In Depth

Theresa May: 'I got us into this and I will get us out'

Prime Minister strikes a conciliatory tone as she faces backbenchers for first time since general election

General election final polls give mixed messages

8 June

Britain heads to the polls to vote for its next government today, following seven weeks of intensive campaigning.

Barring a major shock, tomorrow will see either Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn named as prime minister.

Which one it will be is still a question - the opinion polls are continuing to leave voters and experts scratching their heads with the wildly varying predictions.

All of the last-minute surveys published show the Tories with some form of lead over Labour, but turnout will prove the decisive factor, says the London Evening Standard.

Throughout the campaign, the opinion polls have been in favour of the Tories - although from being 24 points ahead at the time the election was called, they have seen their lead drop to three points in some surveys.

An ICM poll for The Guardian now predicts a Tory majority of 96 seats, but also indicates that Corbyn's popularity among younger voters means the youth vote will - in effect - decide the election.

The final poll from YouGov, whose predictions at one point calculated a hung parliament, indicated that May's lead was at around seven per cent.

This would give the Conservatives a majority of around 50 seats, an increase on their current majority of 17.

Labour dropped down three points to 35 per cent, while the Lib Dems were on ten per cent and Ukip on five per cent.

According to The Guardian, the last-minute opinion polls all agree a Tory win is likely, although the margin of victory varies considerably depending on the pollster.

Survation predicts an extremely tight race, placing the Tories on 41.3 per cent and Labour on 40.4 per cent, while ICM predicts a 12-point Conservative lead (46 per cent to 34 per cent) and BMG gives them 13 points (46 per cent v 33 per cent).

General election final polls: Is the Labour surge faltering?

7 June

Final polls of the election campaign have begun to trickle in and it appears the surge in support for the Labour Party is showing signs of ebbing away.

Opinium's final set of statistics, the first conducted since the London Bridge terror attacks, put the Tories on 43 per cent, unchanged from their weekend position, and Labour one point down on 36 per cent.  The Lib Dems remain level on eight per cent, with Ukip on five.

This tallies with overall poll trackers, which place the gap between the Conservatives and Labour somewhere between six points (the Financial Times) and a Survation poll at the weekend which had the gap down to only one percentage point.

However, experts disagreed with the poll's weighting, claiming it gave too much credence to high levels of turnout among young voters.

Fresh statistics from the National Centre for Social Research added to the debate on young voters, suggesting a little more than half (53 per cent) of those under 30 were certain to cast their ballot.

A Britain Elects "Nowcast" predicting the composition of the House of Commons following the 8 June says that based on current polling, the Conservatives will have 354 seats, gaining 24, while Labour will lose 14 to take 218 constituencies.

It also puts the SNP in third place on 46 seats, the Lib Dems on nine and Plaid Cymru on three.

Final polls to be released on election day will show any contrast from the 2015 vote, when a seven point difference in national vote share between the Conservatives and Labour gave the Tories an overall majority of 12. 

"Any poll that puts the Conservative lead at six points or less is suggesting that the Conservatives will be less far ahead of Labour than two years ago - and, consequently, could potentially be at risk of losing their overall majority," the BBC says.

It adds: "Conversely, any poll that reckons the Conservatives are ahead by eight points or more implies that the party is likely to make gains from Labour and thus increase its majority."

General election polls 2017: Conservative lead is down to just three points

2 June

Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party has narrowed the gap on the Conservatives to just three points ahead of next week's general election, a new YouGov poll shows.

The new figures indicate that support for Theresa May's party has fallen to 42 per cent, while Corbyn's popularity has risen to 39 per cent – the smallest margin between the two parties in almost three years.

The Independent claims the poll shows that the small lead the Tories still have over Labour is "now within the margin of error" and that May's "personal appeal over Jeremy Corbyn is slipping".

Earlier this week a seat-by-seat poll by YouGov projected a five-point Conservative lead over Labour.

The findings mark a continuing shift in public opinion since Theresa May stood outside Downing Street and announced a snap general election back in April.

At that time, polls gave her a 24-point lead over Labour.

However, an awkward U-turn over social care policy and a refusal to take part in televised debates has seen May's lead slip dramatically. Neither May nor Corbyn have commented on the polling projections

On rumours that the Conservatives could fail to win a majority next week, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry revealed today that Labour will implement its programme as a minority government should the election lead to a hung parliament.

"If we end up in a position where we are in a minority, we will go ahead and we will put forward a Queen's Speech and a Budget," she said during a Labour campaign speech.

"If people want to vote for it, then good. If they don't want to vote for it, they are going to have to go back and speak to their constituents and explain to them why it is that we have a Tory government instead.

"If we are the largest party we go ahead – no deals – with our manifesto, our Budget and our Queen's Speech."

The YouGov poll also highlighted Tim Farron's struggles. The Liberal Democrats have failed to gain traction on their Brexit-focused fightback and are down two points on 7 per cent, putting them level with Ukip.

According to the London Evening Standard, YouGov "expects a higher turnout among young people, who are more likely to vote Labour", but adds that if this prediction is incorrect, "the Tories would likely win a convincing victory".

General election polls: Shock survey predicts massive Tory losses

31 May

A new poll revealed today by YouGov has turned the general election on its head by predicting that the Conservatives will not achieve a majority.

It's the first poll to indicate that Theresa May could fail to achieve the majority she'd been betting on when she called the snap election. For months the polls have suggested the Tories are miles ahead.

If the YouGov poll is correct, the country will be left with a hung parliament.

The estimated results were "met with scepticism by Tory and Labour figures", says The Times.

Nevertheless, the news caused the value of sterling to drop sharply last night.

By early this morning the pound had recovered slightly but was still down 0.44 per cent against the dollar and 0.29 per cent against the euro, suggesting the markets are taking the YouGov data seriously.

The polling firm predicts the Tories will end up with 310 seats, losing 20, while Labour will gain 28 to have 257. The Tories will still have the most MPs – but not enough to win votes without help from other parties.

YouGov stressed that the figures allow a wide margin of error. Voter intentions are still in a state of "churn", more than a week before the election, and could still change dramatically, the firm says.

The new figures came from analysing each constituency rather than looking at nationwide polls.

YouGov conducted 50,000 interviews over the course of a week and used data from the Office for National Statistics, past elections and the British Election Study.

The final result is a picture of how the election might have gone last week, if it had happened then.

The Times says Theresa May's support has "plunged after the poor reception of the party manifesto, including plans to make more elderly voters pay for home care".

But an ICM poll released yesterday by The Guardian still gave the Conservatives a 12-point lead over Labour.

The spread betting firm IG Index expects the Tories to win 378 seats and Labour just 148, while the latest Elections Etc forecast suggests a Tory majority of 100, The Times cautions.

Andrew Hawkins, chairman of ComRes, told the newspaper: "If voters behave in the way they broadly did in 2015 then the Conservatives remain on track for a 100-plus majority. This seems, on present assumptions, the most likely outcome."

Infographic by Statista.com for TheWeek.co.uk

General election 2017 polls: Latest projections for 8 June

26 May

With less than two weeks to go until the general election on 8 June, the Tories have taken a hit in the polls, seeing their once-hefty lead slip to merely five points.

Following a positive response to Jeremy Corbyn's "radical" manifesto and the Tories' awkward U-turn on the so-called "dementia tax", Labour is enjoying its best performance among voters since the party leader was elected in September 2015.

A YouGov poll for The Times puts the party on 38 per cent of the vote, while the Tories are down to 43 per cent, the Liberal Democrats up to ten per cent and Ukip have four per cent.

When Theresa May announced in April that she was calling a snap general election, she enjoyed a 24-point lead in the polls.

However, polling now suggests her majority could be slashed to two seats from the current 17.

YouGov research director Anthony Wells told the London Evening Standard, the result was mostly related to outrage over the Conservative's so-called "dementia tax" proposal, which would see elderly people who need care at home forced to pay a potentially unlimited sum from their estate.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the idea caused "consternation and fear among millions of families", but a less-than-graceful policy reversal from May and her party left her party looking "desperate", The Guardian said.

Wells added the polls were taken before Monday night's terrorist attack in Manchester.

"As the agenda moves on, [the Conservatives] may recover," he added. "If the focus of the election turns to issues of security and defence, as seems likely following the Manchester bombing, it may yet have an impact on people’s votes."

General election 2017 polls: The latest projections

22 May

A backlash over the so-called "dementia tax" has hit the Tories' lead in the polls over Labour.

Theresa May's plans to tackle the social care crisis have not gone down well on the doorstep, says The Independent's John Rentoul.

A telephone poll by Survation for ITV’s Good Morning Britain gives the Tories a single digit lead, despite a survey from the same pollsters this time last week having the party 18 points up.

The Conservatives have lost five points to hit 43 per cent, with Labour hitching up five to 34 per cent and the Lib Dems staying level on eight per cent.

"With manifestos now officially launched and party policies openly discussed in the media, it is possible that these are having some effect on voting intentions," said the pollsters.

A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times also pegs the lead at nine points, with the Tories down one point to 44 per cent and Labour up three to 35 per cent.

Elsewhere, however, there is still more than ten points in it. A Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday gives May a 12-point advantage (46 per cent vs 34 per cent), as did ORB for the Sunday Telegraph, on the same percentages of the vote.

An Observer/Opinium poll has it even higher at 13 points, down six for the Tories from last month and up seven for Labour.

"As ever, one should be cautious of unusual polls and wait to see if the trend is backed up by other polls before getting either too excited or too panicked," says YouGov's Anthony Wells.

"Perhaps it could be that the Conservative manifesto and the coverage of the changes to care funding has knocked their support. Perhaps it’s just a continuation of the gradual narrowing of the Tory lead that we have been seeing anyway over recent weeks."

Detailed analysis by Labour Uncut makes for bleaker reading for Jeremy Corbyn, with the website citing "canvassing experiences" showing Labour could lose as many 91 seats on 8 June.

"The defeat will be greater than 1983 with the leading figures such as Tom Watson, Dennis Skinner and Caroline Flint facing defeat while many others, including Yvette Cooper, Ed Miliband and Angela Rayner, are teetering on the brink," it adds.

However, Alan Travis, home affairs editor at The Guardian, dismisses the research as "too subjective to be useful."

General election 2017 polls: The latest predictions

15 May

A little more than three weeks to go until the general election and the polls seem to be narrowing - but not quite enough for Labour's liking.

Over the weekend, a flurry of surveys gave the Tories a lead of between 14 and 18 points.  

An Observer/Opinium poll had Theresa May's party one point ahead on the week before at 47 per cent, with Labour up two on 32 per cent.

ORB for the Sunday Telegraph also pegged Jeremy Corbyn's party on 32 per cent, with the Conservatives on 46 per cent.

Although Labour's scores are edging up only by a point or so, 32 per cent is, according to the Financial Times's poll tracker, the highest score it has recorded in the last six months.

It’s also a touch above the 30.4 per cent vote share it secured in the 2015 election.

However, other polls over the weekend gave the Tories a greater lead.

Comres for the Sunday Mirror and the Independent had them on 48 per cent to Labour’s 30 per cent, while YouGov for the Sunday Times has them 49 per cent against 31 per cent, Labour creeping up slightly and the smaller parties being squeezed.

"Overall, the pattern seems to be a slight narrowing of the Tory lead, but it’s a case of a truly humongous lead becoming merely a towering one: a lead of fourteen to eighteen points will still deliver a very hefty majority," said Anthony Wells of YouGov.

June's election seems to be becoming more and more of a two-horse race, with the Liberal Democrats plodding along in a remote third, on eight to ten per cent.

"This is the first time YouGov have shown the Lib Dems in single figures this year and the first time UKIP have been as low as 3 per cent since early 2012," Wells added.

But the 8 June could be considerably worse for Labour according to two unnamed MPs, who think the party will lose around 120 seats overall, reports Bloomberg

"The MPs cited internal polling conducted by Labour which shows the outlook is even more devastating to the main opposition than the public polls show," the website added.

Such a loss would leave the party with only 112 seats overall.

General election 2017 polls: The latest predictions 

5 May

With a month to go until the general election, the polls still indicate an easy victory for the Tories - although with slightly less of a landslide than previous estimates said.

A YouGov survey for The Times this week put the Tory lead at 19 points, Reuters reports, while the Press Association's latest poll of polls gives the party a 17-point lead, putting it on course to pick up 47 per cent of the vote.

It also predicts the Liberal Democrats will only win a ten per cent share of the vote, far from leader Tim Farron's aspiration for the party to overtake Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party as the official opposition.

Labour canvassers campaigning in the run-up to yesterday's local elections have allegedly complained that the party leader is a "radioactive" topic on the nation's doorsteps, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The good news for him is that Labour is narrowing the gap, says Metro, "if only marginally".

Several polls have shown the party picking up three or four points. Even more importantly, every recent survey has given the Conservatives a lower lead than the 21-point gap they enjoyed when Theresa May announced the snap election last month, suggesting support may have peaked.

Although the Tories' vote share appears to have hit its upper limit, Labour could still be in for a nasty surprise, says Anthony J Wells, political director at YouGov.

One abiding flaw in UK general election polling has been the "historical overestimation of Labour support", he writes.

Since the 2015 ballot, which resulted in a surprise Labour wipeout in many regions, pollsters have implemented a variety of changes to their methods to try and correct this long-standing bias.

On 8 June, says Wells, we will see whether they have succeeded - "or indeed whether they've gone too far and resulted in a pro-Tory skew".

A Conservative victory looks all but certain, but if the events of 2016 taught us anything, writes Betfair's political analyst Paul Krishnamurty, it's that there is no longer such a thing as a sure bet in politics.

The Brexit vote and Donald Trump's election in the US defied the polls, he says, and "if those two could land bigger than ten to one upsets on polling day, surely it is too early to dismiss Jeremy Corbyn".

General election 2017: What the polls say

27 April 

A week after Theresa May's shock decision to call a snap election and the Tories are going from strength to strength in the opinion polls – although there remains a glimmer of hope for Labour.

In the last five days, the majority of surveys have given the Conservatives at least a 20-point lead. A telephone poll by Ipsos Mori placed the party on 49 per cent, with Labour on 26 per cent, the Lib Dems on 13 per and Ukip on four per cent.

According to the London Evening Standard, the Prime Minister is more popular than Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair during their "best years". It predicts she is "on course for a landslide victory" thanks to her personal popularity.

Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos Mori, told Reuters: "The Conservatives are starting the campaign matching the biggest lead we have ever recorded for them during an election campaign, which was back in 1983 ahead of Thatcher's victory."

However, a more recent YouGov poll has given Jeremy Corbyn's Labour the hope that they can pull off the unlikeliest of comebacks.

Its research showed the Tory lead "shrinking from 23 points at the end of last week to 16 points," reports The Times. The poll put the Tories on 45 per cent, Labour on 29 per cent, Lib Dems on ten and Ukip on seven.

It also found "the Tory focus on pitting May and Corbyn head to head has not helped the Tory campaign", adds the paper.

Asked who would make the best prime minister, 48 per cent of respondents said May, down six, and 18 per cent said Corbyn, up three.

"As ever, it’s wrong to read too much into a single poll and this may turn out to be just random sample variation," says UK Polling Report, but it may be "that the immediate boost the Conservatives got from the election announcement has started to deflate".

There was more good news for Labour. A "mega-poll of nearly 13,000 voters", carried out over two and a half weeks, found Corbyn would be "heading to Downing Street were the election decided by 18-40 year olds", writes The Independent

However, adds the paper, only a little more than 40 per cent of under-40s said they were "certain to vote", compared with 64 per cent above that age.

Given the current state of the polls, "it seems unthinkable that the Conservatives could fail to win on June 8", says the Daily Telegraph.

But it adds a word of caution, saying: "The race could change dramatically once the party manifestos have been launched and the campaign starts in earnest."

Infographic by statista.com for TheWeek.co.uk

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