Opinion polls

September poll round-up: Lib Dems hit another new low as Ukip recovers momentum

After a quiet couple of months, the polling averages for all main parties are on the move – and it’s Ukip alone that has reason to be cheerful.

The party has put on 1.7 percentage points since August, increasing its average from 13.2% to 14.9%.

Poll averages April - September 2014

This is the second highest average Ukip has ever achieved; its highest remains the bounce it enjoyed in May 2013 off the back of the local elections, when the party hit 15.9%.

The other three parties have all seen their rating drop.

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Election campaign

Six months today the election campaign begins – and MPs have just 100 days left in the Commons

We’re precisely six months away from the Queen dissolving parliament, at which point the 2015 election campaign will be officially under way.

MPs are due to sit in the House of Commons for just 100 days between now and then.

The dissolution on 30 March means we’re in for the longest election campaign in modern political history. Thanks to the timing of Easter and other bank holidays, the campaign will last a whopping 37 days. Compare this with the 23 days that elapsed between dissolution and polling day at every election between 1992 and 2010.

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Opinion polls

A few more Lib Dems look set to defy the trend

Lord Ashcroft’s latest poll of Liberal Democrat battleground constituencies suggests I may need to revise my classification of the six species of Lib Dem MPs.

His findings point to the existence of a few more “trend-defiers” than I previously identified.

Along with Eastleigh and Sutton & Cheam, both already on my list, Ashcroft’s polls imply the Lib Dems may also hold on to Cheadle, Eastbourne and St Ives.

St Ives is particularly eye-catching, as the Tories need a swing of only 1.9% to take the seat.

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Opinion polls

The Tories need a turnaround in the polls unprecedented in modern history

A poll by YouGov published last Sunday at the start of Labour’s party conference put the party on 36%. Today’s YouGov poll, published the Sunday after Labour’s party conference, puts the party on… 36%. No change whatsoever.

Not a point of support gained – but no points lost, either. Labour will probably be more relieved by the latter than disappointed at the former. 36% would do very nicely indeed for the party were it repeated at the election. It’s higher than I, for one, am expecting.

But is there anything to be gained from extrapolating opinion polls forwards from pre-election party conferences to polling day itself? I’ve had a look back over the past 30 years to see if the state of parties in the immediate aftermath of the pre-election conferences is a reliable predictor of the subsequent election.

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Parliamentary by-elections

Five reasons Mark Reckless will struggle to win Rochester & Strood for Ukip

1. This is not going to be a duplicate of Clacton. For one thing, as Mark Wallace says on the ConservativeHome website, “Reckless is no Carswell”. He does not have as distinctive a media profile, nor (judging by his turn at today’s Ukip conference) as articulate a turn-of-phrase or as rounded a political philosophy. In the less forgiving description of Alastair Campbell, he looks and sounds “like a Monty Python sketch”. Like it or not, presentation is more than half the secret of being successful in contemporary politics – as Ed Miliband has spent much of the past week being reminded.

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Parliamentary by-elections

Clacton and Heywood & Middleton: two weeks to go

A fortnight today, voters go to the polls in the Clacton and Heywood & Middleton by-elections.

Both contests have fallen out of the national headlines during the past few weeks, but they will assuredly drift back into focus as polling day nears.

The media will be smacking its lips loudest at the battle in Clacton, where Douglas Carswell will almost certainly become Ukip’s first elected MP.

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