One week from polling day, what exactly is the state of play? Pretty much whenever the same question was asked during the 2015 campaign, the same answer came forth – dead-heat. When it turned out to be completely wrong, pollsters that largely agreed on a daily basis were an easy scapegoat. That cannot be said about 2017!
Poll projections range from hung parliament to landslide Tory majority
In recent days, we have seen the Conservative poll lead range from 12% to 3%. Lest we forget, it was above 20% when the campaign started. Clearly, Jeremy Corbyn has thrived since, in stark contrast to Theresa May, but is he really now in close contention to become Prime Minister next week?
Corbyn’s chance fundamentally rests on turnout and the theory that his authentic voice and radical brand of Labourism is inspiring a new generation of previously apathetic voters. Labour’s best numbers are with pollsters who take voters at their word (Yougov), whereas the biggest Tory leads are with firms who weight according to previous low levels of youth turnout (ICM).
Who is right? Both anecdotal experience and the optics of this campaign suggest things have changed. It is unimaginable that Ed Miliband would have been cheered at a Libertines concert, or addressed thousands of youngsters on West Kirby beach. Corbyn’s offer to students is clearer and widely popular. It would be a surprise and frankly devastating for the Left if turnout among 18-24s remains below 50% (it was 44% last time).
However the most optimistic numbers are based on around 80%, which is simply unrealistic. The truth probably lies in the middle but we also should not assume the phenomenon is restricted to the youngest age group. UK politics is going through a historic, transformative period and many of the old certainties may be swept away.
Has Brexit sparked greater interest among British voters?
In the last three years, we’ve had referenda on Scottish independence and Brexit, with profound electoral effects. First the emphasis on nationalism altered the narrative in Conservative and SNP favour, leaving Labour with nothing to say as their Scottish base disintegrated and UKIP emerged as a gateway to the Right. Now the dust is settling, Brexit seems to have rejuvenated political debate in our country.