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Exactly a year ago this weekend ComRes had TMay’s Tories 25% ahead

April 22nd, 2018

How things have changed since

It is just a year since Theresa May made her fateful and what will be her career defining announcement about calling a general election to secure a bigger majority.

On the weekend after the news we had the initial round of voting intention polls of the campaign and those are shown in the chart above.

As can be seen the one that stands out is ComRes, which had been the most accurate pollster two years earlier at GE2015. This had the biggest Conservative lead – a whopping margin of 25 points over LAB.

    Although the final lead on election day was just 2.5% it is too easy to conclude that those late April polls were wrong.

Only a couple of weeks after the general election announcement there were the local elections where the Tories made big gains doing substantially better than had been predicted.

It was those real elections that seemed to validate the polling and reinforce the view that Mrs May’s gamble was going to pay off. The big question was not whether there would be a Tory overall majority but would it be a landslide.

My guess is that it might well have done so but for the length of the general election campaign and for the over-confidence it engendered in the Tory camp that led to the manifesto debacle and Mrs May believing that she didn’t have to face Corbyn in a leaders’ TV debate.

In total there were seven weeks between the initial call and parliamentary vote to authorise it and the June 8 election.

So we cannot conclude that the polls weren’t wrong in late April last year. What they do show is that there was a dramatic change in views of the incumbent Conservative government and particularly the Prime Minister as a result of the campaign itself.

It is very hard to envisage the circumstances in which there will be the next Conservative 25% lead.

Mike Smithson