Lib Dems surge in decisive British election seats: poll

Thu Apr 22, 2010 7:17am EDT
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By Jodie Ginsberg

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Liberal Democrats have doubled their projected vote share in Labour-held marginal constituencies but the swing comes mainly from voters who were previously not sure they would vote, a poll showed on Thursday.

The latest Reuters/Ipsos MORI poll indicates that although support for the Labour government and main opposition Conservatives has fallen in these constituencies -- ones the Conservatives must win to be sure of outright victory in the May 6 election -- their relative positions are unchanged since the previous survey on April 8.

The center-right Conservatives have achieved a five percent swing from center-left Labour since the last general election in 2005 in these constituencies. That suggests the UK is still headed for a hung parliament, where no one party has a clearcut majority, with the Conservatives the largest party.

"This is giving us a new angle from most of the recent national polls, which imply that the recent Liberal Democrat surge has been more damaging to the Conservatives than to Labour," said Ipsos MORI Deputy Head of Political Research Helen Coombs.

"This poll finds that this is not the case and that if the Conservatives are losing votes disproportionately to the Liberal Democrats it is not happening in the constituencies where it would do most danger to their chance of winning seats from Labour."

The centrist Liberal Democrats have seen a massive surge in support following a strong performance from leader Nick Clegg in the country's first televised leaders' debate on April 15.

The poll, conducted between April 16 and 19, showed support for Labour fell to 36 percent compared to 41 percent two weeks ago, while Conservative support dropped to 32 percent from 38 percent. Liberal Democrat support jumped to 23 percent from 11 percent.

The numbers of people saying they are now certain to vote has also surged: to 68 percent from 59 percent. Significantly, however, 47 percent of voters say they may still change their mind.   Continued...