Election polls give gamblers the runaround

Marsha Scott
June 4, 2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May was fighting to shore up her general election campaign on Wednesday after a shock projection suggested she could lose her parliamentary majority, leaving the pound wobbling.

If the YouGov model turns out to be accurate, May would be well short of the 326 seats needed to form a government in June, when formal Brexit negotiations are due to begin.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's lead over the opposition Labour Party has nearly halved to eight points in the space of a week, an opinion poll from Panelbase showed on Thursday.

The key issue of whether the sudden surge in younger voters to Labour, fuelled by Jeremy Corbyn's populist politics, will actually make it to the polling station next Thursday lies behind this week's clear divergence in the opinion polls.

Sterling weakened against the dollar late on Wednesday after the YouGov poll, but was trading at US$1.2857 on Thursday, about 3 cents above where it was trading at the start of the campaign.

But if she fails to beat the 12-seat majority her predecessor David Cameron won in 2015, her electoral gamble will have failed and her authority will be seriously undermined.

A poll conducted by Survation for ITV's Good Morning Britain program showed May's lead had dropped to 6 percentage points from 9 points a week ago and 18 points two weeks ago.

But he added: "It would take only a slight fall in Labour's share and a slight increase in the Conservatives' to result in Mrs May returning to No 10 with a healthy majority".

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Kathleen Brooks, research director at City Index Direct, added: "At this late stage of the United Kingdom election campaign, the pollsters are more divided on the size of the Conservative Party's lead than at any other time during the election". That was up from 137,400 at the cut-off date before the 2015 vote, and those aged between 18 and 24 skew heavily toward Jeremy Corbyn's Labour.

Tory home secretary Amber Rudd and SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson defended their party's policies instead of their respective party leaders.

Another interesting debate is how the FTSE 100 trades if we see a Conservative majority, which as I say is still the likely scenario priced by markets.

Combining the model probabilities and estimated census counts, YouGov predicted who was likely to win each constituency.

The model was based on a voting intention of 41 per cent for the Conservatives and 38 per cent for Labour, a difference of three points, the pollster said.

The referendum on Britain's European Union membership galvanized a lot of older working class voters past year, bringing many people to the voting booth for the first time or after a long absence.

Betting markets give a more than 80-percent probability of May winning an overall majority, though they were wrong ahead of the unexpected Brexit result in the June 23 referendum a year ago.

YouGov acknowledged there was uncertainty with any poll compared to polling in individual constituencies.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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