Party polling leads over time

Dave Levy
2 min readJan 4, 2023

Labour’s current lead in the polls is suggesting that there will be a Labour landslide at the next election but I made a chart of the polling history of Westminster election intentions since 1984. This is an attempt to put this in historical context.

A chart from 1984 of Westminster Polling intentions

Click to see the Chart full size.

As of today Labour would seem at elections to underperform its polling results. Some say this is down to low turnout.

I was interested answering two questions, the first is that no Party with such a large polling lead has ever lost the following election. This would seem to be false. Johnson threw away a huge lead and while it took Blair over two parliaments, his lead fell from a max of 39% to -14%. Only Blair and Johnson have had leads over 20%. Only Major, Brown and Sunak have increased their party’s polling lead.

The other question is about whether the allegation that Corbyn was substantially less popular than Labour deserved. I have made an Open-Hi-Lo-Close chart of the PM’s leads and added Corbyn. To truly understand if Corbyn was worse than others, I’d have to show the other Labour leaders.

A chart, an open hi lo close chart of PM’s polling leads + Corbyn

To remind us how to read these charts, I know I had to think, if the entry is black, then the lead fell, the opening value is the top of the box, and the close value the bottom. If the box is white, then the value increased and the open value is the bottom of the box, and the final lead the top of the box. The lines above and below the box illustrate the high and low values, which in the case of Truss and Sunak are the same as the open/close values. Blair’s high number above the opening value was achieved on day one, and illustrates the difference between the poll and the general election vote. (I wish I could add red and blue colours to the chart, but it’s a restriction on the tool.) I’d say Corbyn while not good, was not appalling at least that’s what the number’s say, although he had become an issue by 2019.

It seems that Redfield and Wilton have also produced a chart, but only for the last 18 months. My numbers come from my interpretation of politico.eu’s poll tracker, and using the Guardian ICM numbers from 1984 to 2016. My spreadsheet is here, if you want to play.

Originally published at https://davelevy.info on January 4, 2023.

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Dave Levy

Brit, Londoner, economist, Labour, privacy, cybersecurity, traveller, father - mainly writing about UK politics & IT, https://linktr.ee/davelevy