The Local Government Chronicle has today published research on how the Lib Dems (and others) have fared in local by-elections since May.
It’s useful to note as there’s been some disagreement. Lib Dems have been pointing to victories and holds as evidence that, where the party campaigns, its vote is holding up very well. Opponents have disagreed (not least in comments on this site) and suggested evidence is being cherry-picked and the Lib Dems vote is actually falling.
In the 17 by-elections for council seats held since May and contested by the Lib Dems, the party has gained six, held nine and lost two, giving a net gain of four seats.
The gains have primarily come at the expense of the Conservatives, who have lost a net seven seats from the 28 they have contested. Labour has made the most headway in local votes, gaining nine seats and losing one in the 24 that it has contested.
Furthermore, the Lib Dems’ national equivalent vote at the by-elections – a projected national vote share based on the local results – has held steady at 25%. This is the same level as was recorded at the local elections in May and those of the previous year.
It is also significantly higher than the party is registering in opinion polls. The YouGov daily tracker has consistently placed the party below 15% throughout August and September.
The research does not include yesterday’s results which saw the Lib Dems hold two and make one gain at the Tories’ expense, nor the party’s two holds in Town Council by-elections.
However, as Mark Pack has frequently mentioned, you can’t achieve much if you don’t field a candidate, and the party should be concerned at only standing in 17 seats compared to the Conservatives’ 28 and Labour’s 24.