We’ve been here before – and recently, too. Today’s YouGov MRP poll may be “wrong”: that’s to say, its data may not represent what happens on election day, either because voters change their minds substantially, or the findings will be out of date by then, or are simply mistaken.
It doesn’t follow that because this particular MRP was right in 2017, so to speak, it will necessarily be right this time. Other MRP polls were wide of the mark two years ago. And one conventional pollster, Survation, got it right (in other words, its final poll mirrored the actual result).
When all that is said and done, however, the poll is roughly where one might expect. We noted in our final campaign summary last Friday that Labour’s support had risen according to the polls. The most simple explanation is that a swathe of the party’s supporters are coming home. Lord Ashcroft’s latest election dashboard suggests the same.
At any rate, the YouGov MRP headline finding is a Tory majority of 28 – down from 68 last time round. Our media colleagues are making much of the consequent possibility of a hung Parliament. And no wonder: journalists love a contest. They are making rather less of that of a Conservative landslide. (John Rentoul tweets that if the YouGov MRP has the same relationship to the final result as in 2017, thid election will produce a Tory majority of 44.)
As we wrote last week, Labour could yet produce a “Red Swan”. “[It] could yet close the divide for a mix of reasons: if there is large-scale tactical voting; if the vote distribution works for it; if its ground campaign is sufficiently strong; if the polls are “wrong” – and perhaps above all if there is differential turnout that favours the party,” we said. And if the YouGov MRP is picking up a late swing.
Boris Johnson would have to be unlucky for such a combination of events to occur. But even a mix of some of them might do for him. He would see the seats that the YouGov MRP find competitive between the two main parties fall overwhelmingly to Labour. And the Tories fare poorly against the Liberal Democrats and the SNP, too.
All in all, a Conservative win is still the most likely result. But if the YouGov MRP, the Ashcroft dashboard and other polls are accurate, it is less likely than it was. Just as Johnson wouldn’t have been entirely happy with his bigger lead last time, so he won’t be entirely unhappy now. A closer race means more incentive for Tory voters to turn out.