How many seats will the Conservatives take from the Lib Dems at the next election? According to Lord Ashcroft’s latest polling, a dozen or so Tory-Lib Dem marginals look set to change hands. Surveying 17,000 voters in 17 seats*, Ashcroft has found the Lib Dems’ share has dropped by 15 per cent (compared to eight per cent for the Conservatives) with an overall swing of 3.5 per cent to the Tories. If this swing were replicated across the country, this would hand David Cameron another 15 seats in 2015.
However, Ashcroft’s research suggests there isn’t a universal swing. For example in Newton Abbot, the polling suggests a nine per cent swing but in Wells, it was three per cent. Out the 17 seats Ashcroft polled, six of the Lib Dems would change hands to the Tories. As you can see from the chart below, the Tory lead and swing in these seats differs significantly:
The polling also suggests that some Tory/Lib Dem marginals like Oxford West & Abingdon — which the Tories won by just 176 votes in 2010 — will remain safe.
What about the Ukip threat? In all of the seventeen seats, Ukip are on at least ten per cent of the vote share. In Camborne & Redruth, they are pegged at 26 per cent. This may be due to their operation on the ground, which is making an impact with voters. When asked which of the parties they’d heard from in the last few weeks, 46 per cent said they’d had contact with Ukip, compared to 50 per cent from the Lib Dems, who are well known for solid location operations:
The marginal voters are vaguely enthusiastic about the Prime Minister. Overall, a third of the voters are satisified with David Cameron as PM while another third are dissatisfied but would prefer him to Ed Miliband. And at the next election, 36 per cent would like a Conservative majority, compared to 16 per cent who want another Tory-Lib Dem coalition.
The polling results are heartening for the Tories — half of the seats on their 40+40 target list are Lib Dem targets. However, the opinion polls continue to suggest an overall swing towards Labour next year. Ashcroft has promised to return to the Conservative-Labour battleground soon, so we’ll see if there’s still any good news for the Tories then.
*Ashcroft polled the following seats (colours are who who hold): Watford, Camborne & Redruth, Oxford West and Abingdon, Truro & Falmouth, Newton Abbot, Harrogate & K’borough, Solihull, Mid Dorset & N. Poole, Wells, St Austell & Newquay, Somerton & Frome, Sutton & Cheam, St Ives, Chippenham, Cheadle, North Cornwall and Eastleigh