So, we can be pretty confident now that there is a genuine surge in Lib Dems support. Apart from how long it lasts, and the affect on the narrative of the election, the other unknown is exactly who has shifted, and perhaps more importantly where. We will get a better idea of how things are moving when we get some polling of marginal seats, and when we get an updated version of YouGov’s weighted regional breaks. In the meantime, we can draw some very tentative conclusions on the info we have so far.

If we compare the crossbreaks in the two post-debate YouGov polls so far with the averages of the crossbreaks in the three YouGov polls before the Lib Dem manifesto launch, and we compare the ComRes poll with the averages of the crossbreaks in their polls from before the debate, we can get some idea of which groups have swung the most. We need to remember that even combined together these are small sample sizes and they are not internally weighted, so at best this can only give us a broad brush idea of what is going on, but there are some consistent trends.

We can be fairly confident in saying that young people have swung the most strongly towards the Liberal Democrats. In both YouGov’s post-debate polls they have had the Lib Dems in the 40s amongst under-35s, compared to the mid-20s prior to the debate, an average increase of 17 points. ComRes have a similar pattern. The Lib Dem boost amongst under 35s seems to be at least twice that amongst all older voters.

Secondly women may have swung to the Lib Dems more than men (more specifically, there’s been a swing from Conservative to Lib Dem amongst both sexes, but Labour’s vote has fallen much more amongst women). The contrast here is not as large as is it with age though, so I’m less confident this is a genuine pattern.

On social class there is no obvious pattern, YouGov seem to be showing a larger swing amongst C2DEs, but it is the other way round with ComRes. On regional breaks the evidence is also unclear, though both ComRes and YouGov seem to have the Lib Dems making the most progress in the North, and YouGov’s figures are striking for the almost complete lack of a Lib Dem boost in Scotland. On other hand, late respondents to YouGov’s new Scottish poll in the Scotland on Sunday today (whose fieldwork straddled the debate) did show swing towards the Lib Dems.

310 Responses to “Who is switching to the Liberal Democrats?”

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  1. @Amber

    **As I say, if Brown takes a different approach, I will eat my desk (I am on the phone ordering a chocolate desk as I type this; it’s always good to have a cunning plan).**

    Don’t eat it before the election -you’ll be sick for days :-)

  2. @Jamie

    Sorry mate but Ochil’s green territory
    (an to think some people accused me of being Labour)

  3. @ Everyone

    Really lots of interesting analysis this afternoon, detailed intelligent thinking going on. Haven’t commented until now as it was stimulating enough just to read the postings.

    As people have previously mentioned, this could be the perfect storm for the Lib Dems.

    1) Extreme disaffection with parliament and expenses
    2) Worst recession for a generation
    3) Uncharismatic prime minister, at the fag end of a tired government.
    4) Unconvincing leader of the opposition, with a shadow cabinet lacking gravitas, short on policies and new ideas.
    5) A charismatic, likeable, but yet unknown 3rd party leader who suddenly gets x-factor exposure.

    There is little wonder the poll phenomena of the last few days occurred. The people were waiting for someone like Nick Clegg to step forward.

    The only question that remains is how much of this is sustainable? I think the momentum will be such that unless some other huge news story knocks it off the pages of the newspapers, there is still significant truck in the story. I was amazed at the favour he even has with papers like the Daily Mail, albeit with other stories deriding some of the Lib Dem policies.

  4. @ SIMON

    YG prediction
    Tories 34%
    Labour 30%
    LD 27%
    Either Tonight or tomorrow will show the inevitable shift in the polls back to normality.

    Nice to see ACB (Amber’s Crystal Ball) is now considered to be “normality”.

  5. @EoinClarke

    Don’t know if you picked up on my ref. to earlier CAPTCHA code – RSDP

    Revolutionary Social Democratic Party – Bakunin is smiling over my shoulder.

  6. @Alec

    Re: Ash crisis. Interesting thought using the RAF.

    If the ash is deemed unsafe to fly in by civil airlines, do you not think it would also be unsafe for RAF planes since most of their passenger planes fly at the same sort of height that civilian planes fly?

    Where do you think the RAF are going to get all these passenger planes from anyway?

    Of course the RAF could always use its helicopters – oh stupid of me – having kept the RAF short of helicopters for several years, GB is now trying to get as many out to our soldiers fightiing and in some cases dying because of shortages of equipment in Afganistan and Iraq. But of course that decision was not GB’s, he was only the Chancellor!

    I have close contacts in Cyprus and they say that most stranded holiday-makers seem very happy indeed having the chance of an extra week (or so) in the sun, with all their hotel and living costs paid for by the airlines/travel companies. It was a very pleasant sunny day today in Cyprus with temp between 24 – 27 and not a cloud in the sky! Poor holiday makers!

    If it is a national emergency, in the interests of national unity and continuity after the 6th May, maybe GB should invite NC to join the meetings. Then he might even invite DC as well.

  7. I think Clegg’s demeanour is very female-friendly, especially towards young women and women with children. If the LD surge continues I expect it to be especially based on success amongst those kinds of voters.

  8. @FrankG
    “If it is a national emergency, in the interests of national unity and continuity after the 6th May, maybe GB should invite NC to join the meetings. Then he might even invite DC as well.”

    My thought too. :-)

  9. I predict the 3 point Tory lead will remain unchanged (in either direction) tonight with YouGov. If anything, I think Labour is more likely to gain tonight, after a good few days of press for them, and poor press for DC and the Conservatives.

  10. Gracious me Greengrass – I have some fabulous news!!! There is a region called Lunigiana. Take a triangle of Parma, Firenze, and Bologna and It’s in the middle of the three.
    It is so mountainous, that the tourists haven’t quite invaded yet. Track down a restaurant called Da Remo in Monzone (somewhere near Equi Terme) Order the antipasti, sit back and enjoy!!! Buon Appetito.
    PS don’t tell anyone else and sorry for the off topic.
    PS, there is no menu she will simply tell you what you may eat that night.

  11. @old nat

    ” Lab 40% (nc) : SNP 20% (-1) : LD 19% (1) : Con 16% (-1
    Even with some movement apparently post debate to the LDs it looks like little change here”

    Naughty naughty….as these are the *overall* figures.

    What Prof Curtice actually reports is:

    ” Half of our YouGov poll was conducted shortly before Thursday’s debate, half afterwards. Prior to the debate the Lib Dems were on 17 per cent in Westminster vote intentions north of the Border. Afterwards they were up six points to 23 per cent, thereby knocking the SNP from second place”

    So the sample from after the debate put the SNP in third place….

    I think- like the rest of us- you need to wait for more data before dismissing the ‘surge’ – this is a UK-wide election remember….


  12. @ Andy JS

    “I think Clegg’s demeanour is very female-friendly, especially towards young women and women with children. If the LD surge continues I expect it to be especially based on success amongst those kinds of voters.”

    Yes, in contrast to a shrill David Cameron and an awkwardly smiling Brown. In politics it’s always about the contrast with what else is available.

  13. @Frank G
    With very few aircraft in the Sky, what would be the problem with commercial airliners ferrying people home, albeit at a lower altitude that normal?

  14. @Greengrass

    “Don’t know if you picked up on my ref. to earlier CAPTCHA code – RSDP Revolutionary Social Democratic Party – Bakunin is smiling over my shoulder.”

    And you accused people of being Dinosaurs the other day…..??!! Blinking “left-libertarians”: an oxymoron almost as bad as ‘anarcho-collectivism’ :-)

    Get out and dust off your Eduard Bernstein- now there *was* a thinker-before-his-time… ;-)

  15. @SueMarsh


    Thanks for that Sue. I have taken note. A place where the tourists have not arrived is a rare place on earth.

    (I hate to think what they’ve done to S. Gimignano since I was there last. I’m thinking of the lyrics of The Eagles’ Last Resort)

  16. @ Chris

    “For those referring to Manchester Withington I think you need to be careful for suggesting it was a simple youth vote/left vote swing against Labour. I think it falling to the Lib Dems was due to a very specific combination of factors rather than any one explanation. ”

    I mentioned Manchester Withington I agree that this wasn’t purely down to a youth vote. I don’t think I did suggest that. I brought up Manchester Withington to show what an interesting seat it could be to watch and what a big swing it was from Labour to the Lib Dems.

    I’m glad you agreed with me on the point that in the north young people are less likely to vote Conservative than in the south.

    I think sometimes people from the south look at the overall picture and make guesses about the north, which just are not the case. I’m sure the same can be said the other way around also, although my guess is that the biggest Conservative to Lib Dem swings among the young will be in the south. In the north it will be most likely from Labour.

  17. Where do helicopters come into the bringing back the Brits? or naval vessels? Am I right in thinking helicopters can still fly?

  18. Amber – I will eat your desk too, no wonder people confuse us when they reply!!

  19. Anmber Star,

    Will you subscribe 1,000 shares in my new company making choclate hats ? My crystal ball predicts strong demand next month !

    Paul H-J

  20. @RobSheffield
    “Blinking “left-libertarians”


    (I have Catalan blood)

  21. @Green G,

    Bakunin il papa de socialisme….

    Bernstein Rob? really? NExt you’ll be saying Durkheim…

    Is that what your teaching the kids in Hallam?

  22. @SueMarsh
    Am I right in thinking helicopters can still fly?

    The Aberdeen heliports were closed on Thursday – not sure what’s happened since.

  23. @FrankG
    “If it is a national emergency, in the interests of national unity and continuity after the 6th May, maybe GB should invite NC to join the meetings. Then he might even invite DC as well.”

    Brown is finished in my opinion unless Labour win an outright majority. Clegg cannot support a PM that the country has just kicked out. Cameron will be a minority PM supported by the Lib Dems for a few months and then I think we’ll all be voting again on Oct 21st.

  24. Greengrass – NEVER go to S Gim again.
    Don’t get me wrong there are other nationalities in Lunigiana but none of the tourist nonsense you find elsewhere.
    I recommend you stay in a town called Fivizzano and stay at La Mandria just outside the town.
    I really will stop now.

  25. Al J: You’ve got friends? You’ll be telling me you watch it next. [LOL !!!!!!!!!!]

    The French thing was a question, not a joke: do they do their own equivalent of LOL’s and ROFL’s or are they, like me, far to spphisticated?

    Re smileys, I was lying: I do have a pathological hatred of them; mind you, ole Oscar Wilde was rubbish without them now I come to think about it.

  26. @ PAUL H-J

    You should do that – also tea-pots & fire-guards ;-)

  27. @oldnat,

    Surely there will be an SNP uplift from the Scottish TV debate?

    I still think 26 is a better figure for SNP- 54 pre election pols had them higher….

    Who will be the labour speaker?

  28. When I was at university (some decades back) students had the right to register to vote both at their home (i.e parents’) address and their student address. They were only allowed to vote in parliamentary elections once though they had a free choice as to which of the two constituencies they voted in. Can anyone confirm if this is still the case? It gives tactical voting by students a whole new angle.

  29. @ Andy JS

    He will also be successful among voters:
    1) Who hate house flipping MPs;
    2) Hate unnecessary wars;
    3) Want a better voting system;
    4) Aren’t foaming at the mouth about immigrants, Europe and bombing China.
    5) Don’t want to be joined at the hip to US foreign policy;
    6) Would like a fairer tax system.

    So that leaves only a few hyper nationalist, militaristic, immigrant-hating pensioners
    ( i.e. UKIP)

  30. Paul Croft – one can come across as abrasive or judgemental without the smilies. That is the problem ;)

  31. @Eoin

    “Is that what your teaching the kids in Hallam?”

    No- Bernstein’s evolutionary Marxism/ gradualist socialism would be too arcane for my subject (though socual science its “vocational”)- heaven forbid stuff such as Durkheim, Foucault, Sartre or Heidegger etc

    I did manage to get in Marcuse once but that was for a course in media and politics that I was roped in to teach- it’s not my field.

    However (on environment policies- in broadest sense- and local government spending) I have regularly been able to sneak in another GIANT of the Bernstein-Revisionist tradition: Tony Crosland.

    I thought about Chomsky once but only to use as a straw man but I could not justify him anywhere in my syllabus. Shame as the man is quite clearly barking….


  32. Who is voting for Lib Dem ? Answer fans of the X Factor.
    When the dust settles reality will return and the polls will become more realistic. To any intelligent individual a vote for the Libs is a vote for GB. That will register in the next few days and Cleggs policy will be scrutinised.
    I fear for my country if its government is the reult of talent contest on media performance.
    I believe it will become a two horse race between the Conservatives and Lab/Lib. There is enough time for people to realis this and that Cameron is being ganged up upon.
    The result i believe will be that the Lib/Lab support will even out and the Conservative nip in with a steady 40.
    Predict Con 40, Lab 26 LIb 24.

    Thats my pontification over for the weekend.

  33. NBeale – “Why do we think Labour will overtake the LibDems?”

    1) Because they already have
    2) Because the Labour vote hasn’t really been affected.

  34. Sorry, re my last post , this doesn’t mean it will stay this way of course.

  35. @Eoin

    “Surely there will be an SNP uplift from the Scottish TV debate?”

    According to that Prof Curtice article:

    “Perhaps it is time for him (Salmond) to reconsider his decision not to appear in the first Scottish leaders’ debate on Tuesday. He might be mad at the broadcasters. But as Clegg has shown, a leaders’ debate is certainly not an opportunity to be tossed away wantonly.”


  36. It’s not surprising that the debate has had little impact on Scottish Polls, as many of the issues discussed were devolved powers. I suspect that the viewing figures north of the border were low as a result. However, this presumably means that the impact of the debate in England is even greater.

  37. The Tories will be 37/8 by Thursday 8pm :)

  38. @Paul – You do have a certain quality to your sense of humour. ;-)
    wrt smiley’s, Sue is right in that they soften one’s message. I am supposing that your English is superior to mine, so perhaps you don’t need to use them as I do. So if I ask you to make some allowances for me-would you oblige? Thanks. ;-)

  39. @Sue,

    I don’t think the Lib Dems will finish above Labour either. I’d be very shocked if they did.

  40. @Rob,

    Frantz Fanon is all the rage over here lol…. bit to regressive for my liking but what about Edward Said- he sounds like GreenG’s cuppa?

    Foucault’s micro power aint barmy. I’ve seen it in action- it works!

  41. @Kevin Hawkins

    As a student at Uni in 1992 I managed to vote twice.

  42. @ John Brown

    So you really think that the “dust” will have settled sufficiently by the 6th May for DC to be flying again? What – a kite maybe?

  43. :)

    Just a test.
    It will be very interesting to see what the polls are like over the next few days.

  44. Sue: Can I just do abrasive, judgemental smilies as a sort of new-order, post twoparty system, ironic jest then?

    I got told off for not doing smilies on my classical guitar forum as wel,l by the way.

    I tested people with a joke of mine, with smilies, and then without: my favourite response was from someone who said the joke was of equal merit either way. He didn’t add a smilie either – but I still got the joke.

    Changing the subject this is all jolly exciting isn;t it? First election I can remember was 57 [I think]. Came from a Con voting background but got carried away with the hope of the 60’s. Might be over the top but perhaps what’s happening now will be at least a small step in a better direction.

  45. Yes I done it:)

    Ingnore the last post :)

  46. @EoinClarke
    “Edward Said- he sounds like GreenG’s cuppa?”

    Would roll it over my tongue without the need for any sweetener :-)

  47. @Eoin

    “Foucault’s micro power aint barmy. I’ve seen it in action- it works!”

    Still prefer Lasch on these matters but (adopts maternal grandfather accent) “No bother”

  48. @Paul Croft,

    Smileys are theraputic- try them

    : and ) = :)

  49. Whatever samples they choose to get Conservative back up to some kind of decent level in the polls, the damage has been done. Cameron is no longer considered the obvious alternative, if he ever was. Clegg is the alternative now

  50. @PaulCroft
    “Might be over the top but perhaps what’s happening now will be at least a small step in a better direction.”

    Very humbly put! (simley)

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