Polling analysis: How the votes are churning
At the end of last year ICM started a new feature in its tables – special sub-sets linking the answers to each question to what those interviewed told the pollster that they did at the last general election. This is usually made available in the detailed data tables that are posted on the pollster’s website a few days after the main findings are published.
Communicate Research now includes a similar information and we can get some sense of how support is churning between the parties even though the actual numbers might seem small.
The table above has been “snipped” from the detailed results of last week’s ICM poll which showed Labour 4% ahead and from it you can see how opinion is moving.
What’s clear is that the driving forces behind Labour’s poll progress have been a big switch from 2005 Lib Dem voters and a significant increase in the proportion of 2005 supporters who have returned.
The Lib Dems, as the overall poll shares show, has taken the biggest hit since the election and is a clear net loser to both Labour and the Tories.
The Tories still lead in terms of 2005 vote retention and are net beneficiaries from LAB>CON and LD>CON moves but this is nothing like as pronounced as it was a few months ago when huge leads over Labour were being recorded.
The loss to UKIP has been very small and although it’s not possible to work out a precise figure it has almost certainly been balanced by votes coming in the other direction. Overall in the poll only two-thirds of those who went UKIP in 2005 say they would do the same next time.
This data underlines that Cameron’s policy moves away from that which appeals to the core Tory vote has been at a very small price indeed – and this has been made up many times over by ex-Labour and Lib Dem supporters who have now come on board.
All this reinforces the point I have made many times here – the battle-ground for next time is in the centre ground and it is here where Gordon’s choice of Jacqui Smith as Home Secretary might be crucial. For all his many qualities the appeal of her predecessor, John Reid, to Lib Dems was very limited.
NOTE: There were many in the poll who did not say they voted for the three main parties in 2005 and they are not included in the bit that I’ve snipped.