Polls apart: Election predictions swing from massive Tory majority to hung parliament

Opinion polls continue to confound voters and political commentators with just over one week to go to the general election.

The only poll that really matters, of course, is the one taken by the UK electorate on June 8, but the public have been given little guidance on what to expect by the most recent surveys.

The latest, carried out by YouGov for The Times newspaper, predicts that the Conservative Party will lose 20 seats and Labour will gain 28.

This would mean the Tories would remain the biggest party but would fail to reach an overall majority in the House of Commons by 16 seats, leading to a hung parliament.

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The poll clashes wildly with a recent ComRes survey which has forecast a 100-seat majority for prime minister Theresa May and her party.

But just how accurate is the YouGov poll, which was published on Tuesday night?

The Times conceded that the model used in the survey ‘allows for a wide margin of error’, while some pundits say it should be taken with a pinch of salt.

It is based on 50,000 interviews with potential voters in one week and concentrates on a ‘constituency-by-constituency’ model, which could permit large variations.

The Times said ‘the estimates were met with scepticism by Tory and Labour figures’.

YouGov chief executive Stephan Shakespeare said the model was tested during the Brexit referendum last year and consistently had the Leave side ahead.

However, he added that the data could change dramatically in the next eight days.

‘The data suggests that there is churn on all fronts, with the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats both likely to both lose and gain seats,’ he wrote in The Times.

‘Based on the model’s current estimates, some seats are likely to change hands along EU referendum dividing lines.

Does Theresa May have a huge majority or a hung parliament in store? (Picture: AP)
Does Theresa May have a huge majority or a hung parliament in store? (Picture: AP)

‘This is just a snapshot based on data from the past seven days and people can and do change their minds in the closing days of a general election campaign.

‘Furthermore, it would not take a slight fall in Labour’s share and a slight increase in the Conservatives’ to see Theresa May returning to No 10 with a healthy majority.’

YouGov’s analysis puts the Tories on 310 seats, down from the 330 they went into the election with, and 16 short of a majority.

Labour would get 257 seats, up from 229, the Liberal Democrats 10, up from the nine Tim Farron’s party held when the election was called, the SNP 50, the Greens one and Plaid Cymru three.

Following the release of the poll on Tuesday, the pound dipped by as much as 0.5% against the dollar, but recovered in Wednesday morning trading.