General Election 2019: The Final Week


8th December 2019

The latest results from Deltapoll’s survey for the Mail on Sunday show the Conservatives maintaining both a strong lead over Labour and a healthy share of the vote with only days of the election campaign remaining. They are, however, not over the finish line yet.

Since Parliament was dissolved on 6th November Boris Johnson’s party have succeeded in increasing their share of the vote thanks, at least in part, to the decline of the Brexit Party, who stood down in a number of constituencies. The Conservatives are now broadly at the same level of support they achieved at the last election.

Back in 2017 the Labour Party significantly increased their share of the vote throughout the campaign and managed to close the gap on the Conservatives. This time Labour have managed to, once again, steadily and consistently improve their level of support, but only by roughly the same amount as the Conservatives have managed. As a consequence, the gap between the two parties has been maintained.

Beyond the headline voting intention figures, the underlying data has also consistently favoured the Conservatives since the campaign began. Boris Johnson’s own personal ratings have fluttered around a score of net zero – with as many people thinking he is doing well as think he is doing badly. While this may not sound fantastic, it is unusual for any political figure from the major parties to venture into positive territory.

In contrast, Jeremy Corbyn has been well into negative figures for the duration of the campaign. Though he has managed to improve on his position from earlier weeks, he has been the least popular of the four leaders Deltapoll have tested in every survey for the Mail on Sunday.

On specific policies, both the Conservatives and Labour had policies in their manifestos that proved very popular and really resonated with voters. When asked who was better to deal with specific issues, however, it was the Conservatives who won out once again.

At no point during the campaign have the Conservatives been fewer than 15 points ahead of Labour on the question of who would be best for the British economy. They have enjoyed similar leads on the issue of Brexit and have even been ahead, albeit by a smaller margin, on the issue of health – traditionally a key area of strength for Labour.

This means the Conservatives are ahead on the issue the greatest number say is the most important issue facing the country (Brexit), the most important issue for them and their family (health) and the issue that has traditionally been most important in determining voting (the economy).

In the entire history of British politics it has never been the case that a party has been leading on the economy and leader ratings and then not won the most seats at the election. With only days remaining, however, the situation could still change.

There is still time for people to be persuaded to change their mind on who to vote for. Some people remain undecided, but even among those are not, a major mistake, misstep or gaffe by one of the parties or their leader could still bring about a movement in the polls. Turnout will also be significant, particularly among specific groups in the electorate. Younger people, for example, are traditionally far less likely than older people to vote, but also largely favour Labour. Could they be persuaded to turn out in greater numbers? Will some Conservatives, on the other hand, who feel uneasy about Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan decide to sit on their hands rather than take a walk to the polling station?

How the results play out in individual constituencies may also make a big difference to the final result. Last minute tactical voting decisions in key seats, whether driven by Brexit or otherwise, could still have an impact.

Ultimately Labour do not necessarily need to win the most seats in order to gain power. Preventing the Conservatives from achieving a majority may, in certain circumstances, prove to be enough to form a government if alliances with other parties such as the Lib Dems and SNP can be forged.

The polls may favour the Conservatives, but none of the parties will be giving up yet.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Mail on Sunday.

Joe TwymanAuthor: Joe Twyman