General election polls: Tory lead cut as race enters final hours

Josh Wilson
The latest election polls suggest a hung parliament may still be on the cards. - PA

The latest opinion polling average for the general election shows the Labour Party struggling to catch up to the Conservative Party, though a new forecast on Tuesday night suggested a hung parliament could still be on the cards.

Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn will each be making their final push for Downing Street before polling stations open tomorrow, with opinion polls so far showing the Conservative Party still in front with an average lead of 9.6-points.

Despite both leaders facing criticism, Mr Johnson’s "get Brexit done" message appears to be cutting through the noise, while Mr Corbyn has struggled to break over 35 points in the polls.

Mr Johnson gave the Tories an initial boost when he was elected party leader at the end of July, with average polling figures showing Conservative support jumping from around 25 per cent to almost 35 per cent by the start of September, pulling well clear of Labour.

This was helped by a crash in support for the Brexit Party. Mr Farage’s party had been riding high following their success in the EU Parliament elections, with more than one in five people backing the Brexit Party. This support has since switched back to the Tories under Boris Johnson.

Meanwhile Labour were struggling to sell their confusing Brexit message to a sceptical public who were clearly divided between Leave and Remain.

At the same time the Liberal Democrats were looking rejuvenated under new leader Jo Swinson, and scored big wins in the May local elections and EU Parliament elections with a clear anti-Brexit agenda. They had started to poll consistently at over 20 points.

But Ms Swinson quickly started to lose momentum once the election was called, with the Lib Dem leader criticised for claiming she could win an outright majority, and struggling in televised debates over her time in coalition with the Tories.

This dip in Lib Dem support, coupled with several popular Labour manifesto announcements, helped Mr Corbyn’s party jump back up to more than 30 per cent in the polls and narrow the gap to the Conservatives.

But Mr Corbyn has seen his own party’s momentum stall over the past two weeks - a period which has seen Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis brand Jeremy Corbyn “unfit for high office” for allowing anti-Semitism to take root in the party.

While there is still time for public opinion to shift - just as it did away from Theresa May in 2017 - it is rapidly running out, and the latest figures do not look good for Mr Corbyn.

Tory lead stands at same level when election was called

Two-party politics made a triumphant return at the 2017 general election with more than 80 per cent of voters casting a ballot for one of the two main parties.

The latest opinion polls for 2019 show a slight uptick in support for both the Tories and Labour, although it's too early to tell how pronounced this will be in the final result.

This year the polls have been extremely volatile, with three different parties having taken the lead at some point and the Liberal Democrats performing strongly in fourth.

The latest polling average has the Conservative Party on 43.2 per cent compared to Labour's 33.6 per cent. This 9.6 point lead is now higher than Theresa May's lead at this point in the 2017 campaign.

According to polling guru John Curtice, although Labour have started to narrow the gap to the Conservatives, this does not necessarily indicate that a wider shift to Labour is underway as was the case in 2017.

"The Labour Party has made progress primarily by increasing its support amongst Remain voters at the expense of the Liberal Democrats by five points or so", said Mr Curtice on BBC's Radio 4 Today Programme.

“So, although we have seen the electorate move, the consequence for the race for Number 10 has so far basically been zero because Conservatives and Labour have simply matched each other.

“In other words, very few people have actually changed their mind in such a way that they’re now backing a pro-Brexit party when they were voting for a pro-second referendum party four weeks ago, or vice-versa."

While the Tory lead has narrowed slightly in the last week, from 13 points to 9.6, it is now still at the same level it was when the election was called.

MRP model suggests hung parliament a real possibility

Boris Johnson is heading for a 28 seat majority but a hung parliament is possible, according to a polling model that accurately predicted the surprise result of the 2017 general election.

The Conservatives look set to win 339 seats, Labour 231, the SNP 41 and the Liberal Democrats 15, in new MRP model analysis published on Tuesday night.

However, the Tory lead has more than halved from 68 to 28 since the same polling was undertaken two weeks ago.

The polling also puts a hung Parliament within the margin of error, with the final number of Tory seats ranging from 311 to 367.

YouGov surveyed 100,000 people for the poll over seven days and used their responses to predict the outcome of every constituency.

The Tories had been predicted to romp to a 68-seat majority, according to the YouGov MRP model on Wednesday 27 November.

The model - which interviewed 100,000 panellists and used their responses to predict the outcome of every constituency - predicted that Boris Johnson's Conservatives will win 359 seats in the election, compared to Jeremy Corbyn's 211. 

Target seats to watch in the election

Boris Johnson will be hoping to target some 93 battleground seats come polling day, three quarters of which are currently held by Labour. All 93 constituencies would need a swing of less than 7.5 per cent to see them flip to Mr Johnson’s banner, putting them well within his grasp.

The Prime Minister has been targeting Leave voters with his “do or die” commitment to take the UK out of the EU at any cost, but this policy may backfire in areas with a strong Remain vote. Some 30 Conservative target seats had a Remain vote above 50 per cent.

Jo Swinson’s Lib Dems have campaigned hard on a policy of reversing the referendum result. The Lib Dems started the campaign well but have since lost support to Labour, handicapped by the First Past the Post system

There are 15 clear target seats for the Lib Dems - those which would need a swing of 7.5 per cent or less - although three of those had Leave votes over 55 per cent.

The centrist party won the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election with a 12 per cent swing in an area which voted 51.9 per cent to Leave the EU. Mrs Swinson will be hopeful of causing similar upsets on election night.

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party will be hoping to continue straddling the divide between Remain and Leave voters. His policy of re-negotiating a Brexit deal and putting it to a people's vote is designed to appeal to both camps. 

Labour will be targeting some 103 battleground seats in the election, all of which would require a swing to Corbyn of 7.5 per cent or less. More than seven in 10 of these seats are currently held by the Conservatives, while Labour will also aim to go toe-to-toe with the SNP north of the border in 28 of the seats currently held by Nicola Sturgeon’s party.

Our poll tracker takes an average voting intention figure across polls from the last 10 days, for each party. This ensures that it is not overly influenced by anomalies in a way that analysing individual polls would be. All surveys and polling data have been collected and completed before the polls opened.