EXCLUSIVE: Lib Dem Party Presidency – first members’ poll results are here

by Stephen Tall on October 4, 2014

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 735 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Tim Farron’s four-year stint as Lib Dem Party President ends this year. The contest to succeed him appears to be a four-way election between four female candidates: Sal Brinton, Daisy Cooper, Linda Jack and Liz Lynne.

They hold their first official hustings today, Saturday, 10-11am But don’t worry if you can’t make that – LibDemVoice is hosting a special “Who Wants to be Party President?” fringe meeting tomorrow, Sunday from 1-2pm, in the Crowne Plaza (Castle 2), where you can hear from all four, with past party president Baroness (Diana) Maddock chairing.

We asked a series of questions about the party presidency in our survey…

95% in our survey say they will vote! (That won’t be the turnout.)

Four candidates have so far declared their intention to stand for the post of Party President, an election which will be decided by a ballot of all party members this autumn. Do you plan to vote in this election?

    95% – Yes, I plan to vote in this election
    5% – No, I do not plan to vote in this election

Though it’s great to see so many of those signed up to our members’ forum actively engaged in our internal democracy, it’s right to point out that I think this suggests our results below need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

The turnout in the presidential election will not be 95%. The turnout in 2010 was just 42%. We’ve always known our surveys are skewed towards the activist vote (indeed, towards the male activist vote). This only matters if the responses of activists are likely to differ considerably from those of ‘armchair’ members. On most policy issues – when tested against other polls – this appears not to be the case.

However, in an internal election where personality is a key factor I can’t be confident that our surveys are necessarily reliable measures. That said, our surveys have in the past correctly predicted the two previous winners of the Party Presidency, Tim Farron and, before him, Baroness (Ros) Scott.

The 95% of those who said they would vote were then asked a follow-up question…

51% of those planning to vote have no idea who to vote for yet

You have answered that you plan to vote in the election for Party President. The question after this one will ask you to rank the declared candidates in order of your current preference. Alternatively, if you have no idea at this stage who you would vote for, please say so now – we will ask the question again before the actual election.

    49% – I have an idea of who I would vote for to be party president
    51% – I have no idea idea who I would vote for at the moment

This really does show there’s still all to play for in this election – just under half those party members who intend to vote have an idea of who they intend to vote for at this stage. Just over half have no idea at all.

The 49% of those who said they would vote and had an idea of for whom were then asked the crunch question using the preferential voting system that will be used in the actual all-member ballot…

Based on what you know, who do you think you are most likely to vote for to be Party President?

Daisy Cooper has the early lead among those with a view

    Round 1:
    22% – Sal Brinton
    44% – Daisy Cooper
    12% – Linda Jack
    22% – Liz Lynne

No candidate secured more than 50% so Linda is eliminated and her votes transferred.

    Round 2
    24% – Sal Brinton
    48% – Daisy Cooper
    28% – Liz Lynne

No candidate secured more than 50% so Sal is eliminated and her votes transferred.

    Round 3
    63% – Daisy Cooper
    36% – Liz Lynne

The winner in this poll is Daisy Cooper.

Congratulations to her on a strong, initial showing. However, I stress the caveats I’ve inserted above. (1) Our surveys are skewed towards activist members and that may well matter in an election where name recognition will count for a lot. And (2) at least half of the activist vote has yet to decide which of the candidates to vote for at all.

Finally, we did ask the 5% of those Lib Dem members who said they won’t be voting at all why not. Among that fairly limited sample, here’s what we found:

    61% – I don’t know enough about the candidates
    6% – I don’t know enough about what the Party President does
    6% – I don’t want to vote for any of the declared candidates
    14% – I don’t think the role of Party President matters
    14% – Other

That three-fifths don’t know enough about the four candidates suggests there’s still potential converts to be won over even among this fairly hard-core 5% abstainers. Among those who answered ‘Other’, by the way, this was mainly down to folk having just joined the party and not feeling yet able to have a say.

  • 1,500+ Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 735 completed the latest survey, which was conducted between 12th and 16th September.
  • 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.