Our proprietor is fond of saying, correctly, that opinion polls are a snapshot, not a prediction. But that truth isn’t universally applied to apply to polls conducted, say, on the day before a general election. If its finding doesn’t match the result, it is held to be wrong. Hence the inquiry into the 2015 election polls co-sponsored by the British Polling Council.
The Conservative Party’s leadership contest is unlike a general election. In the latter case, voting takes place at polling stations on a single day, with the exception of postal votes (which accounted for 22 per cent of those cast in 2017). In the former instance, voting is all-postal and spread out over the best part of a month. Party members began to receive ballot papers on June 4, and the election will close on the week that ends on July 22.
It follows that it will be hard to test the accuracy of YouGov’s polls about the election – assuming that further ones are published – and difficult too to test ConservativeHome’s survey panel.
Last week, it showed the Boris Johnson on 67 per cent and Jeremy Hunt on 29 per cent.
A few days later, YouGov found Johnson on 74 per cent and Hunt on 26 per cent.
Today, our survey shows Johnson on 72 per cent and Hunt on 28 per cent.
We have varied the standard question and added one to ask whether or not respondents have already voted. Seventy-one per cent of respondents say that they have done so (see below).
Most Party members therefore appear to have voted between last week’s survey and this week’s. If the survey is accurate, it would be reasonable to assume, on the evidence available at the moment, that Johnson will win somewhere between 67 per cent and 72 per cent of the vote. We will be publishing further surveys as the contest continues.
And if the survey is correct, Johnson has won this contest already. Even if the entire 28 per cent of those who haven’t voted yet opt for Hunt, he cannot catch the front-runner. Furthermore, an additional filter on the survey results finds that 58 per cent of the Foreign Secretary’s supporters have already voted. (Seventy-seven per cent of Johnson’s supporters say that they have already voted. We will publish those filter graphs separately.)
In conclusion, our surveys and YouGov’s poll last weekend are all singing the same song. Johnson has won – unless all the evidence available is even more misleading than those final 2015 election polls.