In a nutshell, it’s because voting in the leadership election has been staggered out over the best part of a month – rather than concentrated in a single day, as a general election is (with the exception of postal votes, which were roughly a fifth of the total in 2017).
So if the bulk of Party members voted early, it follows that our first survey, the responses to which came in just before most ballot papers arrived, is likely to prove most accurate. And the reservations that we applied to that second survey therefore also apply to this third and final one.
It shows Boris Johnson on 73 per cent and Jeremy Hunt on 27 per cent among those who claim to have voted (see the graph above). But, as we say, its accuracy will depend on what proportion of respondents voted early and late.
Furthermore, people don’t always recall accurately how they’ve voted – that’s a general feature of political polls and surveys. So it could be that many respondents who say they voted for Johnson actually voted for Hunt, and vice-versa.
None the less and despite all this, the thrust of every poll and survey taken during this contest shows Johnson on course for a landslide. Our first survey found Johnson on 67 per cent. Our second showed him on 71 per cent. This third one nudges his total among those who have voted to 73 per cent. A YouGov poll published during the early days of voting found him at 74 per cent.
So in short, all the available evidence suggests that Johnson will win overwhelmingly when the result is declared on Tuesday. If there is a hidden army of switchers to Hunt, it is extremely well concealed.
But these findings have a sting in the tail for the front-runner. A Johnson landslide is now expected. So if one doesn’t materialise – and Hunt gains as much as say 40 per cent or over – the result will disappoint the front-runner.
That would have implications for his Cabinet reshuffle and the start of his Government. For example, Hunt would have more political space to make demands. Johnson might in such circumstances have to make him Deputy Prime Minister or First Secretary of State. His government is set for a bumpy ride in any event. A closer-than-expected result would make it even bumpier.
Now for some footnotes.
Among all respondents – which include those who hadn’t voted when the survey went out on Friday – Johnson is on 72 per cent and Hunt on 28 per cent. So there’s next to no difference between the view of the contest of all those who replied to our survey, and all those who claim, in those responses, to have voted.
94 per cent of all those who replied to the survey said that they have voted.
Of those respondents overall who claim not to have voted yet, 65 per cent are for Johnson and 35 per cent for Hunt. That seems to show a sense among some Johnson supporters that their man will win whether they cast a vote or not.
96 per cent of Johnson’s supporters claim to have voted, and 91 per cent of Hunt’s.
Over 1100 Party members responded to the survey.