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.
Lord Ashcroft has published his poll of Clacton. Topline voting intention figures with changes from the general election are CON 24%(-29), LAB 16%(-9), LDEM 2%(-11), UKIP 56%(+56), full results are here. The lead is actually a little smaller than Survation’s (perhaps because the fieldwork was a little later, away from the immediate burst of Carswell publicity) but the ultimate story is the same, a huge great UKIP lead suggesting an easy win for Douglas Carwell.
Quick off the mark following Douglas Carswell’s defection on Thusday Survation have a poll of Clacton in the Mail on Sunday that apparently shows a cracking great UKIP lead.
From the details that have been tweeted out so far the topline figures are CON 20%(-33), LAB 13%(-12), LDEM 2%(-11), UKIP 64%(+64%). We don’t have dates, sample size, questions and so on yet but prima facie it’s pretty unambiguous: Carswell will romp home with ease. If it does happen so convincingly expect a big impact in the national polls too from the publicity and the impact of people seeing a UKIP vote can return a UKIP MP (not to mention whatever temptations it would throw to any other potential Conservative defectors…)
UPDATE: Tabs are here, sample size 700, done on Thurs-Fri.
Lord Ashcroft has today published a new poll of Uxbridge & South Ruislip, a generally unspectacular and unnotable safe Conservative seat in West London. It shows voting intentions of CON 42%(-6), LAB 28%(+5), LDEM 6%(-14), UKIP 19%(+16), what would be an unsurprising Conservative hold.
The reason for the poll is – of course – the speculation that Boris Johnson might or might not apply for the Conservative nomination following John Randall’s decision to step down at the next election. Lord Ashcroft also asked how people would vote if Boris Johnson was the Conservative candidate, which unsurprisingly showed a popular and well-known candidate would give the party a boost.
The poll also included a question on what Uxbridge voters thought about Boris being MP at the same time as being mayor. The result was split right down the middle – 50% thought it was fine for Boris to do both for a year, 50% thought they weren’t compatible and Boris should wait until 2016 or resign as mayor if he wanted to be an MP. Amongst Conservative supporters in Uxbridge they were more accomodating – 63% thought Boris could do both for a year.
When you sit down to do a marginals polls one consideration is where you draw the line: what is a marginal? The thing you want to avoid is under or overshooting the real battleground – the risk is that you poll lots of seats that need a swing of up to 5% and find a swing of 10%, enough to win lots of seats you didn’t bother polling.
That’s the sort of thing that’s happened in the third of Lord Ashcroft’s three sets of marginal polls – full details here. He polled the four most marginal LD -v- Lab seats, Norwich South, Bradford East, Brent Central and Manchester Withington. These need a swing of up to 2.1% to go from LD to Lab, which unsurprisingly Labour get easily. The average LD => Lab swing in these seats was 15%, confirming that the Lib Dems are doing much worse where they are up against Labour and easily enough to unseat almost all Lib Dem MPs with Labour in second place. In practice of course we can’t actually be that confident that voters in a tight LD-Lab marginal will behave the same way as in a seat where the Lib Dems have a 20% majority, so it’s a bit of a shame Ashcroft didn’t include some more challenging LD-Lab fights like Cambridge, Hornsey & Wood Green or Bermondsey.
An interesting thing to note is that the Greens are doing notably well in a couple of these seats. In Norwich South they are in second place on 20%, but that was one of their target seats anyway, they are also doing well in Manchester Withington, up 8 points on 10%.
While it’s hardly a LD-Lab battle, Lord Ashcroft also polled Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas’s seat. Voting intentions there with changes from the general election are CON 18%(-6), LAB 33%(+4), LDEM 5%(-9), GREEN 32%(+1), suggesting an extremely tight race between Labour and the Green party.