The 650

The 650 | 31st May 2017

Projecting turnout is the pollsters’ new battleground

Nerves are now certainly jangling in Conservative Central Office, with a YouGov poll last weekend showing a drop to only a 5-point lead, before easing to a 7-point lead yesterday. Survation, with a phone poll this morning split the difference with a 6-pointer for GMTV.

This, from an ICM 22-point Conservative lead just three weeks’ ago.

We too see a continuing Tory tumble with our latest Guardian poll showing a more comfortable, but still rapidly dwindled 12-point Conservative lead. The Tories have dropped two points since our last Guardian poll a week ago, and one point compared to our Sun on Sunday poll published yesterday. Labour remain stable or are up one, depending on your comparison preference.

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The 650 | 25th May 2017

Broadcasters are now talking policy – but the BBC are preoccupied with leadership

Policy issues overwhelmingly dominated the third week of the election campaign, our latest Cardiff University study of TV news found.  Almost 8 in ten items on the evening bulletins were primarily about policy issues, compared to less than half in the previous two weeks of the campaign.

The enhanced policy focus was largely due to both Conservatives and Labour launching their manifestos. While the BBC remained the most policy-driven – with 89.7 per cent of its election coverage about policy – Channel 5 and ITV were not far behind at 86.4 per cent and 82.4 per cent respectively. About 7 in ten Sky and Channel 4 news items were about policy news – a far higher proportion of issues compared to previous weeks of the campaign.

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The 650 | 25th May 2017

Labour must be wary of focusing on vote share – it’s seats that matter

The last couple of weeks have seen a potential Labour rout turn into a mere defeat, as the party climbs in the polls to stand some way clear of its 2015 share of 31.2%: at the moment, an average of the last six polls taken before the tragic events in Manchester puts Labour on 33.8%. This is a long way behind the Conservatives’ score 45.3%, to be sure, but that represents a swing to the Government of only 2.5% or so since 2.5%.

It is important to be clear about where these voters are coming from, as we seem to live in an era when ‘classic’ swing voters who alternate between the Conservatives and Labour seem few and far between. Although the Conservatives’ vote share is being swollen by defectors from the United Kingdom Independent Party, Labour are benefiting from smaller numbers returning to them from the same source, and from some left-leaning Liberal Democrats and Greens attracted by Jeremy Corbyn’s new-look Labour Party.

So although the Conservatives have surged to a share of the vote they have not really dreamed of since the 1980s, Labour has been chasing them upwards.

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