Even when things are going well their supporters are less certain
Just look at the chart above which takes one series of numbers from the monthly Ipsos-MORI political monitors – the proportion of those saying they will support Labour and the Conservatives at the next election who are “100% certain to vote”.
The period covered is the past fifteen months and includes times when Labour has been doing badly, like at the moment, and times when they are doing better – such as from the final quarters of 2008 when the handling of the banking crisis seemed to be paying dividend in the polls.
Throughout the Tories have had a solid lead on this measure and there’s no sign that this might change. In good times or bad Labour just finds it more challenging getting its people out to vote.
All the phone pollsters – MORI, ICM, Populus and ComRes – use these responses when computing their headline figures.
In previous elections Labour has benefited that in seats where it mattered, the marginals, it found it easier to get its people out. Where it doesn’t matter, in Tory or Labour strongholds, then supporters have been much less motivated to vote – one of the big drivers behind the the seat calculations and a key reason why the system seems to work against the Tories.
But will such Labour voters in key seats follow their previous patterns? Will there be disproportionate Labour turnout rates where it matters? At the moment there’s no sign of that but it could change as we get closer.