Lord Ashcroft’s latest poll should both reassure Labour strategists and give them a fairly clear pointers on where Labour needs to do better to turn a mid-term polling lead into victory.
Below a quick summary, featuring several charts and brief commentary.
One of the good things about Lord Ashcroft’s polling of the key marginals is that it’s done on a scale that allows a reasonable look at the detail.
Being the international ambassador for fun times that I am, I spent some of last night looking at the detailed data for the Conservative-Labour battleground seats, the seats the Tories hold now, but Labour have to win to gain a majority.1
I’ve done some pretty charts in presentation format below, and a brief summary below that.
In the Conservative held marginals, Labour currently has a significant lead of ten points on standard voting intention, and eight points locally.
Clearly, that would be enough to deliver a significant Labour majority as has been reported elsewhere.
Labour voters are strongly disapproving of the government and pessimistic about the future under the Coalition. They also feel Labour is in touch with their values and interests.
However, the internals identify some areas for concern, and this is where Labour will likely need to focus.
In terms of issues, the economy dominates, but the data shows that immigration is also a key issue for potential Labour voters, so the recent focus on that issue is clearly worthwhile.
On the economy, Labour needs to do better with “unsure” and “potential” Labour voters.
Labour also needs to highlight Ed Miliband more effectively. While Labour voters overwhelmingly prefer Miliband to Cameron when forced to choose between the two men, there’s significant doubt among potential voters, and a lack of certainty among Labour voters when offered “None of the above” as an option.
Finally, Labour needs to demonstrate a clearer vision for the future, as “unsure” and “potential” voters aren’t clear what it would do in government.
Labour should also be aware that there is a significant group of “potential” Conservative voters, who are very dissatisfied with the government, but are hostile to both Labour’s alternative and to Ed Miliband as an alternative PM to David Cameron, and so might be tempted to swing behind the Tory party at some point. (My assumption is that these are UKIP voters, who currently represent 11% of all voters, even in these marginals)
When it comes to the difference they’d make in government, Labour does better on jobs and public services, the Conservatives on welfare, deficit, immigration, tax and the economy. However, both Labour and Conservatives are struggling to convince much more than half their own supporters they’d make a big difference on most issues.
This lack of enthusiasm might suggest space for a ‘Fear of worse’ election.
If that’s the case, then Conservative voters and potentials are extremely sceptical of a Labour government. This is more the case than Labour voters and potentials are sceptical of a Tory govt, except on the NHS and Unemployment.
In terms of campaigning, Labour has no advantage in the ground game at the moment, and may even be a little behind in voter communication, both in general and among key voting groups. However, the Tories seem to be using Leaflets and emails, rather than personal contact, which may be a major weakness, as personal contact is more effective in winning votes. Who-ever performs better on voter contact over the next two years may well have a significant local advantage.
- though the results in Labour-LD and LD-Tory seats will also be very significant. [↩]