Polls Show Tories Headed For Big Victory In British Elections

Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party are on course for a big win in December 12th's General Election.

If the latest polling out of the United Kingdom is any indication, Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party are set for a Thatcher-like victory in December 12th’s elections:

Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party is on track to win its biggest majority in more than three decades, according to the most hotly anticipated poll of the general election campaign.

The Tories will win a majority of 68 seats in the Dec. 12 election, according to a YouGov poll which used a technique that more closely predicted the 2017 election than standard surveys. Such a majority would allow Johnson to deliver on his promise of getting his Brexit deal through Parliament by Jan. 31, and could also give him some freedom to make compromises in subsequent negotiations with the European Union.

The poll put the Conservatives on course to win 359 of the 650 seats in Parliament, a gain of 42 on the last election, while Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is set to win 211 seats, a loss of 51. Of the smaller parties, the Liberal Democrats are set to win 13 seats, while the Scottish National Party are on track to win 43 seats. This would be the best Conservative result since Margaret Thatcher won her third term in 1987.

“As expected, the key thing deciding the extent to which each of these seats is moving against Labour are how that seat voted in the European Union referendum,” said Chris Curtis, YouGov’s political research manager. “This is allowing the Tories to overturn quite substantial majorities.”

Through a process called Multilevel Regression and Post-stratification, or MRP for short, YouGov aims to identify different types of voters, and predict their behavior. Then the company works out how many of each of these voter types there are in each electoral district to produce a forecast.


The poll was bleak for Corbyn, showing Labour on course for its worst election result since 1983. It had the party winning no new seats and watching the crumbling of its so-called “red wall” of districts in the north of England that have voted Labour for decades. Seats such as Bishop Auckland and Newcastle-Under-Lyme that are traditionally Labour but also strongly in favor of Brexit were forecast to fall to the Tories. The Conservatives were also on course to make gains in North Wales, in seats like Clwyd South and Wrexham, where they have previously struggled to shake off the legacy of closing down coal mines in the 1980s.

Meanwhile, in areas that opposed Brexit, the poll suggested the Conservatives still had sufficient support to hold their seats.

Members of parliament who defected from the Tory Party or were thrown out over their Brexit stance were predicted to lose their seats.

That included Dominic Grieve, standing as an independent candidate in Beaconsfield, and Sam Gyimah who is competing to win Kensington and Chelsea for the Liberal Democrats. That wealthy London borough is expected to swing back to the Tories after an unexpected Labour win in 2017.

In Scotland, the SNP were predicted to dominate, winning five seats from Labour, two from the Conservatives and one from the Liberal Democrats. Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party wasn’t expected to win any seats and the Greens would retain their one in Brighton Pavilion.

The YouGov numbers, and the current projection of the majority that the Tories are likely to end up with after the December 12th elections are largely consistent with other polling that has been done in the United Kingdom. This can be seen in the polling averages being tracked by The Economist, Britain Elects, and Politico Europe. These three poll trackers all show the Conservatives with anywhere between 44% and 42% of the national vote, followed by Labour which is garnering between 32% and 29%. After Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the only national party with an anti-Brexit platform is polling around 14%, which is below where it stood before the election campaign began. Meanwhile, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, which at one point was ahead of the Lib Dems for third place in the national polls, is own to 4-5% in national polling. Beyond that, of course, there are regional parties such as the Scottish National Party and the Democratic Unionist Party which are strong forces in their respective regions of Scotland and Northern Ireland but aren’t really having an impact on the polls nationally.

With two weeks left to go until Election Day, it’s obviously possible that the situation surrounding the election could change in some way that could have a huge impact on the outcome. It’s also worth noting that using national polling to predict the final composition of the House of Commons is far from being an exact science. We saw this in the 2015 and 2017 General Elections and in connection with the 2016 Brexit Election when pre-election polls did not even come close to accurately predicting the outcome of the respective races. Notwithstanding all of that, though, it is beginning to look as though Boris Johnson’s election gamble will pay off and that, at the very least, he will end up with a solid enough majority to push his Brexit bill through Parliament well before the January 31st deadline.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. MuYiXiao says:

    For those of us that don’t have much knowledge about UK politics, but are trying to learn:

    1) Are “Torries” and “Conservative Party” the same? (Like “Republicans” and “GOP”?)

    2) The 2nd paragraph of the quoted article is a little confusing if you don’t know the current counts (and who the various parties are). “Party X will win N seats” doesn’t mean much if we don’t know how many seats they currently hold. Is “N” a gain or loss? Can you recommend a website that’s a good “primer” for people who are trying to learn about and understand the basics of UK politics?

    At the very least, it’ll help me understand some of the jokes on the BBC shows I like. 🙂

  2. JohnSF says:

    Looking at it from on high, it’s certainly looking favourable for the Conservatives.

    If you look at the graphical version one thing is striking: there are two sets of virtual “mirror images”.
    Conservative & Brexit Party form one set; Labour and Liberal Democrats the other.
    Both have combined support around 45% of the total
    In each pairing the decline of one component mirrors the rise of the other.

    The Conservative advantage is that BrxP has collapsed to around 5%, Cons rising to 43%.

    Whereas the LibDems have fallen back, but only to 14%, Lab rising to 30%.

    Rough analysis might be Labour and LibDems are splitting the Remain vote, and Labour are damaging their cause by their ambivalence on Remain (plus the toxicity of Corbyn and Corbynites).
    But that’s probably too simple; both still have a lot of “cross Brexit lines” support.

    I still have a feeling that the national polls may mislead a lot this time round, even using MRP.
    It would be very interesting to see the local polling of specific seats that parties pay for and keep private.
    If I were a Conservative MP in a Remain voting area where LibDems came a good second last time round, I’d be nervous.

    Combined with the SNP being likely to hit the Conservatives hard in Scotland, a hung Parliament still looks a reasonable bet if the polls tighten.

    Disclaimer: don’t use me for any betting, my political prediction record is doubleplus ungood 🙂

  3. @MuYiXiao:

    1 — “Tories” is basically a slang term for members of the Conservative Party, one that dates back at least 200 years I believe.

    As for the second, the composition of the House of Commons prior to the calling of the election can be found here. Note that after the 2017 Election, the Conservatives held the most seats but were short of an outright majority, They maintained control, though, thanks to what basically amounted to a partnership agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party, one of the two major political parties in Northern Ireland.

  4. grumpy realist says:

    Actually, some of the polling is showing a collapse in Tory support (less than a 10-point spread between them and Labour) so the talk about a possible hung parliament is starting up again. BoJos continued running away from interviews is coming home to roost.

    It doesn’t make much difference. The Tories still don’t have the foggiest idea how to get from a January Brexit to a FTA by the end of the requisite period. Labour is still dithering and running around in circles. Jeremy Corbyn looks to be still grimly holding on to his prior strategy: sit on the fence, wait until the Tories take the U.K. out of the E.U., wait until the negative after-effects hit, then use the brouhaha to slip Labour into power. At that point he’ll have what he really wants: a U.K. separate from the E.U. and himself in power.

  5. de stijl says:

    That Labour can’t exploit this is shocking to an outsider.

    I know Corbyn is deemed to be a lesser light and also seemingly unable to address anti-Semitism or is in fact complicit in it. That is not understandable to me.

    Has Labour fallen that far?

    Is the UK now Tory dominated political landscape? It seems odd given the very close vote on Brexit.

    As an outsider, I know I’m not getting the subleties.

    As an American, I have a vague grasp on multi-party Parlimentary systems. I grasp it systemically, but how it plays out on the ground with actual voters is kind of opaque.

    Do voters know beforehand which party will join up with others to form a government or opposition? Is it assumed?

  6. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Why does the thought “you can’t fix stupid” keep coming to mind?

  7. JohnSF says:

    @de stijl: Thing is, multi-party politics is (sort of) new to the UK; though it’s very common elsewhere in Europe.

    Even though we had a coalition in 2010, hung Parliament and “confidence and supply” 2017, and pretty close results 2015 etc. the British mindset still seems to default to a two party model (and a government with a three figure majority at that).
    We are a very (small c) conservative people sometimes.
    Give us a century or so and we’ll assimilate this strange new concept 🙂

    Re. who’ll dance with who, there’s no defining ahead of time.
    Labour and Conservatives are totally incompatible (I’ll bypass historic caveats re. WW2 and 1930’s National Coalition).
    SNP tend to rule out co-operation with Conservatives (because that would hurt them badly with Scots working class they contest with Labour).
    Lib Dems as a party are emotionally “centre-to-left”, and in many ways more inclined to Labour; but left-Labour activists often hate LibDems as “betrayers of the true left”; and a lot of LibDem voters are centrist “floaters” who might opt for Con or LibDem but who are suspicious of Labour.
    (Tony Blair could win some of them over; Corbyn has no chance).

    Normally if LibDems incline to either bigger party, the other will bash them for it, and they stand to lose votes (as in 2015).
    But this time round, the Brexit factor makes LibDem co-operation with Conservatives inconceivable (he said tempting fate).
    LibDems, SNP, Plaid, Greens are fully Remain; Labour are ambivalent but seen as Remain-ish.
    So if hung Parliament most likely outcome IMHO is Labour minority government with an “arrangement” with a LibDem/SNP/Plaid/Green alliance.

  8. JohnSF says:

    @de stijl:

    On the overall landscape and the Labour Party:
    My opinion is, UK is anything but Conservative dominated; it’s picking up a lot of votes because
    1) there are still a lot of Leave voters who want Brexit done, and still have not grasped (because most people try to ignore politics most of the time) that Brexit will take years of grinding argument, internal and external, and erosion of trade advantages that will amount to a slow motion recession.
    2) Corbyn is a catastrophically unpopular (and popular) Labour leader; his domestic/economic policies are often to the left of majority vote comfort zone; even where individually popular they sum to worries of cumulative effect; and above all his reflexive “anti imperialism” comes over very badly.
    Though I don’t think he’s personally an anti-Semite, nor his main supporters, he’s so inclined to “third-worldism” that he seems unable to grasp that some anti-Israel stances go past that, through ant-Zionism and on to the gibbering insanities of outright anti-Semitism.
    Plus a tendency to say, when confronted by terrorist groups or kleptocratic dictatorships: “yes, but, imperialism-capitalism-colonialism-neoliberalism-FASCISM!!!”
    I say “catastrophically popular” because his support within the Party activist, from the Unite trade union, and the various left-groupuscles is so strong that the opposition of the majority of Labour MP’s and even Labour voters is powerless to remove him.

  9. JohnSF says:

    The origins of the “Tories” nickname is actually amusing, in a grimly ironical sort of way.
    It comes from the gaelic “tóraidhe” (pronounced roughly: toraithe ) meaning outlaw, bandit, reiver, and came to be applied to Irish Royalists in the Civil War, then to Jacobites before and after the 1688 Revolution, and eventually to the “Conservative” descendants of the anti-Hanoverians whose politics were based on “Church, Crown, and Country” (oddly enough for a party whose origins were against the then-current dynasty and the actual established church hierarchy, but British 18th Century politics is weird).

    I say, grimly ironic, because the Conservatives went on to become the most dogged opponents of various potential settlements for Ireland in the 19th Century (opposing Catholic emancipation, supporting “coercion”, opposing Home Rule etc) and are now blithely insouciant about their policies damaging the Union, the Good Friday Agreement, or both.

  10. de stijl says:


    Does it take a mere plurality or a clear majority (50%+) to pass legislation?

    Btw, I do like Mojave 3. Are some of those folks from Slowdive?

    Which Mojave 3 songs should I pay attention to? I don’t want to sort their whole oeuvre / catalogue. Which are the hits?

    Also, that is very American sound for a British group. That’s pretty impressive.

  11. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    I’m in love with In Love With A View.

    What am I not hearing that I should?

  12. de stijl says:


    Heartily approve.

    Mojave 3 have a very Bakersfield vibe.

    Bakersfield is a relatively small town, but has as inordinately large hold on American music. Both country and americana.

    High desert. Spooky. Ethereal. (Also the last best bastion of pschycobilly and Betty Page fetish girls.) Weird air where the general populous get strange ideas about comformity and subversion. Wide open spaces zap your head mostly in a good way.

    To a Brit, the town of Bakersfield likely means nothing. Buck Owens. Dwight Yoakam.

  13. de stijl says:


    Why don’t they realize that this time, right now, is an inflection point?

    We can rid ourselves of Trump next November.

    Brexit is a forever thing.

    I am not a party, so I have no say.

    It looks like y’all are screwing the pooch. Which is probably an Americanism.

    Mucking things up to the point that they can’t be unmucked. Overtly line stepping. That might be American idiom as well.

    Line stepping is aggressively and willfully crossing a line from which you cannot back away from because misplaced honor and misguided pride.

    The line stepper is almost universally regarded as the bad guy, the aggressor.

  14. de stijl says:

    I misspelled psychobilly so badly.

    It’s an actual word and a scene and a place with actual people.

    I effed up the name of the genre.

    It’s psychobilly. I am very sorry.

  15. Barry says:

    @grumpy realist: “It doesn’t make much difference. The Tories still don’t have the foggiest idea how to get from a January Brexit to a FTA by the end of the requisite period. Labour is still dithering and running around in circles. Jeremy Corbyn looks to be still grimly holding on to his prior strategy: sit on the fence, wait until the Tories take the U.K. out of the E.U., wait until the negative after-effects hit, then use the brouhaha to slip Labour into power. At that point he’ll have what he really wants: a U.K. separate from the E.U. and himself in power.”

    They’re going to trash the UK. Domestically, the only thing that they can do is to trash the place; in international negotiations they’ll either be Quislings selling the country or the amateur idiot sitting down at a gambling table with professionals.

    At this point my prescription is to have a crash-out, Scottish and Welsh succession, the absorption of NI into Ireland, and then invade and liberate England.

  16. JohnSF says:

    @de stijl:
    Yep, pooch screwing is where we’re at (Brits tend to get most American idioms, we’re so exposed to US TV series and films etc. )

    Thing is, that a large number of Leavers are so invested in their stance that they won’t think rationally about the potential damage.
    They either wave it aside as “Project Fear” fake news, or view it as “a price worth paying” for “freedom”.

    And as for the large section of the public who generally try their best to avoid paying any attention to politics there are is massive amount of:
    “why can’t they just get it done?”;
    “surely it’s easy enough with good will?”;
    “are they just dragging their feet because they don’t want to do it?” (it’s always THEY)
    “why should anything change anyway if we have free trade? Just stop the migrants, that’s all…”
    “nothing much will change”

    As I say, we tend to be very (small c) conservative; and most people abhor “politics” and see it as the realm of “Them” (a combination of the legacy of class based rule and modern “consumerist/contractual” attitudes).

    Re. legislation: all you need is a bare majority.
    No qualifications on it
    Apart, that is, from the Fixed Term Parliament Act which nominally required a 2/3 majority to override the 5 year tem; but was itself overridden by a bare majority special act! The absolute sovereignty of “Crown-In-Parliament” in action.
    UK government has sometimes been described as an “elective dictatorship” 🙂

  17. JohnSF says:

    @de stijl:
    Yes, three of the old Slowdive were the initial band: Neil Halstead, Rachel Goswell, Ian McCutcheon; added two more members before second album.
    Incidentally, Slowdive reformed 2014 and released an album 2017

    As to what to listen to, I’m a bit eccentric; I listen almost exclusively to CD’s or LP’s, or sometimes old fashioned radio (BBC Radio 3, plus a some Radio 2 and R6), and don’t use computer (much) or phone (at all) for music.
    So I don’t tend to think in terms of individual songs, so can’t really help much there :).
    Of the albums, I’d go for Ask Me Tomorrow as the standout, then Out of Tune, then Spoon and Rafter.

    Also Halstead and Goswell both did solo albums worth a listen: Sleeping on Roads and Waves Are Universal.

    Other groups that feel in the same sort of mood-space to me:
    Mazzy Star (they’re Californian but San Francisco not Bakersfield IIRC; perhaps fog and rain spooky rather than desert spooky?)
    Beth Orton
    Cowboy Junkies
    This Mortal Coil
    The Hope Blister
    Belle and Sebastian

    PS: Betty Page fetish girls? 🙂