Latest Euro poll shows how, in this May’s elections, every %-age point matters for the Lib Dems

by Stephen Tall on March 28, 2014

clegg farage lbcInterest in the outcome of May’s European elections is picking up, at least judged by the number of polls the newspapers are commissioning – four have been published in the last fortnight. Here’s the average support for the parties:

    Labour – 30%
    Ukip – 26%
    Conservative – 24%
    Lib Dems – 9%

Converting that into seats using EuroElection predict’s online gizmo would produce the following figures:

    Labour – 24 seats (+11)
    Ukip – 20 (+7)
    Conservative – 18 (-9)
    Lib Dems – 3 (-8)

Those figures ain’t the most encouraging for the Lib Dems. What’s more encouraging is that the first (partly) post-Nick v Nigel debate poll shows the party up, on 11%. Feed those figures into EuroElection and you get this:

    Labour – 22 seats (+9)
    Ukip – 19 (+6)
    Conservative – 18 (-9)
    Lib Dems – 6 (-5)

This highlights quite what a difference even a couple of extra percentage points can make to the Lib Dem position. At 9% we’d probably win 3 seats; at 11% we’d probably double that tally to 6 seats.

This emphasises the importance for the party of the Nick v Nigel debates, and of Clegg leading the pro-European cause, taking the fight to Ukip. In a sense it doesn’t matter whether Farage ‘wins’ the post-debate polls or not, so long as the Lib Dems make net gains in votes. As the above figures show, every extra percentage point could make a big difference to the eventual outcome.

We’re still 7 weeks away from the elections, of course. A lot can and probably will change.

I’d guess, for example, that if Ukip tops the poll – in my view the most likely outcome – that will spike their national support, hurt the Tories, and help Labour recover a more decent lead. So expect the national polls to bobble around quite a lot in the next few months, though the general trend of Labour’s lead receding seems sure to continue.

* 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.