Monday, 3 May 2010

These tea leaves in full - Tories still short

With just 48 hours to go the election race remains open, with most polls pointing to a hung parliament.

Three different polls tonight show slow deflation in the Lib Dem bubble and while the Tories are still ahead, they will not get an overall majority.

A daily ComRes poll for the Independent and ITV showed the Tories on 37%, down one point on the day, Labour on 29%, up one, and the Lib Dems on 26%, up one, and Others on 8%.

This poll would give the Tories 294 seats - 32 short of an overall majority - with Labour on 251 seats and the Liberals on 74. Close, but no dice.

Another daily Yougov poll, for the Sun, left the Tories 49 seats short of a majority despite being on 35%, with Labour and the Lib Dems on 28% each. This means a Labour-Lib Dem coalition could still outflank the Tories on Friday morning.

A poll by Opinium, for the Express, left the Tories on 33%, Labour on 29% and the Lib Dems on 28% - enough to make Labour the largest party in the parliament.

Bank holiday weekend polling is prone to more fluctuation we're told, which might explain why the Tories are low and Labour higher in the Express poll.

One final, and very important poll. The Reuters/Ipsos MORI poll of marginal seats showed Labour and Tories neck and neck on 36% , up one point for the Tories and down two points for Labour in a fortnight.

This would produce a 7% swing in support to the Conservatives from Labour compared with the last general election in 2005, that could leave Cameron with a slim, two seat majority.

The election is won and lost in the marginals, and this poll seems to indicate, for the first time, that David Cameron might sneak it home on Thursday night.

If there are higher than average swings in the marginals, if the Labour vote is not motivated to come out and if the Lib Dem election machine has not caught up sufficiently with Cleggmania to identify and get its potential support to the polls, then David Cameron will win - narrowly. On the other hand...

Labour’s Peter Mandelson insisted it was a dead heat to the finish post. He said: "This race remains a three-horse race, whatever David Cameron may claim. One thing is clear - the electoral arithmetic means only two parties can form the next government and give Britain its prime minister: Labour or Tory, Gordon Brown or David Cameron."

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