Friday, 26 October 2012
Green Party at 8% in National Opinion Poll
The national monthly (September) political tracker voting intention opinion poll by Ipsos Mori, put the Green party on an astonishing 8%. Regular readers of this blog will remember that I recently highlighted the strong showing of late of the ‘Others’ in voting intention polls. UKIP have generally been getting the largest share of the ‘others’ vote, regularly out polling the Lib Dems, with the Greens doubling our share, but still usually only half that of the UKIP share.
In the Ipsos Mori poll for September though, this situation was reversed with UKIP polling 4% against the Greens 8%. Unfortunately, the Green party is back to 3% in the October poll with UKIP on 10%, but you would expect some volatility in the polling figures for small parties, where the sample surveyed is usually around only a thousand respondents, and so smaller party support is harder to detect and predict than that for the main parties.
Another polling company,Survation, who very accurately predicted the Green party vote share in this year’s London Assembly election, have an interesting piece on another, methodological reason why some polling organisations understate the strength of small party support in their polls. Basically, companies like Yougov, prompt respondents when asking which party they intend to vote for, (Con, Lab, Lib Dem or Other), so people need to first select Other, then select the particular party from a secondary prompt, (UKIP, Green, BNP etc).
Also, Yougov list the party options in the order Con, Lab, Lib Dem, Other, whereas Ipsos Mori change this order randomly, except in the case of Other, which is always last. According to the Survation piece, this explains why the Conservatives always poll higher in Yougov polls, and therefore logic would indicate that these polls will understate the Other vote, for the converse reason. Survation themselves, do randomly prompt on the main parties, and now UKIP too, and UKIP polls higher on their surveys than any of the other polling companies.
One thing that seems to be fairly certain is that this trend of UKIP and the Greens polling well is set to continue, with the next UK wide elections being the 2014 European Parliament elections in which both UKIP and the Greens do best at. Expect some gains for both parties in the Euro elections and probably the local authority council elections that will be held on the same day. Unless something dramatic happens, the Lib Dems will be down to their ‘core’ vote of 8 or 9%, and so will not affect the outcome of elections as much as they have done in recent years.
More importantly, if this trend continues all the way to the next general election which is expected in 2015, and if between UKIP and the Greens they can take approaching 15% of the national vote, with UKIP taking their votes mainly off the Conservatives and the Greens taking them mainly off Labour, this could have a significant impact on which of the two main parties wins the election.
What’s more, Labour and Conservatives will know this is the case, as they study these opinion polls very closely, which makes them more likely to steal policies off UKIP and the Greens in an effort to minimise the votes lost to their smaller rivals. This is potentially a strong position for us Greens, where we can perhaps influence Labour policy leftwards, and for UKIP to drag the Tories rightwards (I know, it’s hard to imagine the Tories being even more right wing, but there you go).
The days of the Lib Dems maintaining ‘equidistance’ between Labour and Conservative, and so peeling votes off their right and left wings respectively, looks to be well and truly over. A new dynamic will shape the next general election, and the Green party will be right in the thick of it.