UK election polls: Tories on course for historic win but one in four voters may still change mind



Almost a quarter of voters are wobbling over their decisions in a nailbiting finish to the 2019 general election, the very final poll reveals today.

The Ipsos MORI survey for the Evening Standard puts Boris Johnson on course to make history with the biggest Conservative vote share since Maggie Thatcher’s first victory in 1979.

The headline estimates of voting are Conservative 44 per cent (unchanged from a week ago), Labour 33 per cent (up one point) and the Liberal Democrats 12 per cent (down one point).

If voters do as they say, it would imply a solid Tory majority and vindicate Mr Johnson’s decision to gamble all on a Brexit election. 

It would spell disaster for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and a crushing blow Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson.

However, Ipsos MORI’s researchers found that nearly one in four people who have picked a party they intend to support admitted they may still change their mind, adding an unusually high element of uncertainty.

The Great Election Wobble was highest among Lib Dem supporters, at 41 per cent, which suggests tactical voting may be a significant wildcard factor in the final result.

The Conservative vote share looked firmest, with 83 per cent of supporters saying they had definitely decided. For Labour, 74 per cent said they were definite.

Long queues formed outside polling stations across London this morning, despite chilly weather, boosting hopes of a high turnout.

Boris Johnson took a secret weapon with him to vote at Central Methodist Hall in Westminster at around 8.15am – his dog Dilyn. He appealed on Twitter: “Folks, today is the day. Vote Conservative to get Brexit done.”

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Jeremy Corbyn was all smiles saying he was “very happy” and hoped for a “great victory” as he turned up to vote with wife Laura Alvarez at a primary school in Finsbury Park.

He shushed a protester dressed as Sesame Street character Elmo who was quickly escorted off the school grounds during a photocall. In a final appeal to voters via Twitter, he urged: “Today, vote to save our NHS … Vote for real change.”

In a bizarre stunt this morning, Mr Corbyn tweeted: “I have been informed that personal images from my past have been sent to some media outlets and are set to be released today. Here’s the truth.” However, viewers who clicked on a link were directed to a tool on the Labour website to help people find their nearest polling station.

The two rivals made final appeals to their core supporters at colourful rallies in London last night.

Security Minister Brandon Lewis beat a hasty retreat after telling viewers of ITV’s Peston that a Tory success would mean a 20 or 30-seat majority.

Keen to stress that nothing was taken for granted, he tweeted later: “For clarity: Robert [Peston] asked about what makes a working majority. I did not give a prediction, I made clear that every vote matters & polls have shown how close it could be tomorrow.”

In key points from the poll of over 2,000 people:

  • Conservatives have hung onto 85 per cent of their 2017 voters, while Labour has retained 79 per cent of theirs.
  • In contrast with previous elections, there is little difference in the Conservative vote share across social grade. Traditionally, the Conservative vote has been substantially stronger among middle class voters. This time they have a marginally higher share among the social grade C2DEs (blue collar and unwaged) than ABC1s. (skilled, white collar and managerial).  It suggests that Brexit, which is more popular among working class voters, is a key factor.
  • As in 2017, there is a massive age gap. Mr Corbyn’s party has a huge lead among voters aged 18 to 34 – some 26 point ahead of the Conservatives – but Mr Johnson’s party is 37 points ahead among voters aged 65+.
  • Conservatives lead by 15 points with men and 6 points with women. 
  • Two thirds of the public say it is “very important” to them who wins the election, the highest level on record since Ipsos MORI first asked the question in 1987).
  • Mr Johnson leads Jeremy Corbyn when people were asked who would be the “most capable Prime Minister” – but the gap between them has narrowed in the final week. More than two in five (43 per cent) picked the Tory leader but that was down four points from last week.Just under one in three (29 per cent) choose Mr Corbyn, down two points. One in five chose neither.

In our final poll before the 2017 election, 47 per cent thought Mrs May would be the most capable PM and 36 per cent picked Mr Corbyn. It ended with her losing her majority nevertheless.

Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI, said: “Labour has squeezed the Liberal Democrat vote share over the course of the campaign, but our final poll suggests this has not been enough to prevent the Conservatives scenting victory. 

“Overall, the Conservatives have managed to keep their vote from 2017 more successfully than Labour, while Boris Johnson retains his lead over Jeremy Corbyn as the most preferred PM. 

“The country is not unanimous though, with clear splits by age as well as by other groups, and the number of people who said they might still change their mind is slightly higher than in 2017, with potential for more switching between Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

“And despite a record number saying the election outcome is very important to them, there are signs that the public is not wholly enthusiastic about the choices they face from either party.”

Two earlier polls gave contrasting results. Savanta ComRes last night had the Tories just five points ahead, suggesting a hung parliament was more likely, while Kantar put the Tories 12 points ahead, suggesting a majority win.

  • Ipsos MORI interviewed 2,213 adults across GB by telephone: 9th–11th December 2019.  Data are weighted. Details at www.Ipsos-MORI.com

 

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