POLLWATCH: The ABC of UKIP Voters (Anyone But Cameron)
weekend’s ComRes poll for the Sunday Mirror
and Independent on Sunday carried the surprise finding that UKIP is now the
nation’s favourite political party. According
to Twitter, this caused reactions ranging from celebration to exasperation to
astonishment. But how UKIP gained this position is an interesting story in
itself and one which may have serious implications for the other parties.
graph below shows the favouriblity ratings of each of the main parties broken
down by voting intention. The coloured bars represent the voters of each of the
main parties and the size of bar represents how favourable and unfavourable
each set of voters are to each party.
be seen, UKIP voters (90%) are slightly more favourable towards their
party than Conservative (80%), Labour (74%) and Liberal Democrat (71%)
are towards theirs. This would suggest that UKIP voters are more zealous
others when it comes to their political allegiance, whereas the Tories,
Labour and the Lib Dems have to deal with relatively higher proportions
of voters who are less loyal in their support.
Party favourability ratings
crucially, UKIP also receives higher favourability ratings than the
Conservatives or Labour among other parties’ voters. For example, nearly a
quarter of Conservative voters (23%) say that they are favourable towards UKIP,
compared to only 15% of UKIP voters who are favourable towards the Tories. Far
from seeing UKIP voters return to the Tory fold as the election approaches,
this suggests that there is greater scope for the Tories to lose yet more
votes to UKIP than to win lost votes back.
is this going to be helped by the Conservatives’
current strategy of turning the election into a head-to-head between David
Cameron and Ed Miliband. Among UKIP voters, the Conservatives have a very
healthy lead over Labour in terms of net favourability (29 points). However,
despite just 3% of UKIP voters being favourable towards Mr Miliband and the
Labour leader’s dire ratings generally, there is no advantage in framing it as
a leadership battle: a Miliband/Cameron head-to-head has a net benefit to the
Conservatives of +1. In other words, relative to his party, the Prime Minister
performs pretty much just as poorly among UKIP voters as much-maligned “Red
Mr Cameron is the only leader to
outscore his party among British people as a whole, this is far from
being the case among UKIP voters. In a measure of just how tough it
will be for him
to persuade UKIP voters to back the Conservatives in 2015, only 17% of
voters have a favourable view of Mr Cameron, compared with fully 78% of
Conservative voters. It seems implausible to imagine that UKIP voters
will return to the Conservative fold in any number while David Cameron
But the maths are against the Conservatives anyway. The
poll shows that even
in the highly unlikely event that every single current UKIP voter who is
favourable towards Mr Cameron ended up voting for the Conservatives at the next
election, it still would not be enough to overtake Labour’s current vote share,
let alone to give the party an overall majority.
some readers may be thinking, “but Labour’s vote share is not going to stay at
its current level. It is likely to decline when
some of its current supporters return to the Lib Dems before the election.”
Well maybe, but as the graph above shows, current Labour voters are less
favourable towards the Lib Dems (11%) than Conservative voters (17%) are.
is actually a broader link between the two Coalition parties: Mr Cameron’s
clear advantage as the nation’s most favourable leader is almost exclusively
due to the opinions of Liberal Democrat voters. Whereas Mr Cameron does not
score significantly better than his party among Labour, UKIP or Conservative
voters, Liberal Democrat voters are twice as likely to view him favourably
(23%) than they are the Conservative Party generally (11%).
causes a significant problem for the Prime Minister in his attempts to stem the
UKIP threat. As the graph above shows, the party towards
which UKIP voters are most unfavourable is the Europhile, socially
liberal Liberal Democrats, while the party to which
Lib Dem voters are most unfavourable is the Eurosceptic, socially
conservative UKIP. Therefore as Mr Cameron increasingly targets UKIP voters, he
is spending more and more energy focussing on voters that are at best naturally
sceptical towards him, at worst apoplectic, all the while alienating potential
voters from the Liberal Democrats that are inclined towards him.
a strategy is likely to do him no favours in an election. If the Conservatives
are to win a majority, Mr Cameron may have
to give up on UKIP or his party must give up on him.
ComRes, Four Millbank, London, SW1P 3JA ComRes
is the trading name of CommunicateResearch Ltd, a company registered in
England and Wales. Company number: 4810991. Registered office: Coveham
House, Downside Bridge Road, Cobham, Surrey KT11 3EP.