PollWatch: first post-election polls show Lib Dems at 21%

by Stephen Tall on May 16, 2010

Two new polls out in today’s papers:

    ComRes, S.Indy/S.Mirror … CON 38%, LAB 34%, LIB DEM 21%
    ICM in the S.Telegraph … CON 38%, LAB 33%, LIB DEM 21%

Polls at this stage of the parliamentary cycle (apparently a full 5 years before the next election) are a little academic. Still, let’s give them their moment.

From a Lib Dem perspective, I’m moderately encouraged: our support is down, unsurprisingly, but it has not evaporated overnight. It’s at least arguable that our support might be lower still if Nick Clegg hadn’t struck a deal with the Conservatives: parties which have under-performed at an election tend to suffer in the immediate post-election polls.

There has also been more analysis of first reactions to the Lib-Con coalition government. ICM indicates 64% of voters approve: this includes 87% of Tory voters and 77% of Lib Dem voters (with Labour voters the most disapproving). The poll also shows 63% support for fixed-term parliaments, and 56% backing for a change from first-past-the-post to the Alternative Vote.

ComRes asks a couple of questions designed to achieve a headline. One asks how many voters believe the Lib Dems have “sold out” their principles for power: a plurality, 47%, disagree with the statement – including 61% of Lib Dem voters, 34% agreeing that the party has “sold out”.

The second asks if Nick Clegg “should have opted for a coalition with Labour rather than a deal with the Tories”, a spurious hypothetical as (i) no-one knows what such a deal might have looked like, and (ii) it fails to point out that a Lib-Lab pact was as unacceptable to Labour, as it was arithmatically impossible. In any case, 59% of voters disagree with the statement including 59% of Lib Dem voters.

ComRes also finds majority support for changing from first-past-the-post to the Alternative Vote: 59% back it over 32% favouring the status quo.