Lib Dems on 9% - are the party experiencing a pre-election bounce?

Nick Clegg MP in St Albans

YouGov’s latest poll, for the Sun, has put Nick Clegg’s party on 9%. Compared to 2010 it’s not much, but it’s higher than the party has had in recent polls.

The poll gave the following results:

LABOUR 33%. CONSERVATIVES 32%. UKIP 15%. LIB DEMS 9%. GREENS 6%.

Recent YouGov polls have seen the Green party rise, putting them neck and neck with the Lib Dems. Some of their polls have even put the Greens ahead of the Lib Dems, however, this latest polls suggests that the party might be recovering some of its vote in the run up to the election.

9% is still a low share of the vote. The party are still six points behind UKIP, but if the Liberal Democrats can encourage more voters back to them before May then they could be in with a chance of reaching that 10% mark.

A recent Guardian-ICM poll actually put the party ahead of UKIP, suggesting the party may not face a complete wipeout. Indeed, due to first-past-the-post, the Liberal Democrats will still get a decent number of MPs, despite suffering in the electoral arena.

Interestingly, the Lib Dems' biggest support is coming from 18-24 year olds. 18% of those in that age group intend to vote for the party. This is up from the 10% in that group who would vote Lib Dem from the previous poll (which overall put them on 8%). It could be an outlier, considering the tuition fees vote, or could it be the start of a change?

The poll will be seen as good news by the Liberal Democrats, but they will be hopeful that the trend continues. If it does then the party will not suffer so badly in May. On the other hand, the poll could be a one off and the party could be set to decline even further.

In 2010, the Lib Dems won 23% of the vote, and since entering into coalition with the Conservatives they have suffered in election after election, with the biggest exception being the Eastleigh by-election which they won. Despite this fall, the Liberal Democrats could still be kingmakers in 2015, however, they will be faced with a choice:

Should they take another gamble and enter into another coalition - whether that be with the Conservatives or Labour - or should they take their seats on the opposition benches, regroup, re-organise and re-brand?

If the election results in such a choice then it could be the most important decision the party ever makes.

The full results of the poll can be found here. 1564 GB adults were questioned between the 18th and 19th of February this year.

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