Crossover? Not So Fast
Are the polls finally about to deliver Cameron his crossover?
There will likely have been a few high fives in David Cameron’s camp yesterday. A number of polls showed positive signs for the Conservatives and the Election Forecast website, which translates polling data into seats, had the Conservatives at 67% probability to secure the most seats. Is this the long awaited Conservative crossover? Don’t bank on it.
The truth is the polls are all over the place. Despite its independent standards, ICM polls - one of the good news messengers for Cameron yesterday - have consistently produced better results for the Tories. However, Populus, a firm which consistently produces good results for Labour, bucked the crossover trend and had Labour leading by three points. With all results falling well within the margin of error, no party should be too buoyant or deflated. The picture is also complicated at the constituency battleground level, where the election will ultimately be won or lost.
Lord Ashcroft’s polling, conducted nationally and in certain constituencies, put the spotlight on four key constituencies where UKIP were considered to have a strong chance: Cannock Chase, Great Grimsby, Great Yarmouth and Castle Point. Polling by Ashcroft last year had UKIP leading in the two of the seats and in a neck-and-neck race in the remaining two. Now, Labour have taken the lead in a two and are neck and neck with the Tories in one, while the only seat where UKIP still seem to have a chance is Castle Point where the Tory lead has grown from one point to five.
The UKIP decline in the polls has been well-documented. They seemed to peak during Mark Reckless’ defection to UKIP from the Conservatives in September and have been on a slight but steady decay since. A factor behind this could be defecting Tory voters returning to the safety and realism of a Conservative government over Miliband as judgement day approaches. The British right also seems to live in fear of the SNP – a flame Cameron has been only too keen to fan. An ORB poll this morning found that a quarter of voters are put off by a possible Labour-SNP deal – despite Labour consistently ruling out a formal deal. Cameron may read this as an endorsement of his campaign to date, which has made much of the SNP bogeyman.