Their Lib Dem rivals are far less enamoured with their chances
The British political system is littered with the bones of new parties. Britain’s first-past-the-post system has severely hampered the electoral performance of many otherwise popular parties, most notably the SDP in the 1980s but also more recently the Greens and UKIP.
Not that it stops parties from trying of course. And on the face of it, things look good for the latest challengers. The Brexit Party and Lib Dems are currently polling as highly as the Tories and Labour, and both performed well at the European Parliament elections. But the danger is that many people used the EU elections as a protest vote, and may come to reconsider their voting intention once the prospect of a general election becomes a reality.
In order to hold on to their voters at a general election it’s essential that the Brexit Party and Lib Dems can convince them that they will actually be able to convert votes into seats.
This is a major psychological hurdle, but the results of a new YouGov survey indicate that it’s one that the Brexit Party has already vaulted. Fully 69% of those who currently tell us they would vote for Farage’s party at a general election believe their side will win the most votes in such a contest. More importantly still, 45% think the Brexit Party would win the most seats. This makes them more confident than any other party’s supporters when it comes to vote share, and more positive than Labour voters when it comes to getting the highest number of MPs in Parliament.
The Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, are far less optimistic. Just one in five (19%) think they would have the highest vote share and a mere 13% believe they would take the most constituencies.
It is of course the case that the Liberal Democrats have been around as a party for a lot longer, and have bitter experience with the first-past-the-post system to temper their enthusiasm. Nevertheless, these results will prove disappointing for party bosses at a time not so long after the Lib Dems were briefly topping the polls.
With a new Prime Minister imminent and the Brexit debate still ticking on, voting intention polling has the potential to change dramatically over the coming months. While it’s far from clear that British politics will remain a four-way contest, the Brexit Party is going to find it much easier to convince their voters that victory is within their grasp than the Lib Dems will.