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Reuters Marginal Constituencies poll - Wave 4

Published:29 April 2010
Fieldwork:23 - 26 April 2010
Keywords:Marginals, Politics/Political
(Click on keywords to find related Research)

Con 35% (+3), Lab 38% (+2), Lib Dem 21% (-2)


The fourth of our polls in key marginal constituencies, Ipsos MORI’s new poll for Reuters points towards a hung parliament; but a week before polling day, almost half of voters say they may still change their mind.

Interviews were conducted on 23rd- 26th April 2010.  

Voting intentions


Voting intentions (among those absolutely certain to vote) in these key constituencies are Conservative 35%, Labour 38%, Liberal Democrat 21%, Others 6%. This represents a swing of 5.5% to the Conservatives since 2005. As in the previous three waves, this would result in a hung Parliament with the Conservatives as the biggest party. Certainty of voting in these constituencies has increased steadily over the last month, and a total of 71% of adults now say that they are absolutely certain to vote.


The increase in support for the Liberal Democrats in last week’s poll has been maintained, with 21% of voters saying they intend to vote Lib Dem (compared to 11% in the first two waves), even though almost all these constituencies are ones that the Liberal Democrats cannot realistically hope to win.


However, a week before polling day, almost half of the public say that they may change their mind before May 6th (46%). Conservative voters are more likely to have definitely decided (65%) than Labour and Lib Dem voters (51% and 42%). Both Labour and Conservative supporters who say they may change their mind would be twice as likely to switch to the Liberal Democrats as to the other major party. Of Liberal Democrats who might change their minds, more think it would be to vote Labour (52%) than Conservative (33%), potentially strengthening Labour's lead here.


People are fairly evenly divided on whether ‘a vote for the Liberal Democrats in my constituency is a wasted vote’ (45% agree, 41% disagree), though those intending to vote Liberal Democrat are naturally much less likely to think so (18%). As in the previous polls, only three in ten think that they live in a marginal constituency.


One in ten say they are voting tactically (9%). Of these, more would actually prefer the Liberal Democrats to win (22%). Conservative voters are least likely to be voting tactically (91% say they are ‘voting for the party that most represents my views’). They are also less likely than Labour or Lib Dem supporters to switch parties if they thought the party they support did not stand much chance of winning (12%, compared to 20% and 16% respectively).




Gordon Brown is still seen as best in a crisis, best at understanding world problems and most capable. Further, compared to a week ago, fewer people now say that Brown will promise anything to win votes (33%, compared to 39% last week), while 37% say the same of Cameron and 14% of Clegg. Slightly more people think that Cameron would get the best deal for Britain on a world stage (35%), although only slightly fewer say that Brown would (32%).


When asked whether people like or dislike the leaders, and like or dislike their policies, the same proportion like Brown as like his policies (both 41%), while more people like Cameron than support his policies (51% compared to 44%). The greatest gap between support for the party leader and his policies, however, is for Clegg; while two-thirds like him, only two in five like his policies.


Half of the public agree that the Conservatives are ready to govern (53%); an increase since Wave 2 when 46% agreed. Just under half say that Cameron is ready to be Prime Minister (46%), unchanged since Wave 2 (48%). By contrast, Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems are not seen as ready to take office by most people; 55% disagree that the Lib Dems are ready to govern and 60% disagree that Clegg is ready to be Prime Minister.


The second debate


Three in five of the public in these constituencies say that they either watched at least some of the first leaders' debate, or saw news coverage of it afterwards – one in five watched the whole debate (21%). Half of those who saw the debate or some coverage of it say it has had some effect on their voting – but, as with the first debate, most of these say it has encouraged them to vote for the party they already support rather than encouraging them to change their vote or to make up their minds.


The second debate appears to have had less impact upon encouraging people to switch their vote than the first; only 7% say it has encouraged them to vote for a different party, compared to 14% who said the same after the first debate.


Clegg is felt to have performed best in the second debate (33%), although his victory is narrower than in the first debate when 59% said he performed best. Meanwhile, one in five say Cameron did best (19%), compared to 7% who thought he performed best in the first debate, and Brown’s performance was also felt to be slightly stronger than last time (11% compared to 8%).


Reducing the deficit


None of the parties’ messages about how best to cut the deficit appear to be getting through to the public. For each of the three main parties, around two in five people feel that they have not explained their plans to reduce the deficit clearly. Similarly, none of the parties have a decisive lead on having the best balance between cutting spending and not damaging public services; although Labour is slightly ahead (31% compared to 26% who say the Conservatives and 18% who say Lib Dem).


The campaign


Four in five people think that the campaign should be fought by parties putting forward their own policies and personalities (80%), but two thirds think it is actually being fought by the parties pointing out what is wrong with the policies and personalities in other parties (64%).


Election outcome


With a week to go before the election, a hung parliament is seen as the most likely outcome (71%). Since mid-March there has been a steady increase in the proportion of people thinking that the election will result in a hung parliament (from 55% in mid-March). Yet most people think this would be a bad thing for the country (53%).


Compared to last week fewer people now think that the Conservatives will get an overall majority (51% compared to 57% last week) and more people think that Labour will get an overall majority (42% compared to 33% last week).



Technical details


This data is based on 1,018 adults aged 18+ across 57 key 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 23rd and 26th April. Interviews were conducted by telephone. Data are weighted to the profile of the population in the constituencies polled.

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