Lord Ashcroft has released his latest round of marginal polling, looking at some of the constituencies vital to the Conservatives’ hopes of remaining in power. Across the six competitive seats he has polled, there is a swing away from the Tories but this doesn’t mean they will lose them. Three of the seats polled are likely to remain blue: Bristol North West, Colne Valley and High Peak. The interactive chart above shows the findings from each survey.
These seats were three-way marginals in 2010 and the Tories thought that the substantial Liberal Democrat vote would be the hardest to tackle. But Charlotte Leslie in Bristol NW has campaigned hard to hold onto the seat and it appears she is safe with a nine point lead. The Tory leads in Colne Valley and High Peak remain within the margin of error but Conservative HQ will be pleased that they still have a good chance of holding onto them.
The other three seats show a different side to the election. Bristol West, currently held by the Liberal Democrats, is set to swing to Labour, who are currently 13 points ahead. The Green Party has been focusing a lot of resources here and they have managed to romp into second place, adding 21 points to its vote share since the last election. But the collapse in Lib Dem vote is most likely to benefit Labour on polling day.
Two of Ukip’s most important seats have also been polled. Ashcroft has found that the Tories are ahead by three points in Rochester & Strood. Mark Reckless has been focusing on local concerns since November’s by-election but Rochester is not natural Ukip territory. Those inside Ukip acknowledge that the race will be close and the result is likely to be within 1,000 votes either way. As with Nigel Farage’s battle in South Thanet, the ‘shy kipper’ vote will be key in deciding who wins. The Tories would love to take it back and have been campaigning hard to halt the Ukip juggernaut. As you would expect, the contact rates for each party are very high: 78 per cent of residents said they have heard from the Tories and 76 per cent from Ukip.
The last seat polled is Thurrock — one of Ukip’s top target seats. Ashcroft has Ukip four points ahead on 35 per cent, down slightly from his last poll in July 2014. But it remains a competitive three-way marginal, with Labour currently on 31 per cent and the Conservatives on 30. As I witnessed at a big rally a few weeks ago, Ukip’s candidate Tim Aker has a substantial local following. The question now is whether that is enough to push him ahead of the two established parties.