FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Undecided Voters Matter: Theresa May’s Lead Over Jeremy Corbyn Might be Only Single Digits

Poll numbers from the initial days after British Prime Minister Theresa May’s triggering of snap elections for June 8th were perhaps even more dire than hankerers after New Labour could have prayed. Corbyn-led Labour started off the campaign with headlines, based on data from multiple scientific polling firms, blaring out their twenty some point deficits to May’s Conservatives. While even those numbers should be considered deceiving, a consistent drum beat of better news from many of the same pollsters – with the numbers read more accurately – suggests May’s lead could have shrunk to single digits already with plenty of time and room for further Labour growth.

Without getting into the weeds too much, there is a simple problem with most of the headlines and even the few poll aggregators active to date in the United Kingdom election cycle. Like the poll aggregators and data experts who gave Hillary Clinton far better chances than even Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight, insufficient attention is being paid to the huge number of undecided voters recorded by nearly every pollster. (See Silver’s “The Invisible Undecided Voter” from January 2017. As a side note, our final analysis here of the November 8th U.S. election was more accurate on both a national and state by state level than FiveThirtyEight’s. FiveThirtyEight was generally more accurate for the Democratic Primary cycle.)

Could Corbyn pull-off another Brexit or Trump-style shocker? We will not know for five more weeks, but what we do know should give succour to electorally minded leftists while causing serious trepidation to supporters of May and backers of former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s ongoing tantrum around the elevation of Corbyn.

Here, in one chart, is May’s lead over Corbyn from all scientific polling to date with and without undecideds included:

May Corbyn Chart 1

By simply removing undecided voters from the calculus, the numbers used by most media outlets artificially inflate May’s numbers by five points. This happens because the net result works to assign undecideds to the parties according to their numbers strength otherwise in the polling data. Roughly speaking, on average, in the data above May’s Conservatives are assumed to garner just under two undecided voters for every one assigned to Corbyn’s Labour.

But is this a fair assumption?

Not in the least based on the data that we do have. As with Trump’s initial soft support in the U.S. elections, there are far more Labour voters from 2015 who are considering not voting for Labour this time around. Perhaps they will stay away or vote for another party, but just as Never Tump voters, Bernie or Busters, and 2008’s PUMAs (Party Unity My Ass supporters of Hillary Clinton), the overwhelming majority of party loyalists disappointed in the primaries or leadership races do eventually wind up coming home by election day. Indeed, the clear data we have to date from YouGov polling, for instance, shows that this explains much of the gap Corbyn has already closed. Eighteen percent of 2015 Labour voters were undecided in the first full YouGov poll [pdf] after the elections were called (versus just 12% for 2015 Conservative voters). That same number fell to just 11% for Labour for the two YouGov polls in the field April 25-28th [pdf], while falling just a tick to 10% for Conservatives.

Over the course of those same three polls, May’s lead over Corbyn, including the undecideds fell from 16% to just 8%, not very far off from the results (a 6.6% Conservative advantage) of the 2015 election. Meanwhile, the trendlines are all pointing toward continued tightening in Labour’s favour. All four pollsters (YouGov, ICM, ORB, Opinium) with multiple polls out since April 18th have seen Corbyn inch closer with each new poll.

Clustering the polls by date (with undecideds included) over the first week and a half of the campaign, we see that May’s large lead is far from stable . ICM’s poll out yesterday shaved another point off May’s lead. If the polls that join ICM in making up the next cluster follow this pattern, we are likely to have an average of recent polls in the single digits.

UK #GE2017 Chart 1

If this trend continues, the Conservative majority in parliament may look very similar to what it has been since 2015.

More troubling for May’s Conservatives, not all of this lead shrinkage can be chalked up to undecided Labour voters moving to the Corbyn column. May also looks to be bleeding support. She could, in fact, end up with no majority at all.

More articles by:

Doug Johnson Hatlem is best known for his work as a street pastor and advocate with Toronto’s homeless population from 2005-2013. He is now a film producer and free-lance writer based in Chicago.

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail