There have been a number of polls out recently that have shown Lib Dem support starting to slide. We were on 18% with ComRes yesterday and ICM and YouGov have both had us as low as 16% in recent days. This on the surface looks like a drop of between a quarter and a third of the support we had on election day (24%).
I suppose the first thing to say is that these polls always have a margin of error so it is possible that the real figures are not quite as bad as indicated. But more importantly this is exactly what I expected to see happen. We are only a few weeks into the coalition government and this is the point at which the difficult decisions are being announced. The party has had to compromise in order to get what it wanted in the agreement and a number of the measures announced recently will of course not be to the liking of some Lib Dem supporters and voters. This is one of the reasons why it was vital for the coalition agreement to include fixing the length of the parliament to a reasonable length in order to make sure there is enough time for the Lib Dem measures to be implemented properly and for the electorate to see how we have influenced things for the good.
It is also worth bearing in mind that this is often what happens to the Lib Dems after elections. After the 2005 election we were down as low as 12%.
I do not think there is anything to panic about. I of course would prefer us to be higher in the polls but I would expect the early weeks and months of this government to be the time when we are at our lowest. There is plenty of time to increase our support levels once we are in a position to show people how we have positively affected their lives.