Is the outcome much closer than it appears?
There will be 650 members of the next house of commons and if David Cameron’s Conservatives are going to win a majority then they will need a total of 325 seats or more. And if you input the numbers from today’s Guardian ICM poll into the UKPollingReport you get a projected total of 353 seats – or 28 above the magic number. This gives a comfortable overall majority of 56.
The vast bulk of the seats required are currently in Labour hands south of border where the battles will normally be straight CON-LAB where other parties will probably get squeezed horribly.
But there are two other main areas of required Tory gains where the outcome might not be so straightforward – in Scotland where the skirmishes will be with the SNP, the LD and Labour; and of course Lib Dem held seats. By my calculations these total 37 – a number that is significantly higher than the current projected majority.
For there’s lots of evidence to suggest that the battle north of the border and in seats currently held by the Lib Dems different considerations other than the overall national uniform swing might apply. Last week we looked at the massive PoliticsHome marginals polling covering a sample of more than 34,000 voters might apply.
There’s also Scotland where the polling suggests that a very different election battle will take place. Yet on the list of Tory “victories” from the UNS projection we see Perth and North Perthshire, Angus and Moray – seats where there’s an SNP incumbent. Are those really going to go? No way.
And just look down the list of 29 Lib Dem seats that are required if Dave is to achieve the current UNS projection. One of these, Oxford West and Abingdon, is where I used to live and is Tory LD target number 22. That simply ain’t going to fall.
Also check out the detail from the PoliticsHome survey where a different questioning approach was used and you see many on the UNS projection staying firmly in Lib Dem hands. That poll, taken when the Tory national poll shares were higher than they are at the moment, pointed to the majority of LD>CON marginals being retained.
For the Tories to be confident of an overall majority the polling needs to be such that the objective can be achieved without the need to rely on victories in Scotland or unseating LD incumbents.