What will happen in the next election?

Tutorial Fellow in Politics Stephen Fisher looks at the party preferences of Leave and Remain-supporting voters and the implications for an impending election.

Using average polling data taken between 21 August and 3 September, Fisher’s analysis looks at changes to voting preferences and how that might play out in a general election. Challenger parties to Labour and the Conservatives have lost some momentum since May, but voters are still showing a multi-party competition for votes similar to the European elections rather than the two-party dominance of 2017. It is also notable that both main parties have suffered voter exodus from both Remain and Leave supporters. Labour has seen a drop-off in Leave voters almost big as its loss of Remain supporters, while the Tories have lost votes to the Lib Dems as well as the Brexit Party. Now, among Labour ‘vote intenders,’ Remainers outnumber Leavers by roughly three to one, while those who now say they will vote Conservative are roughly three to one on the Leave side.

It is still premature to forecast anything reliable, Fisher notes, but suggests the Conservatives could win enough votes to govern with the support of the Northern Ireland DUP again if they manage to win over enough Brexit supporters. He suggests Remain voters would have to be highly tactically coordinated to win enough votes for Remain parties in marginal and Conservative-held seats given current voting patterns. Tactical coordination among Leave voters, meanwhile, would be more politically effective because of the more even geographical distribution of the Leave vote. While the Remain vote is more concentrated in Scotland, London and some big cities, there are small Leave majorities in most seats.

Fisher concludes by noting: ‘The danger for Remain voters, and others concerned about the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, is that the parties they support might attract only Remainers. In particular, for Labour the route to majority government depends on winning back Leavers as well.’

Posted: 9 September 2019

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