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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    I wonder if this is producing tensions?

    One can imagine PM finessing to the ultimate degree-it’s what he does.

    But does this sort of cliff hanging fine judgement fit with what we know about GB?

    Certainly on Marr this morning GB responded to AM’s prompt about the “virtues” of a hung parliament with a vehement statement that he “wants a majority”

  2. The Lib Dem surge in polls may (probably will) turn out to be temporary but it is amusing to see how much it has panicked the other parties.

  3. @ Rosie P

    Depending where you live you can get Sky News on channel 82, where the debate is being shown. The BBC is also showing it later, although not live. BBC1 I think

  4. Greengrass……

    I think Tony can speak for himself….It would appear to me that is quite a flimsey arguement..

    Like most people ie that Labour lady sat in the audience last thursday, who then went to tthe LD headquarters the following day and got stuck straight into campaigning, once I’m committed to something I’m into it headlong, it’s called passion.
    I want my team to win…and I still believe they will.
    Hope that explains it… :-)

  5. Rosie P

    For what it’s worth, the second debate is also going out live on BBC News channel at 20.00 on Thursday. Weirdly they’re only showing the first hour so I suspect there may be an agreement to give the commissioning channel exclusivity. With that and it being foreign policy, the debate may only get 3-4 million. But then I thought the first one would only get that, so what do I know.

    The important debate will undoubtedly be no. 3, because it’s last, it’s about the economy and because it’s on BBC and like it or not people always associate with the big events. Both Labour and the Tories must be regretting saying next to nothing concrete about the deficit in their manifestos.

  6. @RosieP
    “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.”

    Yes it has been discussed and seems to be acknowledged as a factor though not quantified.
    The debate is being shown again on Beeb1 after Question Time and can be heard on the radio live.

  7. @ ROB

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

    Fair comment- I meant a sustained surge with a “suitable” Lab % ;-)

    Largest Party looks like the main game now ( If Clegg stays in the running at Britain has Political Talent )-and the permutations must be blowing computers up at Lab & Con HQs

  8. The Lib Dems will probably get at least 30% at the GE.

    The are two more debates before GE and the fact Clegg has ‘nicked’ the powerful time for change arguement will secure at least 40 new seats.

  9. @PollyTicks
    ‘.It would appear to me that is quite a flimsey arguement..’

    The question is, are you sure that everyone else in the country finds it flimsy?

    Yes, I had commented that converts are always the most fervent believers, Changing or discarding beliefs can be a sign of strength too though. And pragmatic – which explains why the British are so faithless.

  10. Sky News is transmitted by most freeview transmitters, so is available on about 70% freeview receivers I think, depends on local transmitters and switchover though.

  11. Think this has been mentioned by someone before, but anyone with freeview should be able to watch the sky debate live as it is on Sky news.

  12. Peter Carey referred to the zeal of the apostate in Oscar and Lucinda.

    No Brecht but hey.

  13. I think what we need now is some polls in Lib Dem/Laour Marginals and Lib Dem/Tory marginals. It will be interesting to see how this rise in support is playing out in those seats.
    If the swing towards the Lib Dems is higher then things could be very interesting. That will give us a clearer idea of what exactly is going on.

  14. That should be Lib Dem/Labour marginals not Lib Dem/Laour marginals.

  15. @ PHILIP JW

    “The Lib Dems will probably get at least 30% at the GE.”

    Which might leave 62% for Lab + Con-in which case Cons need min. 33/29 for largest party.( UNS)

    The precise LibDem outcome is absolutely critical.

  16. The fascinating thing is that if Labour and Conservative are being reduced to not many points above their core vote, and the Don’t Knows are still at a high level, we could still see practically anything happen.

    Meanwhile to help you get ready for the next leaders’ debate, try this (closing up the W’s):

    w w

  17. Al J: What are you doing reading and replying to posts written to someone else?

    [Actually it’s a fair cop, I made a mistake with your name whilst trying to figure out how to do a smiley and I’m very sorry.]

  18. Anyone know if there’s a YouGov tonight and, if so, whether it’s an 8pm or a 10pm embargo?

    Much obliged.

  19. Been lurking for a while and encouraged by friendly tone of contributors to come blinking out into the light.
    Surely UNS has gone out of the window altogether at this stage? The only poll of the marginals that would be useful would be one that treated each marginal separately, because there are far too many local factors to make generic Lib Dem/Labour or Lib Dem/Con marginal polls meaningful.
    I write (hopefully in a non-partisan way) as an active Lib Dem.

  20. @COLIN

    “@ PHILIP JW

    “The Lib Dems will probably get at least 30% at the GE.”

    Which might leave 62% for Lab + Con-in which case Cons need min. 33/29 for largest party.( UNS)

    The precise LibDem outcome is absolutely critical.”


    Electoral Calculus (without TV tool utilised)


    Con = 245 seats
    Lab = 275 seats
    LD = 98 seats

    Thats a clear Lib-Lab pact my friend…

    But yet again we won’t know until next Sinday.

  21. colon hyphon clasew bracket :-)

  22. I’m new here – SE Con Voter

    No panic and predicting finaloutcome will be Con 38.5 – Lab 28.5 – Lib 25

  23. Bugger –

    colon hyphon close bracket.

    : – ) but no spaces

  24. Another factor is that in some 3 way marginals held by Labour they were already conceding defeat to the tories, so the Labour vote completely collapsing to the Lib Dems, while giving them little base to recover next time and looking pretty bad on their part, would still stop the Conservatives gaining a seat – take a seat like Watford – Labour were never going to hang onto it so an increase in Lib Dem voting would be welcome there. However, Watford might not see the same LD surge as places further north as Anthony’s entry suggests. Another area I’m interested in is the southwest – the tories need to at least move in the right direction there against the Lib Dems to get close to a majority, and any move backwards since 2005 could be fatal to their chances.

    A quick glance over LD target seats suggest that after seats they could win on very slight swings like Solihull (that’s a tory seat at the moment), the majority of the seats they have a realistic chance of winning in are conservative seats mainly concentrated in the south, and they do seem to have taken more off the Conservatives than Labour. The easy answer is that, if this does sustain, we just won’t know until the night what this means in terms of seats. My take on it is that if the tories fail to get 35% of the popular vote, they’re not going to get a majority and are going to struggle to be a significantly larger party than Labour in Westminster.

  25. EOIN – Out of interest what do you think will give the Tories that 6% surge?

  26. I think the Cons will be the bigger party because I’m still expecting Labour to gain between 25 to 27% of the votes at the GE.

  27. A sudden thought struck me. What would happen if Labour was the largest party in a hung parliament and the Lib Dems refused to back any of the parties in a pact/coalition?

  28. He doesn’t care Sue – so long as it happens… ;-)

  29. Depends Kyle – could mean Labour trying to have a minority government for a bit or could mean another general election.

    Can you imagine doing all this again in 3 months?

    3 more TV debates?

    That would be amusing.

  30. @John C
    “I’m new here – SE Con voter”
    Welcome aboard. Some posters have emigrated. Others are not sure whether to book a flight now or wait and see if the Clegg volcano subsides.

  31. ;)

    just testing

  32. Kyle – it depends how they refuse. When it comes to the Queen’s speech, if the Lib Dems vote against it, the government would fall (and either someone else would be invited to form a government, or the Queen would grant a dissolution). If the Lib Dems just abstained, then the minority government would continue in office (assuming they had enough votes to beat the other parties).

  33. @Roger (7.36)

    “The important debate will undoubtedly be no. 3, because it’s last, it’s about the economy and because it’s on BBC and like it or not people always associate with the big events. ”

    the 3rd debate may be less impotant than we think as a large portion of theelectorate may have voted before then. I understand that postal votes (a large % of the total vote) will be issued efore the 3rd debate and if people return them promptly then!!!.

  34. Possible Philip but the recent polls haven’t had Labour that low. Also, as others have pointed out, it seems the Tories have lost more support than Labour since the start of the campaign.

  35. Just heard LDs first on Yougov ….

    LD 33 Con 32 Lab 26

  36. Gary,

    I have a feeling that if another election was called and there were three more debates scheduled that Nick Clegg would be the only leader turning up.

  37. @Jim Jam I was wrong – we don’t need to use the dash

    it’s ; and ) no gaps.

    Latest YouGov / The Sun poll: Lib Dem: 33; Con: 32; Lab: 26. Fieldwork 17-18 April 2010; sample: 1,433


  38. First post.

    Try as I might, I can’t see how any coalition could work. The LibDems have always been clear that their priority was electoral reform, in particular a move to a form of proportional representation. The Tories have always opposed this and I can’t see how Labour could agree to it when they are the biggest beneficiary of the current injustice.

    Imagine if the final result was something like C32, LD 29, L27, with L and C having about 230/240 seats each and the LibDems 100. How could a labour leader commit to a referendum that, if passed, would halve their number of MPs? How could a labour leader be prime minister when he has lost the popular vote in an election that has become fairly presidential and only has power by virtue of an unfair system that he has already said needs to be changed? And the LibDems and Tories are – I suggest – constitutionally incompatible.

    Add in the likely job cuts we’ll see in H2, regardless of the result of the election, and I think if there is a hung parliament we’ll get a second election by year end. And possibly civil unrest to boot.

    If we assume that an outright majority for any party is unlikely, what is the best result for each party? For the Tories and Labour, I suspect being the second biggest party but not large enough to form a coalition with the LibDems (and so not subject of any blame when the coalition fails) may well be the best outcome.

  39. I haven’t read all 200-odd posts I’m afraid, so sorry if someone’s picked this up, but didn’t we see some results recently showing that a high proportion of young voters (was it 25%?) aren’t registered to vote?

    So if the swing to LibDem is biggest among young voters, it may not turn out to be as significant as people think. Perhapos pols should ask whether people are registered to vote?


    I sort of agree with this – I think the third debate may have some effect but I think the 1st debate had the most potential effect.

    Probably the first one will have the highest viewing figures of the three as it was a novelty.

    Also by the final week before the election a lot of people will already have decided their vote so may not watch or may watch but just to confirm the opinion they have already reached.

    Latest voting intention 18 April
    Liberal Democrats take the lead with 33%, Conservatives 32%, Labour 26%

  42. I thought Eoin assured us that the Conservatives would be above 34 “before the hour is out.”

    ..this is why I don’t do poll predictions!

  43. Wow – LD’s at 33%!!

    Lib Dems increasing their share of the vote further?

    Next polls to hit 35% +?

  44. I need to leave the site for 2- 3 hours but if that YG poll is correct then I leave a v happy man.

    On my return interested to see the reaction of those who said the LD vote would be a flash in the pan.

  45. Richard,

    Have you just made those figures up?

  46. Pretty much leads to an even parliament on a UNS with the Lib Dems holding the balance of power.

  47. Having taking out a lot of Conservative votes, the LibDems appear to have spent the weekend taking out a chunk of Labour votes. In that sense the Conservatives might be pleased to be holding firm at around 32% (never thought I would say that) and being 6% ahead of Labour. Almost impossible now to say what the next poll might bring.

  48. PETE B

    No – its just been on Sky News now – Tories having 1 seat more than Labour and Lib Dems getting around 130 seats.

  49. I can’t think of a news item for many years (and definitely not a political item) that I’ve heard talked about so much at work/in pubs etc as “The Debate”.

    This can only snowball as the other debates are shown with many people who wouldn’t usually have the slightest interest in politics already gettng sucked in (eg many in the 18-30 group). This obviously means we are in definite uncharted waters and could well make all the clever (and admittedly usually pretty accurate)predictors of the result completely redundant unless there is some extremely clever way of recalibrating them bigtime. But as the curent situation is unprecedented is that even possible?

    The first “social networking site election” makes just about anything possible and possible in the quickest possible way.

    In other words I believe Facebook/Twitter etc may have an very big say in the eventual result of this GE.

    I love the site but am still mystified by the posters who make predictions on hundreds of individual seats the majority of which they know nothing about. Going from the few seats I do know quite a bit about and the only ones I comment on (ie those I work in/live in/have lived in in West Yorks/East Lancs) many of the predictions for marginals here made by people who have obviously never even visited them are to be frank laughable.)

    PS Could this surge mean virtually the whole of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset is Liberal Democrat by 6th May?

  50. @ Éoin

    There’ll have to be a helluva a shift by Thursday. Your analysis is usually very good but not today, my dear :-)

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