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How the voting reform referendum could be lost

John Rentoul

Nick Clegg 006 300x180 How the voting reform referendum could be lostYouGov has put up the details of its poll on the Alternative Vote, and Anthony Wells has an excellent summary here. The key points:

People were given six arguments for AV and six arguments against, and for each one asked if they thought it was an effective or ineffective argument. At the end they were asked if they would vote Yes or No, and this was compared to a separate sample who were asked the question without exposure to the arguments for and against …

After looking at all these arguments, 33% said they would vote in favour of AV, 34% said they would vote against, 9% would not vote and 24% didn’t know. In comparison, when YouGov asked the question normally the figures had been Yes 44%, No 34%, Wouldn’t vote 5% and Don’t know 17%. Exposure to these arguments therefore didn’t increase opposition to AV at all, it just produced a shift from Yes to Don’t Know.

Support for change is as soft as a puffball, in other words. That would be enough to kill the Yes campaign – if people are unsure, they will stay at home or vote No.

From this poll, it suggests Labour voters will be the key swing constituency, with Lib Dems solidly in favour and Conservatives against. However, I’m intrigued about the effect of something that wasn’t in the poll – if we get more evidence like Populus’s poll showing that AV may actually be good for the Conservatives, it could increase Conservative support for AV.

Maybe so, but if Tory supporters move in favour, their support is likely to be cancelled out by Labour supporters moving in the opposite direction.

Photograph: PA

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