Potential support for smaller parties much higher than polls let on

House Of Commons

A new YouGov poll shows that if candidates from smaller parties, like the Greens and UKIP, had a chance of winning, more people would vote for such parties.

On a very crude average, the Conservatives and Labour currently poll around 30-35% each, neck and neck. UKIP are consistently getting 15% and above in the polls, whilst the Lib Dems and Green get around 6% of the vote each.

However, YouGov’s Thursday poll shows that in the event that smaller parties had the chance to win a seat, then a lot more voters would vote for them.

Fieldwork for the survey of 1906 18+ GB adults was collected between the 18th and 19th of November.

Respondents were asked the following: If candidates from the following parties were standing in your constituency and had a chance of winning, how likely would you be to vote for them?

For for the Conservatives, the total likely score was 35%. The same goes for Labour. Nothing controversial there.

For the Lib Dems, the total for likely (very likely and fairly likely combined) was 16%, showing that Nick Clegg’s party could potentially bring up there low support base by the time of the election, if certain situations permitted it.

So far the results show the expected, but when respondents were asked the same for UKIP and the Greens, the survey reveals a lot more.

26% of respondents said they were likely to vote Green if the party had a chance of winning. This shows that given the chance for a Green candidate to win a seat, or given a fairer voting system, which would benefit the smaller parties, over a quarter of people would be likely to vote Green.

Whilst most of the media’s attention is on UKIP, who are performing far better than Natalie Bennet’s Green party in the polls, the Greens' 26% is higher than the 24% who would be likely to vote UKIP if they thought the party had a chance of winning.

This poll shows that the Greens have a potential support base of at least 26%. But the fundamental problem as to why the smaller parties are not reaching these higher numbers is Britain’s voting system.

This is only highlighted further with the fact that UKIP won the European elections earlier this year, and the Greens came fourth ahead of the Liberal Democrats. On one hand, turnout was ridiculously low, but on the other, voters could vote for a party without having to take tactical voting into consideration.

Smaller parties are stifled by our electoral system. This poll just highlights this further. Electoral reform is off the agenda for now, but next year’s likely hung-parliament, with a large plurality of different parties, could lay the foundations for some sort of change.

Electoral reform could return sooner than you think.

The full results of the YouGov survey can be found here: