Three new polls so far today – the two regular GB polls from Ashcroft and Populus and ComRes’s monthly marginals poll. Lord Ashcroft’s weekly poll today has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 31%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%. This is the first Conservative lead in a poll since that brief narrowing in mid-May. As ever, don’t get too excited about a single poll, it could be repeated in other polling and be the first sign of a genuine movement… or it could just be a blip. Meanwhile Populus’s twice weekly poll this morning had rather more typical figures of CON 33%, LAB 37%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 12% (tabs here.)

Finally ComRes have released the second of their regular polls of marginal seats. I wrote about the first here. ComRes’s regular marginal polls cover the 40 most marginal Con v Lab seats, 25 held by the Tories, 15 held by Labour. At the last election the vote in these seats was CON 37%, LAB 37%. Today’s poll has voting intentions of CON 31%, LAB 36%, LD 7%, UKIP 17%. This is a swing of 2.5% from Conservative to Labour, the equivalent of a 2 point Conservative lead in a national poll. Hence it suggests the Conservatives are doing better in the Con-Lab marginals than in national polls (the poll shows some movement towards Labour in the marginals since May, but the previous poll was taken during that brief narrowing of the polls in mid-May, so the change reflects the national picture). The ComRes marginal polls remain in contrast to Lord Ashcroft’s most recent marginal polls which suggested the marginal picture is much the same as the national picture.

77 Responses to “Ashcroft, Populus and ComRes marginals”

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  1. Okay this looks weird. Haven’t looked into the data yet but it seems odd to me that in the midst of generally rising poll leads (up to 4-5%) we suddenly get a 2-point Tory lead on the back of a very weak Labour score (the Tories’ position hasn’t changed from the other polls).

    Ashcroft’s poll has an “Other” score of 12 points, which is huge and almost certainly wrong. Again without looking at the data I’d say it puts the Greens on 8% or so which is wildly optimistic for the GE.

  2. Wow. Didn’t see that cross-over coming today.

    Obviously just one poll and the Ashcroft polls have tended to be quite volatile.

    In his write up Ashcroft speculates about an unexpected Juncker effect – that Cameron’s tough stance on Europe and prominent place in the news has given the Tories a boost. I doubt that somewhat, though this at least suggests that neither that nor the Coulson convictions have caused people to shift further towards LAB.

    The ‘ComRes Battlebus’ is slightly surprising though Ashcroft’s mega seat-by-seat sample is obviously a more reliable guage of the marginals.

  3. @AW

    The closer the next GE gets, the less reliable the UNS figure seems to become – or am I not understanding what you said?

    Is the ‘four party’ (‘five party’ if we include the Greens) situation in England now making polls impossible to interpret with any degree of reliability?

    Do you think that the situation is now so complex as to require a much more detailed methodology, or is this ‘par for the course’ at this stage given your experience of previous elections?

  4. JohnB – no, UNS is a crude tool but not a bad one (and if you factor in some things like incumbency, uneven distribution of marginals and Scotland doing its own thing it becomes pretty good).

    Things like the Greens are a side issue – apart from a handful of seats, whether people vote Green or sit at home on the sofa is an irrelevance in projecting seat numbers. UKIP are a more complicated issue, and how unevenly their vote is distributed could be interesting.

  5. It can’t be a juncker effect as Tories are unaffected,it’s labour on 31 which I don’t believe

  6. Is there an issue here that this marginals poll contains more Tory-held seats than Labour ones? Wouldn’t incumbency advantage give the Tories a slight boost in those 25 seats?

  7. This has absolutely nothing to do with poling, but if anyone wants to see what I look like, I am currently on Tipping Point on ITV! in a repeat of my last year’s appearance……Hurry, only on till 5:00!

  8. Norbold – spoilers! If you are there until 5pm you must have done quite well.

  9. Jack Sheldon
    It’s crazy to think juncker would have an effect on the ashcroft poll. it’s real amateur hour to take one poll and then take one event to explain it.

    The ashcroft polls are all over the place. in the few weeks we have had them, we have had tory leads of 2 points and a labour lead of 9 points …

  10. Just seen you,well done norbold

  11. I certainly did, AW!

  12. I’d say this Ashcroft poll puts the carp among the polldrums

  13. Dammit, missed you Norbold. Perhaps catch up TV will enlighten me.

  14. Ashcroft’s polls are all over the place. Is the methodology being constantly tweaked? I wouldn’t give it any credence until there’s corroborative evidence.

  15. Barnaby – nope, as far as I’m aware there have not been any methodological changes.

  16. There’s always ITV+1 if you’re quick enough, Guy.

  17. Populus showing strong Labour support in Scotland and rather low SNP VIs. It will be interesting to see how the figures look in six months’ time, if Labour look a cert to be the next Westminster government.

  18. I am tempted to suggest we’ll see more of this in the next few weeks due to the annual silly season being magnified by the World Cup and to a lesser extent the Commonwealth games.

    Anthony’s standard advice on it being only one poll is even more important at times like this.

    I think those of us interested in politics tend to forget that we are actually a minority. Even those who regularly vote aren’t often that interested.


  19. I know there are quite a few people who whinge about Ashcroft polling just because it is Ashcroft but up until today I’ve found him pretty good on his commentary and presentation.

    His write up though for this one was very poor and does what Anthony cautions us against on here in reading one poll in isolation and then putting a slant as to why the poll shows the figures it does when one event rarely has that sort of impact. In fact it is almost certainly MOE.

    @ Norbold

    Why are ITV1 repeating your appearance? I assumed the main channels never did that with a game show and passed it straight over to cable….

  20. Both BBC and ITV always repeat their quiz programmes before passing them over. It’s a bit of cheap programming.

  21. Norbold – right royal superstar – turned out I could rewind my TV – clever these Chinese. Congrats – a well developed wrist action there.

  22. Nor old,

    “a well developed wrist action there.”

    Years of practice??????


  23. Who was it on here who wanted to have words with John Mann? I might have the chance to meet him soon…

  24. Good Afternoon All.
    The TIMES today has very interesting article about research into the way UK Constituencies are looking in terms of ‘VI’.
    The article seems to confirm the findings in the polls here.
    Labour is piling up majorities in safe seats.

  25. @Chrislane

    Is it only Labour which is piling up ‘safe’ majorities, or are others doing it as well? In Your Opinion – of course!
    And what does this say about marginals?

  26. The constituency betting doesn t suggest that labour is merely piling mega majorities in safe seats…. But I agree paddy power and ladbrokes aren’t the be all and end all

  27. Between the Survation and the Ashcroft, I guess we can’t cry “polldrums” for a change?

  28. Parties developing their economic positions somewhat. Ed Balls has been talking about Labour’s plans to encourage long term business investment, saying Blair’s “Third Way” has failed, while the Government is bringing in changes to support more flexible working, and action on zero contract hours.

    The zero contract thing, allowing employees the right tp work elsewhere… I’m not sure but wasn’t that something Labour advocated?

  29. Anyways, there are familiar concerns being expressed about impact on business of flexible working, but the Beeb said the Govt. had done an impact assessment or summat…

    “In its impact assessment on the rollout of flexible working to all employees, the government estimates that in its first 10 years the new policy will bring overall economic benefits of about £475m.

    Most of that, it thinks, will come from increased productivity, lower labour turnover, and reduced absenteeism.

    It could be particularly helpful, the government says, for workers who might need to look after grandchildren, or those who want to take part in voluntary work.

    And then there are the potential knock-on positive effects – the chance to further reduce unemployment, or the theory that a better work-life balance will improve employees’ health.”

  30. Probably, but it was also in a Vince Cable statement somewhere a few months ago.

    I fail to see how they’ll make that work, to be honest. In a lot of ZHC jobs the whole point is the ability of the company to rake in a lot of personnel at short notice, which they won’t be able to do unless their indentured servants are sitting by the phone waiting for their call, which they won’t be if said serfs are working for someone else as well.

    For those companies that genuinely use ZHCs for the benefit of their workforce (if there are any) it might be OK. Most companies will either use subtle coercion (and risk falling foul of the law) or else switch to proper contracts (which would be good).

    I’ve mulled it over in relation to my stepdaughter’s recent hotel job on a ZHC. I wondered if perhaps the amount of time “on call” could be linked in some way to the actual hours given to the employee. ie “For every 8 hours that your employee works per week over the past 3 months, you are entitled to require them to be available to work for two 24 hour periods per week” or something.

    Her big bugbear was never being able to plan anything in case she was called in, but then sometimes only getting 3 or 4 hours employment a week.

  31. Why don’t Ashcroft’s tables indicate which set of balls and which machine were used for each week’s result?

  32. FWIW wasn’t Labour’s position that they’d ban ZHCs altogether?

  33. JOHN B.
    The article says Labour does not seem to be doing well in the marginal contests with the Cons, and that the ‘Party’ is repeating the patterns of the 1980’s.
    UKIP is doing well in East Midlands, and south of there.

    Both big Parties seem to be finding it hard to pick up many more seats.

  34. I listened to Ed Balls speech and, although he certainly said that parts of the approach taken by the last government had failed, I thought the whole thing was more nuanced than you suggest.
    Also the problem many people, including apparently Vince Cable, have with zero hours contracts is precisely that many of them do not allow ‘workers’ ,as they are termed, to work elsewhere because of exclusivity clauses which exist in many of these contracts.

  35. @Neil A

    The conventional solution is that if a business needs someone to be on call they pay a retainer for that service. If they don’t want to do that, they can just do the normal thing of hiring whoever’s available at the time. With zero hours, companies want their cake and eat it: the convenience of having people always available, without paying for it, leaving the employee to take the hit instead.

  36. Sorry, I should have made it clear that my post was in response to Carfrew but, having re-read Carfrew, I’m not sure I understood what was intended anyway.

  37. @Maura

    I was noting that the parties are starting to flesh out their economic manifestos, with Govt. perhaps responding to Labour over ZCH, and that there may possibly be a degree of convergence on economic policy.

  38. @ Neil A

    I think your point about inability to plan is exactly right. Also it’s not just about planning your time it’s also about planning your finances – how can you budget properly if you’ve no idea from week to week what you’ll be earning?

  39. @Carfrew


  40. Also I wondered what people thought of the equity idea for encouraging investment, and the impact assessment thing. But I have a follow-up post in auto-mod. It seems to me that whatever the rhetoric, we may possibly be edging more and more away from the neolib thing, with both govt. and opposition in some agreement over this.

  41. I should add that in tying people up needlessly, zero hours are not great for productivity. Other firms might be able to use that labour but are prevented from doing so. If you as an employee are short on hoirs, you might hope to make up the shortfall by taking on another part time job. But zero hours frustrates this.

    The Govt.’s impact assessment gauges that the flexible working thing is worth almost half-a-billion. But it’s not much cop if zero hours undermines flexibility…

  42. Ashcroft is very volatile, the marginals poll is interesting though. There is no more enthusiasm for Labour than there was in 2010 – gains will be made only from the Lib Dem share and I think 31 is very possible for Miliband.

    If Cameron can keep beating the anti-EU drum then those kippers can be won back and he can near that magical 38% figure.

  43. Does anybody know what that 2.5% swing in these seats would mean for the seats changing hands??


  44. “There is no more enthusiasm for Labour than there was in 2010”

    About 5% more enthusiasm according to ComRes.

  45. @Maura This used to be the trouble with the social security system which assumed that people either had a job or didn’t. As a result those who were trying to work their way back into the employment market by taking casual jobs in the hope of proving their worth, either had to conceal their warnings or operate with fluctuations in income that made it impossible to plan. In this way it was very easy to get into debt and this again was something the system was not designed to cope with.I don’t know if this is still the case or whether some way has been found round it.

  46. More than the Tories… I should have said!

  47. “If Cameron can keep beating the anti-EU drum then those kippers can be won back and he can near that magical 38% figure.”


    It’s interesting… EU doesn’t seem to figure in the top most salient issues to voters, but nevertheless, there was a poll bounce after the veto (that never was). That’s partly the problem: such bounces can soon subside, so bounces at the time of the election may be the ones that really count. One wonders if ten months of banging on about the EU might not induce a little fatigue…


    @” EU doesn’t seem to figure in the top most salient issues to voters,”

    In the June IPSOS/MORI Issues Index, “EU/Europe/Euro” rose 6 places to 8th rank , and 4% pts to 12%.

    In that Index too, “Immigration” overtook the Economy as top Issue , rising 5% pts to 39%

    Lets see if tonight’s YouGov “does an Ashcroft”-which as pb points out, shows changes on the week of Cons +5/Lab-2/UKIP-2

  49. @Carfrew,

    My understanding is that Universal Credit, with income calculated weekly, and online, should solve the variable income problem. If we ever see it. Which I am beginning to doubt…

  50. And so it came to pass. One day after the Sabbath there came the Feast of the Great Crossover. Praise be to the Lord (Ashcroft)! :-)

    In the light of the recent Survation, Populus and YouGov polls, some pinches of salt may be in order here and it does seem rather extraordinary that the Labour vote should be collapsing to the extent that this Ashcroft poll is suggesting, and with no discernible benefit to the Tories either. Very odd.

    Of course, we mustn’t rule out that Ashcroft’s later fieldwork has detected a major shift that the earlier polls have missed. If so, then tonight’s YouGov should corroborate it. The question then must be what on earth has happened to cause this sudden haemorrhage in Labour support, hitherto undetected in other polls. Juncker??? Surely not, because we’d have seen a corresponding Tory rise, I would have thought.

    Methinks a turkey from Ashcroft but, you never know, today’s YouGov may indicate that the Feast of the Great Crossover may usher in forty days and forty nights of Tory leads!

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