The final opinion polls of the 2010 general election campaign all pointed to a hung parliament.
A string of six surveys for national newspapers were unanimous in putting David Cameron’s Conservatives in the lead by a comfortable margin.
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But they were also united in suggesting that Mr Cameron will not achieve the 326 MPs he needs to become prime minister at the head of a majority Conservative administration.
The Tories scored between 35% and 37% in today’s polls, indicating that they can hope for 268-294 MPs in the new House of Commons that convenes on 18 May.
Labour won the support of between 27% and 29% in the surveys, equating to 248-274 MPs on a uniform swing across the country. And Liberal Democrat ratings varied between 26% and 28%, which could deliver Nick Clegg 77-82 MPs and give him the balance of power in a hung parliament.
The Opinium survey of 1,383 people for the Daily Express on 4 and 5 May put the Tories on 35% (up two points on a similar poll published in the paper on Monday), with Labour down one point on 27% and Liberal Democrats down one on 26%. On a uniform swing it would give the Conservatives 283 MPs, Labour 258 and the Lib Dems 80.
A Populus poll for The Times put the Tories on 37% (up one point on a similar poll last week), Labour on 28% (up one) and Liberal Democrats on 27% (down one). Some 2,505 adults were questioned on 4 and 5 May.
The Populus results would deliver 294 Conservative MPs on an even swing across the country, with 249 Labour and 79 Lib Dems.
Only one of today’s polls suggested Labour could be the largest party in a hung parliament.
The Harris poll of 3,406 voters on 4 and 5 May for the Daily Mail indicated a late surge to Gordon Brown’s party, putting it up three points since yesterday on 29%, with Conservatives down one on 35% and the Lib Dems down one on 27%.