The Latest Poll Isn’t Good News for The Tories

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YouGov have released their much anticipated MRP poll seeing the Tories lead halved since the last one on November 27th. The MRP method was one of the few polls to correctly predict the 2017 General Election result. Although the result still has the Tories in the lead, some seats given to the Tories are simply too close to call. This puts the result in hung parliament territory. With tactical voting in play, the result could be decided by just a few thousand votes nationwide.

The Tories have seen their lead in the polls half in just two weeks according to YouGov. The polling model that accurately predicted the election outcome two years ago, suggests the Conservatives are on course to win 339 seats, Labour 231, the Lib Dems 15 and the SNP 41. However, some seats are so close, that this could change dramatically with tactical voting.

What is the MRP Method?

Multilevel Regression and Post-stratification, better known as MRP, is a method used by polling companies to estimate opinion and attitudes for small defined geographic areas, such as constituencies. It works by combining information from large national samples (for example tens of thousands of respondents) with ONS and census data. YouGov’s latest poll that was released today, had over 100,000 respondents.

Using more than 100,000 interviews over the past week YouGov has modelled voting preferences based on age, gender, education, previous votes and other factors, along with local political circumstances. The multilevel regression and post-stratification (MRP) model is then applied to the demographic make-up and individual characteristics of each of the 632 constituencies in Great Britain to provide projected vote shares for each seat. Northern Ireland was not included in this poll.

Senior Tories In Trouble

Many of the results are so close, it isn’t really fair to assign the seat to any party. For example, Aberdeen South which is currently Conservative, shows the Tories on 40% with the SNP just behind on 39%.

Some senior Tories will also be feeling rather uncomfortable this evening too. Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabb is only ahead by 2% in his constituency of Esher and Walton. The Liberal Democrats sit on 44% with Rabb on 46%. If just some of the 8% of Labour voters tactically vote for the Lib Dems, Rabb will lose his seat.

The architect of Universal Credit, Iain Duncan Smith is also close to losing his seat. The former Work and Pensions Secretary leads Labour’s Faiza Shaheen again by just 2%. Actor Hugh Grant joined Shaheen over the weekend to ask Lib Dem voters to tactically vote. This intervention along could well be enough to swing it from Blue to red. For the millions affected by the Smith’s welfare reforms, this would be at least a small victory.

The Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers, looks likely to lose her seat in Chipping Barnet Labour.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson can’t be complacent either, the YouGov data shows him just 9% of the Labour challenger. With the various scandals over the weekend, not to mention Johnson snubbing any hustings in his own constituency, his seat isn’t certain.

Too Many Variables

With the current seat projection giving Johnson just a 20 seat majority, a hung parliament is a very real possibility. The margin of error in these polls, means the Tories could be denied a majority by just a few thousand people changing their votes. This YouGov poll itself could lead to people doing just that. The movement to “Kick out the Tories” is well organised. Now they have hard data, campaigners can target certain seats enmass on the last day of campaigning.

Another factor that could change the result is the weather. If as forecast, the weather is poor, people may simply not vote. This may lead to some unexpected results if turnout isn’t as expected.

Last Day Could Change A Lot

With the scandals that have hit the Tories over the weekend, some of these results could have already changed. The Prime Minister refusing to look at a picture of a sick child forced to lie on the floor, will not have gone down well with voters.

Then we had journalists spreading a “senior Tory” lie. Two of the most influential political journalists; the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg and ITV’s Robert Peston, were forced to apologize after footage emerged showing that a claim they pushed as fact, simply wasn’t true. Incidents like this can be an event that changes a voters opinion.

Today, the Parties will embark on their last push for votes. It will be fast paced, this leaves plenty of room for politicians to make mistakes, say something inappropriate, or for new uncomfortable facts to emerge.

Far from confirming anything, this latest poll has shown that there is still everything to fight for. If you’re interested in your constituency result, you can visit the Times Website here. You are allowed one free article a week. make that THIS is that article.

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