All to play for

March 25, 2010

Our inaugural Ipsos MORI poll on voting intention in marginal constituencies goes out today.

It shows the Conservatives are actually doing pretty well in Labour-led constituencies. The poll suggests a five percent swing to the opposition from Labour compared to the 2005 election. That’s better than the Tories current showing at national level, which is pointing to a four percent swing.

But it’s still not enough. The Conservatives need to win 116 seats to gain an overall majority and this means winning not only seats where Labour have a wafer thin majority, like Finchley and Golders Green, but also ones like Barrow in Furness, which would require a swing of around 6.3 percent.

It’s these tougher marginals into which the Conservatives have been pouring their benefactors’ cash and Conservative party resources. Figures from the Electoral Commission in February showed the Conservatives received more than twice as much money as Labour in the last three months of 2009, money which can provide targeted election material for local candidates.

The Ipsos MORI poll suggests the additional cash is yet to show a marked impact but, with nearly half of all voters saying they may still change their mind or don’t yet know who to vote for, there’s still potential for the polls — all lately pointing to a hung parliament — to be wrong.

Liberal Democrat voters are the least decided — meaning they have the potential to make a serious impact in marginals. All that relies on voters understanding their power. A staggering 75 percent of respondents in the Ipsos MORI poll were unaware they were in a constituency that could help decide the outcome of the election. But at a time when voters are more disillusioned with politics and politicians than ever, getting them to exercise their vote could be the biggest challenge of all.

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see