The evidence that Lib Dems can still squeeze Labour in Parliamentary by-elections

An ability to massively squeeze third-placed Labour voters has been hugely beneficial to the Liberal Democrats in the past in Lib Dem versus Conservative contests. Are things different now there is a Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government?

Evidence from council elections and council by-elections suggests it very much is still possible and in a few weeks Eastleigh will give us the first good Parliamentary by-election evidence.

In the meantime, we have some striking polling results from YouGov which are good news for both the Liberal Democrats and also those on the centre-left who would rather see Lib Dems than Tories elected. It is also therefore rather bad news for the Conservatives.

YouGov polled a national sample of people and found their current voting intentions to be Conservative 33%, Labour 41%, Liberal Democrat 11%.

Then they asked, “Imagine that political commentators and opinion polls were saying that only the CONSERVATIVE and LIBERAL DEMOCRAT parties had realistic chances of winning the by-election in your seat – how would you then vote?”.

The result: Conservative 34% (+1), Labour 23% (-18), Liberal Democrat 23% (+12).

In other words, when faced with a Lib Dem – Conservative race, a large chunk of the Labour vote switches, mostly to the Liberal Democrats and a little to a smattering of other parties. Labour voters who switch prefer the Lib Dems to the Tories by a large margin.

5 responses to “The evidence that Lib Dems can still squeeze Labour in Parliamentary by-elections”

  1. This sort of potential for switching was very evident in the second choices cast at the PCC elections where Labour voters who expressed a second preference invariably made it Lib Dem, and Tory voters who expressed a preference split roughly 1/3rd each to Labour, Lib Dem and UKIP.

  2. I hope this is true. We haven't found it to be the case in 2011 or 2012. In fact in the neighbouring Ward to the one I used represent (I lost in 2011 to the Tories due to a rise in the Labour vote) Labour actually won last year although we used to squeeze the Labour vote to beat the Tories! A lot of Labour inclined people won't read our leaflets or even talk to us – what is it that people are doing to counter that? I'd love to know!

  3. I broke down the preferential profile information for the ward I stood in, which is Con leaning and hasn't seen a Liberal in decades.
    Whilst our 1st pref count was low, 11.5% of Labour voters gave me a 2nd preference. Since there was an independent standing as well, I took the Indy out of the equation whilst the SNP/Con only gained maximum a percentage point from taking out the indy, we gained another 5% that took us to 16% of Labour voters willing to give us a 2nd pref ahead of the other parties.
    That being said the SNP still had the lead of 21% and Cons were stuck on 11% or so.

    Don't know how this changes across Scotland & obviously there is no such information for England.

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