There’s been a rush of UK polling this weekend, as pollsters get polls out on the final weekend before voters go to the polls. There are plenty of takeaways from the data, but here are 5 main takeaways:
The Labour Squeeze Has Stopped
One of the arguments made in favour of the Labour Party’s chance in this election was the fact that in 2017, Labour started to rise in the polls and that tightening never stopped until Election Day. Plenty of Labour supporters hoped that a squeeze was coming, and plenty of pollsters showed a squeeze at moments. This weekend’s data dump, however, stopped that – with Survation showing the Tory lead increasing by 4%, YouGov showing a 1% swing to the Tories, BMG going from Con +6% to Con +9%, and Opinium staying at 15% for the second straight week. ComRes moved from a 10% lead to an 8%, but the much vaunted squeeze that many Labour supporters wanted stopped.
Scotland Isn’t Bad For The Tories
Two polls of Scotland came out this weekend – a Friday YouGov, and a Saturday Panelbase – and both showed the Tories within 1% of their 2017 vote share of 28.6%. For a party that came in 4th in the European Elections in Scotland in May, the rise back to 2nd, and back to their 2017 result – which was their best since 1983 – this rise has taken seats previously thought to be lost to the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) are now back in play for the Tories. The LeanTossup model now has the Scottish Tories holding 12 of the 13 seats they currently hold, only losing Stirling. If that holds through Thursday, it would be a shocking result for a party without a full time leader after their leader’s resignation this fall. If the Tories get over the line with the majority they want, the failure of the SNP to turn the Remain electorate of Scotland against the Tory party will go down as a key of the election.
Leavers and Remainers Are Digging In
One of the crosstabs in British polling is vote intention by declared vote in the 2016 Brexit Referendum. One of the questions of the election campaign was what would happen as the campaign wore on – would Labour Leavers and Tory Remainers be attracted to the party more of their ideological persuasion, or of their Brexit position? Would lifetime Labour voters really vote for the Tories in northern heartland seats, and would posh rich Tories in the South vote for higher taxes and Jeremy Corbyn? As of right now, it seems the answer is they will. The Tories are on track for somewhere between 70% and 76% of the Leave vote, and Labour 45% to 50% of the Remain vote, meaning at least some number of people are willing to break with their past votes to get their preferred Brexit result. For Labour Leavers and Tory Remainers, love of party isn’t always enough anymore. The evidence for the sort of realignment discussed in this piece was confirmed in this piece, as the trends intensified.
In The Midlands, Something Is Happening…
But we don’t know what it is. Of the four polls used in the LeanTossup average, here are the Tory margins of victory in the Midlands from their weekend polls: +3 (ComRes), +10 (YouGov), +29 (Opinium), +29 (Survation). The Tories won the Midlands by 8.2% last time, so in theory all four of those results could make sense. The Midlands were more Leave-y than the UK as a whole, with Birmingham being the only proper city to vote to Leave the European Union in June 2016, but some of the swings of up to 20% seem crazy. Then again, the ComRes swing to Labour doesn’t fit with the Leave/Remain profile of the area. Over-stressing about small sample crosstabs is probably bad practice, but to the extent there’s signal in this data somewhere, it’s not clear in the Midlands.
The North Is Coming Home To Labour (Somewhat)
One place there’s clearly some signal in the data is the North. On Friday, the LeanTossup average in the North of England showed a 1% Labour lead. On Monday, it shows a 6.5% Labour lead. While nowhere close to 15.5% margin of victory in 2017 for Labour, this round of good polls is unabashedly good news for the Labour Party and their chances of governing after Thursday. Their prospects rely on holding Northern seats with heavy Leave presences, and if this weekend’s polls come through on Thursday evening, a bunch of Labour MPs will merely get a hit to the ego, as huge margins of victory become nail biters, instead of the danger territory where many lose their jobs. The LeanTossup model has 25 seats with the favoured party under a 75% chance of victory right now in the North alone – meaning both further Labour recovery, or Tory landslides, are both possible in the volatile North.