Elections

The odds are (literally) against us – but is it over yet?

By Lord Ashcroft

Every pundit has a theory about the next election, and the New Year has brought a flurry of them. Some believe a Conservative victory is impossible; others think it is the most likely outcome. Unlike the commentators, the bookies have to back their theories with cash. Their expectations are clear. For them, an overall majority for Labour is the most likely result in May 2015 – Ladbrokes will give you only 11/8, and Paddy Power 5/4 on this outcome. A hung parliament looks to them less probable than a Labour victory, with the two firms offering 13/8 and 7/4 respectively on no party winning outright.

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I would be pleased to see Romney defy the odds on Tuesday but I’m not betting on it

By Lord Ashcroft

Towards the end of the Republican Convention this summer the experienced campaign consultant Trygve Olsen advised us how to read the presidential race in the closing weeks. You could tell a lot from where the candidates spent their time, but also what they said: if either side says it is confident, it is too close to call; if one side claims to be enjoying a surge, it means they are going to lose.

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Project Blueprint Phase 3: The quest for a Conservative majority

By Lord Ashcroft

When I published the first phase of Project Blueprint in May 2011, David Cameron’s first anniversary as Prime Minister, political comment was dominated by the relationship between Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs following the Alternative Vote referendum. At the end of this government’s second full year, the same is happening again in the aftermath of another of the Lib Dems’ doomed attempts to change the constitution, to the yawning indifference of the country at large. What was true a year ago is even truer now: what should matter most to Tories is not the coalition between the parties, but the coalition of voters who will decide whether to elect a Conservative government with an overall majority.

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What did the local elections mean?

By Lord Ashcroft

David Cameron has said the midterm blues and tough economic conditions are not enough to explain last week’s results, and that he will not take refuge in the familiar excuses. This is good to hear, though he probably does take some comfort in the fact that bad local elections are hardly a shock for a mid-term government. Nevertheless, it is worth making some observations about what happened.

Some claim core Conservatives stayed at home or voted for someone else. Yet the figure of 31%, the party’s vote share last Thursday, has a familiar ring to it. This may be because 31% was the party’s average score in published polls between 1997 and 2005. That suggests to me not that core Tories did not vote Conservative last Thursday, but that they were the only ones who did.

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Lack of Tory direction is the real ‘UKIP threat’

By Lord Ashcroft

The government is having its most difficult month so far, and the voters have noticed. After troubles over party funding, conflicting advice to the public on a potential fuel strike, and a series of controversies arising from last month’s Budget, recent polls show the Labour lead solidifying as confidence in the coalition declines. One notable feature of the shifting polls is that, according to the most recent YouGov/Sun surveys, the UK Independence Party is edging ahead of the Liberal Democrats.

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Anti-NHS Bill candidates could boost the Conservative Party

By Lord Ashcroft

A group of doctors is threatening to stand candidates at the next general election in revenge for the Health & Social Care Bill. The anti-reform medics plan to target at least fifty senior Liberal Democrats and Conservatives with small majorities, running on what Dr Clive Peedell, co-chair of the NHS Consultants’ Association, describes as “the non-party, independent ticket of defending the NHS”. It would be mere quibbling to point out that 50 candidates standing on a common platform would be a party, not a non-party, nor independent. More salient is that the history of similar movements and independent candidates in general elections offers little encouragement for Dr Peedell and his colleagues.

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Feltham & Heston: should Labour be doing better?

By Lord Ashcroft

Labour are 22 points ahead in the Feltham & Heston by-election, according to my latest poll. With a 52% vote share in the week before polling day, Seema Malhotra seems to be on course for what looks like a convincing victory.

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Project Blueprint Phase 2

By Lord Ashcroft

Project Blueprint, launched in May 2011, aimed to examine the state of the Conservative voting coalition and to help identify what the party needed to do to achieve an overall majority at the next election. Phase 2 of the project reviews progress towards that goal. It looks at the government’s performance in the eyes both of those who voted Conservative in 2010, and those who considered doing so but decided not to.

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Poll of marginal Conservative seats

By Lord Ashcroft

In August 2011 I conducted a poll of 41 marginal Conservative-held seats to find out whether the static national polls were hiding a more nuanced picture on this crucial battleground. The results constitute mixed news for the Conservative Party – the findings are more encouraging for Tories where the Liberal Democrats are in second place than in constituencies where Labour are the main opponents.

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Project Blueprint

By Lord Ashcroft

Following David Cameron’s first anniversary as Prime Minister, comment has been dominated by the state of the coalition government. To me, this is intriguing but secondary. What matters to me is not so much the coalition between the parties, but how to create the coalition of voters who will elect a Conservative government with an overall majority. The purpose of Project Blueprint is to help work out how to build this election-winning Conservative voting coalition.

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