Which story dominated the last days – and does it matter who wins? My final campaign poll

The betting scandal continues to dominate people’s recall of election stories in the days leading up to the election, according to my final round of campaign polling. Only a quarter think that if a Labour government is elected today it will be ejected at the next election – but likely Labour voters are more pessimistic than optimistic about the future of Britain.


What have people noticed?




Stories about Conservatives betting on the date of the election once again topped the list of campaign-related news events recalled by our respondents. The issue was named by twice as many people as racist remarks by Reform UK campaigners, the second most recalled story of the week.



By plotting the answers on our political map we can see that most stories were most likely to be recalled by the Labour/Lib Dem/Remain-leaning left-hand side of the map, and particular the better-off top-left quadrant. The main exceptions were stories about immigration and – particularly – the claim that Channel 4 used an actor to  set up “undercover” filming of supposed Reform UK campaigners making racist remarks.


Russia, Ukraine and the West




Following Nigel Farage’s claim that the west helped provoke the Russian invasion of Ukraine by encouraging countries in eastern Europe to join NATO and the EU, we found most people taking a different view. Two thirds – including more than three quarters of likely Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem voters – agreed that Ukraine “had every right to try and join NATO and the EU – it would have been wrong for the west to discourage those ambitions just because they might provoke Vladimir Putin”. Only 12% – Including just 32% of likely Reform UK voters – agreed with the alternative statement that the west should have discouraged Ukraine from joining “since these ambitions were bound to provoke Vladimir Putin”.




More than half of all voters, including 47% of 2019 Tories, agreed that stories about people with inside knowledge betting on the date of the election “shows that people in and around power in this country think that the rules don’t apply to them”. Likely Conservative voters at this election were fairly evenly divided between this view and thinking “you get people trying to benefit from inside information for personal gain in all walks of life”.


Labour majority and Conservative future



Voters overall were closely divided between thinking a very large Labour majority would be a good thing or a bad thing for the country, though this masked sharp divisions by party. Four out of five likely Labour voters said it would be either a very good thing (35%) or a fairly good thing (45%), while 79% of likely Reform UK voters and 83% of likely Tories thought it would be a very or fairly bad thing. Those leaning towards the Liberal Democrats were more likely to say it would be a good thing (42%) than a bad thing (27%).



Only just over a quarter (27%) of all voters said they thought Labour would be out at the next election if they win today – though just over half of likely Conservatives (52%) and Reform UK voters (55%) thought this would be the case. Just under half (45%) of Labour voters thought the party would win two elections but not get a third term, while a further 17% thought Labour would win more than two elections.



Only 12% of all voters and only just over a third (36%) of likely Tories said they thought the Conservatives would “bounce back quite quickly and will seriously challenge Labour at the next election” if they lost today. Around half of all voters thought the party would take years to recover but would be back as a serious challenge in future elections, even if not the next one. Nearly a quarter (23%), including one fifth of 2019 Tories and nearly half (47%) of likely Reform UK voters said they thought the Conservatives “could be finished as a major party, and something else will emerge to take their place”.


How much does it matter?



Just over a quarter (27%), including only 31% of likely Labour voters, said that when it came to their personal situation and the major challenges facing the country it would make a great deal of difference which party was in government in the next few years. Around 4 in 10 – including just over half of likely Labour voters – said it would make some difference, while a further 27% thought it would make hardly any difference or none at all.



In similar vein, only a quarter of voters said that they were optimistic in general about the future of Britain over the next few years, irrespective of who won the election. Even likely Labour voters were more pessimistic (48%) than optimistic (42%).


The fundamentals



Keir Starmer’s lead over Rishi Sunak as best prime minister is down 3 points since last week to 18, with 42% of all voters saying “don’t know”. 2019 Tories who currently say they don’t know which way they will vote or will not vote at all prefer Sunak to Starmer by 20 points (30% to 10%), compared to 23 points last week. Likely Reform UK voters prefer Sunak to Starmer by 26% to 7%, with two thirds saying “don’t know”.

On the economy, the Labour team lead by 15 points for the third consecutive week.



Only 1 in 20 voters, including 7% of 2019 Tories and 16% of likely 2024 Tories, said they were satisfied with the current government. 79% of those leaning towards voting Conservative at this election said they were dissatisfied but would rather have this Conservative government than a Labour one.



The election choice



The proportion of voters saying they had definitely decided how to vote by the close of fieldwork on Monday was 58%, up from 50% last week and 44% the week before. Just over 1 in 5, including 17% of likely Labour voters, said they were leaning towards one party but may change their minds before election day. Likely Conservative (76%), Labour (78%) and Reform voters (76%) were almost equally likely to say they had finally made up their minds.



Just under half of voters – but 7 in 10 of those leaning towards Labour – said they knew who they would vote for when the election was called and have not changed their mind since. One in ten, including 15% of likely Lib Dems, said they had changed their minds at least once during the campaign.



We ask people how likely they are to vote for each party on a 100-point scale. Among 2019 Tories, the mean likelihood of voting Conservative again at this election was 39/100, unchanged from last week.

Taking only those who say they are more likely than not to vote for one party (giving their highest party a score of at least 50/100), we find 38% leaning towards Labour (the lowest figure of the campaign), 19% to the Conservatives, 18% to Reform UK and 11% to the Lib Dems. If 2019 Tories who now say they don’t know or won’t vote but prefer a Conservative government to a Labour one all turned out for the Conservatives, the lead would narrow from 19 points to 13 points. If a significant proportion of Conservative-Reform switchers who think the same also went back to the Conservatives, the lead could narrow into single figures.


The political map


Our political map shows how different issues, attributes, personalities and opinions interact with one another. Each point shows where we are most likely to find people with that characteristic or opinion; the closer the plot points are to each other the more closely related they are.



Here we see the distribution of opinion on the prospect of a very large Labour majority. We also see that those most likely to be pessimistic about the future of Britain, and to say that it will make no difference to their personal situation or the challenges facing the country which party wins the election, are to be found in the Reform-leaning, Leave-voting bottom right quadrant, where the Conservatives have lost much of the extra support they gained in 2019. This is also where we are most likely to find those who think the Conservatives could be finished as a major party after defeat this week, and to echo Nigel Farage’s assertion that the west helped to provoke Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – though this was a minority view even among these voters.

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