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General election poll tracker: How do the parties compare?

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Check the latest opinion poll trends with the poll tracker, which measures how people say they are going to vote at the next general election.

Party support: 2 November 2019

Party
Average (%)
Likely range

CON
37
(33-41)

LAB
26
(22-30)

LD
17
(13-21)

BRX
11
(7-15)

SNP
4
–*

GRN
4
(0-8)

PC
1
–*

UKIP
1
(0-5)

TIGfC
0
(0-4)


Analysis by BBC senior political analyst Peter Barnes

4 November 2019

It’s nearly a week now since it became clear that there would be a general election on 12 December.

There have already been eight polls conducted since then – we can expect that from now on they will be coming thick and fast.

Over the last seven days the Conservatives have continued their upward trend in the BBC poll tracker whilst the Brexit Party are still drifting downwards.

There are also some early signs of a recovery for Labour. They’ve hit an average of 26% – their highest figure since the first half of September.

Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats have fallen to 17% – their lowest since the start of June.

These movements are pretty small so far, though, so we will need to see if they continue in the coming days.

Is it all about Brexit?

There’s no doubt that Brexit will be a major issue at this election. But as the campaign gets underway, will other policy areas come to the fore?

Opinium has found that Brexit is a more dominant subject as the campaign gets underway than it was at the last general election.

Forty per cent of people in their latest poll said it was the single issue that was most likely to influence their vote. That compares with 18% at the start of the 2017 campaign.

However, when people were asked to name the three most important issues facing the country, 59% of respondents identified health/NHS compared to only 52% for the EU/Brexit.

That’s a shift compared to their recent polls where Brexit has come out on top or in equal first place.

It’s possible that by campaigning on non-Brexit issues the parties will be able to influence how much weight voters give to different subjects.

Panelbase’s latest poll also puts the NHS/health as the top issue.

On the other hand, Deltapoll have Britain leaving the EU clearly ahead of health. The difference here could be explained by the fact they don’t namecheck the NHS in their range of options.

28 October 2019

The last few weeks have seen a gradual, further strengthening of the Conservatives’ position in the polls.

In the latest poll by Opinium they hit 40% – the highest figure in a single poll since the middle of August. They’ve also moved up to an average of 36% in the BBC poll tracker.

In the meantime, the Liberal Democrats have fallen away a little from their party conference highpoint to settle at that 18%-ish level they’ve occupied for much of the autumn while the Brexit Party continue to drift downwards.

Labour’s average rating has essentially stayed flat.

Scotland

Because voting intention polls are fairly scarce in Scotland, it’s difficult to identify trends. But the latest Panelbase poll conducted earlier this month suggests that the SNP continues to dominate.

Comparing polls to the 2017 general election result suggests Labour and the Conservatives are on course to lose votes, the SNP are roughly level with where they were, whilst the Lib Dems could gain votes.

The SNP’s share in polls has floated between 36% and 43% for the last two years.

In our GB-wide poll tracker, that translates to 4%, occasionally dropping to 3% or rising to 5% since Scotland has just under 10% of the GB population.

That’s why we don’t suggest a margin of error range as we do for parties that field candidates across the whole of Great Britain.

Wales

Polls are even rarer in Wales – but the latest from YouGov, also conducted earlier this month, broadly matches others from earlier in the year.

The Conservatives are down from their 2017 election share but Labour has fallen back much more dramatically. From the 49% they achieved then, their share of the vote has approximately halved according to polls.

The Lib Dems are up sharply and the Brexit Party are performing far more strongly than UKIP did when voters last had their say.

Out of 100 people who are likely to vote, about…

  • 37 say they will vote CON
    , But it could be between 33-41
  • 25 say they will vote LAB
    , But it could be between 21-29
  • 16 say they will vote LD
    , But it could be between 12-20
  • 10 say they will vote BRX
    , But it could be between 6-14
  • 3 say they will vote GRN
    , But it could be between 0-7
  • 4 say they will vote SNP
  • 0 say they will vote UKIP
    , But it could be between 0-4
  • 0 say they will vote PC
  • 0 say they will vote TIGfC
    , But it could be between 0-4

Please upgrade your browser or enable JavaScript to see the full interactive experience

There’s about a 90% chance that the true support for each party lies within the ranges shown above, which means there’s a one in 10 chance that it lies outside these ranges.

Credits

Produced by Irene de la Torre Arenas, Debie Loizou, Becky Rush, Steven Connor, Tom Francis-Winnington, Alexander Ivanov, Felix Stephenson, Robert Cuffe, John Walton and Ed Lowther

Full polling data


Date, Pollster and Sample

ConservativesLabourLib DemsBrexit PartyGreenSNPUKIPPlaid CymruThe Independent Group for Change
4028141123110
392716745100
422616924010
4029149331No data availableNo data available
3628171034010
3628141245No data availableNo data availableNo data available
3426191214No data available1No data available
3621181364010
3622191264010
41242073401No data available
3623181264010
4024151035100
3722191173110
3724191134110
36271711341No data availableNo data available
3224211324No data available1No data available
3329181244010
3724161244210
3722181154110
392518833010
33301712341No data availableNo data available
3327181244No data available1No data available
3522201264011
332719133411No data available
3126201173010
3823151245100
3421231253010
3322211354010
3624201125010
2724221634No data availableNo data availableNo data available
3322221463010
3023221454000
3722171244210
2927211354No data availableNo data available1
3221231444110
3324231044000
3725161324110
2827201354111
3223191474000
382420734111
302917134311No data available
312817134510No data available
3128191523000
3521191274000
3525171335100
2924181734No data availableNo data availableNo data available
3127201333110
3326171434010
3525161174110
37301694311No data available
3524181444011
3124211434No data available1No data available
3322211274010
3422171384110
3321191474010
322615164511No data available
3222201274010
422815535001
3021201484110
3125191273110
31271616431No data availableNo data available
2824211534No data available0No data available
3128131654110
3122211474000
3222191384010
342420965110
3025181444112
3121201385010
3028161555110
28271916431No data availableNo data available
2519231794110
2521201984010
25281719541No data availableNo data available
24281520531No data availableNo data available
2329192034No data available1No data available
2420192195010
25281619531No data available0
2325152285111
2827181462211
2418202394010
22201922104110
26242212851No data available0
2026162364211
2426182063111
2020212394110
2121192493010
1719222684011
2327172253111
2627171863111
1820202695100
1819222594No data available0No data available
18192323105No data available0No data available
2026162454114
17221626114111
191924228No data available1No data available1
2833131233302
21311319543No data available4
2226122544212
2732131335202
242418186No data available2No data available2
2229112434203
252516187No data available2No data available2
2527151674312
21301319542No data available6
2534151035421
20271320434No data available6
2730181062303
22281121644No data available4
242416187No data available2No data available2
1927142053317
2530111753412
292913155No data available2No data available3
273011145No data available4No data available3
2736813345No data available4
263361745414
293010125No data available4No data available3
262981444515
233371433519
29368No data available45111No data available
28321185No data available6No data available3
31408No data available5481No data available
323511No data available4571No data available
32327No data available33909
353411No data available5461No data available
32311254No data available7No data availableNo data available
35359No data available5490No data available
36331154No data available4No data availableNo data available
33338No data available33719
36357No data available4591No data available
34358No data available43716
38348145712
34358No data available33617
35311244No data available6No data availableNo data available
353910No data availableNo data available350No data available
38348No data available3581No data available
41318No data available6560No data available
393412No data available4351No data available
36348No data available33608
40311134No data available3No data availableNo data available
40349No data available3471No data available
41301024No data available5No data availableNo data available
40325No data available44716
32268No data available448110
413310No data available4No data available4No data availableNo data available
403610No data available235No data availableNo data available
37378No data available4470No data available
403510No data available4431No data available
383513No data available5351No data available
383810No data available3441No data available
413410No data available4No data available4No data availableNo data available
41348No data available4471No data available
38399No data available234No data availableNo data available
39409No data available3350No data available
37407No data available4571No data available
383710No data available3361No data available
37398No data available3370No data available
393411No data available4No data available6No data availableNo data available
35389No data available4461No data available
384110No data available234No data availableNo data available
363612No data available5361No data available
413511No data available3No data available4No data availableNo data available
403410No data available4No data available4No data availableNo data available

The dates in the table above show the final day of fieldwork for each poll.

Previous update from Peter Barnes – 4 October 2019

Last week was undoubtedly another dramatic one in British politics.

The Supreme Court ruled that the prime minister had acted unlawfully by suspending Parliament for five weeks. And the House of Commons was the scene of some the most ill-tempered debates anyone can remember.

On top of that, Labour’s party conference saw rows about the future of deputy leader Tom Watson and Brexit policy.

And Boris Johnson found himself facing allegations that he had acted improperly during his time as Mayor of London by giving favourable treatment to his ‘close friend’ Jennifer Arcuri.

However, there’s very little sign that any of this has had much impact on voting intention polls.

There is perhaps a little more evidence that the Conservatives have fallen back a bit from their high point a few weeks ago, but it’s only a small movement.

One ComRes poll put them neck-and-neck with Labour on 27% – the first time they’ve not had a lead since Mr Johnson became prime minister.

But that poll’s results included people who are very unlikely to vote on an equal footing with those who will vote.

It’s an interesting result but doesn’t feature in our poll tracker.

We use analyses that down-weight answers from those who are unlikely to vote and those figures aren’t available from that poll.

The Liberal Democrats have ticked up one point to 20 in our averages, and there’s been another YouGov poll which puts them in second place.

Leader ratings

More noteworthy have been polls asking people to rate the party leaders.

Ipsos Mori’s leader satisfaction ratings go back to 1977. Their September poll has Jeremy Corbyn on the lowest net score of any opposition leader since their series began.

16% of people say they’re satisfied with the way he’s doing his job compared with 76% who say they’re dissatisfied – a net score of -60.

All the pollsters who regularly ask this sort of question have Boris Johnson outperforming Mr Corbyn in terms of satisfaction, favourability or approval. His net score with Ipsos Mori is -18.

However, looking at attitudes about Mr Johnson more widely, and in historical context, they’re not terribly encouraging.

Compared to previous leaders, his score is low for a prime minister at the beginning of their time in office – far worse than Theresa May’s for example. And satisfaction in the government is extremely low: just 14% are satisfied whilst 81% are dissatisfied.

YouGov polls also suggest that Mr Johnson is scoring lower for competence, honesty and being a strong leader than at the beginning of September.

Previous update from Peter Barnes – 20 September 2019

As our poll tracker graph shows, after a year and a half of only gradual movement, the period since February has been pretty tumultuous – perhaps reflecting what has been going on in politics.

The creation of the new Change UK Party – since renamed The Independent Group for Change (or TIGfC in our chart) – and then The Brexit Party had a major impact.

Added to this has been a sustained increase in support for the Liberal Democrats and a clear boost for the Conservatives after Boris Johnson replaced Theresa May as prime minister in July.

That is just the picture in Britain-wide polls. In Scotland, we have less evidence to go on, but it seems as though the political drama has resulted in a rise in support for the SNP, as well as the Lib Dems, at the expense of the Conservatives and Labour.

Conference bounce?

Polls over the last week have been good for the Liberal Democrats, even taking into account the strong year they’ve had. The party seems to be a few points higher now than it was at the start of the month.

They will hope that the improvement is a consequence of their new policy on Brexit – a promise to revoke Article 50 if they win a majority at the next general election.

However, it could just be a conference bounce.

It is fairly common during party conference season for each party to see their numbers boosted immediately after their turn in the sun. Often though, this fades away within a couple of weeks and things go back to roughly where they were before.

We will have to wait and see if that happens this time.

Mind the gap

It is always important to treat polling figures with caution, but at the moment there is an additional reason for concern: more variation between the different polling companies than normal.

This month, there have been cases where two polls published on the same day have wildly different figures – for example, the Conservatives on 28% in one poll, but 37% in another.

Clearly, in an election those two different vote shares would mean dramatically different outcomes in terms of the make-up of the House of Commons. So any attempt to read off from current polls to the expected election result would be foolhardy.

Nobody really knows why the variation is so large. Some of it is probably down to differences between how each company analyses their raw polling data, but it’s hard to see how that can be the whole story given the size of the gaps.

Methodology: How was the poll tracker chart put together?

What is a poll tracker?

Our poll tracker lines show an average of results from the polls to date.

Each dot in the chart above shows one poll result for a party.

There are too many individual dots to keep track of: even on one day there can be very different results for one party from different polls.

So we summarise all that information with a line that averages those results.

It bounces around less and makes it easier to tell the signal from the noise (or the trends from the blips?).

Which polls do we use?

We use polls conducted by members of the British Polling Council.

As of September 2019, that’s BMG, ComRes, Deltapoll, Hanbury, ICM, Ipsos Mori, Kantar, Opinium, ORB, Panelbase, Sky Data, Survation and YouGov.

Most of the polls included cover Great Britain, although some do poll the whole of the UK, but as a result we do not have separate data for parties that only stand in Northern Ireland.

We use results that exclude or downweight those who are unlikely to vote and people who do not express a preference.

We include data that are in the public domain: some polling companies will not publish all data for all parties at the same time and so we update the poll tracker as data become available.

What is the margin of error?

The margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.

This means that there’s a 90% chance that an election held tomorrow would give national vote shares within four points of our estimates for each of the parties.

And there’s a 10% chance that it would be outside that range. We base these figures on a British Polling Council analysis of the results of the final set of polls before each of the elections from 2001 to 2017.

What about parties that only campaign in Scotland or Wales?

The approach mentioned above doesn’t quite work for parties that only run in Scotland or Wales. The electorate they are appealing to is smaller and this makes their possible vote smaller when it is projected across Great Britain or the whole of the UK.

This also means that their margin of error is smaller than that of those parties that stand across Britain and is likely to be less than + / – 1%.

We have more coverage of politics in Scotland and Wales on their national politics pages.

How do we average the polls?

Our estimate of a party’s support is a rolling average of polls to date. Bigger and more recent polls have more influence on our figures.

We also limit the influence of any one poll or of those polling firms who poll very frequently to prevent our results being too dependent on one source.

In a little more detail: the average is weighted by sample size. The more people polled in a particular survey, the more weight we will give it, up to a threshold of 2,000 people.

On the other hand, the older a poll is the less influence it has on the average figure we calculate. We also give less value to any polling firm that has data for more than 5,000 people in a fortnight. A typical poll may cover about 1,000 people.

Why is there a margin of error?

Because a party isn’t guaranteed to get the same vote share in an election as it did in a poll the previous day.

Polling a sample of the population has often been likened to tasting soup. If the soup has been well stirred then you need to have only one spoonful to get a sense of what the whole bowl is like.

In the same way, a well-conducted poll of 1,000 people can, most of the time, give us an idea of what the country as a whole is thinking.

But it’s not 100% precise, so, the margin of error gives a sense of how the results might change with a different sample of 1,000 people.

This margin of error only applies to national vote share: converting that into seats in Parliament is much harder and less precise.

Why do polling companies give such different answers?

There are also systematic differences between polling companies who approach people in different ways, who ask different questions and who analyse the results differently.

We list the main polling firms and the questions they ask below. Polling companies also analyse their data differently. They make choices about how to weight each respondent.

For example, if a poll of 1,000 people is made up of 550 men and 450 women, it is unrepresentative because it does not reflect the profile of the UK population (51% female).

So the answers of female respondents should be given slightly more weight than male respondents in the analysis so that the final results are 51% based on female answers rather than 45%.

That’s not controversial, but adjusting for past vote or likelihood to vote is harder. Some pollsters ask respondents who they voted for last time and weight the sample to try and ensure it matches the political make-up of the general population.

One problem with doing this is that a certain number of people will incorrectly recall who they voted for last time – and a few will even lie about it. So polling companies often use a variety of further methods to improve the accuracy of their weighting.

That variety of methods leads to a variety of answers. Most companies then weight or filter by likelihood to vote so that the answers of people who are most likely to vote are given the most prominence in the results.

Finally, several pollsters reallocate a percentage of “don’t knows” to the party they voted for last time. This is to get around the problem that emerged following the 1979 election with the phenomenon of “shy Tories” or the “spiral of silence” – people who do not want to discuss their voting preference but who will still vote.

Our approach, excluding “don’t knows” from our polltracker, is slightly different.

It is like saying that they won’t vote or, if they did, their voting preferences would look quite like those who do express a preference.

Questions asked by each pollster:

BMG

If a general election were held today, which of the following parties would you vote for?

Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP (if living in Scotland), Plaid Cymru (if living in Wales), Green Party, Brexit Party, another party

Prior to August 2019, Green Party and Brexit Party were only prompted for if the respondent answered “another party”. Following a randomised controlled trial, BMG decided to move those two parties into the main prompt list. The Independent Group for Change and UKIP remain in the secondary prompt list.

ComRes

If there were a (UK) general election tomorrow to elect MPs to Westminster, would you vote Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Brexit Party, SNP, Plaid Cymru, or for another party?

Deltapoll

If there were a general election held tomorrow, which party would you vote for? SELECT ONE: Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, UK Independence Party (UKIP), Scottish National Party (SNP), Plaid Cymru (PC), Brexit Party, Green, Some other party

Hanbury Strategy

If a general election is held in October before the Brexit deadline of 31 October, which party would you vote for?

ICM

If there were a general election tomorrow, which party would you vote for?

Ipsos Mori

How would you vote if there were a general election tomorrow?

Kantar Public

Voting intention for next general election – online pre-coded list: Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP, Green, SNP, Plaid Cymru

  • Note: Brexit Party and The Independent Group for Change were not included in the pre-coded list but respondents had opportunity to select subsequently

Opinium

If there were a general election tomorrow, for which party would you vote?

ORB

If there were an election tomorrow, which party would you vote for?

Labour Party, Conservative Party, Brexit Party, Liberal Democrat, The Independent Group, UKIP, Green Party, SNP, DUP, Plaid Cymru, Sinn Fein, Ulster Unionist Party, Women’s Equality Party.

Panelbase

Who would you vote for if a UK Parliamentary election took place tomorrow?

Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, The Brexit Party, SNP, Green, Change UK (The Independent Group), UKIP, Other.

Sky Data

If there was a general election tomorrow and candidates for all parties were standing in your constituency, including the new “Independent Group” of former Labour MPs who have split from the Labour Party, how would you vote? Conservatives, Labour, Independent Group, Liberal Democrats, Other, UKIP, Green Party, SNP, Plaid Cymru

Survation

Respondents were asked who they would be most likely to vote for if that election were tomorrow, with the responses “Labour”, “Conservative”, “Liberal Democrat” prompted in a randomising order, and other parties displayed if respondents selected “Another Party”.

YouGov

If there were a general election held tomorrow, which party would you vote for?

Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Scottish National Party (SNP), Plaid Cymru, Brexit Party, Green, Some other party (if this answer selected then respondents are prompted the following: UK Independence Party (UKIP), Women’s Equality Party, Independent Group for Change).

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