NEW POLL: What do you think the next general election holds in store for the Lib Dems?

by Stephen Tall on August 7, 2009

August may be a quiet month in domestic politics, but it’s merely the precursor to the new Parliamentary year to come – by the end of which there will have to be a general election, and (it seems almost certain) a change of government. What better time, then, to ponder what we think awaits the Lib Dems at that election?

Our poll ratings seem steady enough, consistently in the 18-20% range – down on the equivalent stage in the 2001-05 Parliament, when the party was boosted by its lone opposition to the Iraq war – but pretty strong compared to most other Parliaments. The unknowable next time round is how far the party can defend its seats aganst Tory challenges (and pick up a couple of surprise gains) while gaining ground on Labour.

Which brings us neatly to our new poll question: What do you think the next general election holds in store for the Lib Dems?

Here are your options:

  • An increase in % vote and an increase in seats;
  • An increase in % vote but a decrease in seats;
  • A decrease in % vote but an increase in seats;
  • A decrease in % vote and a decrease in seats.
  • The choice is yours. Feel free to show your working in the comments thread below.

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    I’d go for a decrease in vote but about the same number of seats – though whether they’ll be the same seats is arguable. I think we will lose a couple in the South West and possibly SW London too, but they could well be balanced by picking some up in the North of England.

    by KL on August 7, 2009 at 8:51 am. Reply #

    I basically agreed with KL – if a GE was held today – with possibly an increase of up to 5-10 seats.We a have a pretty good record at holding seats & the Tories always try the ‘blue tide’ argument. I remember them saying Paddy days were numbered in 1990 in Yeovil!!!
    A GE next year – still all to play for us & Labour – I think the Tories have or are about to peak. With the increased spot light on what the Tories may do if they won will I think reduce their support (some people will begin to remember just how awful the Tories really are).

    by Greenfield on August 7, 2009 at 10:07 am. Reply #

    I think the markets have it right. Net loss of seats (10 – 15), just look at some of our paper-thin majorities. We’re too far behind in most Labour seats, and Tory tactical voting too ill-developed, to do better.

    by Tabman on August 7, 2009 at 11:43 am. Reply #

    Lim Dem vote staying roughly the same but with a net loss of seats.

    by Richard on August 7, 2009 at 1:00 pm. Reply #

    “possibly SW London too”

    On the basis of the Euro results and reccent by-elections things don’t seem to bad in South West London. We had our best ever Euro result in Sutton nearly beating the Tories and didn’t we win in Kingston and Richmond.

    In the Nonsuch by-elction the Tories did dreadfully which must bode well for both Pual Burstow and our excellent Lib Dem administration in Sutton.

    by Simon on August 7, 2009 at 4:22 pm. Reply #

    My predictions for the General Election have been the same for about a year now:

    1) We will lose between 10 and 20 seats to the Tories
    2) We will gain between 10 and 20 seats from Labour
    3) Our vote share will decline slightly
    4) There will be at least one surprise gain from the Tories

    Exactly how many seats we gain and lose will depend on the efforts of our teams in our marginal seats…

    And that’s why everyone reading this message needs to go to a priority seat and deliver some leaflets or knock on some doors every week between now and the election!

    by Joe Taylor on August 7, 2009 at 4:22 pm. Reply #

    I think there is still a lot to play for.

    We have the potential to do well in the campaign itself if a) we make sure we have some simple hard hitting policies to campaign on and b) Nick comes across as well as he has the potential to do.

    I do think that Labour are unlikely to significantly improve their position, but I’m not convinced Cameron has sealed the deal either.

    Joe’s comment is also sound – in terms of the exact number of gains and losses a lot will come down to our local campaigns in the marginals.

    by Liberal Neil on August 7, 2009 at 4:44 pm. Reply #

    I agree with Joe mostly. We should be bussing people down to the marginals over the next year. Doorstep engagement, keep it local.. and the Tories certainly don’t have a lock on the South West seats here.

    I also think that if there is a TV debate and Lab/Con don’t find a way of keeping Nick out of it, our vote share and number of seats could increase as a result of his performance, where he will no doubt come across as a strong leader with a manifesto that is most relevant to what this country is facing at the moment.

    by Kasch on August 7, 2009 at 6:14 pm. Reply #

    I doubt very much if there will be a TV debate between the party leaders for the very reason that Labour and the Tories would wish to keep Nick out of it. Nothing would improve our chances of doing well more than if they were to attempt to do so. With parliamentary politics so despised by the most of the public, an agenda for real parliamentary reform would provide clear water from the other two parties who may attempt ‘light pruning’ rather than ‘root and branch’ reform. The chances are that we may lose a few seats and gain slightly fewer, but IF (a big if) we can gain the agenda in the next election we could do very well.

    by Stanley Theed on August 7, 2009 at 9:58 pm. Reply #

    If the general election was tomorrow we would lose around 20 or more to the Tories, including one or more gained from Labour last time around. We would gain from Labour but not enough to stem the losses to the Tories – most of the 3 way marginals will go to the Tories. I would predict we’ll hover around the 50 mark.

    The great unknown is if Nick Clegg will be able to break through with the increased coverage given by the election campaign – this could give us the breathing space to make a difference in the marginals (or not).

    The one thing I would say is that (probably because of lack of resources) my perception is that we’re not fighting anywhere near the number of Labour seats we should be at the moment. The Tories have already shifted resources away from the ultra-marginals with Labour and are fighting more seats harder.

    In Yorkshire as far as I can tell we are still fighting the same 6 or so seats we were 18 months ago despite Labour’s vote having collapsed in that time. If this continues until the general election we are squandering an opportunity to make real gains amongst Labour voters – whether we gain actual seats this time or not – that could change the political landscape for a generation. If we can’t get the money/resources now when will we be able to?

    by Letterman on August 7, 2009 at 10:37 pm. Reply #

    I don’t know whether the above opinions are pessimism, natural caution or lowering expectations, but I think a modest rise in LibDem share across the country is likely (maybe less than a percentage point), with a net gain of between a dozen and a score of seats, is a realistic target.

    I think the biggest trend will be the result of increasing Labour and Conservative targeting as they follow our lead by consolidating resources where they can make gains – the countertrend will be for LibDems to pick up more national votes in unexpected areas as we come to be seen as less of a protest party and more of a realistic contender.

    Clegg has obvious credibility and appeal as a national leader and negotiator (rather than as an intellectual or ideologue) and I see an extra boost from the national profile during the election campaign (moreso than in previous elections), which matches a gradual transition towards equal emphasis on the air-war as much as the ground war in our style of campaigning.

    Local parties need to be prepared to profit from our opponents weaknesses as this will determine our strategy down the road – particularly considering the volatile nature of opinion – anything but a medium-sized win for Cameron (40-80 seat majority) is likely to mean the next parliament will be shorter, so an eye on the second election under TeamClegg is essential.

    by Oranjepan on August 8, 2009 at 8:16 am. Reply #

    Hmm. I tried to trackback on this post with a reference to the analysis I blogged in response to your question. I guess I’ll just link to it here instead:

    by The Futility Monster on August 8, 2009 at 9:32 am. Reply #

    I think a lot could depend on what happens during the campaign.

    I think it’s fair to say that Clegg has become more confident and polished in his media appearances, but I’m not so convinced by his grasp of detail. A couple of blunders of the kind we’ve seen previously could do a lot of damage.

    More importantly, given the strength of feeling against the government, I think the Tories will be pushing at every opportunity the idea that the Lib Dems could keep Labour in power. The number one priority should be for the party to come up with a clear answer to that accusation, which is acceptable to those who have previously voted Conservative, but have switched to the Lib Dems in previous years. If that line of attack can’t be effectively countered, I reckon losses to the Tories could be a lot heavier than some here are hoping.

    by Herbert Brown on August 8, 2009 at 11:08 am. Reply #

    I have been thinking about this since 2005 & the conclusions i came to then have been confirmed by my reading of events since, in GB percentages with changes since 2005, im predicting –
    Tory Labour LDs Others
    37%(+4) 26%(-10) 26(+3) 11%(+3)

    Trying to guess the seats is a mugs game, even if we had enough data from Wales & Scotland, there a number of models out there & they give wildly different results. The crucial points are that we have a real chance of beating Labour in vote share but not in the polls till the last days of the campaign, if then.

    by plumbus on August 8, 2009 at 2:27 pm. Reply #

    Everything to play for ! I read of more activity (in many Welsh constituencies and over the border). If the Election is first Thursday in May 2010 -with 8 months to go we can break through more effectively than ever before. The massive leaps forward in seats over the past 3 elections defied all opposition forecasts. We mustn’t throw in the towel at this stage – that makes no sense at all ! I believe that the real success story of the next election could be ours.

    by Roger Roberts on August 8, 2009 at 6:14 pm. Reply #

    I agree with the last poster, but the policies are often too whimsical, and need real teeth, as do the front benches.
    I simply just don’t believe the current pr/comms team are up to much (even although they are from the likes of saatchi and saatchi). why do we have 12 in the pr team but rubbish pr!

    by Libdem Guru on August 9, 2009 at 4:55 pm. Reply #

    @ Herbert Brown

    That point about the Tories running a strategy suggesting we would prop up a Labour government to keep the Tories out of power could be a tragically effective attack. Hopefully Cowley street are mulling a counter, if not.. =S

    by Kasch on August 13, 2009 at 4:43 pm. Reply #

    […] our readers – who, I cannot emphasise enough, may or may not be Lib Dem supporters – what you think the next general election holds in store for the Lib Dems? Here’s what you told us: 24% (116 votes): An increase in % vote and an increase in seats 22% […]

    by LDV readers say: 56% reckon Lib Dems will lose support at next election on August 27, 2009 at 8:31 am. Reply #

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