While the financial markets appear to have decided that the outcome of next week’s Election will be a Tory majority, the outlook for the next eight days in reality is far from certain.
Here are ten reasons not to bet the mortgage on the outcome just yet:
1. The current poll average gives the Tories a ten-point lead, translating into a 30-ish strong potential majority. However, in 2017 Labour out-performed the average of all final published polls by a full five points – which, if repeated next week, would mean the depressingly familiar outcome of a hung parliament.
2. To be confident of achieving a majority the Tories need to squeeze more votes out of somewhere, but the obvious reservoir (Brexit Party) is largely depleted. They could target Remain-voting Tories who have defected to the Liberal Democrats, but that will be difficult to achieve without alienating Leave-voting Tories.
3. This election has seen more effort than ever before to encourage tactical voting through sites such as Remain United (which is populated by Savanta ComRes data). Historically, tactical voting is thought to account for around 10% of votes cast, but some polling suggests it could be twice as prevalent this time.
4. Talking of tactical votes, Lord Ashcroft polling shows the Lib Dem vote to be softer, and more Labour-inclined, than the Labour vote is towards the Lib Dems. Also, two-thirds of Lib Dem voters would prefer to see a Labour Government with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister than see a Tory Government under Boris Johnson. A similar proportion of Lib Dems would also prefer to see Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister than see Britain leave the EU. If those softer votes break for Labour next Thursday it could deprive the Tories of their longed-for majority.
5. No party has ever increased its representation in the House of Commons for the fourth time of asking.
6. Equally, no party has ever won a General Election with leader ratings as low as those for Jeremy Corbyn.
7. The Labour Party are strongly identified in voters’ minds with issues like anti-Semitism, yet there is little evidence of that issue moving vote share. It should also be noted that Brits are more likely to believe Islamophobia to be ‘a serious problem in Britain’ than anti-Semitism.
8. In a similar vein, the Conservative Party, 17 years after Theresa May first used the term, is still more likely than Labour to be seen as ‘the nasty party’ (by 34% to 31%).
9. Boris Johnson’s approval ratings are no better than Theresa May’s were before the 2017 General Election, and his net ratings (positive minus negative) rarely venture above zero. What is certainly different, however, is that Jeremy Corbyn’s approval ratings have moved from around net +30 to -30 over the same period.
10. Around one in eight of those who intend to vote have yet to make up their mind. This rises to one in five women. In the most recent Savanta ComRes poll published on 1st December the Tories were 14 points ahead among men but only six points ahead among women.
The most likely outcome at this stage remains a modest Tory majority and that is where the numbers currently sit. But there are too many unsettled variables to be confident of that result.