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Countdown to 2024: Deciphering Poll Trends and Election Predictions for July 4th

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2024 General Election: Insights from Current Polls for July 4

As the election approaches, polling data tends to become a more accurate predictor of the outcome. Typically, the gap between a party's polling numbers and its final vote percentage narrows by roughly two points in the last 100 days leading up to the election.

Authored by Professor Will Jennings, Sky News elections analyst

Saturday, June 15, 2024, 10:

As someone who closely follows polls, I must concede that in the heat of election campaigns, we tend to overly fixate on the "horse race" aspect—constantly checking which candidate is leading or trailing in the polls.

Throughout this election campaign, the Labour Party has consistently maintained a lead over the Conservative Party, drawing significant attention to the extent of their lead.

Polling data shows the Labour Party ahead by a substantial margin, with leads varying between 16 and 25 points. Recently, discussions have emerged about a potential "crossover" point.

Has Nigel Farage guided the Reform Party to surpass the Conservatives, securing second position for the first time during a general election campaign?

Polling figures for Reform UK vary significantly, with some polls showing the party at 9% and others as high as 19%, a discrepancy of 10 points.

The remarkable implications of these top-tier outcomes indicate that we might be on the verge of a major reshuffling in the political scene come July 4th. Conversely, numerous pollsters may find themselves proven wrong.

Explore furtherWhat's included in the party platforms?Conservative candidates are moving away from party brandingView our election poll tracker here

What insights can we gain from examining polls from past UK general elections?

As time progresses, precision improves

Surveys tend to provide a clearer picture of the election outcome as the voting day approaches.

On average, there is typically a two-point discrepancy between a party's polling numbers and its final vote count in the last 100 days leading up to an election.

Certainly, some political campaigns experience significant fluctuations in polling numbers, while others remain relatively stable.

Keep in mind that a significant portion of the electorate, approximately 20%, will have already submitted their ballots via mail well in advance of the official election day. Consequently, even if the dynamics of the election shift closer to the date, these early voters won't have the opportunity to reconsider their decisions.

When analyzing recent polling data, it's crucial to consider if and how much the numbers might shift throughout the electoral campaign, and to recognize that there's a chance the polls may overestimate or underestimate support for a specific party. Past elections provide important insights into the reliability of polling predictions.

In the 2019 elections, Boris Johnson's Conservative Party and Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party significantly increased their support by drawing voters away from the Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats, respectively. They achieved this by solidifying their messages to those in favor of leaving and those wanting to remain in the EU.

The last surveys were quite accurate in reflecting the electorate's preferences, with a deviation of less than 1.5 percentage points from the actual outcome for all four parties involved.

Unusual polling activity in 201

The 2017 election will always be remembered for Theresa May's failing campaign and the unexpected rise in backing for Labour led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour's surge in the polls was remarkable and should not be seen as a standard model for future significant recoveries.

Remarkably, polling predictions fell short of the actual support for the Labour Party by about five percentage points. This discrepancy was partly due to a surge in voter preference close to the election date, and partly because many polling organizations had altered their methodologies in an attempt to avoid the inaccuracies they experienced during the last election.

Cameron's Unexpected

Conversely, the 2015 election campaign stood out due to the overall consistency in polling data, which ultimately failed to accurately predict the Conservative party's vote share in the last polls released.

David Cameron surpassed predictions by securing a majority following a five-year period of coalition governance.

If you had relied solely on the headline voting predictions in 2015, the actual results might have caught you off guard. However, those who considered additional factors such as 'best prime minister' or 'most competent party on economic issues' likely found the results less unexpected.

Throughout history, polling predictions have often underestimated Conservative support while overestimating that of Labour. This was particularly evident in the elections of 1992 and 2015, both of which resulted in significant inaccuracies and led to formal investigations.

Certain years stand out as exceptions to this trend, notably 2017, which we previously mentioned, and 2010, when the backing for both political parties was not fully recognized.

Conservatives Facing Challenges

Many parallels are being made between the current political climate and the period before Labour's overwhelming victory in 1997. However, during that election, Labour's advantage decreased as the campaign progressed, and the final polls ended up overestimating Labour's support.

Recent surveys indicate a slight decline in support for Labour; however, the party generally maintains a steady lead in the polls at this stage of the campaign.

Additionally, it's not certain that the surveys are exaggerating Labour's advantage as they did back in 1997.

If present patterns hold, the Conservatives may be heading toward a defeat even more severe than the one they experienced in 1997.

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