UK Polls Increasingly Favorable For Boris Johnson

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Posted: Nov 05, 2019 11:50 AM
UK Polls Increasingly Favorable For Boris Johnson

Source: AP Photo/Frank Augstein

Both the Tories and Labour are picking up votes. Who is winning in the exchange?

Labour Push

Three of the last six polls have the Tory lead in single digits. The latest spread is only 7 percentage points.

Between October 21 and October 28, the lowest lead for the Tories was 13%.

Appearances Deceive

That is the wrong way of looking at things.

The Tory lead has actually risen when one compares the current poll to the previous one by the same pollster.

Let's analyze the latest 7 pols, interestingly, each by a different polling organization.

Percentage Point Tory Lead by Pollster

  • ICM Current 7 PP vs ICM Prior 6 PP : Net +1
  • Deltapoll Current 12 vs Deltapoll Prior 13: Net -1
  • Datapoll Current 12 vs Datapoll Prior 13 PP: Net -1
  • Opinium Current 16 vs Opinium Prior 16 PP: Net 0
  • YouGov Current 12 vs YouGov Prior 15 PP: Net -3
  • ComRes Current 8 vs ComRes Prior 4 PP: Net +4
  • PanelBase Current 11 vs Panelbase Prior 9: Net +2

That's a slight gain overall but the lowest spread is now 7 percentage points up from 4 percentage points.

Moreover, the biggest Tory poll-to-poll loss was in YouGov where the Tory lead is still a shopping 12 percentage points.

Most Recent Seven Poll Average

  1. Tory: 38.7%
  2. Labour: 29.6%
  3. Liberal Democrat: 15.1%
  4. Brexit Party: 10.6

Election Announced

The December 12 UK election was announced on October 30.

Let's investigate trends immediately prior to the election announcement.

Seven Polls Prior to Election Announcement

  1. Tory: 37.6%
  2. Labour: 23.7%
  3. Liberal Democrat: 18.1%
  4. Brexit Party: 10.6

Curiously, not only did Labour pick up percentage points, so did the Tories.

Labour seemed to pick up all of the decline by the Liberal Democrats and then some.

However, such analysis is a bit flawed because YouGov was represented three times in the prior seven polls.

Four Most Recent Polls

  1. Tory: 39.75%
  2. Labour: 28.0%
  3. Liberal Democrat: 15.3%
  4. Brexit Party: 9.0

Tactical Voting

The four most recent polls, all ending November 1 or later suggest tactical voting.

Votes shifted from the Brexit Party to the Tories and more so from Liberal Democrats to Labour.

This still does not seem to add up to the Labour gains. New voters could be in play as could simple firming of opinion from "do not know".

Regardless, the latest polls, which logically weigh more, retain a double-digit lead of Tories over Labour.

Wales Regional Voting

Many readers have pointed out that this will be decided at the regional level. I agree so let's take a look at Wales.

Latest Wales Poll

  • Labour: 29%
  • Conservatives: 28%
  • Brexit Party: 15%
  • Liberal Democrats: 12%

Current Wales MP Representation

  • Labour: 28 MPs
  • Conservatives: 7 MPs
  • Plaid Cymru: 4 MPs
  • Liberal Democrat: 1 MP

Professor Roger Awan-Scully ponders First Welsh Poll since the general election announcement.

Despite their standing having slipped in some of the recent Britain-wide polls, here the Brexit Party’s support appears impressively robust, and they are actually in third place in Wales. The Labour party have apparently improved their position a little over the last few weeks in Wales, while the Liberal Democrats have seen their support edging downwards.

What might be the implications of such support levels for the forty Welsh parliamentary constituencies: who could we see returning after the election as their MPs? A multi-party contest in the current, highly uncertain political context makes the projection of vote share numbers onto seats particularly hazardous. But using the standard method of projecting uniform national swings since the last general election gives us the following outcome in terms of seats (with projected changes from the 2017 result in brackets).

Projected MP Seats vs Current

  • Labour: 18 (-10)
  • Conservatives: 17 (+10)
  • Plaid Cymru: 4
  • Liberal Democrats: 1

Note: The article has conservatives picking up 9 and the Liberal Democrats 1. I adjusted the totals to +10 and +0.

Wales Electoral Earthquake

As can be seen, at present the Conservatives are on course to challenge Labour very closely not only in terms of vote-share but also in parliamentary seats. Any such result in Wales would represent an electoral earthquake: it would be the first time post-war that Labour had not won an absolute majority of Welsh seats in a general election. It would also see Wales making a major contribution to delivering a parliamentary majority for Boris Johnson.

One of the main reasons why the Conservatives are challenging Labour so strongly in Wales is likely to be the current standing of their respective leaders. On our standard question where we ask respondents to rate each of the leaders on a 0-10 scale, Boris Johnson averages some way ahead of Jeremy Corbyn. And when we ask people directly which one of the two would make the best Prime Minister, Johnson is the choice of 41 percent of our sample, compared to only 26 percent for the Leader of the Opposition (with the remaining 32 percent either being unsure or refusing to answer).

Scotland

Nearly all the analysts believe SNP will pick up seats in Scotland. As with Wales, I wonder if that is the case.

SNP wants another Scottish Independence referendum, something I an confident the general public does not want.

Thus, I am skeptical of this SNP support.

However, tactical voting can be in play: Voters can cast with SNP now knowing that a referendum vote is not likely in the cards soon, and if it comes, they can always vote against it.

Farage a Threat to Labour

In a speech this morning, Nigel Farage made the claim that UKIP helped the Tories and so will the Brexit Party.

"The absolute truth of it is that it was in fact the UKIP vote that disproportionately hurt the Labour party in the 2015 general election," said Farage.

British Election Study dismissed Farage's claim with some compelling graphs. Here is their conclusion:

How might this play out with the Brexit party this time? Our most recent data was collected right after the European Parliament elections in June when the Brexit party was briefly leading the polls. Taken together, the Brexit party drew 72% of its support from 2017 Conservatives and 17% from 2017 Labour voters. In Labour-held seats, this gap narrows slightly to 64% Conservatives and 24% Labour voters. There are some caveats. It is possible that there may be some small subset of seats, where the Brexit party is more attractive to recent Labour voters, and the Conservatives have done a good job of reclaiming Brexit party voters since June. But even with these caveats, it is hard to see how the Brexit party will hurt Labour more than the Conservatives.

Farage Analysis

I agree with the highlights, point by point.

Snatching Defeat From Jaws of Victory

From the Guardian Live Blog

In a phone-in with LBC this morning Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons and leading Brexiter, said that Nigel Farage should “retire from the field” because he had already achieved his lifelong ambition to deliver Brexit. Rees-Mogg claimed that, by standing against the Tories at the election, the Brexit party could end up snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Rees-Mogg said:

"I think [Farage] would be well-advised to recognize that that battle he won. He should be really proud of his political career.

It would be a great shame if he carries on fighting after he has already won to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

I understand why Nigel Farage would want to carry on campaigning because he has been campaigning for the best part of 30 years and it must be hard to retire from the field. But that is what he ought to do."

Farage Says Johnson's Deal is Not Brexit

I find that to be a joke.

Johnson managed a better deal than I thought even possible.

He even managed to keep in place a chance for a WTO trade outcome within the deal. I do not think it will come to that because that suits neither the UK nor EU.

But it could, and that's what ensures a fair trade negotiation process.

Verge of a Victory

The only way to get a good deal was to keep No Deal in place. Johnson managed to do that, aided by Labour and the Liberal Democrats who kept postponing elections until France demanded a resolution.

It is not at all clear that the Tories would win on Farage's No Deal demand.

It is possible, if not likely, that a hard Brexit would unite everyone against Johnson. Plenty of moderates and even Tory Party members want a deal.

Labour's official policy is Referendum. That would take another year. People are sick of this, except of course the avid Remainers whose only hope is to draw this out forever.

Latest Tory Polls

In this set, I added ICM.

Latest Labour Polls

Support for Labour is rising but at a slope that is far less steep except for ICM. Some polls are even flat.

The ICM trendline is bogus as it only contains two reference points.

Also note the box spread from lowest to highest is 6 boxes and 10 percentage point. The Tory variance is half that.

Is support for Johnson firmer? That's what the polls suggest.

Many Scenarios In Play

I don't rule out anything, but I suspect Farage will disappear into meaningless as Johnson delivers Brexit.

If Farage is still substantially in the picture after this election, it will not be a good thing. He will have contributed to Remain, siphoning off Tory votes.