What’s happened to Labour “missing” 38.5%?

What’s happened to Labour “missing” 38.5%?

    Comparing voters’ intentions with what they said they did in 2001

An interesting way of looking at opinion polls is to compare what people said they did last time with the current intention – and the results are quite striking and contrast quite sharply with the published headline figures.

From the detailed data in the latest YouGov poll 914 people had previously recorded that they’d voted Labour at the 2001 General Election. Yet now only 562 said they were voting for the party this time – that’s barely three out of five of the total.

Yet 350 people said they would vote Lib Dem compared with only 206 who had previously told YouGov that they supported Charles Kennedy’s party last time. With the Conservatives, as they now like to be called, a total of 390 had previously said they had voted for them in 2001 against 488 who said they would be doing so this time. So we have:-

  • Labour polling at 61.5% of its 2001 recall figure
  • The Tories polling at 125% of their 2001 recall figure
  • The Lib Dems polling at 169% of their 2001 recall figure
  • What does all this mean and can we draw any conclusions? Pollsters that ask for people’s recall of their last vote find that many more say they voted for the winning party than actually did in the election. But many clearly have bad memories or faulty recall and that’s why the pollsters have to weight on slightly lower levels. There’s a common tendency for Lib Dem voters, in particular, to forget. But even taking these factors into account the YouGov differentials are huge.

      That only 61.5% of those who had been happy to tell YouGov that they had voted Labour last time are prepared to do it this year is not without significance.

    Whatever it’s very hard to see how with the electoral system as it is – see the latest UK Elect forecast – that Labour can end up as anything other than top party, even if, like in the local elections last June, they come third in terms of votes.

    Mike Smithson

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