What Kent general election 2024 polls are saying with one week to go

-Credit: (Image: Martin Burton/SussexLive)
-Credit: (Image: Martin Burton/SussexLive)

With just under a week to go until voters in Kent head to their local polling stations to cast their votes for this year's general election, a new survey has revealed one party is facing major losses in the county. According to pollsters Electoral Calculus’ survey of 20,000 people, the Tories are set for a major hit locally.

Labour is set to win in 12 constituencies – including in “true blue” areas such as Ashford, and Folkestone and Hythe – with the Tories taking six. Reform UK is set to get a higher percentage of the vote than the Conservatives in six Kent seats – and is just marginally behind in three others.

Electoral Calculus chief executive Martin Baxter stresses that “there could be a bit of late swing”, but that a major comeback for the Tories would be “quite unlikely”. While such results would be devastating for the Conservatives – the picture is not as bleak for the party as it was a few weeks ago.

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At the start of the campaign in late May, the pollster was predicting a bigger Tory wipeout in Kent. Its early prediction had 13 of the county’s 18 seats going to the Labour Party. The Tories were predicted to get only five – Sittingbourne and Sheppey, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, Faversham and Mid-Kent, and Sevenoaks.

Updating its data with new surveys and aggregation of other pollsters’ research, Electoral Calculus’ predictions changed a couple of weeks later. It suggested that the Labour Party would take 14 Kent seats, the Liberal Democrats would gain Tunbridge Wells, and the Tories would get a mere three.

Now, Electoral Calculus’ new poll of 19,900 voters conducted for the Mirror and GB News, shows further changes in the results, with a minor narrowing of Labour’s expected conquest of the county. Labour is now expected to take 12 seats in Kent, with the remaining six going to the Conservatives.

The losses would still be severe for the Tories, who took 16 out of 17 seats in Kent in 2019. Since then, boundary changes have resulted in the creation of the new Weald of Kent constituency, giving the county an extra MP following this election.

Mr Baxter said: “I’m sure it’s not the last word in polling but it’s a bit more up to date and larger scale than our previous poll.” Closer to the big day itself, some people change their minds or firm up their decision, he said.

“We’re a lot nearer the election so people are a lot more focused,” Mr Baxter said. The Reform Party, led by Nigel Farage, has picked up momentum throughout the campaign – and is now expected to exceed the Conservatives’ vote share in six of Kent’s 18 seats, and are within only a few percentage points in three more.

However, it is not predicted to return any MPs in the county. Herne Bay and Sandwich – a new constituency stitched together out of North Thanet and parts of Canterbury – will be one to watch. Originally predicted to go to Labour by a slim margin, the newest poll suggests Sir Roger Gale – who has held North Thanet since 1983 – is likely to be re-elected.

It would make Herne Bay and Sandwich the sole seat staying blue as a sea of red washes over the rest of east Kent. Mr Baxter said that for these polls, predictions for seats are partially based on generalising data from areas with similar social demographics, while others are partially based on the views of people in the specific seat.

“We do a lot of people in other constituencies with similar demographics, but we also speak to people in Herne Bay and Sandwich – not hundreds of people but dozens of people and we do listen to what they’re telling us,” he said, noting that in the most recent survey they spoke to 40 voters in that constituency. Early in the campaign, Electoral Calculus also predicted that Sevenoaks would go to Labour.

Covering the towns of Sevenoaks and Swanley, the seat has been Conservative since 1885, except for a brief stint with a Liberal MP in 1923. Now the Tories are predicted to hold it.

There is bad news for west Kent’s Liberal Democrats as well – previously expected to take Tunbridge Wells. The new poll has it remaining Conservative.

Nationally, Electoral Calculus’ most recent figures still suggest a terrible night for the Conservatives. Labour is predicted to get 450 seats out of Parliament’s 650, with the Tories pushed into third place on only 61 seats, and the Liberal Democrats becoming the official opposition with 70.

Reform UK is predicted to get 19 seats, with 17.7 per cent of the national vote, compared to the Tories’ 20.2 per cent. One of Reform’s predicted seats is Orpington in Bromley – directly next to Sevenoaks.

Mr Baxter added that “there could be a bit of late swing”, but polls are consistently showing a large Labour victory. “A change that’s going to put Rishi Sunak back into 10 Downing Street with a majority in the House of Commons would be quite unlikely,” he said.

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