“She still keeps banging on about independence”: my election focus groups in Scotland, with two weeks to go

By Lord Ashcroft

This week’s general election focus group report comes from two Scottish seats which fell to the SNP in 2015 but could be competitive on 8 June: Edinburgh South West, and Aberdeen South. In each seat we spoke to two types of people: those who voted no to Scottish independence in 2014, Labour or Liberal Democrat in 2015, and who were undecided what to do this time round; and those who voted SNP at the last general election and to leave the EU in last year’s referendum.

With this latter group, we began by asking how they arrived at what some might see as a contradictory set of opinions. For a few, it had been a cunning ruse that seemed to have backfired: “I mistakenly thought it was a tactical vote that if we vote to leave it would end up triggering Scottish independence (more…)

Ashcroft Election Tour podcast: Edinburgh and Aberdeen

By Lord Ashcroft

Former Labour, Lib Dem and SNP voters in Edinburgh South West and Aberdeen South talk about independence, the Scottish government’s record, Brexit, the manifestos, why they might switch parties, and what the leaders would do if they had proper jobs.

 

Ashcroft Model update: absent UKIP, and Labour’s enthusiasm question

By Lord Ashcroft

Last week I launched the Ashcroft Model – a project bringing together large-scale surveys and detailed census data to help understand what could be happening at constituency level in the general election: which party is likely to be ahead in each seat, and the potential implications for overall seat numbers in the House of Commons. I explained how it works here. Today, as will be the case every week until the election, I am updating the model’s estimates based on a further 2,000-sample survey, conducted over the past week but before the party manifesto launches. Here are the main points:

 

Lack of UKIP candidates most helps the Conservatives

The biggest change since the model’s launch last week is that nominations have closed, which means we now know exactly who is standing where, and more importantly, who is not. UKIP are not fielding candidates in 255 seats, including many where they won thousands of votes in 2015 (often more than the margin between the first and second-placed parties). All the polls show that former UKIP voters are splitting disproportionately for the Conservatives, and this is reflected in the estimates from the Ashcroft Model (more…)

“Vote Labour and get a free kitten”: my election focus groups, with three weeks to go

By Lord Ashcroft

Our third week of general election focus groups took place in three Labour-held seats in the north of England: Wakefield, Huddersfield and Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland. Only a couple of participants had so far seen any evidence of street campaigning: “The Labour Party were outside my son’s school two weeks ago, with leaflets to all parents. I was surprised really. I thought, time and place. I didn’t think it was appropriate.” The others, however, were by no means insulated from the campaign. “On Facebook it’s rife”. Most of the political messages these groups had seen were in support of Labour, and evidently designed to reinvigorate what had once been the party’s base. What kind of thing had they seen? “She’s on about bringing back fox hunting. I mean, what’s that? Tally-ho and running up and down and ripping foxes to pieces for the elite (more…)

Ashcroft Election Tour podcast: Wakefield, Huddersfield and Middlesbrough

By Lord Ashcroft

Voters in three Labour-held seats targeted by the Conservatives react to the week’s manifesto launches and other election news, and explain how they will make their decision over the next three weeks.

 

Election 2017: The Ashcroft Model

By Lord Ashcroft

The night of 7 May, 2015 is one that most pollsters would rather forget. Different surveys using different methodologies came to the collective conclusion that Britain was set for something close to a dead heat – an expectation that was shattered by the official exit poll and quickly swept away as results began to pile up. My own final national poll, completed the night before the election, also produced a tie between Labour and the Tories. Not only that, I had published polls in more than 160 individual constituencies – some of which proved to be bang on, and others of which, let’s be honest, didn’t.

The British Polling Council’s subsequent inquiry into the polls’ performance concluded that the problem had been one of sampling: that the people who took part in surveys were not properly representative of the wider public. This challenge has made polling on voting intention an increasingly hazardous business. The various pollsters whose results we read every day have adjusted their methods in the light of the inquiry’s findings, and I wish them nothing but the very best of luck. But for this election, I have decided to try something different.

Today I am launching a new model designed to estimate opinion across the country and in individual constituencies, and to give a sense of how this could translate into seats in the House of Commons (more…)

“Values don’t mean piddly-doop – you need a leader”: my election focus groups, with four weeks to go

By Lord Ashcroft

This week my general election focus groups took place in three seats Labour are defending from the Conservatives in the West Midlands: Wolverhampton South West, Birmingham Northfields and Dudley North. We spoke to people who had voted Labour in 2015 – most of whom had never voted anything but Labour in a national election – but who now said they were undecided what to do on 8 June.

The Tories enjoyed a boost in the region last week when Andy Street was elected the first West Midlands Mayor. The majority in our groups had not voted (turnout was a mere 27 per cent) but most of those who did backed the winner. They said the candidates’ qualities had mattered more in the decision than party labels: “I voted for the John Lewis guy (more…)

Ashcroft Election Tour podcast: Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Dudley

By Lord Ashcroft

Undecided previous Labour voters in the West Midlands discuss Labour’s campaign launch, tax pledges, why Brexit makes this election different, the Prime Ministerial appearance on The One Show, and the party leaders as cartoon characters.

 

The general election isn’t just about Brexit

By Lord Ashcroft

This article was published before the local elections at TIME.com.

 

“You’re joking?! Not another one? Oh for God’s sake I can’t, honestly, I can’t stand this.” So said a lady called Brenda, from the British city of Bristol, when told by a local journalist of Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to call an unexpected general election for 8 June. “There’s too much politics going on at the moment,” she added.

Brenda is not alone in that assessment. After a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014, a general election in 2015, and another referendum on EU membership in 2016 — followed closely by the vicarious excitement of the Trump-Clinton showdown in the U.S. — many in Britain feel they have endured quite enough campaigning for the time being (more…)

“It’s Emirates v. EasyJet”: my election focus groups, with five weeks to go

By Lord Ashcroft

If you want to know what’s really happening in an election, ask the voters. As in 2015, and at the referendum, my polling team will conduct focus groups around the country to hear what real people make of the campaigns, parties, leaders and issues, and each week I will report what they have to say. And you don’t have to take my word for it – you can listen for yourself on the weekly Ashcroft Election Tour podcast, the inaugural edition of which is also out today.

We begin our tour in London, in three seats that illustrate the complicated dynamics of this election: Bermondsey & Old Southwark, which the Liberal Democrats are aiming to take back from Labour; Twickenham, now a Tory seat which is under threat from the Lib Dems; and Brentford & Isleworth which, if Labour lose it to the Conservatives, will have changed hands three elections running.

 

Snap!

By no means everyone welcomed the prospect of such an early return to the polling station. “I think it’s a bit cheeky (more…)