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The Tory hope that 2010 winners will get a first time incumbency bonus barely registers in the Ashcroft polling

June 17th, 2014

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Lord Ashcroft May 2014 marginals polling

Some MPs will get a bonus but the overall position is mixed

One of the great hopes for the Tories is that those MPs who were first elected in 2010 will perform better than the national swing because of what’s become known as “first time incumbency bonus”.

To try to test this in his battleground polling Lord Ashcroft asks a two-stage voting intention question. The first is the standard one while the second asks respondents to think specifically about their own areas and the candidates who might stand. This produces a different range of responses when you would assume that first time incumbency would show up.

Just looking at the list of seats in the poll above it is clear that James Wharton in Stockton South is getting a boost. A 10% deficit on the standard question becomes a 7% one with the second question. Wharton, of course, received a lot of personal publicity when his EU referendum bill was going through parliament.

But take another example – Broxtowe where Defence Minister Anna Soubry is up against ex-LAB MP, Nick Palmer. She’s 11% behind on the first question and 14% behind on the second. In Broxtowe like in a number of key targets Labour selected the ex-MP to fight again with the hope of diminishing the impact.

In Great Yarmouth, where UKIP is very strong, the CON incumbent has a 1% lead on the first question which changes to a 2% deficit on the second.

So the picture is mixed though it is important to note that no candidate names were used. These polls were all 1,000 sample phone surveys

Mike Smithson

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