2. Has the campaign mattered?
Views about both Tim Farron and Norman Lamb were mostly settled before the campaign started. Even after weighting to give new members the right proportion in the results, 58% said they came to their view on how likely there were to vote for Tim Farron before nominations closed and 49% said the same of Norman Lamb.
That does suggest a higher previous name recognition and profile for Tim Farron than Norman Lamb, but for Lamb only to be 9 points down on that question suggests that the media coverage he received as a minister got through to many armchair members or people who were not yet members.
There is also a slight edge in good news for Norman Lamb in the figures for people being phone canvassed during the campaign. More say they have been phone canvassed by the Lamb team (8%) than by the Farron team (5%). But that edge is small compared to likely margins of error and what’s most notable overall is that nine in ten members say they have not been phone canvassed by either team. (Some have been rung by both.) That’s in the end good news for Farron as, having started the front runner, the less that happened in the campaign the less there was that could have upset that.
Only two people, by the way, reported having been on the receiving end of the controversial pro-Lamb market research calls – confirming the evidence that they were not widespread.
Although the raw survey findings hugely overstates hustings attendance, other calculations point towards around 10% of members attending them. Put together with the low rate of phone calls received – even allowing for more phoning taking place after the survey was conducted – and for most members it has been a pretty low key contest with relatively little in the way of contact from candidates. It also means, ahem, that even on fairly cautious calculations, many more members will have got information about the contest from Lib Dem Newswire and my blog than from attending hustings meetings.
What has cut through to members are the official emails from party HQ, of which there have been four, each containing messages from the two candidates. 89% recall having received them (excluding those who didn’t answer this question; it is still 73% even with no answers factored in). Of course an online survey is biased towards internet users – something that isn’t always remembered.
Even so, that’s a sign of how important email communication has become – and also a sign that it should be used rather more in future contests of all sorts in the party given its huge reach compared to other campaign activities.