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Is Labour doing worse in the marginals?

October 4th, 2008

UPDATED

ICM marginals poll suggests a big Tory majority

After the euphoria in the Labour camp following recent poll improvements an ICM survey of 192 Labour-held marginals for the News of the World will bring them back down to earth. For it suggests that the party is set to lose 164 seats to the Tories at the general election. and that Cameron’s Conservatives will have a majority of 78. That is on top of any seat losses-gains in the battles with other parties, notably the Lib Dems and SNP.

Taking the straight mathematics a lead of 20% in a standard national voting intention poll would be required to produce a majority Labour losses to the Tories on this scale. This morning ICM survey for the Guardian had a margin of just 12% – so that suggests that something different might be happening in the key battle-ground seats.

The boss of ICM, Nick Sparrow, is quoted as saying: “This poll clearly shows voters in marginal seats across the country judging Labour even more harshly than they are across the rest of the country. There is also a steady development. In April we had a 9% swing which gave the Conservatives 131 seats. This time it’s 11.5%, which translates into 164 seats..This shows the Conservative Party’s tactic of targeting voters in marginal seats is clearly working, exaggerating what is already a considerable national swing.”

In many ways this is not surprising. The Tories have been ploughing a lot of extra resources into the key constituencies and, of course, there’s the experience of what happened with Labour in 1997. Then the Labour swing was greater in the marginals resulting in a bigger victory than the overall national voting move suggested.

So not good news for Brown.

UPDATE: Having looked further at the poll detail I think that the News of the World have been premature in extrapolating ICM’s findings into a 78 seat Tory majority. The survey was confined to LAB>CON marginals and did not cover LAB>LD and LAB>SNP seats where there are likely to be changes. The central point remains: the poll suggests that the Tories are doing disproportionately better in LAB>CON marginals than in the country as a whole.

Mike Smithson






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