CONSERVATIVE efforts to secure a vital North East seat have failed to win-over voters, according to a Journal poll.
Almost a third of voters in Tynemouth said they had not decided who to vote for despite party bosses focusing their attention on the seat.
A poll of 900 people in the constituency for The Journal showed about 20% of voters who said they had previously picked Labour would not be.
Some 19.9% of those polled claimed to have backed the Conservatives in 2005, but only 15.9% said they would definitely be repeating that decision.
The surprise results come just days after an optimistic Tory party chairman predicted a strong victory for Tynemouth candidate Wendy Morton.
Eric Pickles said this week that a failure to win in Tyneside would show the party had “made no progress at all”.
For the Liberal Democrats the seat remains largely unwinable.
The Clegg-factor has seen support more than double up to 13.8%, but the party appear to be still stuck in third place.
It is all still to play for with 29% of those polled saying they were yet to decide how to vote.
Alan Campbell, the Labour candidate bidding to defend the seat last night said he accepts that the ‘don’t know’ voters will decide the outcome.
“It depends upon those who have yet to make up their minds,” he said. “If you want a Labour MP and a Labour Government vote Labour. If you vote any other way or stay at home you risk the Tories getting back in.”
His Tory challenger remains quitely confident. The party has internal statistics which show a record number of pledges for Wendy Morton.
They believe they are at least on course to beat their 2005 results, in which they came second with 36.63% of the vote.
Ms Morton said: “Day in, day out, the message I am getting on the doorstep is that people do not want another five years of Gordon Brown.
“Unlike Labour, I am not taking anything for granted and I will continue to work hard to bring about the change we need here in Tynemouth.”
John Appleby, Liberal Democrat candidate, said it was an exciting time for the party, with the race now wide open.
Dr Appleby said: “The Conservatives were confident that they could take this seat, but I think it’s wide open now. It’s anybody’s guess what will happen.
“One hundred and fifty people attended our last public meeting, which shows the level of public interest in this election.
“I will be working hard to see how far we can go. I think people are starting to realise we are a credible alternative in all parts of the country.”
If voters followed the pattern revealed in the poll, Labour would narrowly hang on to the seat that incumbent Alan Campbell won in 2005 with almost half of the vote.
But his majority has shrunk in every election since 1997 to 4,143.
Despite the disaffection with Labour and lack of enthusiasm for Tory rule, few people seem prepared to vote for the smaller parties. Just 3% said they would vote for a party other than the big three.
The BNP had 1.7%, Greens 0.7% and UKIP 0.5% of the vote.