What do the poll numbers mean?
So what have the polls been doing in the first half of the election campaign? That question is both interesting and surprising in equal measure.
In simple terms, for the Tories to win a majority they need to have a lead of around 6% in the polls. Anything north of 9% translates into a pretty decent majority.
The Tories started the campaign in the mid 30% range. And quite against precedent, their numbers have gently ticked upwards, now residing around the 40% mark, and higher in some polls.
So far Labour has not really gone anywhere significant. It started in the mid 20s and now is static in the high 20s, miles off where they need to be, which is nearer the 40% mark.
Meanwhile, the Lib Dems and the Brexit Party have just headed downhill. The Lib Dems are now at around 15%, nowhere near the ‘Remain/Revoke bounce’ they were hoping for. Meanwhile the Brexit Party, having been knocking on 20% at the May European elections, are now down to the low single digits.
So unless something changes soon, or the polls are just fundamentally wrong, we are discussing how large the Tory majority will be, not whether we are in hung Parliament territory and what deal Corbyn can stitch up with Mrs Kranky from Scotland.
But, but, but...
There are echoes here of 2017. At this point in the 2017 election campaign the Tories were actually ahead of where they are now and Corbyn was starting his climb up the polls which eventually killed off May’s chances of forming a majority government.
There’s still a long way to go and two big issues loom large: the TV debates, which all precedent shows are good for challengers and bad for incumbents; and what Donald Rumsfeld once called “the unknown unknowns”, those moments that electrify an election campaign and resonate with voters: the implosion of the derided 2017 Tory election manifesto, Brown’s 2010 ‘bigot-gate’ moment, Kinnock’s Sheffield rally in 1992. These events turn up from nowhere and can significantly affect the campaign.
So there is still plenty to play for and things could still go wrong for both main parties.
We have been asked by several clients to give a presentation in the New Year on the ‘post General Election political landscape’. If this is something that would be useful for your team, please get in touch.