Is Ukip damaging the Tories in crucial marginal constituencies? As I wrote earlier this week, the next election is looking to be close, but there has been much speculation as to what extent Ukip will split the Tory vote. Could this unwittingly lead to a Labour victory? Lord Ashcroft has polled 40 of the most marginal Conservative seats (32 Labour targets and 8 Lib Dem) for the third time since the last election to try and answer that question.
From today’s snapshot, the answer is that Ukip pose a great electoral threat to the Tories. In the Conservative/Labour marginals, their vote share has jumped from 3 to 11 per cent since the 2010 election, while the Tories have dropped ten points:
In Lib Dem/Conservative marginals, Ukip’s vote share has increased the same amount from 4 to 12 per cent, while the Tories have dropped by nine:
Overall, this suggests a 8.5 per cent swing from the Conservatives to Labour, which would result in Labour taking all 32 of these Tory marginal seats and 66 if the trend was replicated elsewhere. More than enough to put Ed Miliband into Downing Street with a comfortable majority.
It’s worth noting Labour is by no means on a ‘glide path’ to victory. They’ve made minimal progress since 2011 — their vote share has actually dropped by one point — and in their target constituencies, a slight majority think Britain is currently heading in the right direction. As Ashcroft has suggested in previous polling , Labour’s soft lead should be of great concern to the party.
Although the next general election is nearly 18 months away, this polling suggests there is all to play, especially in the marginals. Ed Miliband will be trying to increase and stabilise his party’s lead, while David Cameron needs to find a way of bringing back those disenfranchised Ukipers. His promise of an EU renegotiation and referendum was a significant olive branch but more may well be needed to avoid such a split occurring on election day.Tags: Lord Ashcroft, Polling, Tories, UK politics, UKIP