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Should we be putting the emphasis on the marginals?

January 23rd, 2010


Poll of 97 LAB-held marginals
CON 40% (+9.2)
LAB 37% (-7.4)
LD 14%(-3.8)


Standard GB poll:
CON 38% (-4)
LAB 29% (nc)
LD 19%(nc)

Or is national voting intention that gives the best picture?

Two very different polls tonight both suggesting quite different outcomes to the general election – one will cheer up Labour supporters and the other will provide a boost for the Tories. The comparisons in the former are with what happened in the 97 seats at the general election – with the latter it’s with last week’s ComRes poll.

From my perspective the most interesting one is the ICM marginals poll which was taken in 97 LAB>CON marginals which would be vulnerable to swings of between four and ten percent. Given the consistency of polling it’s clearly quite sensible to focus on this second tier and the message is pretty good for David Cameron.

What ICM does not help us with is the LD>CON marginals where it’s assumed that the Tory task will be harder. There is a PB/Angius Reid survey in the offing that will look at this segment of marginals which I’m hoping we’ll get in the next week or so.

What’s been so frustrating for poll watchers has been the lack of data from the marginals which are where the election will be won and lost.

This is only the second such public poll since October and the message from both is that the Tories do seem to be seeing a bigger swing to them than in the national polls.

So how does this measure up against ComRes which has the Tories back below 40%? Well firstly it’s likely that only about 140 of the sample of 1,000 would be in these key marginal seats. So if the ICM poll is right then it would hardly have shown in the ComRes numbers.

But overall ComRes is not good news for Cameron Towers although they might be cheered by the fact that Labour does not seem to have benefited from their decline. Last week the aggregate for others was ten points – now it’s 14.

Moves like this over such a short period make me feel a touch uneasy. What seems to have happened is that we are back to where we were with the final ComRes poll of 2009.

As to the spinning on the poll Anthony Wells posted an important comment here on the previous thread. Remarks that were being attributed to ComRes boss Andrew Hawkins were actually made by a Sunday Mirror journalist.

Mike Smithson