Would replacing Brown be bad news for Clegg?
Thanks to Ryans on a previous thread for highlighting the detailed finding in the week’s first YouGov poll on the party split when respondents were asked if they would be more or less likely to vote Labour if Brown was replaced.
Normally I think we should be quite sceptical about such questions and I don’t think we should read too much into the scale of potential switching. But one thing stands out from the numbers – that 27% of Lib Dem voters said they would be more likely to vote Labour if it had a different leader.
What makes this segment so important is that the LD-LAB cross-over could be the key factor that decides whether there is a Tory majority or not.
For in almost all polls from all the firms the Tories are pretty solid on 40 – 42%. At the same time the LD-LAB aggregate is staying remarkably constant in the 45 – 49% range – it’s how that is splitting that is driving the size of the Labour deficit.
So when Labour is up the Lib Dems are down and vice versa. Thus anything that could move more Lib Dems to supporting Labour has to be taken seriously.
Taking YouGov’s 27% LD proportion then that would mean a 4 point switch from Clegg’s party to Labour. I don’t think it would be anything like that but 2% could make a dramatic difference in terms of seats gained and lost.
There’s also the factor that we’ve looked at many times of “tactical unwind” – what happens when electors revert to their main allegiance after at previous elections voting for the party in their constituency most likely to stop, generally, the Tories.
One survey in 2005 suggested that one in ten of all votes for Labour were tactical – mostly, one would assume, in the marginals. So if some of those slip back then that could make it easier for the Tories in key targets.
Maybe because more people are at home because of the weather the YouGov poll sample was pretty large and there were 564 LD voters.