LEADERSHIP POLL #1: Davey leads Moran

In the first formally weighted leadership poll of the 2020 leadership election, my poll with Guy Benson (@GuyBenson96 on Twitter) has come out with topline figures of Davey 51%, Moran 35%, Hobhouse 14%.

After taking into account redistribution of Hobhouse’s second preferences, of whom around 80% expressed a second preference for Layla Moran, the headline result at this early stage is:





The poll was conducted between Saturday 20 June and Tuesday 23 June, and received 682 responses. 13% of participants were undecided as to their first preference vote. It should be noted that fieldwork for this poll took place prior to Wera Hobhouse dropping out of the election – we closed the poll as soon as her announcement was released.

Here are the tables for the headline results after excluding don’t knows. The poll was weighted based on 2019 leadership election vote, age, gender and region. The margin of error is 4%. This is an informal poll run by amateur psephologists only – it should not be relied upon as anything approaching the rigour of a British Polling Council member, but just a bit of fun to see roughly where things are at the moment.

The following analysis is based on the figures after Wera Hobhouse’s votes are redistributed.



As in 2019, the same trends are present with respect to age. After weighting and redistributing, a full 63% of respondents aged 18-24 intend to cast their ballot for Layla Moran, compared to 37% for Davey. But as the age categories increase, Moran’s numbers slowly decline, and Davey’s numbers go upwards. The crossover point is in the 45-54 category, where 52% of respondents intend to vote for Davey, and 48% for Moran – yes, the cursed ratio.

This age trend explains why Davey leads overall: according to the latest available statistics from Prof. Tim Bale’s Party Members Project, the Liberal Democrats are very top-heavy in terms of age, with a full 48% of the party being over the age of 55. That means that even though Davey only wins three of the seven age groups, reliance on older voters could see him over the line if they turn out.

However, it should be noted that those same older voters are undersampled in this poll. Despite our best efforts, the shortened run-time of the poll meant that we couldn’t reach as many over-45s as we would have liked. Because of how heavily these groups therefore have to be weighted, if the underlying sample group is unrepresentative, that unrepresentativeness will be magnified in the final poll. This is what happened in the 2019 edition of this poll, which underestimated Jo Swinson – chiefly because Davey-supporting older members were overrepresented in the samples for their age groups.



Layla Moran is ahead with 57% of Jo Swinson 2019 voters, while Ed Davey has held on to 73% of his voters from 2019. This could potentially be of interest: 23% of Davey 2019 voters no longer sticking with him in 2020, but 43% of the much larger group of Jo Swinson voters have switched sides to support Davey at this stage. Of those who didn’t or couldn’t vote last time, it is almost precisely neck and neck. 50.3% are supporting Layla Moran, and 49.7% are supporting Ed Davey.



Gender was an interesting pattern last time, with more women going for Ed Davey, and more men going for Jo Swinson. That pattern does not hold this time – Ed Davey wins with both men and women with 54% and 53% respectively. This does taper for age, however, which appears to be the greatest divide (as above). With those who identified as non-binary, however, Layla Moran wins with 81% of the vote, though it should be noted that this is a small sample size.

However, as with age, it should be noted that we received far fewer responses from women than we’d have hoped, and had to weight accordingly, which means there is the potential for distortion in the result.



All in all, the election is close based on this first snapshot. Around 13% of the voters we surveyed were totally undecided, and these people could be crucial in the coming weeks. Of those who supported Wera Hobhouse, there are very few who did not express a second preference, and even fewer still who were undecided.

As last time, Layla Moran’s difficulty appears to be with older voters, while Ed Davey is unpopular with younger Liberal Democrats. With nearly two months still left in this race, however, there is everything to play for still.

We will be releasing further insights from this first poll, including information about trends in voting patterns as related to region, sexuality, ethnicity, and positioning within the party, over the next week, but wanted to get the topline information out as soon as possible. We will also be conducting another poll further down the line, after nominations have closed, to see how opinions have shifted.

Until then, thank you for taking part!

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