Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Lib Dems: Tall Story Poll Spin, Littlewood Counter Spin

Over at Lib Dem Voice Stephen Tall has had a look back at the certain-to-vote polls over the past year. What does this exercise tell him? Nothing much if what he has put on the blog is the extent of his analysis.

Lib Dem poll-age solid throughout he says - averaging 17% of so - but, as Mark Littlewood* has pointed out, the important differential between Lib Dem and Tory has soared. And that probably means melt-down for the golden ones in the South. Requiring another leader swap-out in a couple of years' time?

If Stephen had also included the previous six or 12 months you would have been able to confirm - as we all know - that polls can go up as well as down.

And it would certainly be useful to track the level of don't knows and also not-certain-to-votes among the total as these are I understand at record levels. Indeed, in the spirit of progressive solidarity, I can perhaps help out here.

Approaching 50% (46%) of those that expressed a preference in a recent ipsos MORI poll NOT being certain to vote. If you follow the link and look at the whole sample break down by party you'll actually find Labour with a one-point lead among the 73% of the sample willing to name a party at all! Table above.

With don't knows and may not votes having a near majority there is as they say all to play for.

It is also worth noting that the total sample sizes tend to range between 1000 and 5000 which is one-and-a-half to eight people per constituency. Or less than one to four when it comes to those committed to voting. The ipsos MORI figures have around 200 sample points and a little over 1000 respondents.

So, applying this knowledge for example to the latest month, June 2008, we have:

June 2008 (By elections: Tories take Crewe and Labour finishes 5th in Henley)
Tories: 45%, Labour: 26%, Lib Dems: 18%
Tory lead +19%

But this translates to Tory 30%, Labour 18% and Lib Dems 12% versus the whole sample if the un-committed to vote are factored out. And it will again be high 30s to both main parties and say 15% to the Libs when all who named a party are back in the mix.

Even now both the Tories and Labour have tribal votes of around 30%, with Labour's currently less likely to turn out. The Lib Dems are often held to have a tribal vote - when it comes to General Elections - of at best around one-tenth.

Yes, the polls are poor for Brown and Labour and the election that wasn't appears to be the main trigger for that. Getting the tribal vote out is, as ever, the key challenge to Labour. But these polls are NOT at all good for the smug Lib Dems and the last five by-elections haven't been barn burners for them either.

* Mark Littlewood was the Lib Dem spin doctor who stood down after sadly, inexcusably telling the truth. Mark is Communications Director of the Think Tank Progressive Vision and is rather fairer than most would be on the Lib Dem debacle in Henley-on-Thames.

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