Why hasn’t Milifandom led to a Labounce?

Views of Miliband have improved sharply but Labour’s vote share hasn’t changed. Given Miliband was often supposed to be a drag on Labour’s vote, this seems surprising.

Since February, responses to questions on Miliband have shown a consistent increase in his ratings. This doesn’t just come from people already planning on voting Labour: for example the proportion of Lib Dem voters who say he’s doing well in YouGov’s polls increased from 17 to 34.

But in those polls, there’s been no corresponding increase in likelihood to vote Labour. Looking at February and April Ashcroft, Mori and YouGov polls, there doesn’t seem to be any relationship between increase in rating of Miliband and likelihood to vote Labour:

The 2010 Lib Dems* are particularly important: for the Labour/Tory marginals like Ealing Central and Acton, the votes of 2010 Lib Dems will be crucial, and will determine which party gets the most seats.

Their lack of movement is interesting. The Tories planned to run a campaign focused on leadership – assuming that, when pushed to think about who they’d prefer to be Prime Minister, people with doubts about Miliband wouldn’t vote Labour.

There clearly was (and still is) a relationship between rating the leader highly and likelihood to vote for the party: in February, Labour voters were 2.5 times as likely as average to think Miliband was doing well; Tory voters were a little over twice as likely. But for Labour this relationship seems to have weakened.

It raises the counter-factual: suppose Miliband’s ratings hadn’t improved and the Tories had stuck to their plan of focusing on leadership. Would that have hurt Labour’s ratings? Perhaps what actually happened suggests it wouldn’t have.

One explanation may help. Perhaps there’s a time lag between changes in view of leaders and changes in voting intent. Perhaps we’ll see an increase in Labour voting among people who now favour Miliband more than before – so the relationship between rating the leader and voting for the party returns to the level it was at before.


* I’ve based this on 2010 vote so I can be sure we’re looking at the same people each time.


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