Can Ming’s by election team prove the polls wrong?
A new YouGov poll for Sky News which was published overnight has the Lib Dems at their worst ever figure from the firm – even below the last low point of 13% in January 2006 in a survey taken after the Mark Oaten and Simon Hughes tabloid revelations.
The figures are with changes on the last YouGov poll in the Sun Times a week and a half ago are: CON 37% (nc): LAB 36% (+1): LD 12% (-2).
So the Tories are staying firm and the fall-off in Lib Dem support being found amongst members of the pollster’s polling panel continues. At the end of April, just two months ago, YouGov had the party at 18% – so the poll is showing a drop in support of exactly a third in that time period.
Labour, however they try to spin it, must be hugely disappointed by the survey which took place against a backdrop of almost wall to wall positive coverage for the party and in the immediate aftermath of its Manchester conference.
In the first YouGov poll after last September’s Labour conference the party were level pegging with the Tories on 36% – so today’s poll is not as good as that.
But what of Ming and the Lib Dems? This is a dreadful poll. Yet they will no doubt recall that in the days following their last YouGov low-point they went on to win the Dunfermline by election in February 2006.
The prospect of two more by elections will focus the party machine. In both Southall and Tony Blair’s old seat at Sedgefield they must fancy their chances. In the former the party was in second place at the General Election and in the latter they were third just behind the Tories. But their 2005 result in Tony Blair’s constituency result result was affected by a large number of potential Lib Dem supporters who opted for the anti-war candidate.
No doubt the elections will be held on the same day to dissipate LD resources and Labour will seek to create the maximum level of surprise on the timing. But you would be unwise to bet that Labour would retain both seats.