The much anticipated YouGov MRP poll was released last night and suggests the Tories could sweep the election with a 68 seat majority. When I say much anticipated I mainly mean by political nerds like me, journalists and campaigners. The YouGov poll and the MRP methodology called the 2017 General Election hung parliament result 9 days out from election day, so has some credibility amongst observers.
There are of course numerous caveats. Like financial products past performance doesn’t predict the future. Polling in these uncertain political times must be taken with a lot of caution. There is also two weeks to go and almost anything could happen.
A technique called multilevel regression and post-stratification (MRP) it allows you to use polls to predict what that means at a constituency level..
At the last election, YouGov’s MRP called the result broadly correct, showing a hung parliament, though it underestimated the Conservatives (showing them on 302 seats, which would seen them lose office, not 318 as they ultimately got), to the benefit of Labour and the SNP (who it projected getting 269 and 44 seats not 262 and 35), while underestimating Plaid Cymru (who got four not two seats). The exit poll – the detailed survey of voters conducted by the broadcasters – also slightly underestimated the Conservatives, but to a lesser extent.
But in this excellent article by one of my favourite political commentators Stephen Bush he is right to suggest the ‘Headline is Conservative victory but the underlying story is Conservative vulnerability’
Stephen suggests six thoughts which need to be taken into account when trying to read too much into this Poll.
It broadly looks and feel right for what the polls look like this week. But as he argues and I have seen quite a bit from local reaction there are quite a few seats where there are local factors that can’t be included in such a broad poll as this. There is more tactical and squeeze to come I would suggest
If you look at the seats the MRP model suggests change hands above it looks horrific for Labour.
To me these are not just names and numbers. They are friends who lose their voice in parliament and there are so many good people lost if this happens
However, as you can also see there are plenty of seats where a small percentage swing back to Labour in the last two weeks could have a significant impact.
This is one of the ironies of this Poll. It may have the opposite effect on the campaign result. There will be many who are horrified at the prospect of a Johnson victory but can’t bring themselves to vote for Corbyn (heard it all too often ever day!) But this poll, like the feeling in 2017 that May was heading for victory, may make it easier for people to hold their nose and vote Labour assuning it won’t lead to a Labour victory either. This is one of the explanations of the Labour vote lift in 2017 and it may just happen again the more polls show Boris heading for victory.
It may also concentrate the minds of those who want to prevent Boris remaining PM and crashing us out of the EU. It gives reassurance to those looking to vote tactically at this election.
The model looks at each seat and here is what it suggests for Loughborough.
At a first glance without anything changing a comfortable victory for the Tories. But it isn’t that simple. A number of factors could alter things.
This result puts Labour slightly down on 2017 mainly because the Tory vote holds up and the Lib Dem vote has risen. The absence of the Brexit Party has helped the Tories massively. Even a 4-6% Brexit vote could have made this wide open.
The Lib Dem vote is understandable in a seat like Loughborough which was 50% Remain. However, given Labour’s Stuart Brady is heavily remain too and has committed to campaigning remain in any future referendum there is potential for further squeeze here on the lib Dem vote if people vote tactically. In 2017 it was squeezed as low as 3-4%.
There is also an incumbency factor. With high profile Nicky Morgan standing down it is difficult to know how much of a personal vote there was in 2017. Her flip-flopping over the last two years may have damaged her anyway, but some local name recognition helps. All candidates start from a pretty low base in terms of name recognition so this may help by another 1% point either way.
So whilst the overall picture looks really poor for Labour in seats you could never imagine turning Blue there does seem plenty still to play for in the last two weeks if people use their vote wisely to stop the Tories.
Our country is at a dangerous crossroads. I genuinely fear a Tory government and what sort of country we will be with another 5 years of Johnson. It’s genuine. It’s gut wrenching. It’s why I have despaired at the plight of the Labour Party for the last 4 years. Against a backdrop of Tory Austerity, chaos and confusion this should have been the time for Labour to win and win big. Let’s hope something can be salvaged over the next two weeks. I am relying on the voting public to do the right thing in 650 constituencies and work out how to stop the Tories.
I will write more about Loughborough and the candidates but the YouGov model sets out what is at stake for the last two weeks.