We don’t vote for parties or leaders. We vote for individual MPs
The 2013/14 political season is now into its third week and from a poll watcher’s point of view there have been a couple of really good innovations which I think will help the process of election forecasting.
- I really like the new ComRes question about which party voters think will make them better off. It’s that perception, I’d argue, rather than which is seen as “best on the economy” which could be more influential on actual voting.
The other big development which I’ve not seen before is the one in the chart above – how satisfied or dissatisfied people are with their own MP. This has come from a research project at the Nottingham University politics department with polling being carried out by YouGov.
The first column on what people think of MPs generally is vaguely interesting but when it gets to your “own MP” and you start to get data that could be helpful.
- Most political and polling reporting ignores the key fact that at general elections we vote for individual MPs not parties or party leaders.
Many voters want to elect someone who they believe will be an effective voice for their concerns at Westminster. The individual candidate really matters and to them with the overall impact of their vote on the make-up of the next government being a secondary consideration.
The party machines know this which is why candidate selection and the ground war are so important. So how individual MPs are perceived by their constituents should be a key part of general election polling.
Thus it’s a well recorded political fact that LD MPs can often buck the national trend and be difficult to dislodge. The chart above gives a reason – they have much better satisfaction levels.
I’d like to see this form of polling question become more widespread.
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