This is my last update of the opinion before election day on June 8th. I will use my analysis of these polls to update my 2017 General Election Seat Predictions and you should read that post in conjunction with this one.
The latest situation is that the Conservatives now only hold a 7% lead over Labour which is down 2% from last week and only just above what they had in 2015. Labour’s vote share has recovered significantly to narrow the Conservatives lead and Labour are now capable under some scenarios of depriving the Conservatives of a majority. However, it has now become clear that pollsters are dividing into two groups and I have written a separate post that explores the implications of this and I strongly recommend you read that. This post reports on all posters combined rather than separate blocs.
Chart G1 shows the Conservatives are holding onto an 7% lead over Labour which down from 9% in my last update. The question is whether they can hold onto this or whether there will be further declines. Labour have made quite a recovery reaching 35% after being at a low of 25% when the election was called. It worth recalling though that 33% is what Labour was polling in the 2015 general election but the polls were in error and they ended on 31.2%. All charts shown in this post assume that the polls are accurate and no adjustment for probable polling error has been made.
If this is the final outcome, the Conservative will be comparable to Margaret Thatcher achievements in the 80’s as shown in chart G3 so I don’t think the Conservatives will be unhappy. For Labour, this would avoid recording their worst vote share since 1918 but it would still be a performance similar to 1987 & 1992. The Lib Dems would not advance on their 2015 performance which is when they returned to their pre-1974 levels.
In effect the story of 2017 now is a straight 7% swing from UKIP to the Conservatives and a smaller 2% swing from the Greens to Labour plus additional smaller swings from UKIP & Others to Labour. Both swings may involve tactical voting by Green and UKIP voters but the effect would be the highest 2-party (CON+LAB) share of the vote since 1970. The final element in the story has been the total failure of the Lib Dems to make any recovery especially given their determination to resist Brexit.
Chart G4 & G5 are new charts to show how the polls have shifted since the election was called. This shows that the Conservatives have stabilised their vote at 44% after being at 47% just before they published their manifesto. Labour gains in the last couple of days have come from Other voters which are mostly Nationalists but in the 2 weeks before that their gains were mostly from Conservatives.
Brexit Vote Dynamics
Nearly all pollsters ask their respondents how they voted in the EU Referendum last year. This allows us to break down the Leave & Remain voters by vote intention. Unfortunately the polls don’t break this down for each nation, so I have excluded the Nationalist vote from chart B1 & B2 to show the break down for English voters only.
Chart B3 shows the breakdown of each party today into its Remain & Leave voters but note that the numbers on the chart represent the % of all GB voters that fall into that combination of party & referendum vote. So the largest group of voters today are Conservative Leavers accounting for 30% of all voters in Britain. This is followed by Labour Remainers (23%) and Conservative Remainers (14%). One point to note is that Labour Leavers (13%)outnumber all UKIP voters so this would suggest that the Conservatives should try and direct their efforts at these voters given they have already captured the main chunk of UKIP voters. In fact over the last two weeks, the reverse has happened with Labour Leavers going from 10% to 13% of the voters.
Another point I find interesting is that around 30% of Labour, Green and Nationalist voters (lower for Lib Dems) say they voted Leave which suggests that any Anti-Brexit attack to make inroads into the Conservative Remain bloc runs the risk of losing voters within their own Leave bloc. I would surmise that the remaining Conservative Remainers nearly all fall into a referendum category that has been identified by myself and others, namely those who are sympathetic to the Leave argument but voted Remain because they were worried about the economic risks of leaving. Unless the economic news turns sour, I do not see many more Conservative Remainers defecting.
Indeed chart B4 shows that whatever the Lib Dems have been doing in terms of targeting Conservative Remainers has achieved nothing so far. Conservatives account for 30% of Remainers and this has been steady since February until recently. However, the recent fall in Conservative Remainers has benefitted Labour not the Lib Dems. The Lib Dems did improve their posture among Remainers for a while but since the election was called, they have gone into reverse along with the Greens and Nationalists and Remainers are shifting towards to Labour in considerable numbers and explains Labour’s recovery in the polls. I suspect this is a result of planned tactical voting since in a majority of seats it is a straight Labour V Conservative fight and therefore Labour should be the main beneficiary of tactical voting in the aggregate.
Interestingly, it appears that Labour’s initial Leavers gains came from ex-UKIP Leavers which is an important point to bear in mind since we now know that UKIP is only fielding 377 candidates in the election. The question of what UKIP15 voters will do this time around is one that needs answering and my belief is that not all will switch to the Conservatives, some will switch to Labour.
Voter Switching Patterns
The polls split current vote intentions by how people voted in 2015 which is what is shown in chart S2. Continuing the theme of the Lib Dem/Conservative battle over Brexit, this shows that since 2015, 1.4% of CON15 voters have switched to the Lib Dems and presumably most of these were former Conservative Remainers. At the same time, 1.6% of LD15 voters have switched to the Conservatives and presumably these were Lib Dem Leavers. So the nett swing or switching between Conservatives and Lib Dems is -0.2% (=1.4%-1.6%) which is what is shown in table S3. The same process can be repeated for all party combinations and what is clear is that the largest change by far has been the switching of UKIP15 voters to the Conservatives reflecting what we see in chart B5 above.
Chart S1 is the same data as S2 but the blocks have been rearranged into current voting intentions. Together as shown by table S3, the Conservatives are basically holding their own against Labour and the Lib Dems and all their gains have come from UKIP. It is the fact that UKIP voters are well represented in a lot of non-traditional areas for the Tories that offer the Conservatives the chance to make gains at the expense of Labour in this election.
Labour now have a net gain from UKIP but most of their gains has been among Other voters which is a mixture of Greens and Nationalists. It is hard to provide further clarity on this point since polls struggle to pick up many Green voters and they tend to be of British voters which means that Plaid Cymru voters are also hard to pick up. But what evidence is available suggests that Greens & Plaid voters are switching to Labour which may reflect tactical voting intentions. The situation with the SNP is still hard to read but some may be switching to Labour as well. At the same time, Others also include non-voters and this is one of the risks that Labour has with the polls. Non-voters are called non-voters because they don’t vote so the question is what is different about 2017 that means they will vote this time?
The Lib Dems are finally recording a nett loss to Labour which is something I have predicted for a while. They now run a real chance of losing seats overall.
All pollsters break down their results by region but they don’t use the same regional definitions. In some cases, their regional breakdowns result in very small samples that would be too small to draw conclusions on. However, by taking the median across multiple polls and using some simple statistical modelling, it is possible to arrive at more robust estimates of how the parties votes have changed within each region. Every now and again, a poll for a specific region is published and that allows me to crosscheck my estimates. At the same time, I include the regional-specific polls in regional medians but I give them more weight than the regional breakdowns from national polls.
The London crossbreak has been revised since my last update as I realised there was bias in my modelling that tended to overstate the Conservatives. With this change, the polls have now settled down into a clear divide which has clear implications for the outcome of the election. I have explored these dynamics in more detail in another post where I identify the role of the Leave vote in explaining what you see in chart R1.
The most spectacular gains for the Conservatives have come in Scotland where it seems clear that the Unionist/Nationalist dynamic is playing a large part. In Scotland, their vote share will be their highest since 1983 whilst the SNP are approaching 40% and could end up below that. Scotland has more or less split into 40% SNP, 30% CON, 20% LAB and 10% others.
D1 & D2 are new charts for my opinion poll tracker. So far, I have not found standard demographics that interesting but increasingly it became clear that this election could mark a historic landmark with the Conservatives becoming the party of the working class for the first time ever in history. In addition, Labour middle class vote share would match the Blair years and could even be their best ever. If both events come to pass, it would effectively the end of class as a predictor of voting in Britain making 2017 a truly historic election.