The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

That Elusive Labour Share

Posted by The Futility Monster on April 14, 2010 @ 09:15

It’s time to stick my finger in the air and sense the mood. Here’s the latest Monster’s Poll…


LABOUR: 26% (N/C)

LIB DEMS: 23% (+2%)

On the surface, there’s something not right here. These figures are now being taken across a 30 day window. The changes listed above are from last time, which was over 20 days ago.

That means, because over 2/3rds of the polls in this sample are new, that the polls are still not showing much movement. Except to the Lib Dems, but one expects that during a campaign. That’s why we always take their maximum, even if many intervening polls show them lower.

If we look instead at medians (bearing in mind that the Tory share above is already the median) the Labour Party are on 31% and the Lib Dems on 19%.

That is closer to the mark, but it hides a huge degree of volatility, particularly in the Labour share. Within the past week, they have been as low as 26% and as high as 33%. Yes, we’re comparing apples with oranges, as they are from different pollsters with different formulae, but when you look at the Tory share in the last week, their range is narrower, from 36% to 40%. As a proportion of their actual share, the Labour volatility is much higher.

So, as I have agonised about why it’s so hard to get a sensible reading for the Labour figure, the pollsters are in the same boat. They all have their own weird ways of assigning “don’t knows” based on why they voted for last time, or who they say they lean towards, or how certain they say they are going to vote… but whichever way you look at it, the Labour share of the vote is a true toss up. 26% will result in a Tory landslide. 33%, depending on how the Tories do, might just mean Labour remains the largest party in a hung parliament.

Perhaps Labour support is indeed solidifying, and the perceived closeness of the election will encourage more and more of their supporters to the polls. But what if all of those Labour loyalists live in solid Labour seats anyway? That is no use to them.

The marginals are all that matter, and as the specific marginal polls keep showing, the Tories are doing better than the national trend there. In some respects then, that distortion would have a similar effect to a lower national share for Labour, and projecting the result based on that may be more accurate after all.

Here’s hoping we see the classic poll convergence in the coming weeks. Cos right now, I ain’t a betting man.


One Response to “That Elusive Labour Share”

  1. Neil Craig said

    I suspect the Labour volatility is because nobody wants to vote Labour, but depending on the poll, they are more or less likely to go for them as the default position.

    I have no doubt that if the LibDems were presenting a liberal or even sane policy choice they would have been ahead of Labour & probably of the Conservtives long ago.

    The fact tnat 13% intend to vote for other parties, in the full knowledge that most of them will be disenfranchised by our corrupt electoral system shows the level of dissatisfaction.

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