"Would consider voting for…" question shows a double-edged sword for Lib Dems, UKIP maturing while the Greens are increasingly on the radar

YouGov in their weekly poll for the Sunday Times have asked a question very similar to one they asked three weeks ago that looks at who respondents would consider voting for. I find this fascinating because it shows where the parties have the chance of gaining support, but also where they risk losing it.

The one caveat is the question, which has changed slightly along with the wording of the options, but the exercise is essentially the same. Here are the results and changes, together with the considerers divided by current VI:

As usual these numbers are subject to a margin of error. Taking each party in turn:

The Conservatives have increased from 35% to 37%. The increase would appear to be driven by “don’t knows”, because the increase in current Lib Dems that might go blue (to 21%) is roughly offset by the small decreases in potential switchers from Labour (4%) and UKIP (26%).

Labour have dropped from 39% to 38%, with the components essentially mirroring those of the Tories. 29% of current Lib Dems would consider voting Labour, as would 8% of Conservative voters and 12% of UKIPpers. These changes would be good news for Labour, because in the classic red-blue battleground seats, one direct CON-LAB switcher is worth two from other parties.

The Liberal Democrats have raised their ‘ceiling’ from 17% last time to 19% now, driven by potential switchers from Labour (up 3 to 14%). These appear to be 2010 Labour and not 2010 Lib Dems that switched to Labour subsequently. But the bad news for the Lib Dems is that, while they have room to increase their vote (as Stephan Shakespeare pointed out in YouGov’s commentary), they also have more potential to lose votes than any other party. Just 61% of this currently intending to vote Lib Dem say that they would “definitely” (as opposed to “probably”) do so, while for CON, LAB and UKIP the figure is around 70% for each. Even 61% might be too high, since it appears to be contradicted just two questions later (see below).

UKIP have dropped from 27% to 23%, with now significantly fewer Tories (19%, down 5) and Lib Dems (6% down 4) considering switching to them. Potential switchers from Labour have stayed at 11%. What is also interesting is that the pool of potential support, relative to actual support, is now basically the same as for the two biggest parties. I guess you could say that they have come of age.

The Greens have jumped from 19% to 24%, the best performance of any of the five main parties. Their potential support remains about 4 times their current voting intention, even though the latter has increased. And its components, if anything, paint an even brighter picture. Potential switchers from all of the other four parties have increased, with 29% of Labour voters and a whopping 43% of Lib Dems would consider going Green. As I mentioned above, 61% of Lib Dems said they would “definitely” stay loyal, so at least some of them seem to have changed their minds rather quickly. But in terms of actual votes, the 29% of Labour supporters represent a significantly bigger chunk (9.3%) of all voters.

In summary, it would seem that with three parties widening their pool of potential voters (and only one showing a significant drop), voters aren’t going through some collective making-up-of-minds, if anything they are becoming increasingly open to changing their minds. The picture hasn’t changed much for the two largest parties. The Lib Dems have scope both to gain and lose considerably, UKIP may have transitioned between ‘growth’ and ‘maturity’ phases, while it looks like the Greens are very much still growing.

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