  2. First? Yay!

  3. Pointless nostalgia anecdote (copied from end of previous thread)..

    Reading here the reports of UKPR posters’ experiences on the doorsteps, brings back memories of my own endeavours in S Africa, in the dark days of apartheid,
    My first ever political experience was in the 1970 GE. Fresh out of the army after compulsory military service, one of the first things I did was to sign up, aged 18, as a member of the Progressive Party (whose only MP was Helen Suzman) and began canvassing, putting up posters, leaffeting and general dogsbody in a no hope constituency in which I could not even vote – my own district had no PP candidate, just like 146 more of the 166 total. Our most optimistic hope was to gain a 2nd MP, to give some support to Helen. I vividly remember my first election night party, listening to the results, and crying bitterly as one after another result showed that we had made good progress in many areas, but not enough to get that 2nd seat.
    In many more GE’s and by elections thereafter I repeated my efforts, but never ever in a seat with a realistic chance of winning. Initially, that was just because there were not any within (geographic) reach. Later, it was a point of principle – it was more important to me to take the message of liberal values and non- racialism to the unconverted, than to shore up support in what were becoming safe seats. By the 1987 and 1989 elections, I was campaign manager for the DP (successor to Suzman’s Progs) in “Helderkruin”, a large seat on the outskirts of Johannesburg, which we did not even contest just 10 years earlier – and made enough noise against a cabinet minister that the press began to tout it as possible surprise upset.
    We didn’t win – but by then, we had become the Official Opposition in the (White) parliament, and ust a few years later, we won the bigger prize – SA’s first democratic election.
    Along the way, in Helderkruin and earlier, I had to cope with a challenge that won’t have bothered too many here (except possibly AS, in Canada) – attempting to conduct a doorstep or telephone canvass in a second language. This was a Nationalist stronghold, with mostly Afrikaans speaking voters, and my home language was English.
    Years earlier, I’d done the same thing in a genuinely no-hope seat: a by-election in Johannesburg West, where we had never previously had a candidate, way back in 1972. I vividly recall my very poor attempts to conduct a canvass in Afrikaans, with students on the campus of the “Randse Afrikaanse Universiteit”. The winning Nat candidate, one Carel de Wet, was later SA Ambassador to London. In the circumstances, we thought our vote share of just 4% was a reasonable achievement. On the same day, we also contested for the first time a seat in the industial town of Vereeniging, where we achieved only 2%, against one FW de Klerk – later to be state president, and the man who finally faced up to reality, and prepared for a transition to multi – party democracy.
    My interest in psephology began way back with that first election in 1970. To this day, I can name the 19 constituencies in which the PP had candidates, and recall the approximate share of the vote we scored in each (in some cases, the majority to the exact number – Colin Eglin in Sea Point fell short by just 231). For subsequent elections, I can recall fairly accurately the sequence in which one seat after another fell to the Progressive Party, and it’s successors, the Progressive Federal Party and the Democratic Party. Now, I continue to obsess over the polls, projections, and results for elections here in the UK, the USA, and back home in SA.
    But I’m deeply grateful that I no longer have to take the results quite as seriously as I did in the past – when some years (1974 for instance) had me whooping out loud, and walking on air for days, but others (1970, and 1987) had me literally crying myself to sleep.
    And with the greatest respect to all those here, the issues here just don’t seem quite as important as the fight against apartheid which dominated my election experience for 20 years.

  4. Saffer
    I’m so glad you re-posted that from the last thread, I was worried you’d be lost!

  5. @AW

    Incisive analysis.

  6. Saffer

    Take my response at the end of the previous thread as duly repeated.

  7. Unicorn,

    I missed the start of the discussion on MOE of the difference between two parties and am still trying to work back through the earlier threads to find all the pieces.

    Am I correct in assuming that all the analysis is based on sampling from a single randomly mixed population?

  8. In2005 I had an absolute pleasure of crossing paths with a LibDem voter in the SouthWest. His attitude was that his constituency was safely LD so he didn’t have a dilemma of whether to stick with Iraq war Labour or go to the dark Tory side. A much more pointless anecdote than Saffer’s above, but I’m wondering how previously left of centre LibDems might react to see the Conservatives prevail

  9. Interesting theory on the two stage voting question

  10. If this ComRes poll is remotely accurate, then what cruel irony it is for Clegg and Lib Dem coalition enthusiasts. They are about to be devoured by the very party that they helped to get into Downing Street.

    Talk about the dangers of riding on the back of a tiger. The irony gains a further twist when you consider the possibility that the Tory gains from the Lib Dems may be sufficient to offset Labour gains from the Tories elsewhere, thereby allowing Cameron to be the first to have a go at forming another government on May 8th.

    Mind you, he might still need the help of the 15 or so Lib Dem MPs remaining. No wonder the Tories are voting for Clegg in Hallam.

    The tangled webs we weave and all that.

  11. @Saffer

    Wonderful post.

    While we certainly don’t have anyone of the calibre of great Helen Suzman, the issues in this election still matter greatly to many people.

  12. Ed and JTT (from the last thread)

    Perhaps I saw too many anecdotal clips shown on TV of potential voters saying they liked the ‘new’ RTB idea and thought that the Tories may have scored a hit. It will still be interesting to see if anything comes through in the polling. It is potentially a big game changer and seems to have the hallmark of being the last throw of the dice. I thought they threw the kitchen sink at it yesterday and if the polls remain unmoved, they really will be crossing their fingers hoping that the electorate have a ‘polling booth moment’.

    After reading that Miliband article in the Guardian today, he seems to be peaking at the right time. Also I detect he has the momentum of looking increasingly like PM material in every new appearance, which bodes well for him tomorrow in the debate and beyond…..this in turn will will decrease the likelihood of any ‘polling booth moment’!

    The next couple of days is crucial for the Tories. If they get nothing from their big positive manifesto offerings …what next?

  13. Very interesting analysis. It would be great if ComRes would update their polling and repeat with the two-stage question (here or elsewhere) and see whether the changes in vote compare to to Ashcroft’s.

  14. @Saffer

    My thanks and admiration for your post from the last thread repeated here.

  15. Paul
    Nice posts, especially as I can’t discern partisan ship!
    I get the impression that some of the manifestos are aimed at setting out negotiating positions for 8th May negotiations. So DC scores a hit with the ideal of RTB but sacrifices it on 8th May in exchange for a policy that can sustain cross-society support.
    Same with Ed M promising to eliminate the deficit by 2020.
    Am I being cynical? Or are they?

  16. Paul Bristol,
    It would seem that the Tories have thrown everything including the kitchen sink
    at the electorate and answer has come there none.They must surely be
    disappointed,Osborne got a huge poll bounce from the inheritance tax pledge
    before.Perhaps it is the Unfunded aspect that is hurting them or perhaps it is a
    slow burner and will take time to filter through to their advantage.But then they
    don’t have much time.
    .

  17. If this comres poll is accurate and LibDems are wiped out in the South-West of England, it reinforces my theory that they’ll be lucky to get 12 seats unless they can get their vote up significantly from c 8%.

  18. @ExileinYorks

    Am I correct in assuming that all the analysis is based on sampling from a single randomly mixed population?

    To cut a long story short we decided that the answer was provided by a2002 paper authored by C.H. Franklin. I’m afraid I can’t now recall who posted the link, but the paper should answer any questions you might have.

    As part of the discussion, @Alan did a series of independent Monte Carlo simulations and these effectively corroborated the formal analysis.

  19. John TT

    I don’t think it is you. Laws on Newsnight when challenged on why blocking boundary reviews was in the LD manifesto basically said it was in there to trade for something else. Can’t remember the exact words but his meaning was pretty clear.

  20. @Paul Bristol

    “The next couple of days is crucial for the Tories. If they get nothing from their big positive manifesto offerings …what next?”

    As I was saying on the previous thread, I think the clue is to be found on tomorrow’s front pages. The centre right press have decided that personal attacks on Miliband and other Labour figures are very much back on the agenda.

    I think this is risky for the Conservatives, whilst I don’t believe the press is as influential as it once was nor do I think this is an orchestrated campaign by Conservative HQ, some people have started to align the ‘Tory Press’ with the Conservative party more directly, a link that Ed Miliband and Labour have carefully cultivated since Leveson and the controversy over certain press officials at No 10.

    If this continued negativity starts to backfire in the way that ‘backstabber’ did last week, or the electorate simply grow sick of it, this may reflect negatively on the Conservatives rather than the intended target.

    Meanwhile, George Osborne’s response to the UKIP and LibDem manifestos was a ‘competence versus chaos’ attack on Miliband and Labour.

    It seems to me that the Conservatives have to decide what kind of campaign they want to run and stick to it, as it’s looking confused again after regaining discipline and focus around the manifesto launch.

    If the polls don’t move, as they expect, over the next few days, will we see more of this?

  21. re Eoin Clarke. He was mentioned on the previous thread. I’m not very good at Gaelic names – e.g. I used to think Sean Connery was pronounced “Seen” Connery until i was about 14. Anyway, presumably Eoin is not pronounced ‘Ee-yoin’. Is it Owen? Or something else?

  22. Unicorn

    Thanks – looks like some excellent bedtime reading.

  23. Pete B

    Yes it’s pronounced Owen.

  24. @Ann In Wales

    “Osborne got a huge poll bounce from the inheritance tax pledge
    before.Perhaps it is the Unfunded aspect that is hurting them or perhaps it is a slow burner and will take time to filter through to their advantage.”

    Possibly. Though out of election time, at budgets for example, the Conservatives, as the government, can be guaranteed pretty much blanket coverage for announcements and other parties have no counter offer.

    At the moment the broadcasters at least are committed to balanced (and extensive) coverage and Osborne has competition from lots of others offering ‘gifts’ of their own.

    This limits the effect of any announcement as it’s unlikely to hold the news agenda in the same way, especially in as crowded a week as manifesto launch time.

    I’m also starting to be persuaded that Labour’s re-casting of itself as fiscally responsible took many of the political journalists so much by surprise that they’ve viewed the rest of the week through the prism of that event. Yesterday the Conservatives manifesto was ‘the mirror image’, today the parties were ‘rather conventional’.

    Perhaps what looked like a rather flat policy document was a rather more shrewd or maybe fortuitous move than it first appeared.

  25. Bramley
    Thanks.

  26. John TT

    “So DC scores a hit with the ideal of….”

    Is that idea or ideal … I get very confused about the use of this word, as in Bristol they say ‘I think it’s a good ideal’ when they mean idea!

    I can understand people feeling cynical about politicians.

    What I don’t like is when people say ‘they’re all the same’. I think it is a lazy cop out. The outcome of these elections are so important to shaping their future living circumstances. They really should put more effort into finding out who is best to represent what they may believe in, rather than being led by background narrative. Politics should be a compulsory subject in schools.

    I personally think that voting should also be made compulsory as the duty of being a citizen of the UK and have an abstention box on the ballot paper for those who can’t/won’t decide. The election day should be a public day off, so the electorate has the time to vote without excuses or distractions.

    That is now off my chest!

  27. @AW

    In my view the status of CVI will be one of several polling questions that may effectively be resolved by the evidence available for this election.

    Your hunch is that – when answered after the SVI question – CVI provides the most accurate indication of how people will actually vote. My own (much less well-informed) suspicion is that the use of this questioning sequence turns CVI into a leading question – effectively pressurising them to change their mind in a way that bears no relation to real voting behaviour.

    Respondents are asked how they intend to vote in the forthcoming election, and then they are immediately asked the same question again (albeit with the additional preamble about “thinking specifically about you own constituency..” Etc.etc.). Faced with this second question, I think my response would be: “Ooops..I haven’t given a fully considered response. There must be further factored that I didn’t take into account in giving my initial response”. I might then dredge my mind for anything I might know about the local situation and perhaps find a justification for changing my reported intention.

    As I have argued before, voters will not be placed under this kind of pressure in the election itself. The news is all about each party’s manifesto, about the various debates, and TV reports of speeches and interviews by national figures. In all of this there is only the most modest of encouragement to ‘think about your own consituency’ and so I doubt whether voters will come under any pressure to adjust their intentions in the ways forced by the CVI-immediately-after-SVI question sequence.

    Following this line of reasoning, my own expectation is that real voting will be best predicted by something part-way between SVI and CVI, in which case the predictions of the recent poll will be just as close as those generated by the Ashcroft polls.

    Anyway, it won’t be long before we have the evidence to test between these different hypotheses.

  28. I am interested in Anthony Wells post about Comres v Ashcroft.

    For this argument to work, though it sould seem to require that individual constituency they would vote Tory but in general (not thinking of their constituency) they would vote Lib Dem, which doesn’t seem quite right.

  29. Unicorn

    I’m not sure that the SVI/CVI and how they are asked controversy will be solved in this election.

    Didn’t the Ashcroft polls show a wide variation between constituencies as to whether there was much difference between them?

  30. @unicorn
    “The news is all about each party’s manifesto, about the various debates, and TV reports of speeches and interviews by national figures. In all of this there is only the most modest of encouragement to ‘think about your own consituency’ ”

    Until you go to vote, and you’re presented with the names of people running in your constituency. That’s some serious encouragement to think about your own constituency. In the act of voting itself, the national picture is sidelined. Obviously it’s there but you’re very aware you are voting for your local MP.

  31. @Unicorn

    I tend to agree with you but wouldn’t you then expect the same difference between VI and CVI for each constituency?

  32. Does anyone have a simple list of the Ashcroft constituencies and the SVI & CVI numbers?

  33. @ProfHoward

    In these seats it is more likely to hinge on the behaviour of voters whose preferences would lie with neither of these two parties (e.g., those who in the heart of hearts are Labour or Green or Ukip).

    In responding to the SVI they show their heart. This is how they would ideally want to respond. (Anthony’s argument is that they do the same when they are only asked the CVI question..). However, forced (when thinking about their own consituency) .. forced to face the pointlessness of supporting their own party in the Lib/Con battleground, according to the Ashcroft polls they shift instead to support the ABT candidate.

  34. @Unicorn The CVI question might as old Nat implies have different meanings in different constituencies. In some places people may be voting for a particular MP whereas in others they may be voting out of tradition. For what its worth my father-in-law was the first Socialist in his North Devon village and never wavered in his convictions. However, he always voted Liberal because that was in his opinion the only way he could make his vote count. My personal issue about the South West is that the ‘left vote’ may be split and that some natural labour voters will actually vote labour or abstain as they see no difference between the lib-dems and the tories.

  35. ProfHoward

    I am interested in Anthony Wells post about Comres v Ashcroft.

    For this argument to work, though it should seem to require that individual constituency they would vote Tory but in general (not thinking of their constituency) they would vote Lib Dem, which doesn’t seem quite right.

    It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s what actually seems to happen. If you look at the combined figures for the five LD-Con ‘battleground’ seats that Ashcroft looked at in March (all of them in the SW as it happens):

    http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/LD-Con-battleground-combined-tables-March-2015.pdf#page=10

    when asked the second CVI question the largest number of votes which switched the the Lib Dems actually came from the Conservatives – 12% of their original vote. In a LD-Con marginal these can’t be tactical votes – instead they must be voting positively for their local MP or their team.

    There are other votes that could be ‘tactical’ – 21% of Labour for example or 13% of Other (though 8% of UKIP is less likely) but a lot of these will be positive as well judging by the large number of Tories moving.

  36. @OldNat

    I’m not sure that the SVI/CVI and how they are asked controversy will be solved in this election.

    Didn’t the Ashcroft polls show a wide variation between constituencies as to whether there was much difference between them?

    Enormous variation, yes. Constituencies showing little difference won’t be diagnostic. But in most current LibDem seats the difference is substantial. Based on SVI alone, I don’t think the LibDems would hold a single seat after May 7. In contrast, CVI responses point to their retaining 25-30 seats.

    After the election, three things could happen [1]

    (1) Using Euclidean Distance metrics (or even absolute differences between pollIng VIs and vote shares) the outcome is closer to the CVI figures or

    (2) outcome closer to SVI or

    (3) outcome equidistant from CVI and SVI

    (I would back Outcome 3). In any case, the election results shoud go a long way to resolving the issue.

    [1] there is the added complication of correcting for real vi change since the Ashcroft data were collected. ‘Fortunately’, the LibDems have been close to 8% for such a long time thwt it shouldn’t be difficult to deal with this.

  37. To repeat my (corrected) list of the Lib Dem SW constituencies and their most recent Ashcroft polling when available:

    [1]***Bath [No poll]

    **Cheltenham (Nov) LD +8 Swing 1%

    *Chippenham (Sep) Con +15 Swing 10%

    **North Cornwall (Mar) LD +2 Swing 2%

    ***North Devon (Mar) Con +9 Swing 9%

    *Mid Dorset and North Poole (Sep) Con +6 Swing 3%

    *St Austell & Newquay (Mar) Con +6 Swing 4.5%

    *St Ives (Mar) LD +3 Swing 0.5%

    *Somerton & Frome (Sep) Con +14 Swing 8.5%

    **Taunton Deane (Sep) Con +4 Swing 5.5%

    ***Thornbury & Yate (Nov) LD +23 Swing 4% to LD

    **Torbay (Mar) LD +1 Swing 3.5%

    *Wells (Sep) Con +7 Swing 4%

    ***Yeovil [No poll]

    Which as Anthony says shows an average swing of 4 in these 12 seats compared to the 13 that Com Res claim to have found generally in the 14. This gives the Lib Dems four likely seats (including the two unpolled) with a chance of another four[2] rather than the wipe-out that ComRes predicts.

    Anthony’s explanation seems to me to be pretty plausible to me when you consider how people interact with polling, particularly phone polling. Most will automatically give their ‘standard’ response which is effectively who they would most like to see in government. In most cases this will the same as how they will vote, but not always. Asking them again will make them reconsider in a way that the first question won’t, no matter how carefully it is worded. There may be other ways of doing this that cause people to ‘stop and think’ – giving the names of the candidates for example – and it is also possible that online polls which people carry out at their own speed, are more likely to give people time to reconsider.

    [1] * = Lib Dem lead under 5%
    ** = Lib Dem lead 5-10%
    *** = Lib Dem lead over 10%

    [2] The poll of Taunton Deane was taken before Browne announced he was stepping down, though published after. Despite that there doesn’t seem to be any further drop due to loss of incumbency – though the small SVI to CVI jump suggests there may not have been much bonus there.

  38. Unicorn

    That’s a nice tidy theory – but people are seldom that tidy in their thinking. :-)

    In Ashcroft’s poll of Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill supporters of the 2 main parties showed little change – 97% stayed loyal between SVI and CVI, and the number of voters switching between them was identical : only 1 or 2 individuals chose anyone else under CVI, and that might well have been that Scots are often used to seeing the List vote for Holyrood presented as a choice to vote for a different party.

    “Forced to face the pointlessness of supporting their own party” 73% of the 37 Tories stayed loyal, 15% went Labour, 5% SNP, while the remainder scattered in all directions!

  39. @Couper

    I tend to agree with you but wouldn’t you then expect the same difference between VI and CVI for each constituency?

    Not the way I see it. I would expect different SVI/CVI patterns in cases where a sitting MP is fighting again. (CVI might prompt thought about the MP’s own reputation and work, whereas a new candidate would be more of an unknown.

    I would also expect SVI/CVI differences to be more marked in battleground seats. In an ultra-safe Tory or Labour seat there ma be little point in deploying your vote in a way that differs from your real preference.

    I am sure there are many other reasons to expected difference from constituency to constituency.

  40. Some of Ashcrofts constituency polls are quite old now so not all are equally relevant at this point in time.

  41. Unicorn

    PS

    Apart from the problem of Ashcroft weighing Scottish and Welsh constituencies by 2010 vote (understandable for consistency with the methodology for English ones), I can see 3 possible complications in understanding SVI/CVI differences in Scotland

    1. the referendum effect, by which many Scots have been seriously thinking about political issues very recently.

    2. the existence of two possible different directions for tactical voting – one for those concentrated on the constitutional issue, and one concentrated on preferred largest party at Westminster.

    3. Habituation to having two votes for Holyrood (people don’t necessarily listen to the actual questions but leap to assumptions on what they expect to be asked). Some vote their first choice for the constituency, second pref on the list : some do it the other way around : some vote the party ticket on both.

  42. I live in New Zealand (moved here over a decade ago) and have been lurking on this site for about six weeks. There really is a mine of knowledge here – it’s improved my understanding of this election no end.

    We have a prediction market called iPredict where you can bet/invest (small change, admittedly) on political and economic outcomes. There’s now a variety of stocks on the UK election: https://www.ipredict.co.nz/app.php?do=browse&cat=906

    Some of the stocks (such as the seat totals for each party) were my idea. I tried to pick numbers that gave three roughly equally likely outcomes. I hope I wasn’t too far off. I saw KeithP in the previous thread mention a tie in seats between Con and Lab, with 277 each being the most likely tied “score”. As my options for both Con and Lab were <265, 265-289 and 290+, that makes me feel a bit better.
    For Lib Dems I had <24, 24-29, 30+. A tad high?

    Liquidity in these stocks will be pretty poor I imagine, although it might pick up just before (and during) the election.

  43. @Anthony Wells

    Some time ago here, I had also voiced the suspicion that the two stage question was dodgy in that the second question could condition people into changing their response. It’s almost as if you are asked “are you really sure about that” in a leading, quizzical manner by being asked a very similar question to the first.

    I had asked whether there had been any control testing to establish this principle, using split samples. We haven’t got that here, but the fact that ComRes has got some very different results by effectively jumping straight into the second question does indeed suggest that something is afoot. Given this, someone really ought to do some control testing with split samples to resolve this definitively.

    That would stlll leave open the question of which is the better approach, in terms of producing results that reflect the GE. That is:
    1. Does a two stage approach have merit in prompting people to think more about their own particular constituency (and thus the MP)?
    OR
    2. Is a two stage approach questionable in that it is unnecessarily leading by pushing people into changing their initial response?

    I suspect that the answer lies somewhere between the two. But even if it that were the case, that would still be something of a blow to the LDs whose hopes of salvaging anything at the GE rest exclusively on the Ashcroft two stage approach being the proper test.

    I am not a disinterested party in this, having a small investment on the Conservatives winning Torbay and Labour winning Bermondsey, at odds that would produce a return if either one of the two came off.

  44. Thanks all for providing a highly informative thread on unpicking ‘voters’ real intentions from these apparently contradictory figures.

    I hope the result in May, though it cannot bring the government each and everyone desires sheds some light on the usefulness and accuracy of this method of additional constituency polling.

  45. @Crossbat11

    “Mind you, he might still need the help of the 15 or so Lib Dem MPs remaining.”

    If the LDs were reduced to 15, I don’t think that the remaining LDs would at all fancy the prospect of entering into another coalition with him (Cameron) or even offering C&S. Would the activists let Clegg stay on as leader even if he won his seat? I think not.

    Maybe Conservatives in the SW should vote tactically for the LDs to fend of Conservative challenges in the hope that if the LDs avoid a meltdown they’ll be encouraged to keep backing the Conservatives in government. And for the same reason, Labour supporters in the SW should vote tactically for Labour, on the grounds that a LD meltdown will avoid any prospect of those 15 or so remaining LDs wanting a repeat of the coalition with the Conservatives.

  46. Fascinating stuff.

    Maybe we should change the approach for future general elections: people are first given a ballot paper with party names on it and told to X their preferred party before putting into a ballot box…then they’re given a list of candidates and asked to choose their preferred one before putting that into a different box.
    Then the first box is incinerated, and only the second box’s papers are counted. :)

  47. The Lib Dems’ hopes for 2015 always pivoted on the AV referendum: they were never likely to keep the bulk of Lab-LD defectors from 2010. The ComRes numbers suggest that the Lib Dems have been squeezed on both sides, but as the original post suggests, there may be some blurriness between SVI/CVI.

    Perhaps we can split the difference here and consider it a measure of the tactical conundrum that a decent chunk of voters in the SW face.

    Did the Ashcroft polls offer crosstabs to show who switched where from SVI to CVI?

  48. Another day, another Yougov poll giving Labour the lead, those are starting to stack up now. All within MOE of course and I suspect both parties are still neck and neck, possibly a very slight Labour lead.
    The Manifestos of the main parties have not had an impact on the polls, interesting to see what todays’ TV debates do. Although I suspect it will make little long term difference.
    No sign of the mythical cross over beast arriving yet, although I think he is scheduled to appear some time after Godot arrives.
    Still looking like a minority Labour Goverment

  49. @johntt
    I’m wondering how previously left of centre LibDems might react to see the Conservatives prevail’

    Just anecdotally many of the voters I speak to who meet this profile basically see the current Lib Dem party as ‘Tories in all but name’. They have accepted that Conservatives may prevail in their areas. However they feel they need to send a clear message to the Lib Dems so that the party changes direction for the future. As I say this is just anecdotal. On the other hand I also hear former Lib Dem voters saying they are going to vote Conservative ‘to keep Milliband’ out. They are not angry with the Lib Dems at all but they are not going to vote for them. And last but not least there is indeed the incumbency factor with people saying they WILL vote for the MP because he/she is ‘very good’. Heard this mostly about David Laws so far. Squeezed on two sides then and relying on the reputation of the MP’s themselves.

  50. I’m a bit surprised that going straight to naming the candidate has such a big effect (if that is what has happened). The psychology involved in asking people a fairly straighforward question seems very complicated. I’m very interested now in whether the answer lies in the questioning or whether there has been a major shift here in the West Country.

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