Tom Goodenough comments on the latest YouGov survey:
There’s a nasty shock for the Tories in the Times this morning, with the paper publishing a YouGov poll suggesting the party could lose 20 seats at next week’s election. The estimate says that we could be heading for a hung parliament and that the Conservatives might fall 16 seats short of an overall majority.
It seems hard to believe that the Conservatives could fare that badly in the general election, but they have been conducting what is widely regarded to be one of the worst general election campaigns in decades. Compounding their earlier errors, May has announced that she won’t take part in the party leader debate, which has given Corbyn a perfect opening to participate in the debate while ridiculing her for ducking it. May’s excuses for not participating are pitiful to say the least:
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) May 31, 2017
The PM tells me she won't take part in debates because she doesn't want to argue with another politician on TV. pic.twitter.com/utPI9QC5C5
— Kylie Pentelow (@kyliepentelow) May 31, 2017
The Conservatives had almost all the advantages going into this election, but they have run their campaign on the possibly fatal assumption that they couldn’t lose no matter what they did. They will probably still hang on to power, but May will have done real harm to her reputation with multiple reversals in just a few weeks. May has weakened her position at home by calling an election that she and her party weren’t fully prepared to fight, and she might end up sinking her government almost as soon as it began.
YouGov are, admittedly, careful to couch their estimate with a big dollop of caution. The Times report says that the model used ‘allows for a wide margin of error’. While YouGov’s Stephen Shakespeare says the poll is ‘just a snapshot’. But there are plenty of reasons for the Tories to be alarmed. YouGov claim the methodology behind the numbers predicted Brexit. And the poll says that even on a ‘good night’ for the Tories the party could land only 15 more seats [bold mine-DL]. Given the amount of talk about a Tory landslide – which, inevitably, hugely raised expectations – such an outcome would hardly be a ringing endorsement of Theresa May. With eight days until polling day, Downing Street and the Tories will be feeling very worried indeed this morning.
The Conservatives will probably still eke out a win, but the possibility that they might not underscores what a mistake it was to call an early election.