Houses of Parliament

Opposition investment in trying to win marginal seats reaps little reward.

New research predicted Tories struggle to win Labour marginals

New research by the University of Exeter Business School concludes that even unpopular sitting governments have historically been quite successful at holding onto their own marginal seats.

Whilst the definitive reason for this unknown, two suggestions are that either there is more financial support for marginals or that they might get a better turnout - or a combination of the two. Either way, the research is conclusive.

Professor John Maloney has analysed the results of every election from 1950 onward (excluding 1974, 1983 and 1997 due to boundary changes) and discovered that Opposition investment in trying to win marginal seats reaps little reward. For example, in the 2001 General Election there was a two per cent swing to the Tories yet Labour only lost six seats in total and held onto almost all their marginal seats.

"If the sitting MP has been caught up in the expenses issue, the story may be different" says Prof. Maloney. "And polls suggested that the Tories would get a bigger swing in Labour marginals than elsewhere. As it turned out, that would have been against the experience of every general election since 1945. However, the good news for the Conservatives was that the bias against them in the system isn't what it was.

Date: 21 April 2010

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