EXCLUSIVE: What Lib Dem members think about the Lib Dems and the Coalition

by Stephen Tall on December 19, 2013

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 750 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Members back Coalition with Conservatives by 80% to 17%

Do you support or oppose the Lib Dems being in the Coalition Government with the Conservatives?

    80% (+1%) – Support

    17% (n/c) – Oppose

    3% (n/c) – Don’t know / No opinion

No matter what the travails of the Coalition — and there have been plenty in the past three-and-a-half years — the high support for the Lib Dems being in coalition with the Conservatives hasn’t shifted significantly. We’ve asked this tracker question 18 times, and the range has been 74% (September 2012, after Lords reform was blocked) to 85% (November 2010, our first post-tuition fees U-turn survey). This month’s is pretty much bang in the middle of those, at 80%.

Clegg’s leadership: net +12% satisfied

What is your view of Nick Clegg’s performance as Lib Dem leader?

    13% – Very satisfied
    43% – Satisfied
    Total satisfied = 56% (+7%)
    25% – Dissatisfied
    17% – Very dissatisfied
    Total satisfied = 42% (-6%)
    1% – Don’t know / No opinion

Satisfaction among members with Nick Clegg’s leadership of the party has recovered this month: having plunged to just +1% in September, it now stands at +12%. As you can see, the afterglow of Cleggmania has long since been snuffed out, with his net ratings fluctuating in the range c.0-20%.

ldv clegg ratings dec 2013

62% of Lib Dems say party on “right course”

Do you think, as a whole, the Liberal Democrats are on the right course or on the wrong track?

    62% (+6%) – The right course

    33% (n/c) The wrong track

    5% (-5%) – Don’t know / No opinion

The overall net satisfaction rating of the Lib Dems according to party members has recovered to +29% – it had dipped to just +23% last time we asked before the Glasgow conference in September. It’s a long way off the +49% of February 2012, though: the month before the NHS Bill row. But it’s just as far off the +9% recorded in September 2012 after the collapse of Lords reform.

Net +27% approval rating for Coalition’s record

Do you approve or disapprove of the Coalition Government’s record to date?

    58% (+2%) – Approve

    31% (-1%) – Disapprove

    10% (-1%) – Don’t know

There has been a small but noticeable shift in approval for the Coalition’s record in the last 9 months: the net +27% approval rating is the highest since June 2012 (+28%).

93% of party members expect Lib Dems to lose seats in 2015

How many Lib Dem MPs do you think will be elected at the next general election (expected in May 2015)?

    3% (n/c) – More than current 57 MPs

    15% (+1%) – Between 50 and 57 MPs

    34% (-2%) – Between 40 and 49 MPs

    29% (n/c) – Between 30 and 40 MPs

    15% (+3%) – Fewer than 30 MPs

    4% (n/c) – Don’t know

This is the fourth time we’ve asked this question. The first, in March, was immediately after the Lib Dems’ tightly-fought hold in the Eastleigh by-election: back then, 28% of party members expected the Lib Dem to hold at least 50 seats. That proportion now stands at 18%. A majority do, though, expect the party to hold at least 40 seats: 52% now compared with 56% last March; 44% expect us to have fewer than 40 MPs.

64% of Lib Dems say party achieving influence in Government

How would you rate the extent of the Liberal Democrat influence within the Coalition Government, where 10 is highly influential, and 1 indicates no influence.

    1 = 0%
    2 = 4%
    3 = 13%
    4 = 11%
    5 = 7%
    Lacking influence = 35% (-7%)
    6 = 17%
    7 = 27%
    8 = 14%
    9 = 4%
    10 = 2%
    Achieving influence = 64% (+6%)

By a pretty solid 2:1 majority Lib Dem members are more likely to rate the Lib Dems as achieving influence within the Coalition – the 64% saying this is the highest figure since June 2012. A year ago, December 2012, 49% thought the Lib Dems lacked influence while 50% thought we were achieving influence. Party members seem to be buying the differentiation strategy – the question is whether the voters will like it, too.

  • 1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 749 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 14th and 18th December.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.