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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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Parliamentary Candidates Could Have More Data Than Ever Before

4 min read

Candidates standing for Parliament could have access to more data about their constituency than ever before, a pollster has suggested.

Parties are currently making decisions about where to expend their resources ahead of the election, with Labour fighting to make gains across the country, while the Conservatives try to hang on in previously safe seats, amid consistently low polling numbers. Data will be key to the choices both make.

Adam Drummond, head of political and social research at Opinium, told The House that the amount of publicly available polling, plus other forms of data, could arm candidates with more information than before about their constituency, and potentially give them a greater case to push for campaigning resources. 

“Over the last [...] year or two you’ve seen MRP results come out from all sorts of different companies,” he explained. 

“Actually, if you’re a PPC, there’s the resource and projections that you get from your party’s data team, but also you can just look [at all] of the different models that get published and you can collate all of this stuff together about what they say about your constituency, which is more than I think they would have had in any previous [election].” 

Drummond said there is possibly “potential for a little bit more dissent when decisions get made about which resources get put where”.  

He added: “One of the things is that parties need to make decisions about where they put resources: which seats they decide ‘you’re really not worth it”, and which ones are. 

“I wonder if from a party perspective that could be a little more difficult to manage [different models showing how things are doing] if you’re a PPC the party has decided it hasn’t got the resources to properly back, but you’ve got various different models having produced slightly better results, you’ve probably got some kind of statistical ammunition somewhere." 

The latest polling figures from Opinium showed Labour leading by 15 points on 42 per cent, compared to the Conservatives’ 27 per cent. 

The Liberal Democrats and Reform were both on 10 per cent in the data, collected between 21 and 23 February - while the Greens were on 7 per cent, and the SNP 3 per cent. 

Across polling more generally, Labour have had a fairly consistent lead of 20 points or more in recent months. 

Figures from YouGov last week showed a 26 point gap between Starmer and Sunak, with Labour on 46 per cent, with the Conservatives recording 20 per cent.

Ipsos showed a similar gap of 27 points this week. 

Anthony Wells, the head of European political and social research at YouGov, believes that as well as potentially impacting the morale of campaigners and candidates, polling figures will play into the allocation of campaign resources as the election draws closer. 

“If you’re somebody who is standing in a Tory target seat, but the Tories are 20 per cent below, I imagine it is somewhat harder to convince people to go out and campaign for you and to get yourself out to campaign when you think you’ve got a mountain to climb, even just to get back to the starting point.” 

“Basically, they have to target their resources, they have to target those resources on a rational basis [...]  in both cases, presumably whatever they've said they're also looking privately at Is there any point us throwing resources at these seats, which we're probably not going to win [or] already have in the bag should move those resources to other seats."

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