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Reuters Marginal Constituencies poll - Wave 2

Published:8 April 2010
Fieldwork:30 March - 5 April 2010
Sub-Theme:Voting Intention (only those 'certain to vote')
Keywords:2010 British general election, General elections, Marginals
(Click on keywords to find related Research)

Con 38% (+1), Lab 41% (n/c), Lib Dem 11% (n/c)

The second of our polls in key marginal constituencies, Ipsos MORI’s new poll for Reuters suggests that there is appetite for change in these marginals, but that Cameron has not yet convinced these voters that he is more capable than Brown.

Interviews were conducted on 30 March-5 April 2010 (over the bank holiday weekend, before Gordon Brown's formal announcement of the election date).

Almost three in five voters in these key marginal constituencies (57%) think that Britain needs a Prime Minister who can bring fresh thinking and a new approach to secure economic recovery, and many voters feel that Cameron and the Conservatives are ready to govern (although a large minority still have doubts). However, Cameron hasn’t yet convinced these voters that he is more capable than Brown.


But there is still all to play for: despite the economy being the most important issue to voting in the marginals, neither Brown nor Cameron have established a lead on being seen as the best person to lead the country out of the current economic crisis (both 43%).

Gordon Brown is rated more highly than David Cameron or Nick Clegg on understanding the problems facing Britain and the world, being best in a crisis, understanding the fine detail of policies and being most capable. Meanwhile, two in five people think that David Cameron will promise anything to win votes (although 36% say the same of Brown).

However, it should be borne in mind that this survey is being carried out in marginals which Labour won last time, so it might be expected that Brown would do better than nationally. Indeed, nationally Cameron is still seen as making the most capable Prime Minister by 38% of the public, compared to 29% who say Brown, and Brown’s overall ratings have been below Cameron’s for the last two years.

However, even nationally, Brown and Labour’s ratings have improved since 2009, while Cameron’s have dropped, so these findings in the marginals may also partly reflect this trend.

Leaders, policies and parties

The public in these key battleground constituencies rate leaders and policies as more important than the parties themselves in deciding who to vote for. This reflects our national poll last month which found that, for the first time since we started asking this question in 1987, leaders are as important as policies in helping people decide how to vote.

Conservative voters are slightly more likely to be attracted by the leader while Labour and Lib Dem voters tend to be more likely to say they are attracted by policies.

The leader debates

Just as in our national poll in February, voters in the marginals say the televised leader debates will be important in the marginals, and Cameron is expected to do best in them.

Three in five (60%) say the performance of leaders in these debates will be important in helping them decide who to vote for.

Expectations of Brown’s performance are very low (just 17% think he will gain most public support as a result of the debates compared to 22% who say Nick Clegg and 45% Cameron).

Voting intentions

Voting intention remains broadly unchanged from Wave 1 two weeks ago: Con 38% (+1), Lab 41% (n/c) and Lib Dems 11% (n/c) (among those who are certain to vote). The results in these constituencies in the 2005 election were Con 31%, Lab 45%, Lib Dems 17%; a Labour lead of 14 points.

This three point Labour lead represents a 5.5% swing to the Conservatives, slightly higher than the swing of 4% in our most recent national poll. If this were repeated in the election itself, it would result in a hung Parliament with the Conservatives as the biggest party.

As in Wave 1, almost half of the public (46%) say they might change their mind, but certainty of voting has increased from 53% to 59%.

The proportion of voters in marginals who expect a hung parliament has also increased since Wave 1, from 55% to 63%, though the Conservatives are still expected to be the biggest party in a hung parliament.

Technical details

This data is based on 1,008 adults aged 18+ across 57 marginal constituencies in Great Britain. These are Labour-held constituencies which the Conservatives need a swing of between 5% and 9% to win. Fieldwork took place between 30th March and 5th April.

Click here for the Reuters article.

Click here to download the list of marginal constituencies that were sampled for this research.



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Dr Roger Mortimore
Dr Roger Mortimore

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