Friday 21 August 2020


A drop of four percentage points in a week has seen the Tory lead fall to its lowest margin since July 2019.  Even at the height of the pandemic the Tories were still enjoying a whopping poll lead of up to 26 per cent.  According to YouGov it is now 2 per cent.

The current poll was carried out 18-19 August with a sample size of 1,652.  An identical poll was carried out precisely one week earlier, where the Tory lead was put at 9 per cent.

YouGov poll 18-19 Aug (changes from 11-12 August)

Con 40% (-4%)
Lab 38% (+3%)
LD 6% (+1%)
Green 6% (+1%)
SNP 5% (-1%)
Brexit 4% (+1%)
Plaid 1% (-)
Other 1% (-)

YouGov attributes the new figures to the A-levels fiasco.  However, not for the first time their percentages don't quite add up.  This time all the party percentages add up to 101 per cent.  One of their three Westminster polls conducted last month added up to 99 per cent.  Presumably this is because the figures are rounded to the nearest whole number.

YouGov also asked those polled on who they thought would make the best PM.  Starmer has now pulled ahead by four points to 35, while Boris is level pegging with the don't knows at 31 (four per cent refused to answer - making it another puzzling 101 per cent in total).  This is promising for Sir Squeaky as his predecessor was never seen as a better potential PM than even Theresa May.  He also consistently failed to poll better than the don't knows.

While YouGov are (somehow) the big name in polling, they are by no means the only team on the field.  Redfield and Wilton Strategies carried out a poll on August 19 with a sample size of 2,000.  Compared to an identical poll they conducted on August 12 they found that there was no change in the Tory lead at all, which they estimated to be at 7 per cent.

Redfield & Wilton poll 19 Aug (changes from 12 Aug)

Con 44% (+1%)
Lab 37% (+1%)
LD 7% (-2%)
Green 4% (+1%)
SNP 4% (-)
Other 3% (-)

And yes, that only makes 99 per cent in total.  Redfield and Wilton also posed the same question about who would make the best PM.  This revealed a stark contrast with YouGov's findings.  Redfield and Wilton put Boris Johnson eight points ahead of Starmer.  However, this lead was a marked decrease on their corresponding poll from a week earlier.  On August 12 they had Boris ahead by 14 per cent.

Of course opinion polls are not necessarily a reliable source of public opinion.  They famously failed to predict the outcome of the 2015 general election, for example.  However, if this month's polling range is within the margin of error then an election tomorrow could potentially end in a hung Parliament.  Given that only nine months ago the Tories romped to victory this is an astonishing turnaround.

A lot can happen in four years, but as we enter the worst recession in living memory it could take a monumental effort to stave off that hung Parliament.