The Greens’ vote is declining, but were they underperforming anyway?

While recent attention has been on the Labour and Tory numbers – with some discussion about whether Ukip’s support’s falling (it did a bit at the end of March but it’s back up now) – a slide in support for the Greens seems to have gone un-commented on.

The latest ten polls, as recorded by May2015, have given them an average of 4.1%: down nearly 40% from their support of 6.7% in mid-February.

The decline seems to have started around two weeks after Natalie Bennett’s calamitous LBC interview and has worsened since the TV debate.

I don’t have evidence the decline’s connected to her media performances, though I’d be surprised if it’s not. While part of the decline might be the squeeze from Labour and the Lib Dems as voters start wanting to make their vote count* – but Ukip face the same threat and their vote hasn’t fallen (at least not by 40%). So we need another explanation, and the leadership looks a likely one.

But, even before recent decline (which is only in a few polls and they might recover from), I’d been starting to wonder, are the Greens underperforming?

It might seem strange to even wonder this. They’ll get their best ever result in May and their membership has overtaken the Lib Dems’.

But, as their supporters like pointing out, their policies are apparently the most popular of all the parties’; they have more people say they’d vote for them if they could win than either the Lib Dems or Ukip; there’s an unusually large number of left-wing protest voters up for grabs; and their leader has been on TV and radio far more than ever before, including being treated as an equal with the Prime Minister.

Yet, they don’t seem to be fulfilling this potential. They’re doing much worse than Ukip, a party who they’re more popular than in terms of both policies and brand.

As I showed before, their media coverage is consistently lower than their support should justify: that’s probably part of the reason for the support gap between the Greens and Ukip. But the campaign has certainly given them far more exposure than they had before, and their support doesn’t seem to have responded.

So rather noting how well the Greens are doing, should we be wondering whether they should be doing better?


* Their new boyband video, weirdly, emphasises several times that [for reasons] a vote for the Greens isn’t a wasted vote. Given how popular George Lakoff is among environmentalists at the moment, I’m amazed no-one spotted that, by repeating their opponents’ accusation, they’re activating the frame of “wasted vote”.


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