What if the Lib Dems gain 5% during the campaign?
The big question for all those trying to forecast the 2005 General Election is will there be the traditional Lib Dem bounce?
For at every General Election since 1987 the Lib Dems have enjoyed spectacular increases of support during the formal campaign – in each case taking votes from Labour. In 1992, 1997 and 2001 the party was starting from a poll position in the low and mid-teens. This time almost all the polls have them in the low 20s.
In normal non-election times the party finds it difficult to command attention outside by-elections and the annual party conference. But during a General Election different rules apply in the broadcast media giving the party much greater coverage so that that is is almost on par with Labour and the Tories. The effect is shown in the polls.
Average uplift in Lib Dem ICM ratings based on four month average before the start of the campaign and what actually happened.
1992 Pre-campaign polls 14.9% Election 18% (Up more than a fifth)
1997 Pre-campaign polls 15.2% Election 17.2% (Up more than an eighth)
2001Pre-campaign polls 14.8% Election 18.8% (Up more than a quarter)
The party’s current rating in Martin Baxter’s “poll of polls” is 21%. Add a quarter to that with the votes coming from Labour and the two main parties are neck and neck.
In the afterglow of their conference in September the party had poll ratings of 25+% with Mori, ICM, CR and Populus. At the previous elections the Lib Dems chalked up vote shares similar to what they were polling immediatly after their conference the previous September. Such a bounce on this scale is not beyond the bounds of probablity.
In the last two elections Labour was so far ahead that the Lib Dem bounce did not matter. Now with Labour’s average poll rating at 37% losing 4-5 points could totally change the result.
Latest General Election spread betting prices from Spreadfair see a rise in the Tory and Lib Dem sell prices and a small drop in the Labour buy price.
LAB 352-354.5 (DOWN) : CON 194-197 (UP) : LD 69-71.5 (UP) : SNP 5-6: PC 3.8-5: UKIP 0.5-1.1