Lib Dems drop 3 points with Populus

Lib Dems drop 3 points with Populus

    Could the collapse encourage a Campbell Coronation?

The January Populus Poll is out in the Times this morning and shows CON 36 (+1): LAB 39 (+1): LD 16 (-3). So the big move since before Christmas has been away from the Lib Dems.

This is likely to have a big impact on the party’s MPs as they mcconsider whether to nominate another candidate so that there is a contest.

Would a protracted leadership election provide a poll boost like that experienced by the Tories or would it just continue the uncertainty?

Mark Oaten is said to be ready today to announce that he is standing. According to the Guardian sufficient MPs want a contest that even if Oaten pulled out then another of their number would be put forward.

The parallel with the Tories is not necessarily a good one unless the candidate nominated to challenge Campbell has a good chance of winning. What gave the Tory contest added interest was that Davis had been the front runner for so long that the emergence of Cameron became a good story.

But Davis never had a commanding poll lead like Campbell’s. His front-runner status came from his early position with MPs and the highest point that Davis ever reached in the Tory member surveys was the 33% that he actually achieved in the ballot. Campbell has a YouGov rating of 49% compared with just 13% for Oaten.

A Campbell-Oaten contest could have as much interest as an FA Cup final between Manchester United and Millwall.

As we predicted last week there has been a change in Populus’s methodology which according to the paper today “.. leaves the Tory share unchanged and cuts the Labour rating by one point, to 39 per cent.” Until we have seen the full data-set it is hard to comment further but it is clear that Populus continues to give a much greater past vote weighting to Labour than ICM.

So it appears that if today’s poll had been calculated on the same basis as December’s then there would have been a 2 point increase in Labour’s position – thus reinforcing that the main move has been from the Lib Dems to Labour.

With the prospect of a coronation declining Campbell’s price has eased on the betting markets. He’s now at 0.67/1 which looks great value but you would have to wait a couple of months for your winnings.

LIB DEM MEMBERS POLL. Full details of the YouGov survey are now available here. Apart from the leadership intention the poll shows how seriously members are viewing David Cameron. A total of 68% felt the new Tory leader posed a fairly or serious challenge to their party. On “how well are they doing in their jobs” question the members gave positive scores of Blair 34%: Cameron 65% and Brown 63%.

Mike Smithson

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