Current opinion polls may be bad for the Liberal Democrats – however some specific polling has emerged today that suggests the electoral impact of the coalition agreement could be even worse for the Lib Dems than the headline figures suggest.
Polling on behalf of former Tory deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft, published today on ConservativeHome, suggests that there has been a 17.5% swing from the Lib Dems to Labour in Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam constituency. Labour have now moved ahead of the Tories into second place in the seat, and are only two points behind Clegg on current polling – making the seat a potential three-way marginal (33/31/28).
Worse news still for the Liberal Democrats comes in the Eastleigh seat of environment secretary Chris Huhne, who despite being elected with a majority of nearly four thousand votes just over five months ago, now finds himself 12% behind the Tories in second place.
While we are of course nearly five year away from the next planned general election, it will be interesting to see how Clegg (and indeed Huhne) will fare at the next general election – and this will surely be heartening news for Labour activists in seats where the Labour vote has been squeezed by the Liberal Democrats in recent years. For MPs like Clegg and Huhne, the success of the AV referendum may prove crucial for their survival.
Update: As regular LabourList contributor Emma Burnell notes in the comments. This polling took place at the beginning of the month – before the Lib Dems broke their pledge on tuition fees. The number of students in Clegg’s Hallam constituency could make the polls even worse reading for the Deputy PM.