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What if support for the “others” doesn’t decline?

June 30th, 2009

Who’ll suffer most – Dave, Gord or Nick?

Another poll and another big share for “other parties” which have seen their Westminster polling numbers stay at very high levels even though it’s nearly a month since the June 4th Euro Elections.

All the pundits, including me, were suggesting a rapid decline as the EU election affect wears off and all the focus is on the battle ahead between Labour and the Tories with the LDs having an interest in a segment of seats.

But so far that’s not happening. We are still seeing an aggregate poll share at about 20% which is two and a half times what these parties, with SNP/PC got between them at the 2005 general election.

If this continues then I think we’ve got to be ultra-cautious about the standard seat calculations. These are based on taking a stated level of swing and applying it to what happened in each seat in 2005 – adjusted for the new boundaries.

The impact of higher UKIP/Green/BNP shares in almost all seats will be to reduce the overall shares for the three main parties – but it’s between them that the real battles will be fought. The affect surely will be that the level of swings required for seats to change hands might not be as high.

My back of an envelope calculations suggests that it might be useful to simply add about a tenth to the polling shares for each of Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems and work out our seat projections from there.

But this is just the mathematics. What about the overall electoral dynamics? Will more robust UKIP/Green/BNP poll shares as we get closer to the election cause less switching back to the main parties?

As to which parties suffer most this morning’s ComRes poll shows that those saying UKIP split like this when asked to say what they did in 2005 – CON 15%: LAB 16%: LD 16%: OTH 12% with the balancing saying they didn’t vote or they don’t remember. For the Greens the split is CON 7%: LAB 14%: LD 20%: OTH 15% with a very high 45% saying they didn’t vote or they don’t remember.

All told I think this is quite good news for the Tories and possibly bad for Labour and the LDs.

Mike Smithson