With ballot papers going out to party members today in the Liberal Democrat leadership race, new polling of Liberal Democrat members carried out by YouGov shows Tim Farron starting with a strong lead.
When members were asked ahead of the formal start of the leadership race to answer an open-ended question* on who their preferred new party leader was, the results were:
Tim Farron 42%
Norman Lamb 14%
Don’t know 37%
Those headline figures show Tim Farron in a strong lead, but the high level of don’t knows will keep his camp on their toes given how much media coverage there had been ahead of the poll that Farron would be running for leader. A large part of the electorate still need persuading to back him.
The polling was carried out as part of a wider research project into party membership, funded by the ESRC and run by Tim Bale and Paul Webb. It was conducted by YouGov, surveying members of their research panel who have previously identified themselves as party members.
Of course, several caveats apply but it’s notable that the simple Farron vs Lamb figures with everyone else exclude are, at 75% for Farron, similar to those in the Lib Dem Voice poll carried out at roughly the same time but with a different approach and no weightings. It ended up with 71% for Farron.
Bear in mind though that multiple different methodologies all turned out wrong for the 2015 general election public polls… and there is the little matter of a campaign between these polls and voting. During the 2007 leadership contest, support changed significantly and quickly during the campaign.
730 members were surveyed online by YouGov between 12-24 May by which time both Farron and Lamb had declared their intention to run. I have weighted the results to be 54% male-46% female in line with the latest data. No other weighting has been done. Thank you to Tim Bale and Paul Webb for sharing their data with me.
* i.e. they could type whatever name they wished rather than being prompted with a list of names.