Peter Hoskin

Labour and Tories level in marginals poll (but look to the swing)<br />

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I know, I know – there are only so many polls a reader can take.  So I'll spare you the details from tonight's YouGov poll, or the Opinium poll in the Daily Express.  But this Populus poll in the Times is worth highlighting, if only because it seems to be attracting the most buzz.  It has Labour and the Tories both on 38 percent across 100 marginal seats.  Neck and neck – or so it seems.

But as Anthony Wells points out over at UK Polling Report, what really matters is which marginals this poll covers, and what the swing is.  In this case, the marginals are those numbered 51 to 150 on the Tories' list of target seats – so it excludes the 50 Labour seats with smaller majorities.  And, even so, the numbers suggest a swing of about 6.7 percent towards Cameron & Co. since the last election.  Which is just short of the roughly 7 percent swing that the Tories require nationally to gain a majority, let alone to triumph in many of these marginals.

In which case, the story of this poll is similar to the YouGov marginals poll from last week.  The gap seems to be closing in the key battlegrounds of the election, which isn't ideal news for the Tories.  But they can still expect to take a significant number of seats from Labour.

At this stage, though, I suspect Labour will take heart from a poll – any poll – which has the numbers as close as this.