After our last political-polling success in the Netherlands – where Qriously was the only pollster to correctly call the ranking of the top 8 parties – we have shifted our attention to the upcoming UK snap election, to be held in June.
The popular narrative in UK media outlets is that the Conservatives are sure to win, and win big, in the upcoming election. Many newspapers decry the collapse of Labour, and the still-weak performance of the Liberal Democrats, as evidence of the Left’s demise. Moreover, the Conservatives have seized on this image to focus their campaign messaging – calling themselves the party of ‘strong and stable government’, and warning the British electorate against the ‘coalition of chaos’ formed of Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Greens, and the SNP.
Another popular message from media outlets across the board – from the Guardian to the Sun – involves the weakness of current Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. At best, Corbyn is seen as an unelectable policy wonk, with all the flaws of candidates like his predecessor Ed Miliband and the former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton; at worst, he is seen as an actively dislikeable man who stubbornly clings on to power for his own ego and is ruining the Labour party’s chances of ever getting into government.
Qriously set out to discover whether both messages do, in fact, reflect the views of the British electorate, and whether the Conservatives are as unstoppable as the UK media has implied.
Turnout Projected to be Low (Similar to 2001 and 2005 Elections)
A third common theme in British media has been the total exhaustion of the British electorate. At this point, British voters have been asked to go to the polls for major elections or referenda for three years in a row – the 2015 general election; the 2016 EU referendum; and now the 2017 general election. Scottish voters are even more unlucky, with the 2014 Scottish independence referendum making their ballot-box fatigue even greater.
Our data supports this hypothesis. Assuming that turnout does not rise significantly over the next few weeks – which may be the case, as voters learn more about the issues and decide that they need to have their say – we anticipate a turnout of about 60%, similar to the UK General Elections of 2001 and 2005 (but much lower than the two more recent General Elections, held in 2010 and 2015).
Conservatives Hold a Commanding 12-point Lead Over Labour
Our data also supports the common discourse in UK media that the Conservative Party currently holds a powerful lead over their nearest rivals, Labour.
Importantly, even the left-wing ‘dream scenario’ of perfect tactical voting would not save Labour and their allies. Assuming all respondents voted with perfect tactical nous – only giving votes to Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green or SNP candidates in each constituency depending on the strength of local candidates – they would still not be able to overturn a similar perfectly-tactical alliance between the Conservatives and UKIP.
The popular vote of all major left-wing parties together only reaches 35.1%; the Conservatives reach 34.7% on their own, and together with UKIP, achieve a massive 41.0%, easily beating the left-wing grouping.
While 19% of the likely voter base is still undecided, other data from this poll implies that the still-undecided voters tend to be low-information and low-engagement voters. We have no evidence at this stage that the undecided component of the electorate is likely to break strongly for the left-wing parties.
This indicates that, unless the political situation changes significantly over the next few weeks, the Conservatives look set to achieve an easy victory.
The Conservative Base is Stronger Than the Left
In further bad news for Labour and the left, Conservative voters are also the most likely to say that they are certain of their choice and very unlikely to change their mind. A massive 85% of Conservative Party voters are determined to vote Conservative.
The Public Overwhelmingly Supports May over Corbyn
In what might prove to be the final nail in the coffin for Labour, the general public vastly supports Theresa May over Jeremy Corbyn in the preferred prime minister stakes. 42% of all respondents chose Theresa May as the best leader for Britain, compared to only 17% for Jeremy Corbyn.
The picture is even more stark among the voting public. Over half of likely voters identify May as the best leader for Britain.
The Conservative Base is Maxed Out
One small ray of sunshine for the British left is that – given that the Conservatives are already polling so well – they are unlikely to pick up any further votes.
The Conservative Party reached the vast majority of its base weeks ago, and is the weakest of the major parties in terms of picking up votes over the past seven days. The Liberal Democrats and the Greens, on the other hand, have been far more successful at picking up votes recently. The Greens have picked up a third of their base over just the last seven days, indicating a strong momentum for their movement.
Liberal Democrats and Greens Have The Widest Appeal
Despite the strength of the Conservatives, it’s the Liberal Democrat and Green parties which appeal to the widest base. When likely voters were asked what other parties they might consider voting for, these two parties picked up the largest share of the electorate.
The graph below excludes respondents who have already picked each party. For example, the 7.7% value given to the Conservatives indicates that 7.7% of the electorate (who have picked a party other than Conservative) would also consider voting Conservative if they had multiple votes to provide on the ballot paper.
This again is further evidence that the Conservatives have essentially maximized their support at this stage. While they have a huge base and are far ahead among the electorate as a whole, they seem to be having difficulty convincing anyone else to support them – as evidenced by their weak momentum and their poor reputation among supporters of other parties.
NHS and Healthcare Dominate the Stakes at This Election
Overall, British voters are overwhelmingly concerned about the NHS and healthcare system. Nearly half of all likely voters list this as one of their top three concerns. After this, Brexit and immigration dominate the list of concerns for the election.
Given the highly-publicized pressure on the NHS in recent months – with waiting lists rising to millions of people, ugly clashes over junior doctors’ pay and Conservative tax cuts hitting the NHS hard – this could prove a significant weak spot for the Tories.
To summarize, our data supports the popular talking points that the Conservatives have a healthy lead over Labour; that their base is energized and committed; and that Theresa May is far more popular as a leader than Jeremy Corbyn.
In addition, this data puts a significant dent in the hopes of left-wing voters that tactical voting will help to stop the Tory flood by strategically placing Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates to the fore in different constituencies. It seems that, even if perfect tactical voting was in play, the left-wing popular vote is just not enough to surmount the strong popular vote for the Conservatives and UKIP.
However, there are a few bright spots for the Left, including that the Conservative support base is relatively saturated; that a number of left-wing parties have strong appeal across the electorate, including the Liberal Democrats and Greens; and that a huge proportion of British voters are concerned about the state of the NHS and healthcare system in Britain. The NHS is a significant weak spot for the Tories, given their cuts, and could be used strategically by the Left to weaken Conservative support in the coming weeks.
Qriously conducted one wave of polling using our unique programmatic sampling methodology (with more waves to come).
Data Collection: Apr 28 – May 1
Weighting: Gender, age, region (NUTS1) and past vote in 2015
Sample Size: 2,217 UK adults 18+, including 1,240 likely voters (7+ or higher on a 10-point voting likelihood scale)