Lord Ashcroft has published a new batch of constituency polling. I hesitate to call it marginals polling, since we’ve moving up into some less marginal territory with today’s polls. Ashcroft has polled four different groups of seats in this set (all the tabs are here.)

The first is the next cohort of Lib Dem -v- Conservative marginals, this group are those seats with a Lib Dem majority of between 9% and 15% over the Conservatives, so we are no longer looking at ultra-marginals. The average swing from the Liberal Democrats to Conservatives in these seats is 2%, nowhere near enough to win seats like these. However, as we’ve seen in previous Lord Ashcroft polls of Lib Dem marginals there is an awful lot of variation between individual constituencies – some seats (Carshalton & Wallington and Thornbury & Yate) are actually showing swings from Con to LD. At the other end of the scale two seats are showing large enough swings for the Conservatives to win the seat (North Devon and Portsmouth South, which has a chunky 9 point swing from LD to Con, presumably at least partially connected to the scandal around Mike Hancock).

The second group of seats consists of two more Lib Dem seats with Labour in second place. Lord Ashcroft’s previous polling in LD v Lab seats essentially showed a complete Lib Dem collapse, raising the possibility of an almost complete wipeout for Liberal Democrat MPs where Labour was the main opponent. One of the seats here – Burnley – follows that pattern, with a ten point swing from LD to Lab. The other, Birmingham Yardley, represented by John Hemming, bucks the trend. There is still a 2.5% swing from LD to Lab, but it is smaller than we’ve seen in other LD -v- Lab seats and would be small enough for Hemming to hold on.

The third group of seats is two unusual seats – the close three-way marginal of Watford, and Wyre Forest, an Independent seat between 2001 and 2010. Neither of these really fit into any broader category, but looking at them as individual seats Watford shows little relative movement for the three main parties – all are down a little, UKIP are up a lot but still in fourth place, meaning the Conservatives retain a narrow lead. Wyre Forest was held by Dr Richard Taylor between 2001 and 2010. He’ll be standing again come the next general election for the National Health Action party, but I think under the same Kidderminster Health Concern label that he won on in 2001 and 2005. Ashcroft’s poll currently has the Conservatives holding the seat on 32% with UKIP in second on 27%, Labour 16%, Lib Dem 7%, Green 5%, Other 13%. The others aren’t identified in the poll, but is presumably largely Dr Taylor’s supporters.

Finally Ashcroft polled three of the four seats that will be contested by the main party leaders come the election – Sheffield Hallam, Doncaster North and Thanet South (presumably he didn’t do Witney because he thought it would be too boring… it would seem there comes a point when even Lord Ashcroft saves his money!). Party leaders normally do pretty well in their own seats. It is extremely rare for them to lose their own constituency and they very often outperform their party nationally. Such is the collapse of Liberal Democrat support however people have seriously raised the possiblity of Clegg losing his own seat – Ashcroft’s poll has it very close. Clegg is on 31%, Labour on 28%, just three behind (and this is on the question prompting people to think about their own constituency, the standard voting intention question had Labour a point ahead). Ed Miliband’s Doncaster North seat is traditionally a very safe Labour seat that should pose no concerns for him, but there was some speculation about how well UKIP might do. The BNP have held their deposit there at the last two elections and their was some significant support for the English Democrats too, with the far-right parties now collapsing and UKIP hoovering up that right-wing protest vote it looked as if there could be some potential. In fact Ashcroft’s poll did find UKIP in second place in Doncaster North, but 12 points behind Ed Miliband. Finally Thanet South, the seat where Nigel Farage plans to stand at the general election. Current figures there are CON 34%, LAB 26%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 29% – so UKIP in a strong second place, but not currently quite enough to send Farage to Westminster.


Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%. It has a Tory lead of one point, following a Labour lead in yesterday’s YouGov/Sun poll. Realistically we are in a position where the two main parties are so close that normal random variation is going to regularly spit out both Labour and Tory leads until and unless one party manages to pull substantially ahead of the other.

Rather out of the blue there was also a Survation constituency poll of Stockton South earlier today – a Conservative held ultra-marginal, currently represented by James Wharton. The poll had topline figures of CON 39%(nc), LAB 37%(-1), LDEM 3%(-12), UKIP 18%(+15). Changes are from the general election and technically represent a tiny swing from Labour to the Conservatives. Clearly this is better than the Conservatives are doing in the national polls and they’d be pleased to hold such a vulnerable marginal, but it’s also just one single poll with a relatively small sample size (35% said don’t knows, so the topline figures are based on 571 people). Tabs are here.


Lord Ashcroft has released a new poll of Rochester and Strood. Topline figures are CON 32%, LAB 17%, LDEM 2%, UKIP 44%, Others 5%. This is a narrower UKIP lead than the ComRes and Survation polls at the end of October, but still enough for a comfortable UKIP win (especially since the poll was conducted at about the time postal votes were going out, so opportunities for people to change their mind are now fading).

Ashcroft also asked about how people would vote in Rochester and Strood come the general election, and found a substantial contrast. The figures aren’t exactly comparable since Ashcroft didn’t do likelihood to vote at the general election or reallocate don’t knows, but it suggests around a one or two point Conservative lead in general election voting intention amongst those giving a voting intention – hence raising the possibility of Mark Reckless winning his by-election, but losing his seat next May. Full tabs are here.


Lord Ashcroft put another batch of marginal seat polls out earlier on today. He is gradually moving on up the Lab-v-Con target list, and today’s batch of seats covered the twelve Con-v-Lab marginals with majorities between 4.8% and 7.1%. These are seats that would fall to Labour if they were about equal with the Tories in the national polls, so given the variation between the swing in different constituencies we are getting to the point were we should start seeing some seats with the Tories ahead, and indeed we do – Ashcroft found the Conservatives ahead in three seats (Blackpool North, Kingswood and Loughborough).

The average swing across the twelve seats polled was 4.5% from Con to Lab – the equivalent of a two point Labour lead in the national polls. The average Labour lead in the national polls at the time the fieldwork was done was also two points, so once again the Ashcroft polling is suggesting that in Con-v-Lab marginals the swing is very much in line with national polling.

At an individual constituency level there is more variation. The lowest swings in this batch of seats were the three Tory holds mentioned earlier, which had swings of only 1.5% and 2% from Con to Lab. The biggest swings were in Erewash, Bury North, Cannock Chase, Keighley and Croydon Central, with swings between 6% and 7%. Two of those seats are ones where the first time Conservative incumbent is standing down, another is in London, where local and European elections suggest Labour are doing particularly well.

Full details of the Ashcroft polls are all on his site here.


As part of his speech today Nigel Farage showed off polling for various target seats. A couple of the polls were just the figures from previous Ashcroft polls that showed UKIP doing well, but three are Survation polls for UKIP that we haven’t seen before. They show UKIP well ahead in Boston & Skegness – on 46% to the Conservatives 26%, one point behind in Thanet North and on 37% to Labour’s 48% in Rotherham. Of course, polling conducted for political parties should be treated with a medium sized ocean of salt until you’ve see the tables with your own eyes (I’ll put up a link once Survation put the tabs up (UPDATE: here)), but the previous Survation polls for UKIP donor Alan Bown have used their standard methodology.

The polls got very brief attention as they were rapidly followed by Mark Reckless defecting to UKIP and precipitating a by-election in Rochester and Strood. Rochester and Strood probably won’t be the complete walk in the park for UKIP that polls have suggested in Clacton (Clacton’s demographics are absolutely perfect for UKIP and Carswell particularly well thought of). UKIP came top in Medway in the European elections, but that was hardly unusual and as an all-out unitary authority we have no recent local elections in Medway to judge from. The seat does not appear in Rob Ford and Matt Goodwin’s list of the most UKIP friendly Con seats. The unusual circumstances of a by-election though mean anything is possible – and from a national polling point of view, it keeps the UKIP bandwagon rolling, keeps them in the public eye, keeps the publicity coming, keeps them looking like a viable choice.