Issues & Ideas | 3rd December 2014

Lib Dem voters support the coalition on the economy: Will their party stick with Tories?

Yesterday launched The Drilldown, our new insight into the polls. Over the weekend we used it to look at […]

Photo: Getty


Yesterday launched The Drilldown, our new insight into the polls. Over the weekend we used it to look at how support for the coalition’s economic policies varies across the social classes and how attitudes to immigration differ by class, age, gender and party ID.

But the data holds another story on the economy.

On the one hand, the numbers show what we would expect. Those currently planning to vote Tory think the coalition is handling the economy brilliantly – 90 per cent of them approve. Similarly, 79 per cent of Labour voters disapprove.

We can take much of those numbers as given, the story is in how they have shifted slightly over time.

We can see that Tory voters started to lose some faith in the coalition in 2012, and opposition from Labour voters has recently softened, which confirms how poor a year 2012 was for the government, and how they have recovered.

Tory voters

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Labour voters

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As for the other parties, the Tories should be cheered by the stance of Lib Dem voters. The party, who look likely to hold around 30 MPs, could be the kingmaker in May.

As we might expect – given their party is partly responsible – those sticking with the party are now very supportive of the coalition.

Lib Dem voters

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As our recent profile of Cambridge detailed, Labour are threatening to wipe out the Lib Dem left, but that could leave the Lib Dems as party that leans to the centre-right.

If their voters back the coalition on the economy, their leadership may be more swayed to keep the Tories in power.

Much could depend on whether Nick Clegg continues as leader after May 2015. He may not have a choice: last week Ashcroft showed Labour were within 3 points of his Sheffield Hallam seat.

If Clegg departs, Tim Farron – Britain’s most “legitimate” MP – is the bookies favourite to succeed him. He leans to the left of the party, which may make him one of the 29 per cent of Lib Dems who disapprove of the party’s economic tack.