Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Lib Dems sink to polling score low

Clegg: not popular

ComRes has been running a series of phone (and now additionally online) polls for the Independent and Independent on Sunday since 2006.

In the latest poll, the Liberal Democrats have scored their joint lowest score since the beginning of the partnership with the paper, of just 12%. Labour, meanwhile, have reached their highest level yet in this series - 40%.

This means the Tories are behind Labour in the most recent survey from every major recognised polling firm, except YouGov, who have them neck-and-neck.

Every polling firm has shown the same basic trend since the General Election - Labour have been on an upward climb, steady except for a wobble during the summer. The Tories have also improved their polling share since May, albeit by a smaller amount than Labour and with a very recent change in fortunes according to most polling firms.

The effect of these changes means that Labour can be fairly confident that they finally pulled ahead of the Tories in terms of voting intention in early November. The Tories can comfort themselves with the apparent fact that their support in real terms in still higher, or at about the same level than it was May. 

The Liberal Democrats have a different story to tell. They have seen their share of voting intention suffer from what appears to be an inexorable decline. Prior to the tuition fees protests, it appeared that this decline might have reached a plateau, but the party has recently hit new lows in various polls (as low as 9% in the case of recent poll from YouGov). Their support has halved since the General Election, which generally speaking looks to have benefited Labour the most. 

Left-Right Divide

A favourite cliche from many commentators is that 'the era of traditional left-right politics is over'. But the polls are pointing to a quite different picture: left-leaning Liberal Democrats drifting away from Nick Clegg and towards a more openly centre-left Labour Party, with the Tories maintaining support amongst right-leaning voters. YouGov's latest poll has joint support for the two traditional main parties back up to 80%, from 65% at the General Election.

Meanwhile, with the return of street protests (complete with chants of "Tory Scum") and a public apparently almost evenly divided over support spending cuts, it looks like the right-left divide is, if anything, stronger than it has been for many years.

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