While various polls on the Alternative Vote referendum are coming up with conflicting numbers one thing is clear, according to UK Polling Report, the trend is in all cases towards the No To AV campaign.
No where is that trend towards the No To AV campaign more evident than in the latest YouGov poll. This shows the No campaign ahead by 17%. That is a big jump on last week’s poll that gave the no vote an 11 point lead over the yes vote. Two weeks ago the respective Yes and No campaigns were neck and neck (in one poll at least).
What’s interesting about the latest poll giving the No Campaign a big lead is it prompted with explanations of what the AV and FPTP systems are as opposed to simply asking the for or against question.
Anthony Wells at YouGov says: “Most of this difference [in poll numbers] is down to question wording – in the last month YouGov and Populus have both done parallel surveys, one explaining the systems to respondents and one not. In two parallel surveys for the No2AV campaign YouGov found the YES campaign ahead by 3 points when people were asked just the raw question, but when they were given the explanations of the systems NO led by 11 points.
“In a similar exercise, Populus found a 12 point lead for YES when they asked just the raw referendum question, but found a 14 point lead for NO when they told people what the two systems were.
“It may be that these differences gradually vanish as we head towards the referendum itself and the public become more aware of what AV and FPTP actually are…While polls are showing different overall figures though, they are showing the same broad trend.”
All this points very clearly to the fact that once people are presented with the two systems they reject the Alternative Vote in quite large numbers. However, it is this very thing that the No To AV campaign still needs to do. The focus on the £250m cost, while apparently helping, does not effectively put FPTP against AV. It doesn’t do the job of convincing people why AV is not a better system than our current one.
The danger is that by failing to get the argument across sufficiently well will result in apathy come the vote in May. That’s the biggest danger the No campaign faces. As while toxic Nick Clegg can’t hope to deliver a victory for the yes campaign apathy certain could. That’s the thing that is worrying the Tories, as the Daily Mail reported today, and it should worry liberals and those on the left who are also opposed to AV.
Those on the left who are arguing that giving the Tories and David Cameron a bloody nose, as a yes victory will surely do, is an attractive reason to support the Yes campaign are wrong. The vote isn’t about the cuts and trying to make a connection there is dishonest.