General Election 2019: There Could Yet Be a Repeat of 2017


17th November 2019

The latest results from Deltapoll for the Mail on Sunday show the Conservatives, but also Labour continuing to strengthen their position. As these two parties increasingly dominate the share of the vote, could we be headed for a repeat of 2017?

When looking at the polls it is always important to remember that they are all subject to a margin of error. This is linked to the mathematical laws of probability and, while its impact can be reduced to some extent, it cannot be removed entirely. It is a good idea, therefore, to look at the long-term trends that emerge from a series of polls over time to get an understanding of the stories that are emerging.

Since the general election was first called at the end of October one key story to emerge has been the steady rise in support for the Conservatives. At the same time Labour’s share of the vote has also increased, albeit by a smaller amount and with the party still some way behind in second place.

This growth in support for the two largest parties in Westminster is reminiscent of the 2017 general election when Labour and Conservatives won more than 82% of the vote between them. In doing so they bucked a general trend that had seen their combined share of the vote decline in most general elections since the 1950s.

The extent to which 2017 can be repeated depends, at least in part, on the performance of other parties during the campaign. The Brexit Party have seen their share consistently decline while the Liberal Democrats have seen more fluctuation, with a drop in Deltapoll’s most recent survey.

While the Lib Dem are still performing better than they did at the last election, they are, along with the Brexit Party, a long way down from the levels of support they enjoyed earlier this year in the European Parliamentary elections.

European elections are, of course, always very different from General Elections and never was that more the case than back in May. Both the Brexit Party and the Lib Dems made hay while the sun shone on what was perceived to be the closest this country will probably ever come to a ‘consequence free’ national election. In contrast Labour, and particularly the Conservatives, really suffered.

Unlike the European elections, the consequences of the General Election are clear and present to many. Now that attention has moved away, at least somewhat, from Brexit and towards other issues it is the Conservatives and Labour – realistically the only two parties likely to actually lead the new government – who are benefitting.

The other parties should not feel too despondent quite yet, however. There is still nearly a month to go and things could still change dramatically. Plus, it is how all the parties perform in each of the 650 individual constituencies that really matter.

Polls inevitably move up and down during a campaign and the long-term trends could still move back in their favour. The story of the 2019 General Election is not yet written.

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

Joe TwymanAuthor: Joe Twyman