The numbers show that Farron’s party will likely increase its vote share at the next electionby Matt Singh / March 28, 2017 / Leave a comment
Read an interview with Vince Cable here
Since their near annihilation in 2015, the Liberal Democrats have been closely watched for signs of recovery. While Brexit opened up a fresh political space for the party and by-elections have demonstrated progress, support in national opinion polls has increased only slightly from the eight per cent that they polled at the last general election. However, this doesn’t tell us the whole story. Get stuck into the detail and a positive picture emerges.
Relative mid-term weakness for the Lib Dems is not a new phenomenon. From the merger of the Liberal and Social Democratic parties in 1988 until the start of the coalition government in 2010, the party has on average performed five points better in general elections than in polling across the whole of each parliament.
That is not due to polling inaccuracy; polls have historically reflected the improvement in Lib Dem fortunes as the next election approaches. The likely explanation for this phenomenon is that when a party is neither in opposition nor government, it simply escapes the public consciousness. That could also explain why, as part of the governing coalition, there was no such recovery at the 2015 election.
What is harder to explain is the apparent mismatch between opinion polls and the party’s substantial vote share gains in local government by-elections. For example, it came from nowhere to take half the vote at Dunster and…