Can Cameron rely on those who didn’t vote last time?
In September 2007, when Labour was riding high and Gordon could do no wrong, I questioned several times whether the poll shares we were seeing were robust because so much of the “new” support for the party was coming from people who had not voted at the 2005 general election.
As anybody with experience of on the ground campaigning knows the most reliable electors are those who have a record of actually turning out. Non-voters at previous elections are the flakey ones.
In one September 2007 poll which had Labour 8% ahead the analysis of 2005 voters suggested that the lead was just 3%.
Looking at the recent ICM, Populus and ComRes surveys, where this data is available, and its clear that the same is happening but in reverse. Many of the “new” Tory supporters who have pushed shares for their party into the mid-40s did not vote in 2005.
In fact the non-2005 voters account for getting on for three fifths of the increase in the Conservative shares and easily outnumber those who have switched from other parties.
One question that ComRes asks is “Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as…?” and here there is what could be good news for Cameron. One set of data shows that a total of 27% of those saying they think of themselves as Tories say they did not vote in 2005. Now 92% of them say they will be voting. That compares with with just 65% of those whose allegiance is Labour saying they plan to vote for their party.
So much of the change we have seen has been down to the Tories re-connecting with their supporter base. They now say they will vote – but will they?
The big piece of comfort for Labour planners is that ComRes normally finds significantly more people saying that they “think of themselves as Labour” than the other parties. The only problem is that too many of the group currently say they won’t be voting for their allegiance.