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A reminder: The Tories need lead of 7.3 percent before they start winning LAB seats and stop losing to them

February 9th, 2014

The gap needs to close and move sharply the other way

Tory hopes will probably be boosted a bit by today’s YouGov for the Sunday Times which sees the party on 35% just 4 points behind Labour with both the LDs and UKIP on 10%. Maybe they can even start to think of a cross-over – something on which there is an active betting market.

If that happens it will certainly be a key psychological moment and will give the blues a great boost provided it is sustained. In terms of the impact on the number of seats the parties get the really key number to look out for is a CON vote lead of 7.3%. This is the point at which the Tories would stop losing seats to LAB and where on a uniform swing they would start picking them up.

This isn’t fancy psephology but simple arithmetic. 7.3% was the GB lead on votes that the Tories had at the 2010 general election. If they do worse than that on a uniform swing then they lose seats to LAB – if they do better then they gain them.

    It is important to understand that even if the blues finish with an overall lead on votes of 5, 6 or even 7% they will still be losing seats to Labour

Of course the Tories will be hoping to pick up LD seats but as we’ve seen from the Ashcroft polling gains from the yellows are going to be much harder to achieve than the uniform national swing projections suggest especially where the incumbent is standing again.

LAB will also be picking up seats anyway in fights where the Tories are bystanders – the LD-LAB marginals but there are far fewer yellow targets for the red team than the blue.

Cross-over, getting a CON poll lead, is just a staging post on the way to the bigger target – the 7.3% lead over Labour. This, of course, depends on a uniform national swing and on the day it could be higher or lower. CON hopes of first time incumbency bonus for their MPs in the marginals might be right but the polling sugests that there’s a disproportionate 2010 LD>LAB switch in these seats.

Whatever we are quite some way off that point yet.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble