Ashcroft’s polling organisation yesterday published poll details from eight constituencies described as Tory-Lib Dem marginals. While the joyous prospect of Clegg losing his Sheffield seat has not surprisingly grabbed the headlines, four of Ashcroft’s polls were taken in Cornwall. This gives us a unique snapshot of the intentions of voters in Cornwall as of last week.
Here are the headline shares of the poll, with the change since the last Ashcroft polling done back in June (Camborne-Redruth) and August (the other three seats). Truro is now deemed to be safe for Sarah while everyone is assuming the Tories have South East Cornwall stitched up.
Constituency voting intentions, March 2015, Ashcroft polling
|North Cornwall||St Austell & Newquay||Camborne & Redruth||St Ives|
|Con||36% (+4%)||32% (+5%)||37% (+8%)||33% (+2%)|
|Lib Dem||38% (+5%)||26% (nc)||13% (-1%)||36% (+4%)|
|Labour||6% (-4%)||10% (-3%)||24% (nc)||10% (-1%)|
|Ukip||13% (-7%)||20% (-5%)||14% (-12%)||11% (-7%)|
|Green||6% (+3%)||6% (nc)||8% (+3%)||7% (+1%)|
|Others||1% (nc)||4% (+1%)||3% (+1%)||3% (+1%)|
Since last summer there’s been a swing back to the old familiar territory of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. The bar chart shows the average change in the four seats.
The Tories are up across the board. It’s a somewhat more mixed picture for the Lib Dems. Their vote has risen in St Ives and North Cornwall, but in Camborne-Redruth it’s fallen slightly (through within the margin of error) and in St Austell it’s stagnating. It seems that while Andrew George can hold on to a personal vote and Dan Rogerson rely on North Cornwall’s Liberal voting tradition to fend off the Tories, in St Austell Tory Tory Steve Double is doing a lot better than Lib Dem Tory Stephen Gilbert.
It’s bad news for Ukip as across all four constituencies their support of last year is fast crumbling away. From being the main challenger to the Tories’ George Eustice in Camborne, they’ve slipped to also rans and only in St Austell does there remain a sniff of a possible upset.
Labour are also suffering from the squeeze. Even in Camborne-Redruth, where their candidate has thrown a truckload of cash at the seat, they remain well behind Eustice, although now positioned to be the main recipient of any anti-Tory tactical voting here.
As a protest vote for Ukip becomes increasingly pointless, voters might as well cast around for other more radical options. On paper the Greens look to be doing well, pushing up their vote since last summer. However, as the ‘Green surge’ peaked in mid-January and then turned into a Green slide, it’s likely that something similar has happened in Cornwall and been missed by these polls. They must be disappointed that there’s no evidence at all of any Green surge in St Ives, one of their ten target seats. In fact the Greens are somewhat surprisingly doing better in neighbouring Camborne-Redruth. Nonetheless, the party enters the election campaign proper with a solid base to build on and can look forward to saving their deposits.
There’s even some cheer here for MK, ignored and marginalised in the grand carnival of Westminster elections. In all seats except North Cornwall (where they’re presumably not standing) the vote for Others has consistently risen. This is likely to understate potential MK support as polling organisations do not prompt with their name, unlike Ukip and the Greens. Indeed, when voters mention ‘another party’ the secondary prompt includes the BNP. Yet the BNP is not standing and only had one candidate in Cornwall last time around, whereas candidates for ‘the party that must not be named’ have been in place for over a year now.
Overall then, from this it looks like four Tory/Lib Dem coalition MPs and two Lib Dem/Tory coalition MPs in May. No change basically. Although the share of the poll for the coalition parties has slumped from 83% in the 2010 general election to 62-63% now in these four seats, the majority of the great Cornish electorate prove they can be comprehensively fooled yet again. Even now. Exit stage left, muttering.