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The PB July Polling Average: Gravity finally catches up with UKIP

August 2nd, 2014

Con, Lab and LD all up, but so are Others

So perhaps UKIP does need the oxygen of publicity after all.  After recording a record score in June, Farage’s party is the biggest loser in July; indeed, the only loser.  That June figure surprised many who thought that the absence from the papers and TV screens of what’s still in many ways a minor party would inevitably lead to a drop in vote share.  It didn’t then but two months after the European elections, the boost that gave them may finally have worn off.  July’s figures were:

I say ‘may’ as there are two caveats.  The first is that UKIP had a particularly bad ICM poll in July – down seven points – and due to ICM’s accuracy in 2010 and their only carrying out one poll a month, that one poll accounts for half the overall drop by itself.  Even so, while no other pollster recorded such a dramatic fall, they all recorded a fall of some sort.  The second is that even if some of UKIP’s share has drifted, not all of it has: 13.2% is still better than at the same time last year or for that matter, for most of the period between the annual elections.

The flip side of those facts is that while the big Westminster three have had a good month compared with June, none of the figures is much to write home about.  Labour remains below 35% for the third successive month, the only three such this parliament.  The Tories are still stuck in the 31.5±1% range that they’ve occupied for over a year now and which remains well below what they need if they want to prevent Labour gaining an overall majority, never mind keeping power themselves.  Finally, the Lib Dems might be the biggest gainers of the month but only with their second-worst monthly score.

    In fact, it’s Others who remain on the charge: the implied figure of 11.2% is not only a record high and the fifth consecutive monthly increase but is more than the share that Others including UKIP achieved in 2010.

Does this represent a sudden surge of enthusiasm for the smaller parties?  It seems unlikely, given that with the exception of the SNP and Plaid, they’re nigh-on invisible outside election times – and it’s not the nationalists who are responsible for the increase.  Far more likely is that it’s just the latest manifestation of the general disillusionment with politics in general, with UKIP both becoming more establishment in their own right, and being subject to greater scrutiny by the media and attacks by their opponents.

Of themselves, voters for the genuinely minor parties (i.e. excluding parties with low shares due to only contesting one region), rarely make any direct impact.  Few seats are within the reach of the Greens, for example.  One key question is whether people now saying they’ll vote for them will actually do so after the effects of a full election campaign are felt (or for that matter, whether they’ll vote at all).  The related question is how the parties attract them back: a task that may well call for different techniques from those previously employed to target voters swinging between the big three.

David Herdson