Pollwatch Day 21 #GE2010 – Lib Dems in second place, at 28-31%, in today’s polls

Four polls published tonight, as follows:

    ICM in the Guardian … CON 33%(-2), LAB 28%(+2), LIB DEM 30%(-1)
    Opinium in the Express … CON 34%(+2), LAB 25%(-1), LIB DEM 28%(-1)
    ComRes for ITV/Independent … CON 32%(-2), LAB 28%(nc), LIB DEM 31%(+2)
    YouGov in the Sun … CON 33%(-1), LAB 28%(nc), LIB DEM 29%(-1)

All movement is within the margin of error, and the degree of stability in the polls is striking: the Tories are at 32-34%, Lib Dems at 28-31% and Labour at 25-28%. Anthony Wells’ UK Polling Report ‘poll of polls’ shows the Lib Dems edging up:

    CON 33%, LAB 27%, LIB DEM 30%

It does appear, based on this crop of polls, that the slight boost the Tories acquired over the weekend, seemingly at the expense of the Lib Dems, has faded. It might be that the Tories temporarily gained from David Cameron’s improved debate performance; or it may be that the rightwing press’s smear campaign against Nick Clegg did do some short-term harm to the Lib Dems, which has now (fingers crossed) passed.

My hunch is that Lib Dem support will slip a little this week because of the media focus on the negative impact of a hung parliament – for example, ITV’s political editor Tom Bradby’s quite blatant politicking – with some ‘undecided’ Labour and Tory voters returning to the safe comfort of their status quo parties. I sincerely hope to be proven wrong.

Hung parliament findings:

And speaking of hung parliaments, here’s the findings from today’s ComRes poll which asked voters about the prospect of one:

  • 72% said they’d prefer a majority government, while 20% said they would prefer a hung parliament.
  • When those 72% who support a majority government were asked who they would prefer to see get a majority, 37% said Conservative, 29% Labour.
  • Of those 20% who said they would prefer a hung parliament, 27% opted for a Conservative government with Liberal Democrat support, while 56% opted for Labour government with support of the Lib Dems.

While it’s inevitably difficult to get the media off their ‘what if?’ hobby-horse during an election campaign, I do hope the party will be able to focus the news agenda back on our four key campaign promises – fair taxes, a fair start for children, a fair, sustainable economy and fair politics – and away from the tedious process story of a hung parliament.

Regional impact of the Lib Dem surge

UK Polling Report gives the “first properly weighted regional breaks from YouGov on data entirely after the first debate”, which show the party’s strength especially in the north, and potential good news in the south-west:

The swing from Labour to the Lib Dems in the North-East is 13%, in Yorkshire 11.5% and the North West 9.5. Compare this to the swing in the South East (5%) and London (7%). In Scotland there is very little sign of a Lib Dem advance, with the party on 25% compared to 23% at the last election (though this is still much better than the Liberals were polling in Scotland a few months back). In the South West, the swing from Conservative to Liberal Democrat is 5.5% in this poll, suggesting around 9 Conservative losses to the Lib Dems, rather than the other way around.

On this basis, we might expect (with all the usual caveats about extrapolating from polls to seats) to see 111 Lib Dem MPs, compared with 262 Tories and 245 Labour MPs.

FiveThirtyEight.com’s advanced swingometer

Nate Silver at the world’s best polling website, FiveThirtyEight.com, offers a range of possible outcomes of the UK general election based on various hypotheses, and suggests Labour supporters should not draw too much comfort from electoral models based on uniform national swing:

… they have been badly wrong in the past and there is some evidence that they may be badly wrong again. Particularly if Labour’s vote were to wind up in the mid-20s, its very hard to see how they could thread the needle in such a way that the outcome wouldn’t be devastating to them.

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5 Comments

  • Gavin Hamilton 26th Apr '10 - 11:52pm

    Yes, what is it with ITN’s Tom Bradby? What’s his agenda? The day before he was v pushy with Clegg on who he will back in event of hung parlt and when he didn’t get an answer his editorial was quite sniffy. Then when Clegg says something he says it is a mistake.

    Seems to me a bit of a Catch 22 for LibDems – we always get bogged down in hung parlt question at end of a campaign where we do well. GB let off too easiily with premature to answer this approach. He has to try and lance the boil, show he is open to both sides in theory but be credible about not propping up those who have clearly lost! Not ideal but limited choice.

    Now we must push a LibDem vote is a vote for lib Dems so if u like what we say the more that vote for us the more influence we have.

  • I really hope that the Lib Dem media people are bashing awya at the unifrom swing nonsense. (although if they are it doens’t seem to have changed the coverage)

    The polls are still reported as up 1% and down 2% etc, and seataprojectiosn are given with absolute confidence that “this would mean” of this would translate as ….

    A few snappy lines – for each Lib Dem in the media “The Lib Dems got more seats than predicted in 1997, 2001, 2005 and will do so again in 2010” “If the lib Dems get to 35% in the polls, we could win more seats than any other party ” and “At the last election the lib dem national vote went up by 2.6%, but in some seats it was up by 10, 15 or 17%” Targeting and local circumstances make a huge difference.

  • On the doorstep there are tons of Tory/LibDem waverers and the hung parliament issue is starting to run immigration a close second. I don’t know how the pollsters are coping with so many people who haven’t finally made up their mind – people waiting for Thursday’s “last dance” before they cast their vote? Clegg’s appeal is winning people from Tory and Labour but the Labour people have fewer policy worries, are less concerned by the balanced parliament issue (since the next likely outcome is a Tory win) and feel ‘let down by Labour’ over and over. So they’re more definite switchers than the Tories who would be switching for the first time and have only been let down once, by Cameron’s lacklustre campaign.

    If we can inspire these people and get the better of Cameron we’re on target for the result better than we’ve dreamed of. If we don’t then we’ll be back at 25% – still a good result given where we started, but with the Tories in power, more or less.

    Nick has come across extremely well in the debates, but his more combative approach in the second debate appeals mostly to the more politically interested – the winner for the non-political is the guy who gets to do the positive stuff and Brown’s “look at these two squabbling” line was powerful. Victory goes to he who stands above the fray, paints the hopeful big picture and does not get drawn into debating every detail. Nick needs to try and speak less quickly. All the discussion of hung parliaments is unsettling many people, whereas the line that “I want PR so that next time my vote is worth something” or “so that next time my vote won’t be wasted” is very powerful – the idea that voting for us this once delivers the chance of real change for good.

  • Paul McKeown 27th Apr '10 - 1:51pm

    I’m delighted with the way things are going. I don’t think that Nick should get tied up in detailed debates about PR, his line should simply be that a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for Lib Dem principles, that it is seems likely that there will be a balanced parliament and that he will use that parliament to advance policies based on those principles. A Lib Dem vote is what it says on the tin, it is neither a vote for Labour nor for the Conservatives, it is in fact a vote against both. Lib Dems believe in fairness, as seen in our pledge that no one will pays income tax on their first £10,000 of income, that class sizes will be reduced, …, etc.

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