Different companies and different questions are showing a wide variety of different results on the AV referendum, but they all show the tide moving in the NO campaign’s direction.

At one end YouGov’s latest poll, prompted with explanations of what the AV and FPTP systems are, has a 17 point lead for the NO campaign. At the other extreme Angus Reid have a 6 point lead for the YES campaign, and ComRes’s last poll – now almost a month ago, had a 10 point lead for YES.

Most of this difference is down to question wording – in the last month YouGov and Populus have both done parallel surveys, one explaining the systems to respondents and one not. In two parallel surveys for the No2AV campaign YouGov found the YES campaign ahead by 3 points when people were asked just the raw question, but when they were given the explanations of the systems NO led by 11 points.

In a similar exercise, Populus found a 12 point lead for YES when they asked just the raw referendum question, but found a 14 point lead for NO when they told people what the two systems were.

It may be that these differences gradually vanish as we head towards the referendum itself and the public become more aware of what AV and FPTP actually are… or it may be that the referendum campaign produces more smoke than light, and the public don’t actually end up better informed at all!

While polls are showing different overall figures though, they are showing the same broad trend.

Angus Reid have been polling roughtly monthly since January. In January they had YES ahead of NO by 37% to 20%, with 37% don’t knows. Their most figures are YES 32% (down 5 since January), NO 26% (up 6), and 35% don’t know.

ICM asked AV voting intention for the Guardian in both December and February. In December they found YES on 44%, NO on 38%, Don’t know on 18%. By February their figures had moved to YES 37% (down 7), NO 37% (down 1), don’t knows 27%.

YouGov ask AV most frequently, with data every fortnight, so we have more granularity there on the ups and downs of the campaigns. Since last summer YouGov had been picking up a gradual trend towards NO, at the start of 2011 YouGov had a NO lead of around 9 points. However, at the start of February YouGov picked up a shift towards YES, with the AV campaign briefly narrowing the gap to just one point (it looked like a rogue result so we ran it two days in a row to check – it wasn’t!).

It was to be purely temporary though, since then the campaign proper has started and YouGov have been recording a strong trend towards NO. A fortnight ago they recorded a 7 point lead for NO, then a week ago an 11 point lead for NO, today a 17 point lead for NO. The last one may turn out to be an outlier, but the trend is undeniable.

Finally ComRes have been asking about AV monthly for the Independent on Sunday. In January they had YES six points ahead (36% YES, 30% NO, 34% d/k), in February they had YES increasing their lead to ten points, at the same time as YouGov were picking up that sharp but temporary move towards the YES campaign. The next ComRes poll is due this weekend in the Indy on Sunday, so if they follow the same trend as Angus Reid, ICM and YouGov we’d expect it to show a drop in the YES campaign’s lead.


301 Responses to “The latest AV referendum polling”

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  1. Difficult to know what this will mean in practice. Presumably most Don’t Knows won’t vote at all, the actual turn-out (even in areas where elections are happening) will be well below the total of Yes and NO.

    Presumably, it is likely to come down to the number of people on either side who actually care.

  2. The debate seems to have started but, so far, it’s at a very low level.

    The no campaign are focussing on two points:

    1) The expense of the change. I expect this will be minimal, the expense of the referendum likely to be far more. If someone genuinely believes that AV is a better system, it seems unwise to put such a low price on democracy. If the quoted £250M is anywhere near accurate, there urgently needs to be a review of how to implement it without incurring these ridiculous costs – other countries manage it.

    2) The increased likelihood of a hung parliament and increased power this will give the Lib Dems. This is highly speculative. In Australia, AV has resulted in fewer hung parliaments than in the UK. Besides, it’s entirely up to each party who they negotiate with if they don’t gain a majority. While the Lib Dems are unpopular at the minute, there seems little justification for the very poor match between their vote share and number of seats.

    Ken Clarke has been arguing that it will see more extremists win seats, but that’s not true – AV tends to draw votes towards the political centre.

    Meanwhile, the yes campaign seem to be arguing (admittedly, on their website, these claims are more subdued):

    1) It will ensure that the MP has the support of at least 50% of voters in the constituency. This is untrue; it’s likely that some voters won’t specify preferences all the way down the ballot, so their preferences might all be eliminated before the final round. If people do vote all the way through the ballot, it only shows that they prefer one candidate to the next, not that they actually support them.

    2) It will be more proportional. But that’s not necessarily true – the 1997 election would have resulted in an even more disproportiate landslide for Labour under AV.

    They’re also claiming that it will mean no more “jobs for life” for MPs, but there doesn’t even seem to be a serious attempt to justify this.

    Unless the level of debate improves significantly, I can’t see how people without specialist knowledge of voting systems will be able to make an informed decision.

  3. Now really is the time for all Polling companies to stop trying to ‘educate’ their respondents by offering ‘explanations’, and just ask the ballot question.

  4. Does anyone know what % of the English electorate have local elections in May?

  5. @ Warofdreams

    “If the quoted £250M is anywhere near accurate”

    It is a complete and utter falsehood and I’m surprised No to AV have the gall to carry on repeating it.

    That figure includes a massive cost of vote counting machines that won’t be required and £86m for the referendum itself, which is going ahead however people vote.

  6. WarofDreams
    “In Australia, AV has resulted in fewer hung parliaments than in the UK”

    How many under AV in Australia and the UK?

  7. £130m is accounted for by voting machines which are not required for AV.

  8. Oldnat. Yes, I do. It’s 79% of English electors. As a whole 83% of the UK electorate has an election on the same day.

    Incidentally, apart from the big ICM poll for the YES campaign in November, I think all the polling has been of Great Britain, not the United Kingdom.

    The ICM poll had NI as slightly better for NO than the rest of the country, but not significantly so.

  9. Anthony

    Thanks (I should have known that you would! :-) )

  10. Which 21% of the country doesn’t have a local election on the same day as the referendum? Are they mainly Conservative, Labour or Lib Dem areas?

  11. “How many under AV in Australia and the UK?”

    Australia introduced AV at the federal level in 1918. There were hung parliaments in 1922, 1940 and 2010. Over the same time period, the UK, under FPTP, has had hung parliaments in 1923, 1929, February 1974 and 2010.

  12. Colin – it’s mostly London. The other bits without are Cornwall, Durham, Wiltshire, Shropshire, Northumberland, the Isle of Wight and a handful or so of district/borough councils that are on strange electoral cycles, like Cheltenham and Oxford.

  13. I will vote “YES” then. Mr Cameron has decided me.

  14. Athony,

    “The ICM poll had NI as slightly better for NO than the rest of the country, but not significantly so.”

    So, Ulster says No. Now, where have I heard that before…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zSWlAHD29M

  15. It’s pretty safe to say from the amount of don’t knows that neither campaign is really getting the message out to the wider public, while some traction may be being gained by the insincere and misleading cost figures (and hung parliament likelihood) right now for the No camp.

    The interesting development for me is the fear rumoured to be in the Tory camps on this, and how much they’re mobilising support and resources for it. David Cameron himself is even meant to be taking a more prominent role. The question is, with so much relying on the Labour vote, whether (if this happens) such an event will help swing opinion back towards Yes.

  16. Warofdreams
    Thanks – but comparing HPs in the UK under FPTP with HPs in Australia under AV is like comparing apples and pears, IMO.

    I imagine you know more than I do about the electoral set up in Australia:
    Do you know what elections these were in Australia?
    Is there an overall federal government to which there are elections? If so, is it these that use AV?

    Thanks

  17. A thought has occurred to me that many UKPR readers will not even have been born back then, so here is a brief history lesson:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulster_Says_No

    If it is tight (and it is looking that way), then an Ulster ‘No’ in May could just swing it. In that case, it is a tad remiss of the polling companies to miss out NI respondents from their fieldwork.

  18. Warofdreams
    I’ve done a little research via Wikipedia and found that the Aussie fed parliament comprises a senate and house of representatives. Also, the latter has been consistently dominated by a coalition (!):

    “The Coalition in Australian politics refers to a group of centre-right parties that has existed in the form of a coalition agreement (on and off) since 1922. The Coalition partners are the Liberal Party of Australia (or its predecessors before 1945) and the National Party of Australia (known as the Australian Country Party from 1921–1975 and the National Country Party of Australia from 1975–1982).”

    So, I’m minded that comparing HPs between UK and Australia to justify AV is somewhat spurious, perhas ill-conceived even.

    But I’m open to counter arguments and analysis.

  19. Well it’s most interesting to see the way the yes and no fro and to….In some ways It doesn’t surprise me…as on one level this isn’t a simple proposal…and I can beleive one sways between yes and no….perhaps as it mirrors my own uneasiness…..

    I guess we’ll all get our blurb telling us all we’ve ever wanted to know about AV….I assume voters opposed in principle wont mark their ballots with a second preference….I’m actually more attracted to the French system of a second vote once you know who the top two are….I never thought I’d say something positive about a Gaullist electoral system……

  20. I agree that the camapaigns are on a very low level. I am a hardcore NO supporter, but the emphasis of No2AV is very poo rin my opinion. I got a leaflet which told me to vote against AV because:

    1. Nick Clegg wants it and Nick Clegg is bad
    2. Papua New Guinea and Fiji have it and they are bad
    3. The BNP would get in and the BNP are bad

    The two much stronger areas to go on, in my view, are:

    1. The intuitive injustice that a 5th preference counts as much as a first preference.

    2. That this will result in ‘transfer friendly’ politicians who design their appeal to pick up reallocated 2nd and 3rd preferences. Such a politciian will be not be corrageous, but inoffensive, moderate, and resulctant to say potentially devisive things.

    3. The ambiguity of AV mandates. It is not self-evident that a guy who gets 10% first preference, 20% second, 10% 4rd, 5% fourth, 6% sixth preference, should beat a guy who just gets 45% first preference.

  21. A Brown
    “…the effects of AV on the lib dems have been exaggerated.”

    Aye, why do the LDs think they’re getting out of AV?

    I think NC described AV as ‘miserable’ did he not?

  22. Oops, typo alert

    “Aye, WHAT do the LDs think they’re getting out of AV? “

  23. @ Lukw

    “the emphasis of No2AV is very poo”

    I would certainly agree with that!

    :-)

  24. Warofdreams:
    “1) It will ensure that the MP has the support of at least 50% of voters in the constituency. This is untrue; it’s likely that some voters won’t specify preferences all the way down the ballot, so their preferences might all be eliminated before the final round. If people do vote all the way through the ballot, it only shows that they prefer one candidate to the next, not that they actually support them.”
    It is true, if you accept a reasonable definition of a voter as “one who casts an effective vote.” And there is no reason under AV not to cast an effective vote. Preferences do show support. “If I can’t have my first choice, I’ll have my second choice, and if I can’t have my second I’ll have my third.” Etc.

    “2) It will be more proportional. But that’s not necessarily true – the 1997 election would have resulted in an even more disproportiate landslide for Labour under AV.” What-if’s are wonderful, but pretty unrealistic. Our whole electoral history would have been different from the moment we would have adopted AV. A better comparison is to compare long-term disproportionality in Australia with the UK. It all depends on how you define disproportionality, of course, and there are at least half a dozen ways of doing that. But some studies I’ve seen calculate the disproportionality in Oz to be significantly lower than here, and – get this – lower even that the so-called “PR” systems we use to elect the Euro MPs and the Scottish/Welsh assemblies!

  25. “1. The intuitive injustice that a 5th preference counts as much as a first preference.”

    But it’s all right for it to count as such under FPTP? Have you not heard of tactical voting?
    At least under AV the transfers are transparent.

  26. RodCrosby
    I’m assuming you also know more about Australia’s electoral system and representation than I do.

    But, the number of representatives in the Fed Parl is less than the number of MPs in the UK’s HoC.

    Surely any comparison is nonsense.

  27. RodCrosby

    I also wonder whether there are any stats about how the AV votes (2nd, 3rd etc) in Australia were cast.

  28. “But, the number of representatives in the Fed Parl is less than the number of MPs in the UK’s HoC.”
    House size only has a marginal effect on proportionality, so small as to be safely discounted. There are numerous studies which compare disproportionality across the world, with legislatures of all different sizes. It’s a non-issue.

  29. One big difference in Australia is that voting is compulsory, with big fines for a no show. That can have a great effect on any election and it is not really possible to compare our two countries and systems.

  30. RodCrosby
    Can you supply any URLs that would enable me to read the studies of AV and proportionality?

  31. Mike –

    My point was to demonstrate that AV does not necessarily lead to more hung parliaments than FPTP, hence the comparison. AV hasn’t been used for any general elections in the UK or its nations (unless you count hereditary peers in the Lords), only for mayors and by-elections, so it’s not possible to compare on the basis you’re suggesting.

    The coalition in Australia is fixed before elections (with the exception of 1987, which was won outright by Labor, and 1922, which I’ve included on my list). As the parties in it commit to forming a government together, if elected, it’s the sames as (for example) 1951 in the UK, where the Conservatives didn’t have an overall majority on their own, but there was no hung parliament, because they had already agreed a coalition with the National Liberals.

  32. ‘It is not self-evident that a guy who gets 10% first preference, 20% second, 10% 4rd, 5% fourth, 6% sixth preference, should beat a guy who just gets 45% first preference.’

    It is, actually, because it means that the majority don’t want the 45% guy at any price!

  33. At the moment I think I won’t make much difference at all, while the LD’s are polling so low, it’s virtually a two horse race anyway. While the LD’s are low they won’t have that many 2nd/3rd preferences to transfer anyway.
    This will change in time, but we might be headed towards proper PR by then anyway.

    Marginals are going to be interesting. As above someone lower down but consistently fairly popular is going to beat someone with more 1st choices – only sometimes, I think, though.

    AV isn’t going to change anything in safe seats. Everyone else might as well stay at home rather than reduce the 20,000 majority by one.

  34. Mike N

    You may find this interesting

    http://blogs.abc.net.au/antonygreen/2011/03/how-av-builds-a-majority-for-a-candidate.html

    Though my understanding is that the AV system proposed for the UK is not identical to the Australian system.

  35. @Stuart Dickson

    ‘Ulster says No’

    Why does that sound familiar!?

  36. Off topic, but for those that are interested in the Winsor Review of Police pay and conditions. Part One is out.

    Quick summary –

    Remove “CRTP” (effectively the top pay increment for old timers – £1200 pa).

    Freeze all pay scale progression for two years (effectively costs all younger officers around £1500-£2000 in future annual pay rises).

    Suspend all bonus payments for senior officers for two years.

    Remove “SPP” (bonus pay for being in certain departments – varies but averages around £1500 – £2000 but is widely disliked as divisive and “random”).

    Introduce a new Expertise and Professional Accreditation Allowance of £1200 for specialised officers (essentially replacing the SPP – the effect will be uncertain until they make it clear who would be eligible).

    Reduce overtime rate from Time and a Third to plain time (effect varies depending on how much overtime you do – plain time is the norm in most jobs outside the police).

    Abolish payment of double time for rest days cancelled at less than 5 days notice. (Mostly only affects specialist departments – unlikely to make much difference to most officers who get a “less than five” once in a blue moon).

    Abolish the concept of “recall to duty” (the infamous ‘four hours overtime for answering the phone’ – this is largely the slaying of a mythical dragon, as I haven’t met anyone in 21 years who’s claimed this anyway).

    Keep payment of time and a half for rest days cancelled at less than 15 days notice.

    New premium of 10% extra pay for hours worked at night (interesting one – so horrendously complicated to do the accountancy for that I can’t see it surviving).

    New “on call” allowance of £15 per day (will help with a limited range of problems we currently have, like rotas for Sexual Offences officers etc).

    2% increase in pension contributions (staggered over two years).

    Increased maternity pay (13 weeks to 18 weeks).

    Slightly increased mileage allowance for using your own car.

    Slightly increased allowance if you stay away and find your own accommodation.

    I’d say it will be seen as a relief by most officers, although it still represents (for many) a big drop in income over the next two years.

    2% extra pension contribution plus 2 year pay freeze plus loss of an average of maybe £2,000 pa in allowances and overtime. Overall I think the average loss will be around £6,000 or £7,000 (very rough guess) in real annual income.

    For me personally, I’ll lose CRTP (£1200) and SPP (£1500), reduced overtime payments (about £1000) but will probably get EPAA (£1200), with the pay freeze and pension increase putting me about average overall.

    It’s just about the most I can swallow without complaint – a drop in available real income of around £250 per month. We’re all in this together!

  37. Mike N
    This article from “Voting Matters”, Volume 20
    http://www.mcdougall.org.uk/VM/ISSUE20/I20P4.PDF

    Tables 4.5 and 4.6 at the end.

  38. Warofdreams
    “My point was to demonstrate that AV does not necessarily lead to more hung parliaments than FPTP, hence the comparison.”

    But I suggest you’re not looking at the right stats. According to Wikipedia (and assuming I’m reading things correctly) there has almost always been a HP outcome to fed elections in Australia. What conceals this is the fact it seems to me that the long-standing coalition polls more than the ‘opposition’ parties.

    (Btw, I have no problem with parties agreeing before a GE to enter into a coalition after the GE.)

    There are poo(r) arguments being put forward to vote No or to vote Yes.

  39. Oldnat and Rod – thanks, I’ll find somme time later to read them.

  40. @Neil A.:

    I think they mean some of us will be in it more than others…..

    All this is in addition as I understand to any cuts in police numbers which will be made in the next 24 months as Local Government cuts are front loaded…unless I’ve got hold of the wrong end of the truncheon!

    Why does this make me think of forests and….undiplomatic landings in Libya?

  41. Neil A

    You’d better hope inflation doesn’t continue to devalue your frozen pay quite so fast.

  42. “there has almost always been a HP outcome to fed elections in Australia.”

    No, only on three occasions. Like I say, it’s the same as in 1951 in the UK (or 1918). It’s not a hung parliament if one grouping in the election had an overall majority. Perhaps it would be easier to think of it as being similar to the Labour-Co-operative Party coalition; it’s exactly the same as the former Conservative-Liberal National or Conservative-Unionist coalitions. Yes, the parties have different organisation and some different interests, but they stand on the basis that they will work together in parliament.

    “What conceals this is the fact it seems to me that the long-standing coalition polls more than the ‘opposition’ parties.”

    The Coalition doesn’t always win the election; sometimes Labor wins.

  43. @ Richard in Norway (re your comment in last thread)

    What I am an example of is the increasing number of people in this country without any fixed political loyalties. As I have said before, there are many policies positions I actually prefer the Liberal Democrats on (e.g. civil liberties). There are other I prefer the Tories on, and others I prefer UKIP (e.g. Europe). Who would I prefer to vote for at present – UKIP, because I am disappointed with the performance of both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in Government. For example, I think the Liberal Democrats have let the country down on civil liberties and Education. Quite simply, they have not stuck by their own principles.
    As for your final comment about the BNP and UKIP – how completely silly. Such stereotypes cheapen politics. My own view on immigration for example is similar to that of most Liberal Democrats – I think immigration is a good thing. It reinvigorates the country. If you say no to immigration, you simply end up like Japan – a country with an ageing population going gradually into decline. I hardly think such views are compatible with the BNP, but does that disqualify me from empathising with many of UKIP’s policies? Of course not.
    The problem with those with fixed political loyalties is that are incapable of looking outside of their own confined political box. Instead of looking at whether people with alternative views are right or wrong, they simply dismiss their ideas (believing for example that just because a party like UKIP is perceived to be right wing, its supporters must empathise with the BNP). They need to look at the wider picture, stop being simplistic, and stop trying to put everything into a narrow political box. The world is too complicated for that and has moved beyond the world of ideologies and political dogma’s. Get real. Joining a political party and voting for it come what may is always a bad idea (unless you want to become a professional politician and actively change things). I think more and more people have arrived at that same conclusion and will simply do what do I – sit back, watch, see what happens, and then make up ones mind. Come 2015, I could easily vote either Liberal Democrat, Conservative, or UKIP. We will see. I can’t imagine myself ever voting Labour. But, if on the road to Damascus Labour were to see the economic light, undergo a transformation and drop their Keynesian dogma, and then present sensible economic policies for the future – well, who knows!!!

  44. Oldnat

    That’s a really interesting articel about wagga wagga, thanks.

    Several observations….

    – unsure whether the outcome supports AV (but perhaps that’s just me)
    – the winner still didn’t get more than 50% of the votes of those who voted (demonstrating that claims that AV will always produce a winner with 50%+ of the votes is somewhat baseless)
    – the outcome was fair as usually there would only be one candidate representing the coalition.

  45. Warofdreams
    Re Australia and the Coalition.

    The arrangement is that the coalition parties filed a single agreed candidate ineach constituency. Thus, Australia has a two party state with three parties!

    I still don’t see that a genuine comparison can be made with the UK.

  46. RodCrosby:
    “It is true, if you accept a reasonable definition of a voter as “one who casts an effective vote.” And there is no reason under AV not to cast an effective vote. Preferences do show support. “If I can’t have my first choice, I’ll have my second choice, and if I can’t have my second I’ll have my third.” Etc.”

    There have always been plenty of voters who don’t cast effective votes! Some people will not cast “effective” votes out of confusion, some out of a misconceived protest, and some because they genuinely have no preference between their least-preferred candidates.

    “What-if’s are wonderful, but pretty unrealistic. Our whole electoral history would have been different from the moment we would have adopted AV. A better comparison is to compare long-term disproportionality in Australia with the UK. It all depends on how you define disproportionality, of course, and there are at least half a dozen ways of doing that. But some studies I’ve seen calculate the disproportionality in Oz to be significantly lower than here, and – get this – lower even that the so-called “PR” systems we use to elect the Euro MPs and the Scottish/Welsh assemblies!”

    My point is that is does not guarantee a more proportional system. As you say, there are many different ways of calculating disproportionality. Successful tactical voting can greatly influence it.

    The party list and mixed-member systems are not especially proportional; although they are bound to be better than FPTP, AV could on average be better, using some indices. But STV with a reasonable number of members per constituency must surely be the most proportional of any common electoral system.

  47. Mike –

    “The arrangement is that the coalition parties filed a single agreed candidate ineach constituency. Thus, Australia has a two party state with three parties!”

    Well, yes. That’s why I’m arguing that the existence of a coalition there has no connection with a hung parliament.

    “I still don’t see that a genuine comparison can be made with the UK.”

    Why do you say that? Politically, Australia has more in common with the UK than most other countries. Clearly there are some small differences (e.g. smaller parliament), but I don’t see anything which would rend this kind of broad comparison invalid.

  48. Warofdreams
    Way back in this thread you posted:
    “In Australia, AV has resulted in fewer hung parliaments than in the UK”

    But clearly AV has not been instrumental in reducing the number of HPs in Australia. If you look at the number of reps returned for each of the three parties then a HP often results as no party usually obtains an OM.

    What sets Australia apart IMO is that two of the parties have a long-standing coalition agreement.

    Look at this way – it is the coalition with its agreement to field a joint candidate that has reduced the number of HPs and not the use of AV. Of course, as demonstraed in the wagga wagga result (see Oldnat’s link), the fielding of a candidate by both coaltion parties might still lead to the return of a rep for the coalition. But this outcome might not always occur.

  49. “There have always been plenty of voters who don’t cast effective votes!”
    Not in the sense I mean. To be crystal-clear, an effective vote is one that is counted in the decisive electoral round. So under FPTP all counted votes are effective, as the single, only round is decisive.

    Under AV, the voter knows full well that the first round may not be the decisive round. So it is sensible to mark further preferences. Those who don’t only have themselves to blame if their vote is exhausted, not counted and not countable in the decisive round.

    Consequently, AV always produces a 50% winner from the countable, effective votes. No-one can ask for anything more of an electoral system, in any case.

  50. @Eoin/TGB (from previous thread)

    At the start of the last thread you asserted that “Reds, with the red mist descended, will ensure a victory for blues in the AV referendum, simply to spite yellow…..seat reduction and a no in may, would be two hammer blows for reds future electoral prospects.” I beg to differ in terms of your assumptions of party advantage and claims of irrational behaviour.

    Around Christmas, Anthony Wells put up a well-argued thread that suggested the opposite view from yours i.e. that polling evidence showed that AV would hut the red corner most of all. I suggest that the latest polling evidence is even more compelling in favour of his view.

    From the latest YouGov poll, 16% of support is now for parties whose supporters would be more likely to break towards the Conservatives than Labour in later preferences (9% LD, 6% UKIP, 1% BNP). Just 4% of support is for parties whose supporters’ 2nd preferences would be more likely to break towards Labour than the Conservatives (2% Green, 2% SNP/PC). That’s a net 12% of 2nd preferences more likely to go to the right than the left in a straight Con v Lab choice.

    My analysis of this destination of 2nd preferences is also evidence based in the main, as was AW’s previously. Look at the responses to the question ” If you had to choose, which would you prefer to see after the next election, a Conservative government led by David Cameron or a Labour government led by Ed Miliband?” The 9% rump of LDs now split 52/13 in favour of the Conservatives, as Labour have already picked up the votes of most left-leaning former LDs. Although the same analysis isn’t available for UKIP supporters, there is evidence in the same poll that the growth in UKIP support has come more from former Conservatives than from former Labour supporters by a margin of about 2 to 1, so it’s reasonable to assume a similar division of UKIP 2nd preferences. The only significant assumptions I’ve made are regarding the transfer of Greens and SNP/PC 2nd preferences to Labour, but if I’m wrong here the general thrust of the argument is even stronger. (And note that this is being written with a tin hat in anticipation of OldNat’s outraged refutation that SNP supporters will give 2nd preferences to Labour).

    So let’s please knock on the head the assertion that AV will somehow help the reds’ electoral prospects, when all of the current polling evidence points to the opposite.

    As for voting No to spite the yellows, again that’s a misrepresentation of a very rational case. Bear in mind that if the vote is a Yes then we can kiss goodbye to the prospect of an early election, since the LDs will clearly want to hang on until at least October 2013, when if they forced an election it would be conducted under AV. So while a No vote would undoubtably cause difficulties for the yellows in general and Clegg in particular, the desirablility of that (IMO of course) rests not on irrational spite but rather on the rational case of enhancing the prospect of the coalition falling apart, and thus raising the possibility that the electorate would be afforded the chance of an early general election vote on whether they want to continue down the present path, an opportunity which I think they now deserve to have.

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