Today, FT.com/Westminster reports on a new poll showing that AV is less popular than first-past-the-post which is less popular than PR.
The research by ODC was commissioned by Lindsell Marketing, a business consultancy, and says that:
In a poll of over 2,000 British adults, just 29% wanted to keep the current voting system, with 20% in favour of the Alternative Vote system (the subject of a national referendum on May 5th 2011) and 45% wanting some form of proportional representation.
You can see the full results here.
The FT’s Jim Pickard suggests that Nick Clegg should have gone for a referendum on PR rather than AV. The only trouble with that is that David Cameron and the Conservatives would need to agree to hold a vote on PR!
Pickard is closer to the mark when he says:
Alternatively, this could just be proof that public opinion on such issues is far from fully-formed and there is still all to play for. How many members of the public would die in the ditch for any of the options?
The Lindsell findigs need to be compared with the YouGov poll from the autumn showing that public understanding of AV and how it works is still very low. I can’t find the specific question that Lindsell asked, but we should be sceptical of the results if people were invited to say whether they want “some form of proportional representation”. That’s a very vague proposition and I’m not convinced that most people get what “proportional representation” means. And the YouGov poll found that most voters had never heard of the party list or AMS systems; nearly half had ever heard of STV.