With just 24 hours to go before the referendum on the Alternative Vote, things are not looking good for the Yes campaign.
In the latest blow to those in favour of electoral reform, a ComRes/Independent survey today shows that 66 per cent of those absolutely certain to vote want to preserve first-past-the-post (FPTP), with just 34 per cent backing AV. Though 15 per cent are still undecided, the No side still enjoys a substantial lead – 56 to 29 per cent – when they are taken into account.
The poll shows that Labour voters – who were roughly equally split at the beginning of the campaign – oppose AV by a margin of 60 to 40 per cent. Among Conservative supporters, support for FPTP is at 88 per cent, versus 12 for AV, while despite their long-standing commitment to electoral reform, the Lib Dems back AV by only 72 per cent to 28 for FPTP.
The Independent does an admirable job of attempting to portray these figures in a positive light (running the headline “Yes campaign makes its final push for victory”). However, the only proper ray of hope for the Yes campaign is that there is still a big question mark over the turnout.
Over at the Telegraph blogs, Daniel Knowles draws a comparison with the Lib Dems’ unexpectedly poor showing in last year’s election:
In mid-April last year, immediately after the first TV debate, a Harris poll put the Liberal Democrats on 32 per cent. In the event, the Lib Dems got just 23 per cent, a mere 1 per cent gain over their 2005 showing. To a degree, that was because there are fewer Lib Dem-Labour marginals than Lib Dem-Tory marginals. But they also suffered a loss of enthusiasm in the dying days of the election.
The same thing could well happen to the No to AV campaign. Many voters who had been convinced to turn out by the shrieking campaign now won’t bother, convinced that they don’t need to.
Moreover, because turnout is likely to be low (particularly in areas with no local elections), the Yes campaign does not require an implausible swing to take the vote in its favour. None the less, with just a day to go, the chances of electoral reform being carried are looking ever slimmer.