We continue to study lists made by parties and their relation to our model, this time by looking at a leaked Conservative list from February detailing 102 seats they have designated as "non-targets".
Opposite is a histogram of the listed seats using our latest probabilities. Whilst no official explanation is provided, the seats generally seem to fall into two categories: those where the Conservatives have a very safe seat (blue on the histogram), and those where they have little chance of winning (red). This split is visible on the histogram opposite.
However, we can see that between these two groups is an interesting collection of seats which are not as cut-and-dried. These 12 seats are shown below:
The other eight are all seats held by other parties, which we can assume are places where the party has written off its chances. This doesn't seem unreasonable for most places, as large leads have been amassed by rivals. In West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine, the Conservatives succeeded in overhauling the incumbent Liberal Democrats, but both parties have been blown away by the explosion in SNP support.
The main constituency of interest is Rochester & Strood, which was won by UKIP's Mark Reckless in a by-election last November. Since he was the Conservative MP there until September, it is unclear whether this is on the non-target list as a safe seat or a lost cause. If it is the former, then a lesson has surely been learned not to write off seats. If it is the latter, then the Conservative are doing very well to become favourites in this seat ahead of the election.
By seemingly identifying safe seats, the Conservatives have opened themselves up to accusations of arrogance. This could haunt David Cameron's party in May, as a handful of these seats seem to be on a knife-edge. If these seats are lost, then questions will be asked by their candidates as to whether they had their party's full support.