The Corner

The British Elections: Poll Numbers and More Poll Numbers

In the four hours since I wrote this item about the political impact of “l’affaire Gillian,” as I insist on calling Duffygate, two new and interesting opinion polls have come to light. First, Michael Savage — not that Michael Savage but the political correspondent of the left-leaning Independent newspaper — has unearthed some pollling information on lower-income voters that shows they were gradually but substantially returning to Labour after a prolonged flirtation with the Tories. Here they are:

February 2010: 38 Tories, 26 Labour, 20 Lib Dems, 16 Other (Populus)

Early March: 40 Tories, 37 Labour, 12 Lib Dems, 11 Other (Polulus)

Late March: 34 Tories, 29 Labour, 22 Lib Dems, 15 Other (Ipsos MORI)

April: 27 Tories, 27 Labour, 38 Lib Dems, 9 Other (Ipsos MORI)

These polls were obviously taken before “l’affaire,” but common sense suggests that lower-income voters will have since moved further into the Tory column. So, the likely impact of Mrs. Duffy will be to weaken Labour further and to help the Tories and the Lib-Dems. Hawk-eyed critics will have also noticed, however, that a group called simply “Other” have racked up scores ranging from 9 to 16 percent of the electorate. This group includes UKIP, the BNP, the Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties, the Greens, etc. And the number of votes each such party wins could alone have a considerable influence on the standing and success of the main parties.

As it happens, the individual popularity of these parties is revealed in the second poll, conducted by Angus Reid for The Economist. UKIP gets 5 percent of the total popular vote; the BNP gets 2 percent, the Greens 2 percent, and the Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties combined 2 percent. These are high figures. Five percent for UKIP, in particular, is about twice what the party received in 2005. And if it has risen further since the Brown gaffe — and especially if my guess is right that UKIP will gain disproportionately more of the former Labour voters than the BNP — then votes going to UKIP and all the “Other” parties will significantly determine which party forms the next government (and, more to the point, which party doesn’t).


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