Screen shot 2015-03-05 at 11.08.16Ten snapshots from yesterday evening’s ConservativeHome/Lord Ashcroft polls event.

  • “Just how long is this Long Term Economic Plan?” asked a woman in one of the Lord Ashcroft Polls focus groups.  This helps to illustrate that many of those polled saw the LTEP as a code not so much for prosperity as austerity.
  • But if the core issue is the economy, and the key question is whether “the right decisions are being made” and whether “things will improve significantly in the next year or two”, then the position is improving for the Conservatives.
  • If the core issue is not just the economy, but whether voters feel that they themselves are benefiting from the recovery, then it may be worth noting that three-fifths of those polls either feel that they are or expect to.
  • However, salience matters…and issues on which the Conservatives lead, such as economic management and overall leadership, have become less salient. David Cameron thus has to show why leadership matters – “to coin a phrase…David Cameron needs to weaponise himself”.
  • Marginals: the Ashcroft polling is working its way outwards, as it were, from the most marginal Tory seats.  And the moral of the story is that it has not yet reached the point at which those seats in England and Wales are beyond Labour’s reach.
  • Labour are ahead by a single point in High Peak and Norwich North, and the Conservatives are ahead by one point in Colne Valley and six points in the Vale of Glamorgan.  These constituencies “have majorities over Labour of between 8.8 per cent and 10.6 per cent”.
  • The leaders: Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage are likened respectively by those surveyed to, among other things, Dick Dastardly, the moon (because “he seems to be in a world of his own”), a chihuahua in a handbag, and a pimped Ford Capri with tinted windows.
  • Scotland: as matters stand, the Liberal Democrats would be down to one seat there – Orkney & Shetland – and the Conservatives might not have any at all, since David Mundell’s Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale constituency is currently on a knife edge.
  • Scotland: the cause of these two parties’ woes is the SNP, which is also causing no less damage to Labour than polls elsewhere report.  On these findings, Labour would be down to just one of five seats polled – Jim Murphy’s.  The swing against the party is biggest in Gordon Brown’s own seat.
  • And finally: Lord Ashcroft polls has calculated Conservatives and Labour on 272 Commons seats each (though the contemporariness of the polling varies).  “This, then, is the battle: can the Conservatives fight back against Labour faster than Labour can fight back against the SNP?”

The survey from which Lord Ashcroft Polls made its findings was an 8,000-sample survey completed last weekend.

Here is a link to his slides from yesterday’s event and here is one to his constituency polling.