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The big question is what’s happening in Britain’s Ohio, Florida and Virginia

November 4th, 2014

MS shot Big Ben

Applying the US model to GE2015

Midterm day in the US is a good reminder of how different the general election narrative works out in the US compared with the UK.

For there, as we all followed closely just two years ago, everything is focused on the so called swing States – the ones that will decide the election. The national polling shares were almost irrelevant – it was the data coming from the select group that was the main focus and was the base of the predictions coming from Nate Silver and others.

In the UK the election is not fought in 50 states of which maybe just a dozen are really interesting. Instead we have separate first past the post election going on in 650 separate constituencies of which perhaps 100 can be described as marginals.

Constituency polling in the UK has been pretty rare but at GE2015 it will be different thanks mostly to Lord Ashcroft. So far has carried out at least one 1,000 sample phone poll in nearly 80 separate constituencies. His latest of CON-LAB battlegrounds where the blues are defending majorities of up 4.8% were published nearly a month ago

The next round, he has said, will be of less marginal seats as he seeks to find those where LAB was not in the lead – the pinch points just like Ohio, Florida and Virginia in the US. Given what’s happened in Lord A’s national polls and other surveys I, for one, am eagerly awaiting the next round.

    Will the picture of a race tightening be reflected in the latest constituency surveys where Lord A uses his now familiar two stage voting question that seems to find what those sampled plan to do in their specific seats?

On top of that Lord Ashcroft is looking at some Scottish constituencies to find out about the impact of the SNP surge.

It might be that everything is in line with the national polling or it might be that the general election tussle is being seen very differently in the key marginals. The point is that we don’t know. The evidence from seat polls already published is that UKIP and GRN are being squeezed a touch when people are pressed. Will that still hold?

If he’s done nothing else Lord A has made GE15 a lot more interesting.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble