What could this mean for tactical voting?
Detailed data from the November YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph, has the pollster showing for the first time that Lib Dem supporters prefer a David Cameron Tory government to a Gordon Brown-led Labour one.
The views of declared LD supporters run against the trend of the poll where the Tory leader saw a decline in his lead amongst all the sample to CON 43% – Lab 34% to the question â€œIf you had to choose, which would you prefer to see after the next election, a Conservative Government led by David Cameron or a Labour Government led by Gordon Brown?â€.
But the data shows that amongst the Lib Dem supporters answering this forced choice question there is now, a small lead for Cameron’s Tories – a trend that could have a profound impact on the the election outcome.
For a key reason why Labour has been doing so well in General Elections in converting its support into actual commons seats has been the readiness of Lib Dems to switch their allegiance to keep the Tories out. If these YouGov figures are right then the impact might be much less.
As the chart shows there has been a very sharp change of view on this since November 2005 when shortly before Cameron’s election as leader YouGov asked the question for the first time. Then Lib Dem supporters responded CON 24% – LAB 59%. By February 2006 it was CON 22% – LAB 52% and by June the LDs were still overwhelmingly with Labour and split CON 28% – LAB 48%. In August this had moved to CON 35% – LAB 44%. The latest data shows that there is now a 39-37 Tory lead.
A possible reason for this has the fall-back in support for the Lib Dems that YouGov has been finding. A year ago it had the party on 20% – the latest poll puts them at 16%.
The preference for Cameron represents the view of supporters at large and not just activists and bloggers who I would guess still overwhelmingly prefer a Brown-Labour Government. This disconnect, which has been remarked upon many times, could present a big challenge to Ming in the event of a hung parliament.
Labour leadership betting. Lots of move over the weekend with Brown moving out to 0.26/1 and then tightening to 0.2/1.