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Tories could gain 17 seats from the Liberal Democrats but risk losing many, many more marginal seats to Labour

By Tim Montgomerie
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Lord Ashcroft's latest mega poll focuses on the country's 213 more marginal seats. It involves 19,000 interviews and is one of his biggest ever polls. It doesn't find much cheer for Conservatives. If its findings were replicated at a general election the Tories would lose a net 75 seats and Labour would gain 109. This would give Ed Miliband a majority of 84 - a big majority but not the 114 suggested by national opinion polls that also survey safer, non-battleground seats.

Shapps Grant April 12The survey suggests that, despite Eastleigh, Grant Shapps is right to target Lib Dem-held seats so heavily. Lord Ashcroft finds a 5% swing from the Liberal Democrats to the Conservatives. If this was replicated at a general election this would see about seventeen seats change from yellow to blue. That would include Eastleigh because, as voters told Lord Ashcroft last week, many would vote differently in a general election where much more is seen to be at stake than in a by-election which they use to protest.

The poll does find some good news for the Prime Minister. Lord Ashcroft writes that "across the Battlegrounds the Conservatives’ biggest asset remains David Cameron, who leads as best Prime Minister everywhere except the Lib Dem-Labour Battleground, and having the clearest vision of where they want to take the country". The poll also finds that the Tories lead on the economy in every battleground except the Lib Dem-Labour contests.

One of the most striking findings of the poll is that voters have such low expectations of what either of the two main parties can achieve...
  • Despite the good jobs news 44% of respondents think unemployment will rise under the Conservatives and just 17% think it will fall...
  • Only 10% think the NHS will get better under the Tories compared to 48% who think it'll get worse...
  • 13% think educational standards will rise under the Conservatives, against 31% who think they'll get worse...
  • 41% think wasteful spending will increase, 17% think it will decrease.
  • 19% think the economy will get stronger, 37% weaker....
  • ...and so on and so on.

As you can see from the chart below, people aren't positive about Labour either (click on the image to enlarge it)...

Screen Shot 2013-03-09 at 08.05.05

> See Lord Ashcroft's article on his poll.


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