Polling guru John Curtice makes ominous election prediction – little Boris can do about it
His predictions are not good news for the Conservative Party. The professor of politics points out the Labour advances on the Liberal Democrats by vacuuming up remain votes and prizing leave votes from the Brexit Party. He describes the battle between the Liberal Democrats and Labour as being pivotal to the chances of the tories achieving a majority.
Sir John said: “The outcome of this battle between the Conservatives’ two principal opponents, an outcome that Mr Johnson can do little to influence, is crucial to the Prime Minister’s chances of winning an overall majority.
“So far, the Conservatives have largely been able to keep pace with Labour’s electoral progress by squeezing the Brexit Party vote.
“But with support for Nigel Farage’s party now down to just eight percent among Leave voters, there would appear to be few extra votes left to be gained from that quarter.
“Consequently, any further Labour squeeze on the Liberal Democrat vote could serve to reduce the Conservative lead.
“Indeed, there have already been some signs of that happening.”
One week ago there was an average fourteen-point Tory lead over Labour, but the last seven days have seen a slightly diminished eleven-point one.
Sir John said: “The Conservative Central Office will have their fingers crossed between now and 12 December.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph Sir John said: “Brexit continues to shape how voters propose to vote in the general election.
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“However, this does not mean Boris Johnson can assume the ballot will necessarily give him the majority he needs to ‘get Brexit done’.”
The politics professor has described how both Labour and the Conservatives have made considerable progress since the election was called.
He said: “At 42 per cent, the average level of support for the Conservatives in the polls published in the last seven days is five points up on where it was when the campaign began, while Labour, on 31 per cent, have advanced by seven points.
“In contrast, the Liberal Democrats have slipped back by four points and the Brexit Party by no less than eight, in part as a result of Nigel Farage’s decision not to stand candidates in seats being defended by the Conservatives.”
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However, he added that “nearly all of this movement has occurred within the two Brexit camps”.
Meaning that “few voters appear to have switched to a party on the other side of the Brexit divide”.
Support for the tories by those backing remain has fallen by one point.
Meanwhile, Labour’s support has risen by nine points among those who backed Remain, and three points among those who supported Leave.
Sir John’s analysis is that at the last election the Conservatives had the support of 60percent of Leave voters but only 23percent of Remain supporters.
But, now those figures stand at 69percent and 18 per cent respectively.
Sir John said: “80percent of Remain supporters are indicating support for one of the parties in favour of a second Brexit vote.”
He also explains how the polls suggest that health, in particular, is of concern to many voters.
He pointed out that the decisions made by Remain voters about which party to back matter.
To date, the Conservative lead in the polls has rested primarily on the fact that the party has come to dominate the Leave vote, whereas the Remain vote is split between Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
Sir John explains that “however, the split on the Remain side is now much less pronounced”.
He added: “Labour is currently outpolling the Liberal Democrats among this group by 45percent to 25percent.
“In contrast, when the election started, the equivalent figures were 36percent and 32percent respectively.
“So, most of the progress Labour has made during the campaign has been at the expense of the Liberal Democrats.”
The poll expert has also warned that recent election headlines predicting a Tory landslide at the election were too premature.
The election expert told the BBC that the trends of opinion polls should worry Boris Johnson’s claim to No 10.
The election expert warned that if the Tories drop just four percentage points in the polls, “we could be entering hung parliament territory”.
His remarks follow an MPR polling analysis that accurately predicted the election outcome two years ago.
This time the YouGov poll suggested that the Conservatives would win 359 seats, Labour 211, the SNP 43 and the Liberal Democrats 13 if the election were held today.
That result would give Mr Johnson a majority of 68 as he made gains at Labour’s expense, particularly in the Midlands and north of England.
However, Sir John warned that a Conservative victory “was not in the bag” yet.
Sir John Curtice is Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University and a Senior Research Fellow at NatCen Social Research and “The UK in a Changing Europe”.
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