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What do these figures mean for Dave and Gord?

January 11th, 2008

Pop LD split.JPG

    Is the new leadership turning the party around?

I’ve long argued that the battle for the next election is about the centre ground and, in particular whether Labour can recover many of the votes that switched to the Lib Dems in 2005 and how far Cameron’s Tories can go in attracting and retaining supporters of Clegg’s party.

Reproduced above is from the full dataset of this month’s Populus poll and shows how support split based on what respondents said they did last time and what they are planning to do now.

To read the table the rows are what respondents say they are doing now and the columns are what they did in May 2005.

As can be seen the Tories are holding onto 91% of their 2005 vote, Labour 74% and the Lib Dems 80%. The latter figure is by far the biggest proportion that we have seen from the pollster and was a big factor in the boost in the party’s overall share. Thus back in September 2007 when the Brown bounce was at its height Ming’s Lib Dems were only retaining 58% of their 2005 voters.

On churn between the parties the Lib Dems are more than even when it comes to Labour and are holding the net switch to the Tories to just over 10%. Some polls in the autumn had that much higher.

There’s always a danger of dealing with small numbers and it will be very helpful when we have for comparison the first 2008 surveys from the other two telephone pollsters that operate in the same way, ICM and ComRes. But when you are betting you have to use the data that’s there – if you want absolute certainty you will never be in a position to take a plunge.

My betting. Many of the seats that the Tories are hoping to win next time are currently held by the Lib Dems. This suggests that the battle is going to be tougher than they think. In my spread-betting on Commons seats for the next election I have now closed down all my Tory buy positions and just retain a £50 a seat Labour buy contract which I got at the 273 seat level with IG before Christmas. If Labour can keep their losses down to 75 seats then this bet returns a profit.

Mike Smithson






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