Gap between UKIP and Lib Dems narrowing - what does it mean?

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For some time now UKIP have been ahead of the Lib Dems in polls, but the gap could be narrowing. Have UKIP peaked too soon?

YouGov’s latest poll, for the Sun, puts UKIP on 12%, the lowest in a YouGov poll for some time, whilst also putting Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats on 8%.

The poll also puts Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck on 35% each. It also puts the Greens on 6%.

The poll could be a blip in YouGov polling and UKIP could strengthen its lead over the Liberal Democrats right up until the general election, however the poll right before this one also put the parties on 12% and 8% respectively, with the main two parties on 34% each. If this is not a polling blip and the gap is narrowing, why is this the case?

The general election is nearing and voters are now having to consider who they will actually vote for. The choice is real. For UKIP voters it is likely that some are returning to the Conservatives (or even to Labour) with this realisation as the likelyhood is that in most parts of the country UKIP has no hope in winning as its support is too widespread and diluted.

Furthermore, some have made the argument that Nigel Farage’s party has peaked too soon. The party won the European elections last year and gained two MPs from the Conservatives in the same year, but since then it is arguable that have lost momentum. Suzanne Moore of the Guardian recently made this case, saying that:

“Ukip peaked a while back, though the pretence that it hasn’t lingers.”

As for the recent rise in Liberal Democrat support, which has fallen dramatically over the last few years - and reached 5% in some recent polls - there could be a few reasons for this. The Liberal Democrat message that they have been a success in government could be having an impact on some voters as the general election nears. Additionally, some people may be beginning to think tactically about their vote and may be concluding that a vote for the Lib Dems could be the least worst option in their constituency.

Overall, these reasons could explain this narrowing in the polls between Britain’s two third parties. In order to stay ahead UKIP needs to rally its troops and make the case that a vote for UKIP is a vote for counts. As for the Liberal Democrats if they want to come in third in terms of votes - something which looks unlikely, but more likely than one might have thought a few weeks ago - they need to bang on about their successes in government and put an emphasis on their local candidates.

The full results of the latest poll can be found here.

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