Quarter of region’s voters still haven’t made their minds up
- Credit: Archant
A significant proportion of the region’s vote in next month’s General Election is still up for grabs, a survey by this newspaper today suggests.
With less than a month to go until the nation goes to the polls, almost a quarter of those to take part in our online election questionnaire say their vote can still be swayed.
Meanwhile, four in ten say they expect to vote differently than in 2010.
We asked visitors to our website a handful of key questions about the election, their vote and issues that matter to them and some 441 people responded, around two-thirds male and a third female.
While 52% said they were 100% certain who they’d vote for, 17% said they ‘had an idea but my vote is still up for grabs’ and seven per cent that their ‘vote is definitely up for grabs’.
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With several of Suffolk’s seats expected to be on a knife-edge those 24% of currently unsure votes could become crucial on May 7 to determine which parties win.
Only 31% said they believed the government has had a positive impact on their life since 2010, while 46% said it had had a ‘negative’ impact.
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The figures suggest prospective MPs need to do more out on the streets of the region, with just 15% saying they had received a visit from a candidate, but 80% saying that they hadn’t. 82% did at least say they knew who their MP was.
When asked what issue mattered to them most, immigration came out clearly on top with 30%, followed by the economy (19%) and health (14%).
The decisions of the floating voters will be crucial in the marginal seats in Suffolk and Essex.
The two real battlegrounds in Suffolk are Ipswich and Waveney where Labour is fighting to regain the seats from the Tories.
Ben Gummer and Peter Aldous will be facing Labour challenges from David Ellesmere and Bob Blizzard respectively.
Other seats where there are intense fights include Clacton, which the Tories will be hoping to regain from UKIP’s Douglas Carswell, and Colchester where veteran LibDem Sir Bob Russell will be hoping to see off a Conservative challenge again.
Political editor Annabelle Dickson shares her views on the survey results
Our survey is proof that in the most uncertain of elections – many people are just that – still uncertain.
The big question is whether support for the minor parties will wane as polling day gets nearer.
Will people respond to threats that if you vote UKIP you get Ed Miliband, you vote SNP you get David Cameron, you vote Green and you get Conservative – this has likely been diluted by the sheer scale of imponderables?
Neither Miliband nor Cameron appear to have captured the imagination of the voters.
The polls put them neck and neck. So who can stumble over the line and into Downing Street could well come down to those who have not yet made up their minds, particularly in the really marginal seats.
The ground war is key. Labour says it is on track to have four million “conversations” – with teams of activists out on the streets. They have a much bigger regional operation than at the last election.
The Conservatives are also diligently trying to win every vote, with activists and resources piling in from across the country to join the close battles.
The Lib Dems have long been known for their incredible organisational abilities on the ground – something the Green and the UK Independent Party are hoping to emulate.
But despite this strategy, it is clear from our survey that the party activists have still not had as many face to face conversations as they would like, with only a small proportion of people confirming that a campaigner has come calling.
The thorny issue of immigration continues to come top of the pops on election issues too, and this is only really good news for UKIP.
Hopes of thwarting the leaking of votes to the anti-European Union party have seen all the parties come up with curbs, to varying degrees.
Even Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg has advocated restricting Universal Credit payments to migrants for a six-month period only – and only issuing them after their first six months in the country.
Under Tory plans – which include a European Union in/out referendum – migrants will be barred from claiming welfare such as tax credits and housing benefit for four years, as well as having entitlement to social housing reduced.
While Mr Miliband has said migrants will not be able to claim benefits for at least two years.
With less than a month to go, the parties will need to get out on the doorsteps to first find, and then sell to the undecided electorate.
There is still all to play for on all sides.
And for local election candidate lists, see here
If you have a story or issue for our new Investigations Unit please contact editor David Powles on 01603 772478 or email firstname.lastname@example.org