LDV members’ survey (5): when you think the next general election will be (and what you think will happen)

by Stephen Tall on November 30, 2008

Over the last week or so, Lib Dem Voice has invited the members of our private forum (open to all Lib Dem members) inviting them to take part in a survey, conducted via Liberty Research, asking a number of questions about the party and the current state of British politics. Many thanks to the 210+ of you who completed it; we’re publishing the results this week on LDV.

The last couple of months has seen the British political landscape transformed, with suggestions that Gordon Brown might take advantage of recession-induced panic to spring a quick general election. So we asked LDV-reading party members, When do you think the next general election will be held?

Here’s what you told us:

A ‘snap’ election early in 2009 – 5.2%
Spring 2009 – 12.3%
June 2009 – 10.9%
Autumn 2009 – 6.1%
Spring 2010 – 38.2%
June 2010 – 20.3%
Don’t know / No opinion – 7.1%

In total, then one-third of you expect the general election to take place in 2009; but the majority of you – almost 60% – reckon we have another 15-18 months to wait.

We then asked What is your view of the most likely result of the next general election? Here’s what you told us (with the figures from September, when we last asked this question, in brackets):

A Conservative landslide – 2.4% (21.9%)
A working Conservative majority – 33.5% (60.4%)
Conservatives largest single party, but no majority – 38.2% (14.6%)
Labour largest single party, but no majority – 15.6% (0%)
A working Labour majority – 3.8% (0%)
Liberal Democrats largest single party, but no majority – 0.9% (-)
Don’t know / No opinion – 5.7% (3.1%)

A quite dramatic movement in opinion, then, pointing to the shifting political plates. In September, a whopping 80%+ of you believed the Tories were destined to form a government. Today, barely 35% of you think that. Instead, a majority of LDV-reading party members now believe the most likely result of the next general election is a hung Parliament, with either the Tories (38.2%) or Labour (15.6%) emerging with the most seats.

Finally, we asked your expectations of Lib Dem fortunes at the next general election: The Lib Dems currently number 63 MPs. How many MPs do you think the party will have after the next general election?

Here’s what you told us (with the figures from September, when we last asked this question, in brackets):

Over 100 – 0.5% (3.1%)
75-100 – 10.9% (9.4%)
63-75 – 32.1% (33.3%)
50-63 – 37.3% (36.5%)
30-50 – 16.5% (15.6%)
Fewer than 30 – 1.9% (2.1%)
Don’t know / No opinion – 0.9% (-)

What’s interesting here, I think, is the degree of consistency in your expectations of Lib Dem success at the next general election; certainly when compared with the turnaround in views of the most likely overall result as shown in the last question.

In total, some 43% believe the Lib Dems will increase our House of Commons representation at the next election; some 80% of members believe the party will have at least 50 MPs, higher than our current poll average would suggest. Of course, that does mean one-fifth of you are in a much more pessimistic mood, believing the Lib Dems will lose a significant number of seats.

Here’s a sample of your comments:

“too much complacency in some MP seats to predict widescale gains”
“I think we’ll gain a few and lose a few more . . .”
“LibDems have done best when Tories fail. Need to work MUCH harder to get the GREEN and LABOUR votes”
“More than the last time there was a Tory government.”
“Unless we can emerge from the shadow of the other two as what has been the sensible party over the economy we’re liable to slip. However, in the light of a campaign we should be able to get that message across and I hope to be proven wrong.”
“I think we’ll lose a couple, but not many because once a Lib Dem is in, they tend to become very popular local MPs.”
“With hard work and a following wind the party may be able to make some small progress.”
“we will probabaly lose some to the Tories and win some from Labour”
“It depends on how well we hold in the south while we take the LAbour north, and if we can create an effective method of fighting three-way marginals where Labour is collapsing.”