Monday, 25 November 2019

They think it's all over

Election guru Philip Cowley comments: 'The last 17 opinion polls, by 10 different companies, all give the Conservatives a double digit lead. Of the nine companies to have polled at least twice, seven have the Conservative lead higher than in their first poll of the campaign.'

'The other polling is equally dire. Most recent poll in Scotland has Cons to lose just one seat, but polls in Wales and London have them to make gains. Most constituency polling not good for Labour either.'

'At this point, at almost any other election in the last 50 years, you'd conclude it was basically all over, and all that remained to be decided was the size of the majority. And maybe that's right this time too.'

'But if I was a Labour supporter, here's what I'd be clinging to':

  • '1. The polls can still change. Plenty of things can happen in two and a bit weeks. Plus, if the Lib Dem vote continues to fall, that should benefit Labour, whereas the Cons probably have less scope for further squeezing the Brexit Party vote.'
  • 2. 'The polls could be wrong. Even by the end of the campaign in 2017, Labour trailed by an average of eight points in the polls. But the polls under-estimated Labour's vote by five percentage points. It could happen again.'
  • '3. 'The Brexit Party haven't gone away. The national polls have them polling c.3%. But they're only standing in <50% of all seats. In the seats the Cons need to take, and where the Brexit Party is standing, they must be polling c.6%, and Cons prob doing less well.'
  • 4. Still a decent number of DKs in the polls. We didn't use to care too much about Don't Knows, because when they made up their minds, they used to break pretty much like those who had already decided. That didn't happen in 2017, with ‘Don’t Knows’ going disproportionately Labour'.
  • 5. Labour can win without winning. They don't need a majority, just to stop the Conservatives from getting one. The Curtice line about Labour having no chance of winning a majority has been widely misunderstood; he wasn't saying there was no chance of a Labour government.'

Cowley concludes, 'All of these are far from certain. If polls aren't moving in Labour's direction so far, why will they start now? Undecided voters falling in number week by week. It wouldn't take much for things to look a little bit more competitive, although time is running out for Labour.'

For what it's worth, my view is that Labour's ambiguous Brexit stance damages them, particularly when compared with the clear Conservative line. Jeremy Corbyn is unpopular with many traditional Labour voters. Labour's spending plans lack credibility, particularly with the addition of a large unfunded sum for the admittedly badly treated 'Wasp' women. At a guess, a Conservative majority of 50 to 70.

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