Polls show Lib Dems are less likely to support Labour

Polls show Lib Dems are less likely to support Labour

    Who’ll win the battle for the Lab-Lib Dem Waverers?

Detailed data from two recent polls has provided more information about the segment of the electorate who will shape Tony Blair’s future CV – those who are wavering between his party and the Lib Dems. These are divided into two distinct groups:-

Labour supporters who are considering switching to Charles Kennedy’s party because of the war, tuition fees or a host of other possible issues. They represent about 10% of all voters and their support toggles between the two parties. At the moment telephone interview pollsters have them with Labour and the Lib Dems are at 18%. The internet pollster, YouGov, however, has a 23% for the Lib Dems and a much reduced figure for Labour.

Lib Dem supporters who voted tactically for Labour in 1997 and 2001 in order to keep the Tories out – moves that helped Labour win upto 21 seats over and above what it should have done on a uniform national swing. If many of these voters return to their normal allegiance then some of those seats could go back to the Tories.

For yesterday’s NOP poll in the Independent those surveyed were asked “Say you had two votes in the General Election and could give a second preference to a different party. To which party would you give your second preference?” Amongst Liberal Democrat voters 32% said they would give a second preference vote to Labour, while 22% would give it to the Conservatives.

    This is a big change on four years ago when NOP found that for every two Liberal Democrat voters who said the Tories were their second preference, five backed Labour. Now only three do so.

This possibly indicates the potential for what this site and Anthony Wells’s site first dubbed as tactical vote unwind. Although the question was not on tactical voting – like the one by Populus yesterday – it does give an idea of the changed mood amongst Lib Dems.

On the electoral impact Martin Baxter’s calculators shows a seat distribution of LAB 350: CON 206: LD 59 on the latest YouGov poll shares. But if you factor in a tactical unwind of just 1.5% from Labour to the Lib Dems then the seat totals become LAB 335: CON 221: LD 59

Tony Blair would still have a majority of 25 – but what if Labour’s poll share slips a notch? Spreadbetting and Commons seat number gamblers are going to have to be very careful.

© Mike Smithson 2005

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