Pollwatch Day 21 #GE2010 – Lib Dems in second place, at 28-31%, in today’s polls

by Stephen Tall on April 26, 2010

Four polls published tonight, as follows:

    ICM in the Guardian … CON 33%(-2), LAB 28%(+2), LIB DEM 30%(-1)
    Opinium in the Express … CON 34%(+2), LAB 25%(-1), LIB DEM 28%(-1)
    ComRes for ITV/Independent … CON 32%(-2), LAB 28%(nc), LIB DEM 31%(+2)
    YouGov in the Sun … CON 33%(-1), LAB 28%(nc), LIB DEM 29%(-1)

All movement is within the margin of error, and the degree of stability in the polls is striking: the Tories are at 32-34%, Lib Dems at 28-31% and Labour at 25-28%. Anthony Wells’ UK Polling Report ‘poll of polls’ shows the Lib Dems edging up:

    CON 33%, LAB 27%, LIB DEM 30%

It does appear, based on this crop of polls, that the slight boost the Tories acquired over the weekend, seemingly at the expense of the Lib Dems, has faded. It might be that the Tories temporarily gained from David Cameron’s improved debate performance; or it may be that the rightwing press’s smear campaign against Nick Clegg did do some short-term harm to the Lib Dems, which has now (fingers crossed) passed.

My hunch is that Lib Dem support will slip a little this week because of the media focus on the negative impact of a hung parliament – for example, ITV’s political editor Tom Bradby’s quite blatant politicking – with some ‘undecided’ Labour and Tory voters returning to the safe comfort of their status quo parties. I sincerely hope to be proven wrong.

Hung parliament findings:

And speaking of hung parliaments, here’s the findings from today’s ComRes poll which asked voters about the prospect of one:

  • 72% said they’d prefer a majority government, while 20% said they would prefer a hung parliament.
  • When those 72% who support a majority government were asked who they would prefer to see get a majority, 37% said Conservative, 29% Labour.
  • Of those 20% who said they would prefer a hung parliament, 27% opted for a Conservative government with Liberal Democrat support, while 56% opted for Labour government with support of the Lib Dems.

While it’s inevitably difficult to get the media off their ‘what if?’ hobby-horse during an election campaign, I do hope the party will be able to focus the news agenda back on our four key campaign promises – fair taxes, a fair start for children, a fair, sustainable economy and fair politics – and away from the tedious process story of a hung parliament.

Regional impact of the Lib Dem surge

UK Polling Report gives the “first properly weighted regional breaks from YouGov on data entirely after the first debate”, which show the party’s strength especially in the north, and potential good news in the south-west:

The swing from Labour to the Lib Dems in the North-East is 13%, in Yorkshire 11.5% and the North West 9.5. Compare this to the swing in the South East (5%) and London (7%). In Scotland there is very little sign of a Lib Dem advance, with the party on 25% compared to 23% at the last election (though this is still much better than the Liberals were polling in Scotland a few months back). In the South West, the swing from Conservative to Liberal Democrat is 5.5% in this poll, suggesting around 9 Conservative losses to the Lib Dems, rather than the other way around.

On this basis, we might expect (with all the usual caveats about extrapolating from polls to seats) to see 111 Lib Dem MPs, compared with 262 Tories and 245 Labour MPs.

FiveThirtyEight.com’s advanced swingometer

Nate Silver at the world’s best polling website, FiveThirtyEight.com, offers a range of possible outcomes of the UK general election based on various hypotheses, and suggests Labour supporters should not draw too much comfort from electoral models based on uniform national swing:

… they have been badly wrong in the past and there is some evidence that they may be badly wrong again. Particularly if Labour’s vote were to wind up in the mid-20s, its very hard to see how they could thread the needle in such a way that the outcome wouldn’t be devastating to them.