Election for Lib Dem Party President: who will win, according to our exclusive survey

by Stephen Tall on November 26, 2014

libby on the wall3Lib 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. The survey closed at 10am today. 747 party members responded – thank you – and we’ll be publishing the full results here.

Tim Farron’s four-year stint as Lib Dem Party President finishes at the end of this year. The contest to succeed him was a three-way election between three female candidates: Sal Brinton, Daisy Cooper, and Liz Lynne.

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

91% in our survey say they will vote! (That won’t be the turnout.)

Three candidates are standing for the post of Party President, an election which is being decided by a ballot of all party members. Do you plan to vote in this election?

    91% – Yes, I plan to vote in this election
    9% – 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, as I pointed out when we previously polled this means our results below need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

The turnout in the presidential election will not be 91%. 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 previously correctly predicted the two previous winners of the Party Presidency, Tim Farron and, before him, Baroness (Ros) Scott. We’ll find out on Saturday when the official result is announced.

The 91% of those who said they would vote were then asked a follow-up question…

91% have voted or pretty much made up their minds

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. However, if you still have absolutely no idea who you will vote for, please say so now.

    91% – I have voted / have a good idea of who I will vote for to be party president
    9% – I have no idea idea who I would vote for yet

The vast majority of those who said they would vote have more or less made up their minds when filling in our survey (or have already voted). Unsurprisingly, this is a turnaround from September when less than half who said they would vote had any idea who they’d choose.

The 91% of those who said they would vote and had a good idea of for whom (or who had already voted) were then asked the crunch question using the preferential voting system that will be used in the actual all-member ballot…

Who do you want to be the next Lib Dem Party President?

Daisy Cooper has 52% of first preferences in our survey

    Round 1:
    30% – Sal Brinton
    52% – Daisy Cooper
    18% – Liz Lynne

The winner in this poll is Daisy Cooper, securing more than 50% of first preferences (and therefore second preferences weren’t needed to decide the winner). Congratulations to her on this strong showing. However, I stress the caveat already inserted that our surveys are skewed towards activist members who may well not be representative of the wider ‘armchair’ membership.

In particular, I’m doubtful that Daisy will win more than 50% of the votes in the first stage. If she doesn’t, then first and second preferences will come into play. For the record, then, here’s what happened in our survey at the further stages:

    2nd preferences:
    42% – Sal Brinton
    25% – Daisy Cooper
    33% – Liz Lynne
    3rd preferences:
    30% – Sal Brinton
    22% – Daisy Cooper
    48% – Liz Lynne

Finally, we did ask the 9% 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:

    32% – I don’t know enough about the candidates
    9% – I don’t know enough about what the Party President does
    28% – I don’t want to vote for any of the candidates
    4% – I don’t think the role of Party President matters
    26% – Other

Among those who answered ‘Other’, by the way, there was a range of reasons given, mostly due to feeling like they didn’t know enough to make an informed decision and were content to leave th decision to other members.

  • 1,500+ Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 747 completed the latest survey, which was conducted between 22nd and 26th November.
  • 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.