82% of Lib Dem voters say “It’s time for change”

82% of Lib Dem voters say “It’s time for change”

..and only 18% want to stick with Labour

The Lib Dems were delighted on Tuesday when the latest Guardian ICM poll had them at 20% – well above the shares from other pollsters including, on that very day, just 14% with Ipsos-MORI.

But I wonder how many in the party, particularly those at the top who occasionally give the impression that they are politics primarily because they hate the Tories, are going to view responses from those same LD supporters in the survey when they were asked to choose between – “continuity is important – stick with Labour” or it was “Time for Change”.

For the detailed data, which I now have and will be released officially by ICM on Monday, shows just 18% of Lib Dem supporters wanting to stick with Labour but with 82% wanting change.

The “time for change” question is not often put by pollsters which is a pity because it gives a good snap-shot of the mood of the country that just might be a better guide to the coming general election than just the voting intention figures. For this could impact on turnout, tactical voting and party choice in a way that is not yet coming through in the headline figures.

If electors are strong enough in their desire for change they will be more likely to vote and follow the route that appears to be the best way to achieve that objective in their constituency. This, surely, is what happened in 1997 when there was a lot of tactical voting and in terms of seats won and Tony Blair’s Labour exceeded the uniform national swing by quite a margin.

The 82% LD “change” number in this poll seemed so high that I thought I needed to look back at previous occasions when this was has been put. Sure enough, in September 2006, when Tony was still there, the split amongst Lib Dems was virtually the same with 81% saying they wanted change.

So how strategically do the Lib Dems deal with this knowledge. Do they go on firing most of their shots at the Tories or do they align themselves much more with the change bandwagon of the Tories and the SNP?

One thing’s for sure – if they are seen as an obstacle then it’s going to be a whole lot harder holding onto the seats that they will be defending against the Tories.

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