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Poll of polls: latest election forecast

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 20 April 2010

Conservatives and Liberal Democrats vie for top spot as Labour slips. Professor Leighton Vaughan Williams, of Nottingham Business School's Political Forecasting Unit, examines the latest trends.

There are five new polls out today, and they tell a broadly similar picture, of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats vying for top spot, with Labour currently trailing in third.

Taking an average of the change since the previous published polls of the respective polling organisations, the Conservatives are down 2 per cent, Labour are also down 2, and the Liberal Democrats up 4.

Polling Commentary
There are five national polls out today.
Angus Reid/PB: Con 32, Lib Dem 32, Lab 24
ComRes/ITV News/Independent: Con 32, Lab 28, Lib Dem 28
ICM/Guardian: Con 33, Lib Dem 30, Lab 28
Opinium/Daily Express: Con 32, Lib Dem 29, Lab 26
YouGov/Sun: Con 33, Lib Dem 31, Lab 27

Angus Reid and Opinium offer particularly interesting findings, in that the fieldwork dates of their current and previous surveys differ by long enough to offer an insight into the full impact of the Liberal Democrat surge.

The 32 per cent vote share given to the Liberal Democrats by Angus Reid is a full ten points up on their last survey, while the Conservatives are down 6 and Labour down 4. Opinium offers broadly the same picture, with the Liberal Democrats up 12, Conservatives down 7 and Labour down 5. This seems to suggest that the Liberal Democrats have been drawing support, give or take a point, fairly evenly from both the other major parties.

Taking an average of the latest polls, today’s ‘Poll of Polls’ puts the Conservatives on 32 per cent, the Liberal Democrats on 30 per cent and Labour on 27 per cent. Assuming a uniform national swing, Labour would on this basis win 270 seats in the House of Commons, the Conservatives 241 seats and the Liberal Democrats 108 seats. This would leave Labour 56 seats short of an overall majority.

The Political Forecasting Unit 'polling tracker' currently has the Conservatives on 32 per cent, the Liberal Democrats on 31 per cent, with Labour on 27 per cent. Reproduced as a uniform swing across the country, this would put Labour on 265 seats, the Conservatives on 239 seats and the Liberal Democrats on 115 seats. The markets agree that no one party is likely to win a majority in the House of Commons.

Political Forecasting Unit's (PFU) poll tracker paints a similar picture.

Put simply, the tracker is based on the most recent surveys by different polling organisations, and is adjusted so that the more recent the survey the more weight is attached to the vote shares. There is also some statistical smoothing which has the effect that outliers or vote shares that diverge most from the general consensus are allocated less weight.

Election barometer
The Political Forecasting Unit’s 'election barometer', designed to capture the changing state of the race as it unfolds through the campaign, shows the Conservatives one point ahead of the Liberal Democrats in terms of vote share, with Labour four points further adrift. Even so, reproduced as a uniform national swing, Labour would still win most seats, with 265, though well short of an overall majority.

An analysis of the money bet in political betting markets also suggests that no party will secure a majority of the seats in the House of Commons.

Daily poll of polls
Liberal Democrat: 32 per cent
Conservative: 30 per cent
Labour: 27 per cent

PFU polling tracker (recent polls, weighted)
Conservative: 32 per cent
Liberal Democrat: 31 per cent
Labour: 27 per cent

Outcome (Based on polling tracker, assuming national swing reproduced in every constituency)
Conservatives: 239 seats
Labour: 265 seats
Liberal Democrat: 115 seats
Other: 31 seats
Labour short of an overall majority by 61.

Where the money is (Analysis based on money wagered on the election in political betting markets)
Conservative: 303 seats
Labour: 229 seats
Liberal Democrat: 85 seats
Other: 33 seats
Conservatives short of an overall majority by 23 seats.

% chance of Conservative overall majority: 34.7 per cent
% chance of Labour overall majority: 3.3 per cent
% chance of Liberal Democrat overall majority: 1.7 per cent
% chance of No overall majority: 60.3 per cent
(Chances based on odds from betting exchanges)

Professor Leighton Vaughan Williams is Director of the Political Forecasting Unit at Nottingham Business School. 

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