The tables for MORI’s monthly poll are now up on their website so we can dig around inside them and look at the maths. Obviously with such a surprising shift in support, the thing I looked at first was Liberal Democrat support. What actually caused that jump in their figure?

The sample itself wasn’t massive more Liberal Democrat – last month 9% of the sample said they had voted Lib Dem in 2005, this month 10% said they had. The raw numbers of people saying they were voting Lib Dem were up from 17% to 20%, but again, that’s a lot less than 8 points! A major factor seems to be the filtering by likelihood to vote.

I have written a long article on the site here looking in detail at how pollsters deal with likelihood to vote. The simplified version though is as follows…

YouGov ignore it,
Populus – weight by it, so someone who says they are 9/10 likely to vote is worth 90% of someone who says they are 10/10 likely to vote (and so on),
ComRes – do similar, but entirely exclude those who are less than 5/10 likely,
Ipsos MORI – filter by it, so someone who says they are 10/10 likely to vote is counted, and someone who says they are 9/10 likely to vote (or lower) is excluded,
ICM – also filter by it, but less strictly, taking those who rate their chances at 7/10 or higher.

In last month’s MORI poll, of all the people who said they would vote Liberal Democrat, only 47% of people said they were 10/10 certain to vote. In this month’s MORI poll 69% of Liberal Democrats said they were 10/10 certain to vote, so a much larger proportion were included in the topline voting intention, contributing to the massive increase in Lib Dem support.

Interestingly though it wasn’t a massive shift in the likelihood of Lib Dem supporters to vote. Last month 81% of Lib Dem supporters said they were 7/10 likely to vote or above. This month 85% of Lib Dem supporters said they were 7/10 likely to vote or above. What actually happened is that lots of Lib Dem supporters who had said they were very likely to vote, rating their chances at 7 to 9 out of 10, moved to saying they were certain to vote, but because it tipped them over the 10/10 point it moved them from being excluded from the poll to being included. It’s the result of having a straight cut off, rather than a scale like ComRes & Populus do.

68 Responses to “The reason behind that 8 point Lib Dem jump”

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  1. Paul h-J
    Have you considered the cut off date for a General Election.
    Does anyone know when it is for 4th June please?

  2. @ James

    The size of the debt.The inability to foresee when it will return to “normal” levels. The scathing press reaction to 3.5% growth in two years time on which the whole edifice is predicated. The scathing reaction to a “trend growth” future of 2.75% given the permanent reduction of his biggest revenue stream-financial services. The barefaced cynicism of leaving public expenditure cuts & tax rises to post GE . The total abandonment of the Blairite New Labour pledge never to go back to raising top IT rates.

    The sheer scale of UK’s public finances collapse & it’s implications for the next government.

    The enormity of the task awaiting that government & the medium term future which awaits us all.

  3. “the permanent reduction of his biggest revenue stream-financial services”

    the financial sector might well lead us out, in a leaner,fitter shape. There’s no reason to believe there will be a “permanent” loss of revenue.

    The general consensus is that recessions caused by financial shocks last longer and lead to slower recovery than those caused by other issues, such as industrial decay.

    However, this one isn’t a “normal” financial shock-induced recession. To hit growth of 3.5 % is going to be easier than it would have been had recession been less steep (logically, we’ll be growing from a lower base).

    Second, interest rates are very low, so ais inflation. Fixed rate mortgage deals are unwinding all the time, and many more people are beginning to find better deals.

    I’m not saying for a minute that £175bn a year (isn’t that more or less the wage bill of the public sector?) isn’t an incredible sum of money. I’m just saying, wait and see what the figures are by this time next year before you describe the forecasts as a con.

    It’s hardly cynical to announce a manifesto-breaking tax hike that will occur two months before the GE. If anything, it’s a brave thing to announce, as the amount collected in those two months will hardly justify the political fall-out among those of us who aspire to earning £150k +

  4. Laz,

    The Royal proclamation must be made 17 working days before the election. So for a 4th June election, the Queen would need to dissolve parliament by 12th May.

    I very much doubt there will be a 4th June election.

  5. Laz Henson,

    There are rules on notices, registration of candidates, application for and return of postal votes, etc. The minimum permitted time is 22 days. As there is a Bank Holiday on May 25th, this increases the period.

    In order to comply with these rules dissolution would need to take place no later than Monday 11th May, which in practice means that any VONC to trigger an election must be no later than Thursday 7th May (which by coincidence is the date on which the County Council elections should have taken place)

    Incidentally, the timetable for dissolution and calling an election is one reason why, although Brown notionally has until 10th June 2010 as the last possible date for a general election, it is inconceivable that he would delay beyond 6th May 2010, the scheduled date for local elections across practically all of England, so he would probably need to seek a dissolution just as Parliament rises for the Easter recess.

  6. John:-

    Well you seem happy with the forecasts. I’m not & I have yet to hear any authoritive voice which could reasonably be described as independent say that they are.

    Your second paragraph ( though I note the use of “might” ) flies in the face of opinion from
    Robert Chote, the director of the IFS. He said that the Budget’s “real surprise” was an admission that there had been a five per cent loss in Britain’s “productive potential” – the amount it can produce without raising inflation.

    An admission of this “permanent reduction in output” was hidden in the smallprint of the Budget book, according to the National Audit Office’s check on its assumptions.

    “The Treasury thinks that the economic crisis will punch a bigger hole in the UK’s productive potential. It also expects prices to be lower over the long term ”

    “This means that even when the economy has stabilised to a ‘Goldilocks’ state we are going to be left with about £140billion of that £175billion of borrowing and that’s going to have to be whittled away through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.”

    Still-as you say no one knows-and won’t do till after GE-hence the absolutely fascinating political context.

    Your point about interest rates is apposite-when debt levels begin to peak at levels well over £1 Trillion, inflation, and with it higher interest rates, may well have returned. The cost of servicing this mountain of debt will soar.

    There is nothing “brave” about complying with focus group/poll opinion by increasing the top tax rates for a tiny % of voters-few of whom would vote Labour anyway.

    I was refering to the NI increases for most employees and years of future fuel duty increases.

    Most cynical of all is to plan billions in reduction of public expenditure totals post the GE, and then continue the “Tory cuts” attack on the opposition.

  7. Ah, forgot about the Bank Holiday – 11th of May is right.

  8. Colin – aren’t all parties planning spending cuts after the GE?

    I bow to your superior research re permanent reduction in earning capacity – maybe the restrictions placed on the roulette and black-jack tables of our super-talented dealers will indeed return less.

  9. Another point about relying to much on past vote, is people can of course respond in a hostile way to a party that they’ve defected from, and not admit it.

    Maybe this happened post September 1992 when the then government finally found , that after 13.5 years, people had turned against it and their mind was made up.

    I also read something about the situation in the late 70s when Liberal support fell away, and polls showed over a third of October 1974 Liberal voters had “forgotten” they’d voted Liberal.

    It’s amazing how hazy a lot of people’s memories are – when the last election was and what they did.
    This has been quite a long and disjointed Parliament. 2005 feels quite a long time ago.

  10. Parliament expires on May 10th 2010. I’ve read that there are 2 extrapolations for when the last possible date for the election has to be held, one of gives June 3rd 2010, the other June 10th 2010 as the final date for the election, but June 3rd seems to be viewed as the more valid date. Probably Brown will avoid going to the very latest date because it looks like his clinging onto power, so May 6th 2010 is likely to coincide with the local elections, as I think Bob Worcester of MORI has predicted.

  11. “Colin – aren’t all parties planning spending cuts after the GE?”

    They are indeed John-but there is a big difference:-

    Cons are saying-hell this is looking bad-we cannot be tied to Darlings plans-we just don’t know how it will be next spring-but spending will have to be constrained. That is not the same thing as Services which will have to be delivered in a different & more cost effective way.

    Darling is saying nothing about post his GE plans for cuts. Evan Davis on R4 this morning had to drag the figures out of him-they don’t want to talk about it-but they do want to talk about the Tory cuts.

  12. Andy,

    Brown faces two separate problems which mean that he cannot realistically go for an election in June 2010 (whether 3rd or 10th).

    First, with the local Council elections scheduled for 7th May, while there are no constitutional reasons precluding a dissolution of Parliament during the local Council election campaign, the logistical issues and general confusion that would be caused mean that it is impractical for the two campaigns to overlap. Therefore, he either has to get the GE out of the way before the local elections get underway, make the GE coincide with the local elections, or else wait until after the local elections before seeking a dissolution.

    But, there is only one working day after 6th May 2010 before this Parliament expires anyway, and there is no difference between Friday 7th May or Monday 10th for the date of the election. So, if he does not seek a dissolution by 12th April, everyone will know that he has “bottled” the decision altogether and the date will be decided for him by the constitutional calendar.

    Secondly, and of greater political importance, if the GE has not been held alongside the Council elections on 6th May, Labour will assuredly face annihilation at the local elections. Remember that, leaving aside any other issues, Brown will have offered the opposition an open goal in having denied the country a general election on 6th May when everyone knows he is going to have to call one anyway the day after the results are declared.

    Unlike the elections this year, which are mainly in shire counties where they have less to lose, next year local elections will include London and Metropolitan areas which are last remaining Labour strongholds in England. It would be electoral suicide for Labour to face a general election weeks after their local organisations are still reeling from the loss of hundreds of councillors and who knows how many councils across England. Labour will have been damaged not just in the marginals, but in their “core” areas, and its exhausted activists will be hard pressed to defend their strongholds to avoid a wipe-out, never mind any fanciful notions of securing a working majority.

    In addition to the damage to party morale, which will be considerable, there is also a financial issue. Basically, the Labour Party will be skint, and simply cannot afford to pay for two elections next year.

    In summary, the election will either be before next Easter, or it will be on 6th May 2010. The latter looks like being Brown’s choice, but he may be forced to go earlier.

  13. Good points there Paul, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if they were totally wiped out as per your scenario?

  14. Neil,

    Thanks. But actually, while I would like to see the back of Socialism, I think that Labour will still have more MPs than the Lib Dems at the next election.

    Labour will only be finished if they fall to less than twice the LD tally – at which point we will see a serious realignment.

    Otherwise, there is a danger that the vacuum as Labour implode may be filled by another party who may do well in the Euros this yyear.

  15. the Labour Party will be skint, and simply cannot afford to pay for two elections next year.

    I think that’s the single driving force behind it. I imagine the Labour Party is quite pleased there’s no political reason to go before next May for that reason alone.

    “The back of S…” occurred many years ago, just as, I hope, the back of trickle -down capitalism disappeared. There are vestiges of both, of course, and an increasing prospect of polarisation.

    Colin, I thought the criticism of Osborne was that they’d make the cuts right now (and therefore should be in a posistion to tell us where), whereas any cuts Darling is going to make will come once growth has returned (and therefore there’s no possibility of being able to tell us where those future cuts will be)

  16. Just an observation but if we are to analysis peoples voting intentions surely we should include those who will not be voting since this is the largest ‘party’.

    That ‘ abstention party ‘ could be divided further into two parties namely: Apathy & Antipathy. If ‘None of the Above’ was an option for the voter the excrement would certainly hit the fan for the Political classes

    How about conducting future polls with the NOTA as an option?

  17. Terry – all polls include that option, and it’s usually reported in the small print too, it’s just the topline figures are repercentaged to include only those voting, since it allows a projection of what would happen at a general election.

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