Who is willing to consider voting Lib Dem?
Two recent batches of polling have both looked at the question of who is willing to (seriously) consider voting for the Liberal Democrats and also both gone pretty much unreported.
So this week I’m taking a look at what they tell us, followed by the usual recap of the latest national voting intention polls and then (for paying subscribers) a round-up of the other interesting, useful or baffling political polling results from the last week. Paying subscribers can also access the full archive of previous editions.
As ever, if you have any feedback or questions prompted by what follows, or spotted some other recent polling you’d like to see covered, just hit reply. I personally read every response.
With that, on with the show…
The potential for the Liberal Democrats
YouGov run a regular question asking people, “On a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 means you would never consider voting for them, and 10 means you would definitely consider voting for them, how likely are you to consider voting for the following parties at the next election?”
The regularity of the question provides a run of historic data that allows recent answers to be put into context. The promising news for the Lib Dems is that average scores on this question have recently returned to the sorts of figures seen in mid-2019, when the party was on a roll after stunning local election results and even briefly topped national voting intention polling. The latest such tracker (including fieldwork on Christmas Day and Boxing Day!) even puts the Lib Dems and the Conservatives statistically tied on the number who pick 7-10 for that party, which is similar to previous recent tracker results.
The health of these Lib Dems figures helps explain the contrast between the party getting back into the swing of winning Parliamentary by-elections with record-breaking swings and its normal national voting intention figures not being in history-making territory. The potential may be there, but it also requires cracking grassroots campaigning to turn that potential into reality.
But who is in this potential pool of voters? It’s overwhelmingly Remain leaning but with a non-trivial number of Leave voters (28% of those who voted Remain give the Lib Dems 7-10 in that latest poll, compared to 9% of those who voted Leave, which means that just under one in five of those giving the party 7-10 are Leave voters). There’s no significant gender divide, but there is a definite age skew, with the likelihood of people giving the Lib Dems 7-10 falling at they get older (from 22% among 18-24 year olds to 15% among the 65+). Proportions also fall as you go down the traditional social categories from AB to E (23% to 9%). (All these figures are from small sample cross-tabs, but there’s a consistent pattern across the cross-tabs and with cross-tabs from previous polls, which gives us some confidence in the reality of the pattern.)
We don’t just have to rely on YouGov, however, because in mid-December Opinium also asked, “How likely would you be to consider voting for the following parties in a future general election?” In response, 34% said they would definitely or probably consider voting Lib Dem, well above the 9% voting intention score for the party in that poll and not that far behind the Conservatives, who got 40% definitely or probably considering them.
Again, the Lib Dems do much better among Remain voters from 2016 - 45%, compared with 23% among Leave voters and 35% among those who didn’t vote then. Once again the party also does better with voters the younger they are, scoring 41% consideration among 18-34 year olds, falling to 26% among the 65+.
However… although there’s a certain clarity to the potential support base that paints for the party, among those who would consider voting for the Nigel Farage-adjacent party Reform, nearly half (46%) also say they would consider voting for the Liberal Democrats. Which suggests both a degree of confusion over what Reform stands for and also a degree of ‘none of the above’ appeal returning to the Liberal Democrats. As only 12% of Remain voters say they would consider Reform, it’s likely to be more the latter than the former. That’s a double-edged finding as being able to win support from this disgruntled with politics overall can be a rich source of votes but also, as the Lib Dems have discovered before, it can also lead to a very brittle voting coalition, one that falls apart under stress.
National voting intention polls
Five pollsters have given up national voting intention polls already this year (four, note, who have not yet been tested against reality in a British general election, plus YouGov). They all have Labour with a very comfortable lead in the low twenties - ranging from 20% to 24% leads.
All also have the Conservatives on under 30%, with it now being 17 polls since their last pop above 30%. You have to go all the way back to September for the last time the Conservatives were above 30% in more than the very occasional poll.
For all the latest national voting intention polls, see my daily updated table here.
Last week’s edition
“Do long-term trends mean doom for the Conservatives?” is still available to read here.
Know other people interested in political polling?
The softness of views on Europe and other insights from this week’s polling…
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