Lord Ashcroft marginals poll out

Lord Ashcroft marginals poll out



Lord Ashcroft has conducted and published a poll in  213 constituencies throughout Great Britain – mainly those for which the Conservatives and Labour will be competing directly, and those the Liberal Democrats will be defending against either of the bigger parties.

19,119 adults in 213 constituencies were interviewed online between 29 January and 18 February 2013. Results have been weighted to be politically representative of all adults living in their respective clusters of seats

According to the results of this survey of the marginals, Labour would gain 109 seats, and the Conservatives would suffer at net loss of 75. This would give Ed Miliband 367 seats in the House of  Commons – a Labour majority of 84.

While this hardly sounds like good news for the Tories, it shows that things are at least a little less bad than the national polls suggest. According to recent national published polls, on a uniform swing Labour would win a majority of 114.

As Lord Ashcroft notes

Marginal constituencies decide the outcome of elections. In 2010, though the Conservatives did not achieve the national vote share they wanted, the party’s targeting strategy meant it won 23more Labour seats and 9 more Liberal Democrat seats than it would have done on a uniform swing. Had it not been for the Conservative performance in the marginals, Labour would have been the largest parliament and would have continued in government.

For those thinking of replacing David Cameron as leader

Across the Battlegrounds the Conservatives’ biggest asset remains David Cameron, who leads as best Prime Minister everywhere except the Lib Dem-Labour Battleground, and having the clearest vision of where they want to take the country, where they lead across the board (though substantial numbers say this is not true of any party). The Tories also lead on the economy everywhere except the Lib Dem-Labour seats.

For the Liberal Democrats

The data will make uncomfortable reading for the Liberal Democrats. As is often the case, very different results emerge from Lib Dem-held seats according to whether you ask the standard voting intention question – “if  there were an election tomorrow, which party would you vote?” – or a version which reminds them of their local circumstances – “and thinking specifically about your own constituency and the candidates who are likely to stand there, which party’s candidate do you think you will vote for?” Even on this second question, the results imply a swing to the Conservatives of around 5 points. On these figures, Cameron stands to gain 17 seats from his coalition colleague in England and Wales.

The findings suggest that one of these would be Eastleigh, which would fall to the Conservatives on the basis of the swing the cluster of similar seats. This backs up the findings of my election-day poll which showed the by-election result would not necessarily be repeated at a general election.

In reality, as Eastleigh showed, an election against the Lib Dems is never over until it’s over, and there will be a large number of very fierce fights. But things look a good deal bleaker for the party in seats where Labour are second. The implied 17-point swing would deprive Nick Clegg of all but two Lib Dem seats where Labour are currently second: Ross, Skye & Lochaber, and Orkney & Shetland (where in 2010 Alistair Carmichael received nearly six times as many votes as his nearest challenger). Labour also stand to gain two seats – Cambridge and Leeds North West – where they are currently third.

Overall, just under a quarter of the full sample (24%) said a Conservative government with an overall majority would be their preferred election outcome. 30% said they wanted a Labour government. 12% said they wanted a coalition between the Liberal Democrats and Labour, and only 7% wanted more of what we have now.



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