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Lord Ashcroft: There's much more polling on the way and here's how you can ensure you don't miss it...

AshcroftBy Lord Ashcroft, KCMG.

Like much of my polling, Project Blueprint has created a good deal of debate since it was published in mid-July. See ConHome for example. That was the intention. The research looked at the different kinds of people who will constitute the election-winning Conservative voting coalition (if there is to be one), their attitudes and priorities, and the implications for what the party should spend its time doing between now and 2015.

Naturally enough, people tend to take issue with the findings that challenge their own view of the world, but it all adds to the discussion. The question of how we go about achieving the majority that Conservatives want and Britain needs is now getting the attention it deserves.

Properly conducted research can always tell you something useful, whether it was what you wanted to hear or not. It is sometimes claimed that advocates of polling lack all conviction, and simply want to ingratiate themselves with the public by parroting back to them whatever they hear in focus groups. That is to misunderstand its value. If we want to persuade people of something, it helps to know what they think now. We need to know which kinds of voters are already onside, who is most receptive to our message and who needs the most convincing. Listening to research doesn’t stop us acting on principle, but it means we know what the consequences will be if that principle is unpopular. It gives us an objective measure of whether our own views are shared as widely as we might think.

My polling since the election has looked at subjects including the state of play in marginal seats; attitudes to the party leaders, the Chancellor and his shadow; police officers’ views on crime and punishment; by-elections; perceptions of media bias; the potential impact of an “NHS party”; the experiences of Armed Forces personnel; the views of ethnic minority voters; the future of the Liberal Democrats; the subtle partiality of Alex Salmond’s proposed referendum question; why Labour movement thought it lost the election; and of course what the Conservatives need to do to win that majority. All this and more is available to read in full on my website.

I intend to keep up the supply of original opinion research. There are already a number of major studies in the pipeline for the rest of this year, and I will no doubt conduct smaller polls on topical issues as they arise.

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