Follow Us

Follow us on Twitter  Follow us on LinkedIn

26 November 2019

Peter Kellner: “Some of the most startling polling numbers I have ever seen”

The YouGov founder combed through the pollster’s archives to find "some of the most startling polling numbers" he's ever seen and said a Conservative landslide is a very real possibility that would reflect a huge structural change in the way millions of people decide how to vote.

[...]Start with the way Conservative support has evolved. Its share of those who voted Leave in the Brexit referendum has almost doubled since the 2015 election, from 38 to 73 per cent. In contrast, its share of the Remain vote has almost halved, from 27 to 16 per cent.

Labour’s support has moved in the opposite direction, though not as dramatically. It gained among both groups in 2017, though more among Remainers (up 17 percentage points) than Leavers (up eight points). Since 2017, Labour has lost ground among both groups. Jeremy Corbyn says Labour’s policy is intended to bring the country together. In a way he has succeeded: his stance is alienating both Remainers and Leavers to broadly the same extent.

Finally, the Lib Dems, who stayed flat on their electoral back in 2017 in all bar a handful of constituencies, have seen big gains since then among Remainers alone.

Cumulatively, then there has been a swing of almost 10 per cent from Conservative to Labour among Remain voters since 2015 — and a swing of almost 20 per cent to the Tories among Leave voters. Both are extraordinary figures in themselves; the contrast — a 29 per cent difference in swing between the two groups — represents an electoral earthquake. In eight decades of polling, nothing remotely like this has ever happened between any two general elections, let alone two held less than five years apart.

Why, though, might these numbers prefigure a big Conservative victory? The 2017 election famously set in train these opposite trends and destroyed Theresa May’s majority — Labour capturing Remain seats such as Kensington and Canterbury for the first time, while the Tories gained a handful of traditional Labour seats in Leave areas such as Mansfield and Walsall North.

Since then there has been no net shift among Remain voters: both Labour and Conservative support is down nine points. But Leave voters have continued to shift to the Conservatives in large numbers. This matters because most Labour marginals voted Leave in 2016. It is here that the potential epicentre of the electoral earthquake is likely to be found.

Taking account of the figures in the table above, I reckon that current voting intentions could result in swings of around 8 per cent to the Conservatives in Leave seats defended by Labour. Overall the Tories would capture 71 Labour seats if they achieved such a swing everywhere. However, 15 of these seats voted Remain. That leaves 56 Labour marginals that voted Leave.

If we assume the Tories lose around 20 seats to the SNP and Liberal Democrats (without tactical voting, their losses may be fewer), and gains 56 seats from Labour, then Boris Johnson ends up with a majority of 65 (assuming Sinn Fein MPs stay away from Parliament).

It would not take much for the Tories to do significantly better than that. Labour has 90 seats vulnerable to a ten per cent swing. Of these, 70 voted Leave. If the Conservatives gain all these, their majority approaches 100. [...]

Full analysis on The Article

© The Article

< Next Previous >
 Hover over the blue highlighted text to view the acronym meaning
Hover over these icons for more information

Add new comment