But might it help incumbents against the Tories?
The above, from a new PoliticsHome survey, is a finding that we see in one form or another ahead of every general election – the readiness of supporters of other parties to consider voting for the LDs if they had a serious chance of winning in their constituency.
On the positive side for Clegg’s party as they gather in Bournemouth for their annual conference is the response of Labour supporters with 43% of them saying that “definitely” or “probably” they could tactical switch to support the Lib Dems.
The problem here is that in many LD>CON marginals the Labour vote has been squeezed right down already and the starting position includes a large element of what we see in the poll – so party strategists cannot expect anything like the level of future switching
It’s the responses of Tory supporters where the Lib Dems are the main challengers in Labour seats that will be disappointing – especially as the strategy that’s been articulated in the past few days is to put the effort into winning against Labour.
As the numbers from the poll show far fewer Tories are ready to make the tactical switch even if the outcome would be Brown’s party losing a seat.
Looking at the UKPollingReport list of Lib Dem targets only six of the top twenty are Labour held already and that number includes three way marginals like Watford which are also high up the Tory target list.
This is an area though where the statistics don’t really tell the whole story. To a much greater extent than the other parties the LD performance is dependent on the ground war in each constituency.
How many councillors do they have in the target seats – a key element because like all parties a lot of local campaigning is funded by councillors passing over a proportion of their allowances? Also, where there’s a councillor there’s an incentive to maintain a presence for the party in order to hold onto the council seat.
In betting terms you have to look at their capabilities and its best to focus on those seats that you know.