31 October, 2019| Polling, GE2019

The Tories might experience a 10pt swing their way in the North West


New YouGov polling of the English regions suggests Tory encroachment on Labour's Leave-voting heartlands, outperforming what national polls are showing.


Photo Credit: Pool, Getty Images

During the 2017 election campaign YouGov published a series of high-sample polling of the English regions that proved a reliable indicator of voter variation throughout England.

The polling showed a surprising firming up of Labour support in the south, hinting at the potential for gains in seats such as Plymouth and Brighton. That polling was vindicated a few weeks later, and this year, YouGov have done it again, and what we can see is, like before, a great deal of regional variation.

Both the Conservatives and Labour are down on their 2017 scores, reflecting the national polling picture, but the fall for the Tories is much less than the fall for Labour in regions that have been traditionally loyal to the Labour cause. Because of this, it would be best visualising the changes by looking at the projected swings, were this polling to be borne true, to the Conservatives from Labour.

Voting intentions for the North West prove most stark, with a swing of 10.85pts from Labour to the Conservatives. The North East is of a similar strain, with a projected swing, if the polling bears out, of 7.55pts.

The swing in the North West is notable, particularly for its size. Very rarely have parties nationally scored swings in their favour of more than 10pts, and for the Conservatives to do in what is a typically solid Labour region is important.

Multiple explanations can be attributed to Labour’s collapse in the polls, but when it comes to the North West, I believe one sticks out. The rather lukewarm growth in the number certain to vote Labour from Labour’s 2017 supporters, as opposed to the more committed 2017 Conservative supporters, exacerbates the gap between red and blue, and either does so accurately, or with a very large health warning.

There is a general assumption in campaigns that the supporters a party loses throughout a parliament typically come home come election time. In the case of 2019, however, such ‘coming home’ so far, albeit with more than a month to go, appears notably lacklustre for Labour. This could be attributed, in part, to the higher than average proportion of Labour voters in the North West (as with the North East) previously voting Leave, but so far, such an attribution would be hard to say with certainty.

What can be said with certainty is that Labour’s performance in regions where it’s typically had stronger showings than on average, with the exception London, is, so far, dire.