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Vote 2010: the election barometer

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 18 April 2010

The election is "wide open" as polls confirm the Liberal Democrat surge. Professor Leighton Vaughan Williams, of Nottingham Business School's Political Forecasting Unit, examines the latest trends.

There are four new polls out today and they all confirm the Liberal Democrat poll surge.

One of the polls was conducted before the first debate, and already showed evidence of this increase.

The polls conducted in the wake of the debate confirm the upward trend. In this new dynamic of three-way election politics, any outcome is now possible.

Polling Commentary
There are three post-debate national polls out today.

BPIX/Mail on Sunday: Lib Dem 32; Con 31; Lab 28

ComRes/Sunday Mirror/Independent on Sunday: Con 31; Lib Dem 29; Lab 27

YouGov/Sunday Times: Con 33, Lab 30, LD 29

There is also an ICM poll, published in today's Sunday Telegraph, which puts the Conservatives on 34 per cent, Labour on 29 per cent and the Liberal Democrats on 27 per cent.

This was essentially conducted before the first election debate, but is important in confirming that the Liberal Democrat surge had already begun before the first question from the public audience had been asked.

Taking an average of the findings of the post-debate polls, all three parties now stand at or within two points of a 30 per cent vote share.

Interestingly, we have the same state of affairs even if we add the pre-debate polling into the mix.

The Political Forecasting Unit "polling tracker" currently has all three parties pretty much tied, with the Conservatives on 32 per cent, the Liberal Democrats on 30 per cent and Labour on 29 per cent.

Reproduced as a uniform swing across the country, this would put Labour on 284 seats, the Conservatives on 233 seats and the Liberal Democrats on 102 seats.

This would leave Labour 42 seats short of an overall majority. 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 broadly 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 Labour with most seats, on 284, but still 42 short of a working 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
Conservative: 32 per cent
Liberal Democrat: 30 per cent
Labour: 28 per cent

PFU polling tracker (recent polls, weighted)
Conservative: 32 per cent
Liberal Democrat: 30 per cent
Labour: 29 per cent

Outcome (Based on polling tracker, assuming national swing reproduced in every constituency)
Conservatives: 233 seats
Labour: 284 seats
Liberal Democrat: 102 seats
Other: 31 seats
Labour short of an overall majority by 42.

Where the money is (Analysis based on money wagered on the election in political betting markets)
Conservative: 314 seats
Labour: 223 seats
Liberal Democrat: 77 seats
Other: 36 seats
Conservatives short of an overall majority by 12 seats.

% chance of Conservative overall majority: 39.8 per cent;

% chance of Labour overall majority: 4.4 per cent;
% chance of Liberal Democrat overall majority: 1.3 per cent
% chance of No overall majority: 54.5 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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