Only one in four people who voted Liberal Democrat at the last election still supports the party now, according to new research.
The YouGov survey of 4,300 Liberal Democrat voters in 2010 suggests that the party's predicament may be even worse than the headline polling figures show. A quarter of those who backed Nick Clegg's party now support Labour, while another quarter are "don't knows" and the remaining quarter back other parties.
Worryingly for the Liberal Democrats, there are few signs of the party winning new supporters to replace the voters it has lost. Only 1 per cent of Labour and Conservative voters in 2010 switched to the Liberal Democrats. Only one in 10 people who backed the Liberal Democrats last time as a tactical vote still supports the party now.
A Liberal Democrat source said last night: "We always knew that, by going into coalition with the Conservatives, we would lose some people who voted for us to keep them out. It is a long haul, but we think we can win people back by delivering in government."
A separate survey of 564 Liberal Democrat members by the Lib Dem Voice website shows that Mr Clegg's standing in his own party has recovered a little since his nadir a year ago after the party's U-turn over university tuition fees. But he has not bounced back to the high ratings he won during the Coalition's "honeymoon phase".
Today Mr Clegg's net satisfaction rating –the difference between the number of people satisfied and dissatisfied with his performance – stands at +32 per cent. In the eyes of Liberal Democrats, the minister who made the best impression last year was Vince Cable with a score of +63 per cent. In second place is Tim Farron (+60 per cent), followed by Lynne Featherstone (+53 per cent), Steve Webb (+51 per cent), Simon Hughes and Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats (both +45 per cent).