The big and only real question is how the changes in the national mood are playing out in the marginals

The big and only real question is how the changes in the national mood are playing out in the marginals

Have seats that were in LAB’s grasp now fallen away

There’s no doubt that this has been a dramatic polling week with apparently a move from LAB that is changing the long established view that the red team was heading for victory.

But these are national polls of 1,000 sample sizes for phone surveys and up to 2,000 for online ones.

    What we need to see before jumping to conclusions is whether the changes are also being seen in 75 or so seats that could change hand – the key battlegrounds.

General elections as I repeatedly observe are not decided by national party aggregate vote shares but by the outcomes in 650 separate constituency elections fought under first past the post.

Voters are not being asked to choose a Prime Minister or a party but an individual who will represent the area at Westminster. In some fights the personalities, popularity and overall voter appeal of the contenders will matter more than party branding.

All this is why in such a confusing national picture the single seat polling by Lord Ashcroft and others is becoming the best guide to GE15.

We see from the Ashcroft two stage voting intention questioning how things can shift sharply when those sampled are asked to think specifically about their own constituency. That fact alone should cause us to be more sceptical about the national surveys.

Lord Ashcroft is organising some Scottish seat polls as well as moving up the LAB target list to those that are less marginal. At some point the constituency polling will highlight a group of seats beyond LAB’s reach. We are not there yet.

To underline the scale of what Lord A is doing his last round of marginals involved telephone interviews with more people than Ipsos-MORI call in a year. And we are getting new batches every few weeks.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble

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