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Lord Ashcroft Project Blueprint: Phase 4

LONDON, January 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --


Lord Ashcroft poll:

  • 37% of 2010 Tories would not vote for the party tomorrow
  • Potential switchers prefer Cameron to Miliband but doubt Tories on fairness and public services
  • Linking economic growth and personal prosperity is election key

More than a third (37%) of those who voted Conservative at the last general election say they would not do so tomorrow, according to new polling by Lord Ashcroft. These Conservative 'defectors' significantly outweigh the number of voters who have been attracted from other parties since 2010, making it more difficult for David Cameron to win an overall majority in 2015.

The findings are from Project Blueprint: Phase 4, the latest round of Lord Ashcroft's research into the Tories' prospects of winning the next election outright. As he says in the report's introduction: "If the Conservatives want to govern after the next election without a coalition of parties, they are going to need a bigger coalition of voters."

Lord Ashcroft warns that building this general election-winning coalition - not this year's European Parliament elections - should remain the party's priority in 2014. Project Blueprint examines four types of potential Conservative voter:

Loyalists (23% of all voters) are sticking with the party since 2010 but are not necessarily lifelong Tories. Most are driven by a positive view of David Cameron, and believe the Tories share their values, have the best approach to the economy and are the most likely to have workable policies.

Joiners (6% of voters) say they would vote Conservative tomorrow even though they did not do so in 2010. They are more likely than most to see the Tories as competent and overwhelmingly prefer Cameron to Miliband as PM, but are more likely than most to prefer coalition government and to say they may yet change their mind how to vote.

Defectors (37% of 2010 Conservative voters), who voted Tory at the last election but do not say they would do so tomorrow, more than outweigh the Joiners. Less than one in five Defectors have switched to Labour or the Liberal Democrats. One third say they do not know how they will vote, or will not vote at all. Around half say they would vote UKIP in an election tomorrow. Defectors tend to give lower scores to Cameron and doubt that the Tories are competent or stand for fairness. However, most Defectors want to see a Conservative overall majority, most prefer Cameron to Miliband, and they are more likely than average to say they may change their mind before the election.

Considerers (3% of all voters) did not vote Conservative in 2010 and would not do so tomorrow but would consider doing so in the future. They prefer Cameron to Miliband but have reservations about the Tories' approach to public services, and are much more likely than average to say they prefer the current coalition to the idea of a Conservative overall majority.

The research also found:

  • Overall, 28% say they are satisfied with Cameron's performance as PM and a further 32% say they are dissatisfied but prefer him to Ed Miliband. 40% say they would rather see Miliband in Downing Street.
  • In a forced choice, 57% say they most trusted David Cameron and George Osborne to manage the economy in the best interests of Britain, and 43% Ed Miliband and Ed Balls. The two parties are neck and neck on getting the economy growing and creating jobs, while the Conservatives lead by 55% to 34% on tackling the deficit and the debt.
  • A small majority (54%) expect the economy in a year or two to be no better or even worse than it is now. 46% say the right decisions are being made and things will improve significantly in that time.
  • Asked whether the country as a whole would be better off after five years of Conservative or Labour government, 36% said Conservative and 33% Labour. Asked the same question about themselves and their family, 35% said Labour and 29% Conservative.

In his commentary on the research, published on Conservative Home on Sunday, Lord Ashcroft said:

"This research shows it is far from impossible for the Tories to win outright. But to do so they will need the votes of everyone who supported for them last time, plus practically everyone who is even prepared to think about doing so next time."

Though many voters thought the economy was recovering, few were feeling any benefit personally:

"I found many voters saying, albeit sometimes grudgingly, that given the situation it found itself in the government had not done too badly. It had started to bring the public finances under control, and was moving in the right direction on welfare and immigration even if they thought the results were so far meagre. But none of this changed that fact that, for many of them, life was hard and showed no signs of getting any easier despite the recovery they kept hearing so much about. As far as the Tories' hardworking people are concerned, where - to use a phrase from the archive of the party's lexicon - are the proceeds of growth?"

Restoring the living standards of previous years would be very difficult given the economic situation:

"How to produce a sustainable recovery to the higher living standards of previous years when those living standards were fuelled by levels of private credit and state spending that were themselves, self-evidently, unsustainable? Gordon Brown made his voters feel more prosperous by putting money directly into their bank accounts in the form of higher public sector pay and a gigantic expansion of tax credits. This option is not available to George Osborne, and he would not take it if it were. Finding the connection between national and personal prosperity - and persuading people to be prepared to wait for it - is the key to the next election."

Lord Ashcroft concludes that the Conservatives need to offer a clear direction to win the next election, not simply highlighting Labour's weaknesses and relying on progress achieved since 2010:

"Drawing a contrast with Labour and highlighting progress on welfare, immigration and the macro economy, important though they are, will only take the Tories so far. It needs to be clearer what would be on offer under a new Conservative government. It is one thing to say don't turn back, but we also need to know where we're going."

Notes to Editors

  • 8,053 adults were interviewed online between 4 and 10 November 2013. Results were weighted to be representative of the population of Great Britain. Twelve focus groups were conducted between 13 and 27 November 2013 in Croydon, Loughborough, Halifax, Bury, Taunton and Warwick.
  • Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC is an international businessman, author and philanthropist. He is founder and Chairman of the Board of Crimestoppers, a member of the Board of the Imperial War Museum, Chairman of the Trustees of Ashcroft Technology Academy, Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University and Treasurer of the International Democrat Union. From 2005 to 2010 he was Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party.
  • His political books and research papers include Smell The Coffee (2005), Minority Verdict (2010), Crime, Punishment & The People; The Leadership Factor (2011), Degrees of Separation; Blue Collar Tories, Project Red Alert; Understanding The UKIP Temptation (2012), What Are The Liberal Democrats For?, Marginal Territory, Are You Serious: Boris, The Tories And The Voters; Small Island: Public Opinion And The Politics Of Immigration (2013); and Cameron's Caledonian Conundrum (2013).
  • Full details of Lord Ashcroft's polling and commentary can be found at LordAshcroftPolls.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @LordAshcroft.

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