40% of the British public wants the Lib Dems to poll higher than now at the general election, YouGov finds

Here’s an interesting survey finding via YouGov. The pollster asked the following (slightly awkwardly worded) question:

The Lib Dems are currently between 6% to 11% in the opinion polls. At the next general election, might the Lib Dems get closer to their previous several elections? Their average for the past five elections is around 19%. AND, do you personally wnat them to do better than where they are now, or not?

You can see the full spread of results below. But bundled up here are the two key findings…

First, 78% of the public thinks the Lib Dems will poll around either 5% or 10% next May. Just 13% think the party will reach 15% or 20% at the general election. (I’m curious how that squares with ICM’s ‘Wisdom of Crowds’ polling – which asks voters what they think the result of the next General Election will be rather than how they intend to vote in it – which in November shows the Lib Dems on 13%.)

That’s not great. The second finding offers more optimism, though. YouGov finds that 40% of the public wants the Lib Dems to do better at the general election than the party is polling now (that compares with 51% who take the opposite view). There is, of course, an easy way that 40% can make their wishes come true.

yougov lib dem poll ratings

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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  • So, the public want the lib dems to do better, but won’t actually vote for them as they are.

    Suggests the public disagree with the current, if not historical, direction of travel for the party.

  • matt (Bristol) 27th Nov '14 - 10:14am

    Well, that’s nice, I suppose. I wonder what policies and positions they envisage would win us back that level of support?

  • Paul in Wokingham 27th Nov '14 - 10:14am

    Does the “wisdom” measure prompt respondents with recent poll data in the way that this question does? I don’t think that the public is quite as obsessed with polls as some people on this forum 😉 Pehaps as the election approaches people will notice the polls more and the wisdom index will “catch down” to the polls.

  • It does rather look like we are now clutching at straws to say something vaguely positive. Nick’s supporters have been telling us for four years that opinion polls are irrelevant between elections and a surge will come in the election run up when people realise what a good job Nick has done. Do nothing and their rewards will come was the mantra. Now we are publishing the result of a poll about people’s opinions about polls.

    Another poll, much more worrying, has us in fourth place at 6% in Camborne and Redruth in Cornwall. If a Clegg loyalist, in a target seat which we lost by less than a 100 votes in 2010 is down to less than 10%, we are in a very, very dark place indeed.

  • The difference between this & ICMs Wisdom Index is probably down to the leading question this uses. As the Election nears other Polls will catch up with The Wisdom Index.

  • How would we expect people to respond when they have been prompted by a question which is phrased —

    “….The LibDems are currently between 6% and 11% in the opinion polls. At the next General Election might the poor old LibDems (who have really fallen on hard times and could do with a bit of charity) benefit from you saying something vaguely sympathetic about them? We know that 90% of people will not actually vote LibDem at the next General Election but if you could find your way to saying a few kind words – it might cheer them up a bit. Would you please, please say you personally want them to do better? “

  • Bill le Breton 27th Nov '14 - 11:05am

    This is a warning to us about tactical voting. Tactical voters vote for *contenders*.

    The decision by the latent tactical voter on who is a contender is arrived at following a combination of a) national profile and credibility (which this poll suggests is not going to contribute to numbers positively) and b) the local awareness campaign of who is a contender locally. “Around here it’s between the Liberal Democrats and ….

    With Tories in marginals able to spend almost at will at this stage of the campaign, local messages are being drowned out. i.e. more messages paradoxically implies less actual connection. This increases the importance of nationally derived impressions .

    As others have commented out poor performances in recent high profile political events such as by-elections and the Euros is contributing the wide spread perception that we are on track for 5 – 10%.

    In my opinion, it is unbelievably serious and should bring into question the reliance on the 60 by-elections strategy and the continuing Tory lite national image.

    To repeat – the success of Lib Dem campaigning has generally been based on moving ourselves into a position from which we contest on one front. In the last four and a half years we have engineered and been engineered into fight on four fronts.

  • David Evans:
    Thank you for common sense and the brutal reality.
    I have been a Liberal , Liberal Alliance and Liberal Democrat since 1962, I was at Orpington!.
    However the present situation begs two very important questions, namely what does the average member of the voting public see as the purpose or point of the Liberal Democrats and what is the value of Mr Clegg to the party or the country at the present time, Perhaps if we could find the answer to these two conundrums we could identify a positive way forward. But until then, 6 , 7, 8, 9, 10%, it really does not matter, they are all figures which see us taking a hammering.

  • Peter Watson 27th Nov '14 - 11:23am

    Looking at the figures for the ICM Wisdom Index (http://www.icmunlimited.com/data/media/pdf/2014_wisdom_nov14.pdf)
    4% of respondents put Lib Dems on 0% (!)
    41% of respondents put Lib Dems between 1-10%
    43% of respondents put Lib Dems between 11-20%
    11% of respondents put Lib Dems between 21-30%
    So I don’t think they’re wildly inconsistent with Yougov’s figures.
    The headline to this article is the most positive spin possible. It could be extended to say that 40% of the public wants Lib Dems to do better than the terrible performance that the public expects. Or more depressingly, 60% of the public don’t.

  • William Summers 27th Nov '14 - 11:26am

    I looked at the poll results and now I’m cleaning up after my head exploded.

  • Nick Collins 27th Nov '14 - 12:07pm

    William, it’s really not that difficult. What this poll shows is that not many people intend to vote LibDem but that some of those who won’t be doing so say that they hope that some others might. Is that clear?

  • Tony Greaves 27th Nov '14 - 12:22pm

    This must be one of the silliest polls conducted in recent times. But as they all strive for something different to the rest, we will get lots of silly polls in the next five months.


  • I think the question asked is a bit like “Great Aunt Agatha is 85. Her life expectancy is another 4 years. How long do expect her to last and would you like her to live a bit longer than that?” Even someone not in the family might say yes, I would like her to live a bit longer than that. The fact that only 40% want us to live longer and 51% don’t, shows what a mess Nick has got us in.

  • David Evans 27th Nov '14 - 1:04pm

    @Paul Barker – I’m afraid your continuous protestations that things will get better by the election are fooling yourself, but more dangerously may be fooling others. 1% in Rochester – No sign of Nick during the campaign or immediately after. Latest poll 6% in Camborne and Redruth – 2010 General election, Julia Goldsworthy lost by less than 100 votes. Can I ask, Are you just trying to head off any chance of us replacing Nick before the General election by whispering sweet nothings in our ears?

  • David Evans:
    The future of Nick Clegg,, well I am saying nothing and leaving it to his good sense, believing that he will finally act in an honorable way, in the very, very best interests of the party, or what is left of it, not the coalition.

  • Jonathan Pile 27th Nov '14 - 1:46pm

    This polling is both revealing and catastrophic. The 40% who want us to do better, aren’t prepared to vote for us (I wonder why Nick Clegg?) and clearly 78% think we will lose badly in 2015. The 40% do recognise that it is important that the party does better – or else SNP or UKIP will hold the balance of power. Only a change on our part will enable them to vote Lib Dem again (they do want us to do better). WHAT COULD BE HOLDING THEM BACK?, What might enable them to vote for us again? – SIMPLE – CHANGE THE LEADER! Nick Clegg’s popularity is only 1% higher than Ed Milliband. If Milliband is holding back Labour’s prospects – Clegg is sinking ours. Come on Nick consider your position. Read David Evans impassioned plea in Lib Dem Free Voice http://libdemfightback.yolasite.com/liberal-free-voice.php

  • The average LibDem vote at the last 5 GE’s was around 19% and still people support Nick Clegg. At 6 – 8% in the polls – and they have been for a long time – they are nearly two thirds down in their support. If Labour or Tory support had dropped two thirds to around 11 – 13% those same people would think they were lunatics to keep their leader. What does it take to get rid of Clegg, how bad does it have to get?

  • @JohnTilley

    Looking for a career as a pollster? 🙂

  • ATF
    I am glad to say my days of looking for a career are long past. 🙂

  • All polls are hypothetical, but this is more hypothetical than most. People can pretty much draw whatever conclusions they want from them. The most I read into this poll is that between 30 – 50% really do not like us.

  • David Allen 27th Nov '14 - 6:43pm

    What this poll actually finds is that the vast majority (78%) think Lib Dems will poll around their current figures of 5-10%, and that a majority (51% to 40%) do not want them to poll any better than that.

    It’s possible, I suppose, that some of the 40% think Lib Dems holding the balance are a lesser evil than UKIP, SNP and/or DUP. It’s also quite possible that many of the 51% would rather see UKIP, the SNP and/or DUP gain the balancing leverage, than see Nick Clegg and company doing that any longer!

  • I can understand that. As an ex-lib dem voter I would like to be able to vote for them again. But I can’t. Give me a reason. But they won’t, that’s the problem.

    Tell you what, put legalising cannabis and regulating it just like alcohol in the manifesto and I’ll vote for you. But you won’t. So I won’t.

  • This poll merely shows sympathy with the underdog.

    The Liberal Democrats in theory have a huge importance to political discussion in this country. Civil liberties, human rights, an internationalist outlook. The problem is the party are merely now seen as the liberal wing of the Tories, and supporting secret courts, TTIP, privatising Royal Mail, the probabtion service,and East Coast, the DRIP bill and other such things re-inforces them as a party of multinational corporations and the paranoid establishment, not as radical reformers.

    Clegg’s recent attempts to play to the UKIP gallery about migrants and benefits have just made him look even more unprincipled than he does already.

  • Mr Wallace is that the only reason you decide to vote for a party?
    If it is so important to you I think you would find many in the party who would like that to be included. Why not join the party and influence its policies?
    The party has never agreed with all of my views but that has not stopped me being part of and campaigning for it.

  • Peter Chivall 28th Nov '14 - 9:51am

    I also think the two polls are compatible: ICMs 13% think we’ll get that figure, while YouGov’s 40% would like us to do better than the 5%-10% we are currently polling. I suspect there are many 2nd/3rd rank seats now where prospective agents are drawing up lists of 10 LibDem supporters who are prepared to lose £50 each if we don’t get to 5%!
    The 13% which is something of an optimist’s consensus is only 0.2% more than we got in 1979 (or was it 1970?), when our former Leader was in court (but subsequently acquitted) of paying someone to shoot his former lover’s dog.
    Returning to today, I still don’t understand how we contrived to get less than 1% in Rochester, when , on a similar turnout I, as a paperless candidate, got nearly 5% in a close Tory-Labour dogfight with UKIP also standing, last May in our local elections. The Rochester candidate must have been going around telling anyone he found who might have supported LibDems “don’t vote for us, vote for anyone but us”. This certainly seems to have been the message from HQ with their total lack of activity.
    If there was any doubt that Nick (and his team) is not an asset but a complete drag on the Party, then Rochester dispelled that doubt for me. With the possible exception of the (now suspended) MP for Portsmouth South, ANYONE in the Parliamentary Party could do better!

  • Denis Loretto 28th Nov '14 - 11:22am

    Our vote in Rochester was always going to suffer badly but why did it virtually disappear? I think Lib Dem voters are more inclined than others to behave responsibly rather than tribally. Therefore in my view substantial numbers of them held their noses and voted this time for the Conservative in an attempt to defeat UKIP. If correct this means of course that the Conservative result was actually worse than it seemed.

    I for one do not pile all the blame for our problems on Nick Clegg. I was there at Birmingham when we overwhelmingly supported going into the coalition. I knew then it was an enormous risk but felt sure – and still feel sure – that it was the right decision for a country on the brink of utter disaster. So the downside has come about and is maybe worse than I and others anticipated but I am sick and tired at the constant ordure poured over Nick Clegg’s head for this. And by the way when people such as Jonathan Pile use capitalised words (equivalent as we all know to shouting) I would like to see your moderation process coming into operation.

    Come the general election it is clear that our party will take a major hit in terms of overall vote. However local government results and canvassing results show that incumbency – particularly as so many of our MPs have earned a fine record as constituency representatives – will be a powerful weapon in holding more seats than commentators are predicting. More than ever before the party needs to concentrate resources on held seats and only a limited number of those where gains are possible.

    And every active member needs to show solidarity, get behind this policy and for heaven’s sake stop whingeing.

  • Jonathan Pile 28th Nov '14 - 12:47pm

    @ Denis Loretto
    Where is the solidarity from the party leadership (Nick Clegg) towards the survival of the party? Where is the leadership? There is none. All you are saying is simply be quiet, hope for best and jump into the meat grinder. We deserve better. If we do not attempt to reconnect and address the feelings and views of our 2010 voters we are finished.

  • Peter Watson 28th Nov '14 - 1:35pm

    @Denis Loretto “I for one do not pile all the blame for our problems on Nick Clegg. I was there at Birmingham when we overwhelmingly supported going into the coalition.”
    I think it is very important not to conflate “going into coalition” with “being in coalition”.
    It probably was necessary to go into coalition but it is the way that Clegg and others have presented it that has damaged the party. This is a crying shame because Lib Dems should be the experts on coalition government.

  • David Evans 28th Nov '14 - 2:19pm

    @Denis Loretto – As Jo Grimond, liberals should be on the side of the governed, not the governing. Nick’s unwillingness to do this when in government has been a death sentence for many Lib Dems and, unless he takes responsibility for his failure, will be for many, many more in 2015 and the years beyond.

  • David Evans 28th Nov '14 - 2:19pm

    As Jo Grimond said …

  • Denis Loretto 28th Nov '14 - 4:30pm

    @David Evans
    If you are a Lib Dem you are evidently in the group who wishes we were permanently in opposition and escaping the problems and dilemmas inevitably associated with involvement in government.

    @Jonathan Pile
    Don’t talk to me about being quiet and hoping for the best. I’m too busy working for one of our incumbents who I’m glad to say is one of the best constituency MPs in the country. However I do at least thank you for not shouting.

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