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Lord Ashcroft’s latest round of CON-LAB marginals polling would be even more informative if the candidates were named

July 20th, 2014

Are the blues getting a first time incumbency bonus?

I got into a good natured Twitter exchange last night with Lord Ashcroft about the seats that will be included in his next round of marginals polling due to be published in the next few days. In fact I needn’t have bothered because on the Saturday after the May 22nd local elections he said the following to a ConHome conference:

“This is the first in a series of similar surveys I will be conducting in the run-up to the election. In the next few weeks I will be publishing a poll of our battleground with the Lib Dems, and then Labour’s battleground with the Lib Dems. We will return regularly to each group of seats to track progress over the year.

So it’s pretty clear that the constituencies being polled will be the same as those in May.

Intriguingly Lord Ashcroft promised some surprises in his latest round and more, but no doubt, we’ll have to wait for publication before we know what those are.

One feature I really hope that Lord Ashcroft will incorporate is to name the candidates in each seat in the voting intention question. Many Tory hopes are being placed on first time incumbents in the key seats being defended doing better than national or regional swings and including their name could help measure this.

In almost all of the 14 seats the Labour and Conservative candidates are in place and it would not take much to incorporate their names.

In some of the seats Labour had taken the Broxtowe approach and chosen the ex-MP who lost in 2010 and it’s a moot point whether this will, in part, neutralise the effect.

I’ve no doubt that Lord Ashcroft is looking at his methodology with each new poll and I do hope that at some stage the named candidate approach will be incorporated.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble