Exclusive survey results: What Lib Dem members think of the Coalition so far

by Stephen Tall on November 28, 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. 747 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Members back Coalition with Conservatives by 79% to 18%

Do you support or oppose the Lib Dems being in the Coalition Government with the Conservatives? (Changes since last time question asked, September 2014).

    79% (-1%) – Support
    18% (+1%) – 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 four-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 21 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 79%. The net support of +61% is the lowest since March 2013.

Clegg’s leadership: net +1% satisfied

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

    12% – Very satisfied
    37% – Satisfied
    Total satisfied = 49% (-1%)
    22% – Dissatisfied
    26% – Very dissatisfied
    Total dissatisfied = 48% (n/c)
    2% – Don’t know / No opinion

Satisfaction among members with Nick Clegg’s leadership of the party stands at a net +1%, his lowest rating since September 2013 — though the lowest figure we recorded was -2% in March 2013.

56% 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?

    56% (+2%) – The right course
    37% (+1%) – The wrong track
    7% (-3%) – Don’t know / No opinion

The overall net satisfaction rating of the Lib Dems according to party members stands at +19% – up 1% since September, but still down significantly on April’s +27%. In February 2012, the net satisfaction rating stood at whopping +49%: the month before the NHS Bill row. On the plus side, it’s a little way off the rock bottom +9% recorded in September 2012 after the collapse of Lords reform.

Net +26% approval rating for Coalition’s record

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

    58% (+2%) – Approve
    32% (=) – Disapprove
    10% (-2%) – Don’t know

Approval of the Coalition Government’s record has recovered a little since September: up from a net +24% to +26%. It’s still down considerably since April (+34%), though better than the +4% of September 2012.

76% want the Coalition to last well into 2015

When would you like the Coalition to end?

    13% (+4%) – As soon as possible
    8% (+3%) – It should end early in 2015
    39% (-2%) – It should stop shortly before the 2015 general election so the two Coalition parties can set out their different plans
    37% (-3%) – It should continue right up to the 2015 general election
    3% (=) – It should continue beyond the 2015 general election
    1% (=) – Don’t know / No opinion

As you might expect, given the strong continuing overall support for sticking with the Coalition, three-quarters (76%) of party members actively want the Coalition to last well into 2015 — though there is a pretty even division on whether it should continue right up to the dissolution of parliament, or cease a decent interval beforehand to allow for full-on differentiation. Interestingly, there has been a 7% increase in the proportion of members wanting the Coalition to end immediately (13%) or within a couple of months (8%), probably reflecting the fact that the Coalition is in its final phase.

80% of party members expect Lib Dems to slip below 40 seats in 2015

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

    1% (-1%) – More than current 57 MPs
    2% (-4%) – Between 50 and 57 MPs
    13% (-8%) – Between 40 and 49 MPs
    43% (+6%) – Between 30 and 40 MPs
    37% (+7%) – Fewer than 30 MPs
    4% (=) – Don’t know

This is the seventh time we’ve asked this question. The first, in March 2013, 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 just 3%. In December 2013, a majority (52%) expected the party to hold at least 40 seats. Now four-fifths of Lib Dems (80%) expect the party to slip back below 40 seats in May 2015.

60% 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 = 1%
    2 = 4%
    3 = 14%
    4 = 12%
    5 = 8%
    Lacking influence = 39% (-1%)
    6 = 19%
    7 = 24%
    8 = 13%
    9 = 3%
    10 = 1%
    Achieving influence = 60% (=)

By a pretty solid 3:2 ratio Lib Dem members are more likely to rate the Lib Dems as achieving influence within the Coalition – the 60% taking a positive view is in line with our survey findings since March 2013. Party members, in the main, seem to be buying the idea the Lib Dems are making a real difference – the question is whether the voters will do so by May 2015.

  • 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.