Mixed fortunes in my final round of marginals

After more than a year and nearly a quarter of a million telephone interviews, we have reached the final round of my general election constituency polling. The last ten surveys contain mixed news for all parties and some noteworthy results.

Perhaps the most striking of these is in Croydon Central, where in a poll completed yesterday I found a four-point Conservative lead over Labour. This compares to a four-point Labour lead in March, and a six-point Labour lead last October. The UKIP share in the seat has nearly halved, from 19% to 10%, since the October poll.

There is also better news for Esther McVey in Wirral West, where Labour’s lead is down from five to three points since last month. This small narrowing of the gap comes as both main parties have increased their vote share, again at the expense of UKIP.

I found Labour two points ahead of the Tories in Norwich North, only a very slight change from the one-point Labour lead recorded in the seat in February. In Pudsey, where two previous polls have been tied, neither party has broken the deadlock – the one-point Tory lead leaves the seat still too close to call.

In this round I also polled three new Conservative seats at what must be the bottom end of Labour’s target list to see if any surprises could be in store. I found the Conservatives two points ahead in Margot James’s Stourbridge seat, and a comfortable 12-point Tory lead in Battersea. But Labour were leading by two points in Peterborough, where Stewart Jackson is defending a majority of 4,861.

I looked again at North Cornwall, where I twice found ties last year, followed by a two-point lead for the incumbent Lib Dems last month. The margin remains the same this time, leaving the race very close indeed.

In East Renfrewshire, Jim Murphy has narrowed the gap from nine points to three since my previous poll earlier this month. This seems largely down to Conservative voters – the Tory share is down five points, and Labour’s up five, since my last survey, and remaining Conservatives are less likely to rule out moving to Labour than in most seats. Nearly a quarter of those who voted Conservative in the constituency in 2010 now say they plan to vote for Jim Murphy.

Unfortunately for the Tories, Labour voters seem unwilling to return the favour in Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale, where the SNP have extended their lead from two points to eleven. Only 7% of 2010 Labour voters have switched to the Tories, and 82% of current Labour supporters rule out doing so.

Taken together, the results show that there can be late movement on the battleground as the election approaches and voters’ minds are concentrated, and there is still room for more in the final week. That is why even these polls remain snapshots, not predictions.

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