Conservative Diary

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Tories 6% ahead in northern marginals

10pm: Tories 10% ahead nationwide:

YouGov ***

It wasn't a good week for mainstream political commentary. Just one opinion poll by Ipsos-MORI sent Fleet Street's political reporters into a tizzy about the possibility of a hung parliament. As is increasingly true, the more sobre analysis came from the blogosphere - notably UK Polling Report, Mike Smithson and, of course, our own Stephan Shakespeare.

Today's local by-election results are a warning to all Tories that victory isn't in the bag but we need to avoid panic the next time there's a rogue poll. There'll be other such polls between now and the General Election but we should look at trends rather than individual polls - particularly when they come from a pollster with a track record of volatility.

During the week Angus-Reid - polling for PoliticalBetting - confirmed the overall opinion poll pattern that suggests a comfortable Tory majority. Another poll - tonight in The Telegraph - will provide further encouragement to the Conservatives:

"The YouGov opinion poll that we publish today is very encouraging for the Conservatives: it shows that the party leads Labour by 42 per cent to 36 per cent in northern marginal seats. Indeed, the Tories appear to be doing better in marginals than they are nationally: the results reveal a swing in these seats of eight per cent since the 2005 election, as opposed to 6.5 per cent nationally. But we suspect that, for David Cameron and his strategists, the most interesting statistic might be the only one that shows Labour ahead. Working-class voters in these seats favour Gordon Brown's party by a margin of 40 to 38 per cent. In other words, Labour's lead among its core voters in battleground seats has shrunk to only two points. That is tantalising indeed, for it suggests that Mr Cameron is close to replicating Margaret Thatcher's greatest electoral trick: poaching the votes of people who were previously regarded as the Labour faithful."

More at The Telegraph.

Tim Montgomerie


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