Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Friday, 16 April 2010

Lib Dem post debate poll bounce and broken politics

The Twitterverse went into overdrive a couple of hours ago when the results of a ComRes poll taken straight after the debate were released suggesting that Lib Dem support had gone up by 14 points with:

Conservative 36% (+1)
Lib Dems 35% (+14)
Labour 24% (-5)

This was obviously hugely exciting news for the Lib Dems. It turned out though that those are the numbers from respondents who watched the debate rather than from the general public. They subsequently released a "weighted" version of the poll. I am not sure of the exact methodology they use to do this but these results were:

Conservative 35% (nc)
Lib Dems 24% (+3)
Labour 28% (-1)

The first thing to say is that regardless of the initial confusion about the first set of results both polls are still very good news for the Lib Dems, albeit we will need to see some more polling over the next day or two to see if it stands up and shows a trend. The second weighted one shows that there still appears to have been an decent increase in support. However the first one shows that it looks like there is great support in terms of voting intentions from the people who watched the programme. It is of course possible that more Lib Dem inclined people than make up the average population watched it but I don't think that could explain such a huge shift (if that view was repeated in other unweighted polls). It is also worth noting that those who watched the programme are almost certainly more likely to vote if they are motivated enough to watch a 1.5 hour long debate with the three leaders.

Another point worth making is to just run with the idea that the numbers in the first unweighted poll actually happened in a general election. Here is what would happen according to the calculator on UK Polling Report:

So despite the fact that we would get nearly half again as many votes as Labour, they would still have 30 odd % more seats than us. And although we would be within a hair's breadth of the Conservative share of the vote, only 1% behind them, they would get twice as many seats as us.

It's interesting how the results of these post-debate polls are actually highlighting one of the things that Nick Clegg kept referring to during the debate itself which is that our politics is broken.

I think that message really chimes with the British public and the sort of distortion we see here will become harder and harder to defend if the Lib Dem vote share solidifies in the mid-20s where it appears to be immediately after the debate.

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