Pregnant expectation over strange figures for the LibDems

Royal babies, dead cats, Dan Hodges (again), and troubling outlying polls. Will any make any difference to the way we vote? JOHN BRAGGINS flags up a startling inconsistency in the latest Ashcroft poll of Croydon Central

Royal baby

The royal baby: won’t be voting in Croydon Central

In the way that you can have rogue polls nationally, you can also have them at constituency level. I don’t really mean rogue; I think it is better to talk about “outlier” polls – where the margin of error is at the maximum.

And that’s what seems to have happened to one of Lord Ashcroft’s constituency polls, and it happened right here in Croydon.

In the table showing the percentage of 2010 LibDem voters switching to Con or Lab, the percentage across the six seats for those choosing Conservative was 20 per cent. But in Croydon Central, it was 41 per cent.

The complete list is:

Battersea 18%
Norwich North 20%
Peterborough 16%
Pudsey 20%
Stourbridge 23%
Wirral West 24%
Croydon Central 41%

Now, of course it is possible that 2010 LibDem voters in Croydon Central are switching to the Conservatives at twice the rate of anywhere else, but I doubt it.

So to the latest polls, and surprise, surprise, they are all getting closer to each other – the latest Opinium/Observer poll has the Conservatives holding on to their 1 point lead over Labour: CON – 35 per cent (+1); LAB – 34 per cent (+1); UKIP – 13 per cent (-); LIBDEM – 8 per cent (-1); GRN – 5 per cent (-1).

But a closer look at the tables show that there was only a five-person difference in the raw figures between Con and Lab. It’s still very close out there.

YouGov maintains Labour’s slender 1 point lead: LAB – 34 per cent (-1); CON – 33 per cent (-1); UKIP – 14 per cent (+2); LIBDEM – 8 per cent (-); GRN – 5 per cent (-)

The YouGov “absolutely certain to vote or have already voted by post” shows Labour ahead of all other: CON 80 per cent; LAB 84 per cent; LIBDEM 82 per cent; UKIP 79 per cent and the voting retention rates of those voting for party at GE2010 CON 74 per cent and LAB 79 per cent.

ComRes poll also shows no change: CON – 33 per cent (-2): LAB – 33 per cent (-2); UKIP – 13 per cent (+2); LIBDEM – 8 per cent (+1); GRN – 7 per cent (+1)

Enough about polls; I can share news about samples being taken at the opening of postal votes.

In two north London marginal seats – one the most marginal – has Labour ahead and the other with Labour recording 42 per cent of a 100 sample. It’s still very close out there.

And the question you most wanted to know the answer to: will the royal birth change the way us subjects vote? Or as the pundits say “will there be a royal baby bounce in the polls?” I think the answer is that any bounce will be that of a dead cat.

As “Britain Elects” say:

The only direct impact it makes is the news agenda. If any of the parties were planning on a big policy announcement over the weekend it will now have to struggle against the royal baby to get in the papers and the news bulletins.

Of course, should the polls move in the next few days I expect history will record that the royal baby won the election for David Cameron, in the same way that we pretend that the bug in Gordon Banks’ tummy lost the 1970 election for Harold Wilson.

In reality I expect any change in the polls over coming days will be nothing at all to do with royal procreation, and everything to do with the existing drivers of voting intention – people making their minds up or changing their minds based on perceptions of the leaders and parties, of competence in running the economy and public services, and hopes of fears of what sort of government will emerge from a hung Parliament.

So there you have it.

Although Dan Hodges has tweeted, “If only the Royal baby had been born in Tower Hamlets it would have been eligible to vote on Thursday.” Which is, of course, nonsense. We all know the royals don’t get a vote.

  • John BragginsJohn Braggins, pictured, worked for the Labour Party for 10 years leading up to the 1997 General Election. He was head of local government for Labour from 2000 to 2002 and senior press officer for the newly formed Greater London Assembly
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2 Responses to Pregnant expectation over strange figures for the LibDems

  1. Everyone should trust the results of Lord Ashcroft’s polls absolutely. He is a politically neutral figure with no stake whatsoever in the outcome of the election and runs his polls simply to ensure that the Great British Public is as well informed as possible. Also, you should know that the Moon is made of Green Cheese and that Crystal Palace will win the FA Cup, the League Cup and top the Premier League next season.

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