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. @Rob,

    I read up on him for you. He sounded like Gramsci….

  2. @Eoin

    Thanks. I have been trying to do them for ages.

    Spices up the entire conversation :)

  3. @Kevin Hawkins

    “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.”

    I registered to vote where I studied and my parents registered me to vote at home. I received polling cards for both. I have never been sure it was right and conscientiously only voted in one place or the other.

  4. @ColinGreen
    “I have never been sure it was right and conscientiously only voted in one place or the other.”

    Clearly a believer in one man one vote (when did I last hear that phrase?).

  5. @ Éoin

    The Tories will be 37/8 by Thursday 8pm
    You are just ‘trolling’ for an argument, aren’t you?

    Tories are not going above 34 by Thurs.

  6. @ JAMIE

    ” 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.”

    Yes-I believe that can happen.

    35% for Cons can do it if LDs still retain their surge.

    If Cammo can achieve largest party by seats, the Mr Clegg-the new national repositary of all that is honest in ppolitics will have to stick to his word.

  7. @Colin

    I believe this is the case – my brother, who is a student, has just registered to vote and had the option of choosing either his parents address or term time address.

    And yes, he opted for the one where his vote was most likely to make a difference!

  8. Greengrass

    “Clearly a believer in one man one vote”

    Anything else is cheating!


    You are only allowed to vote in one or the other. To vote in both is ‘electoral fraud’, I believe.

  10. @Eoin


    I read up on him for you. He sounded like Gramsci…”

    Nope- more like David Ervine RIP (despite surname of Spence)

  11. @John Brown

    “Who is voting for Lib Dem ? Answer fans of the X Factor.”

    As a 68 year old, I’ve never watched X factor in my life. I made the decision to switch (before the current surge) based on several things:

    1) a lifelong belief that PR is needed, even though it benefited my former party, and was offended that too many Conservatives put party interest before the benefit of the people
    2) the fact that as many Conservative MPS were amongst the worst offenders in the expenses issue as Labour MPs.
    3) I didn’t think George Osborne was up to one of the two most demanding jobs in politics over the next 5 years (and now I’m not convinced Cameron is, either).
    4) I met too many people down at the Conservative Club who were totally stuck in their views and could never contemplate any progression in politics (you may have been one of them)
    5) I looked at the Lib Dem’s policies and thought them better than the Conservative ones, especially their costing for deficit reduction
    6) I know the sitting Lib Dem MP and like him.

    So please don’t generalise.

  12. @Colin

    They still only get one vote, it’s just they’ve got a choice as to where they use it.

    And I guess in some ways this is fair – students often spend a significant proportion of the year back home. And many return there after uni.

    Arguments both ways I suppose, but I’d guess the number of students who actually use it tactically like that is probably fairly insignificant.

    (nothing to back that up, just my guess!)

  13. @Rob,

    Yes Davy was the boy :) Although the only one who could stand him were our side- his own hated him. My missus is Free-P and she can’t abide him.


    No I am not honestly… 36 on MAy 6th but I’ve followed politics too closely for too long to pay any heed to a lib dem surge. Sorry :)

  14. @Amber the Tories will be over 34 before the hour is out.

  15. @kyle,

    ; and ) = ;)

  16. @Eoin,

    You’re a very brave man, making predictions in the current maelstrom!

  17. Colin – my turn for sycophancy.

    Alec has long been one of the most perceoptive posters on here (if the most)
    Not suggesting you do so but trawling back through some last spring and summer before the conferences you would see he was villified aggressively by many others posters (some gone to PB now) for daring to question Cameron/Osborne short termism and lack of clarity whist often criticiscing Labour and GB.
    He had little support, I tried but did not have the armoury to do so that effectively.

    He called it right, i am just glad Central Office did not read and react.

    Al J shame on you starting your party at 2100 – you should be GTVO right up til 2200 no commitment :-)

  18. Apparently we’re going to see a major development in the Toru campaign this evening.

    Anyone any ideas what this may be ?

    Are they going to rule out an increase on VAT ?

  19. I hope your predictions are right, Eoin!!

  20. @Eoin

    “Yes Davy was the boy :) Although the only one who could stand him were our side- his own hated him. My missus is Free-P and she can’t abide him.”

    yep- its the price of being right before ‘your people’ are ready to hear it. My GF left at 22 and basically never went back: his dad and family came from Clontarf County Dublin but ‘had’ (lets just say) to move North after the Treaty !


    “They still only get one vote, it’s just they’ve got a choice as to where they use it.”

    Not if what some of my students are saying….(only some albeit)

  21. @ Eoin



  22. Given that local elections will take place on the same day two questions (at least) occur to me:

    (1) will the ‘national’ surge (if continued) benefit local members – or will local issues prevail;

    (2) if LD does – historically – better at local level will that local vote by a voter satisfy their need to support LD and allow the voter to then vote ‘for whom they were going to’ before the hullabalo ?

  23. @Rosie O

    re local elections

    Crikey- good point as I’d totally forgotten about that these last days !!

    In particular the impact on Greens at local level could be interesting (if the surge maintains itself).

  24. @EoinClarke

    This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius. I know you academics don’t go for that guff so think of it in terms of Teilhard de Chardin’s Omega Point (Is he still banned at the seat of St Peter BTW?) or Maiko Ito’s new dimensions.

  25. Eoin: I did my smilie road test [as reported in “Wot Smilie” – Feb 2009] and it proved inconclusive.

    Al J: Your communication skills are excellent – no-one would know English wasn’t your first language [add smilie of choice] and I’d like an invite to your party: I could bring my own cocoa.

    greengrass: simile? smilie? simley? Je suis tres confused.

  26. JIM JAM

    If your “colin” post was meant for me :-

    I am aware of Alec’s theme(s).

    It may be your view that he “called it right”. It isn’t mine.

    How is this connected to the rather unpleasant posting with which I took issue?

  27. @Anthony


  28. The prospect and talk of tactical tories voting LibDem really exposed the ludicrous system with have in this country.

    Whilst talk of left,centre, right might not be so relevant these days, one thing that can be said is that the Lib Dems generally speaking are further ‘left’ than the modern labour party.

    So what we’re saying is Tories will be happy spite their face, nose blah blah. Ridiculous.

    Dictatorships are not the answer, but one thing’s for sure democracy DOESN’T WORK!

  29. The fear that I would have if I were in either the Labour or Conservative camps is that the Lib Dem surge continues. If this does happen then we might see a shift in attacks from the Tories and Labour solely towards the Lib Dems. If Clegg carries momentum through the next TV debate then the Lib Dem ‘juggernaught’ might be very difficult to stop.

  30. @JimJam
    You have every right to chastise me. :( I am ashamed.

    @Paul – -English IS my first language – you rascal ;-)

    You can bring your cocoa – I’ll get some rum to put in it ;-)

  31. @Anthony

    I assert my right to religious freedom and request you take my comment out of moderation.

    St Bridget is the canonised representation of a Celtic Pagan goddess.

    And it is non-partisan and relevant to the polls. If you can’t see why, you have my email address

  32. Tony Fisher:

    excellent post, thankyou.

    [maybe if John Brown had added a smilie it would been better: I believe that’s how it works]. <<<< add smilie of choice.

  33. @Colin

    “35% for Cons can do it if LDs still retain their surge.”

    From the position at the beginning of manifestos launch day (Monday) compared to the polls on Friday and Saturday the Conservatives are down 5.9% and LD’s up 9.4% and Labour down 2.0% = two thirds of the swing has come from the Conservatives.

    Different set of figures on BBC website poll of polls today but same 2:1 breaking off from Conservative to LD rather than Labour compared to PoP on 15th April.

    But at that 35% level there is really no marginal’s premium and- for example- Con 35/ Lab 30/ Lib Dems 28 gives Con 262 seats Labour 273 and LDs 83 = lib-lab coalition.

    But IF the surge is maintained you are more likely to get a lower vote share for the Conservatives.

    35% is only a realistic possibility if the surge begins to recede and Conservatives get some of those defecting LD’s back.

    If the surge does not recede you are more likely in a three way split so for example Con 32/ Lab 27/ LD 33 gives Con 243 seats Labour 247 and LDs 128 = lib-lab coalition.

    So Colin you need to be *praying* for a LD surged fallback ;-)

    But it won’t be a week before we know if- and how- this surge has legs…..

  34. We seem to have got into the realms of hopes and fears rather than reasonable predictions.

    I can understand why as this election is too unpredictable to predict.

    The Tories at 37/38? Of course its possible but you would think they either need to up their game or the support that has deserted them for the Lib Dems needs to swich back.

    But of course we are in uncharted waters.

    The point I would make is that in 1997 when Labour swept to power the election result was fairly predictable.

    Up until a few months ago you would have said it was reasonably predictable that the Tories would get a majority.

    Then it was reasonably predictable that the Tories would be the largest party.

    Now we don’t know where we are because the Lib Dems have become the big unknown and neither of the other two parties are polling well enough to win outright.

    Whatever happens, you certainly can’t imagine this election being a large victory for the Tories.

  35. @Rob

    Whilst students can be registered at both home and term time address, they can only vote at one.

    From aboutmyvote . co . uk

    Can I vote twice, at home and at uni?

    You can’t vote twice in:

    a UK Parliamentary, Scottish Parliamentary, National Assembly for Wales or European Parliamentary election.

    But you can vote in local government elections at home and at your term-time address, as long as they are not in the same local government area.

  36. @Anthony

    Thank you

    Eoin – my post to you @7.03 is now out of moderation

  37. @ Anthony

    Sorry, I didn’t properly follow your reply about a poll tonight.

    Is there a YG tonight? If yes, at what hour will you be permitted to post it?

  38. @Eoin

    Re: List of possible LD gains from Lab

    Just looked some of them up

    Rochdale is already notionally LD
    Ealing Central and Action is notionally Con

    Just out of curiosity why did you not also include:
    Derby N
    Birmingham Hall Green
    Colne Valley
    Bristol NW
    Bradford East

    All the above require less of a swing than either Swansea W or Blaydon

  39. I think the Conservatives would be delirious to achieve 35% in any of tonight’s polls – and they are probably targetting no more than 36%/37% over the coming week – that at least would put them back on some sort of course to being the largest party. That is of course if the LibDem vote hasn’t risen further.

  40. Alec J:

    “English is my first language” ……Blimey! [add smiley etc etc]

    re the party – no rum rations for me, ta very much. just let me know your address via this forum, I won’t tell anyone.

    I take it it’s casual dress?

  41. @charlieW

    Yep- thats what these kids were saying: they have been posted polling cards both at Uni address and at parents address i.e. two carsd for two different constituencies.

    Given that we are talking in the main Lincolnshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire home addresses if they really wanted to vote in both places they could.

    Not that they should.

    The same thing happened to me in my UG days but home was too far from UNi to get the two votes in ;-)

  42. Tony Fisher…6-50pm

    2) is factually incorrect I believe. Labour had more guilty MP’s than anyone…

    The rest is partisan and just an opinion really based on no facts at all…

  43. @ ROB

    “So Colin you need to be *praying* for a LD surged fallback ”

    I don’t do praying-leave that to priests in general Rob.

    but -yes-a fallback-but not too far.

    I read your numbers -and my reaction is -who knows?

    What is the marginals factor now?

    Where did all those LD votes come from? ( re AWs analysis)-will they stick-or are they illusory in the Ballot Box because of their demographic profile?

    You perhaps know the answer to all these things ;-)-I don’t.

  44. Sue was saying that Mandelson is telling Labour activists that the strategy is not to attack the LDs but to leave that to the Tories.

    BBC News Website today.

    “Brown steps up attack on Lib Dems. Gordon Brown says Lib Dem policies must be “exposed” after the polls suggest a jump in support for the party. ”

    Maybe he didn’t get Mandelson’s memo?!

  45. What polls are expected tonight, please?

  46. FrankG

    “Bristol NW”

    I can speak to that- folks seat and my own seat until 1992

    A LD surge is more likely to make BNW notionally Lab but I’d still call it a slim Conservative win for the moment.

  47. @Paul Croft

    Who is Alec J?

    Thank you for your reponse of ” Blimey” to knowing my first language is English. You fill me with confidence and I will sleep well tonight. ;-) ;-)

    insert lol – here ( )

    I’ll send you my homing pidgeon with a message on it’s leg. thanks for your kndness lol

  48. @PollyTicks
    “2) is factually incorrect I believe. Labour had more guilty MP’s than anyone…”

    Tony was talking about the worst offenders. Don’t want to harp on but remember Derek Conway? (and has he had his golden goodbye stopped?)

    I have a question for you. Since you came on here saying you were undecided, what is it that makes you appear so committed to a particular party now that the campaign is on its way?

  49. @colin

    “You perhaps know the answer to all these things ;-) -I don’t.”

    you did not read my last line

    The only prediction in the two posts was that “35% plus a LD surge means Cameron is PM”

    Who made it ?

    YOU did :-)

    To be clear- we have to wait until next Sunday before we know whether- and in what way- this surge has legs.

    Those varied figures were not predictions they were to illustrate my point that you need to *wish* for a significant LD surge fallback……

  50. This will have no doubt been discussed previously – apols in advance:

    The second debate is only showing on Sky – not, as far as I know, available on any freeview/terrestial broadcast.

    If that’s the case I for one will not be able to see it therefore any influences will surely be biased? Be like comparing apples and pears.

    The problem of having such arrangements with such broadcasters.

    So it might be as late as the third and final showcase before a scientific comparison can be made?

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