How are “others” likely to split as the race gets tighter?

How are “others” likely to split as the race gets tighter?

YouGov for Channel 4 June 2009

Can Labour really expect to benefit most?

The above is from the massive 32,268 sample YouGov poll taken just before the Euro Election last June and is just about the best resource we’ve got on the attitudes and backgrounds of those who, in that election at least, supported the “others” – the BNP, UKIP or the Greens.

For given the continued very high shares that are being recorded for this segment this survey might provide pointers as to what might happen as the race gets tighter.

A problem with standard sized surveys of 1,000 – 2,000 is that the numbers opting for these three parties are so small that it’s hard to draw many conclusions.

This is, of course, the response to YouGov’s standard forced choice question which has been asked in precisely the same way for several years. It might be a bit old but there’s nothing else available to put into context a report in the Times this morning which notes:-

“..Labour’s election planners believe an 8-point gap between the current party of Government and the Tories can be closed. They say that a third of Lib Dem voters have suggested that they might vote Labour, which would equate to 5 percentage points. Meanwhile, they believe that the numbers currently saying they support “others” in polls — greens, BNP and UKIP — may go back to Labour, closing the gap by a further 3 percentage points…”

I’ve found it quite hard to work out what it can be based on. Certainly there must be a reasonable expectation that Labour will do best from Green voters but big blocks of UKIP and BNP backers would appear to be much more likely to go to the Tories who look set to be the biggest gainers as “others” get smaller. Indeed it’s been the recent rise of this segment, rather than Labour advances, that’s been behind the Tory fall-off in support.

And I’m far from convinced about the “one in three Lib Dems” assertion. The current evidence is that they are more evenly split and there’s little to suggest that a move on that scale of the report might happen.

There’s little doubt that the 13% – 18% aggregate share for others currently being reported will get smaller as we get nearer the day but the Times report suggests a level of wishful thinking.

Mike Smithson

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