Today’s last minute polls show the volatility of the electorate and why it is has been such a difficult election to call. It started as a guaranteed ” slam dunk ” win for Theresa May with a lead over Labour of 24 points. Then the prediction was that with an unpopular Labour leader who was not supported by many of his MPs would help Theresa May increase her lead as Opposition parties tend to lose their momentum during a general election and see their position decline. Hence the initial predictions that Labour already 101 seats behind the Tories could lose another 70 seats or even more giving her a majority of 150 to 200. Instead every poll has pointed to a narrowing of the lead, Jeremy Corbyn, has surprised everyone by leading a very energetic campaign on a left wing manifesto and even passionate Tory supporters admit their own campaign has been a mess. Theresa May has not appeared as the self confident stable leader unafraid of debate. She has positively avoided it.
Then there is an expected swing to the centre which should accompany Labour moving Left. Based on this Tim Farron hinted at first that he could replace Labour as leader of the official Opposition on the back of the 48 per cent Remain vote. Instead – and all the polls are agreed – the Lib Dems look like making little progress and could be pushed back. The electorate has become totally polarised – just like during the referendum.
And as for UKIP who once boasted that they would replace Labour in the North as the main opposition to the Tories – their collapse has been phenomenal – they are unlikely to have any representation in Parliament and have lost seats hand over fist in the local elections.
But can we trust the pollsters today? Just as in 2015 when the majority got a hung Parliament wrong – and the one poll that predicted a Tory victory over egged the size of it.
Unlike last time there is no consensus – with each poll coming to wildly different conclusions.
They range from a Tory majority of 100 – with the Lib Dems also losing every seat in England including their leader Tim Farron and former leader Nick Clegg ( this time to Labour) to Labour gaining seats and the Tories short of majority in Parliament. In the middle are Lord Ashcroft -Tory majority of 64 – and Nowcast with Labour losing 13 seats and the Tories gaining 23. Note either of the last two would be enough for May to command the House of Commons.
Much will depend on who will vote. The young are pro Corbyn so if they turn out in substantial numbers – the result will be good for Labour. But pollsters don’t expect them to vote – and the elderly – despite the row over paying for social care – to rush or even limp to the polls to ensure a big Tory victory.
Mind you if people keep telling the young they won’t vote – they may well be bloody minded enough to turn out to defy expectations.
Whatever happens it will be bad news for pollsters. Because someone is going to get the result awfully wrong – they can’t all be right.