by Stephen Tall on May 1, 2013
Much excitement this morning at an unusual event: a poll looking specifically at this Thursday’s local elections. And more than that, a poll showing Ukip on 22%! The full figures are:
Labour on 24%
Lib Dems 12%
Important point: this poll was conducted only in the areas which will actually vote this week. That’s why the Tories are ahead and Labour’s behind. The equivalent vote shares compared to the last time these same seats were fought in 2009 is as follows (via the ever-excellent Anthony Wells):
Lib Dems 25%
Which means the changes compared to last time are as follows:
Lib Dems -13%
This would mean no swing from Conservative to Lib Dem (or vice versa) compared to last time these seats were fought. However, if Ukip takes a disproportionate number of votes from the Tories in certain areas it might enable the Lib Dems to win seats directly.
In those seats where the Lib Dems are fighting Labour directly the party is likely to have a much tougher time: the ComRes poll shows a swing from Lib Dem to Labour of 12%, roughly in line with what you’d expect from the current national poll ratings.
The unknown factor at the moment is (1) if Ukip will poll at this level, and (2) if they do whether it will translate into seats, or if it will result in a large number of good second and third places. As the Lib Dems know like no other party, attracting a large number of voters across the country isn’t fairly rewarded under our current skewed electoral system. Anthony Wells has estimated the Tories might lose 500 seats and Ukip gain 250 if the ComRes figures are accurate.
It does appear as if Ukip are doing very well at hoovering up the ‘none of the above’ vote the Lib Dems used to attract, as well as the patriotic, nationalist ‘Little Englander’ group which has previously been distributed among the Tories (and to a significant but lesser extent Labour). It’s not that surprising, given the unprecedented situation we now face in which all three mainstream parties have been in government within the last three years, presiding over a period of political and economic crisis.
The poll was paid for by the Coalition for Marriage, which also asked questions about whether the parties’ support for same-sex marriage would affect how people vote. Now there are good reasons for regarding such questions suspiciously: if you prompt people specifically about a single issue in a poll they’re more likely to say it’ll affect their vote than will be the actual case when they come to weigh up all the issues and cast their ballot. However, the polling intention question was asked first so there’s no reason that I know of not to take this poll at face value — with all the usual caveats that it is just one poll with the usual margin of error.