Who will win the next general election? Latest polls and odds

Three new polls have each projected a seismic victory for Labour - with one even suggesting Rishi Sunak could lose his seat.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a visit to Sizewell in Suffolk, while on the General Election campaign trail. Picture date: Wednesday June 19, 2024. (Photo by James Manning/PA Images via Getty Images)
The latest polls are the latest in a series of setbacks for the prime minister. (PA)

Three polls released in the space of an hour have indicated that Rishi Sunak is on course for a crushing defeat in the upcoming general election - with one report suggesting he could become the first sitting prime minister to lose his seat.

The polls published on Wednesday evening were commissioned by the Telegraph, Sky and the News Agents podcast. All the polls use the multilevel regression with poststratification (MRP) technique, which enables projections to be made at constituency level.

And while all three polls indicate Sunak faces an uphill battle to avoid a major defeat, there is a significant disparity from all three as to how far ahead Keir Starmer actually is.

Yahoo summaries the key points of the three polls

YouGov's polling for Sky News projects Labour is on course to achieve a 200-seat majority. Labour is predicted to secure 425 seats, the Tories 108, the Liberal Democrats 67, SNP 20, Reform UK five, Plaid Cymru four and the Green Party two.

This projection would show the Tories plummeting from the 365 won by Boris Johnson in the 2019 election and give the party their lowest ever number of MPs. It would also give Starmer more seats than the 418 won by Tony Blair in 1997. Read a full report of this poll from Sky News

The YouGov poll for Sky News.
The YouGov poll for Sky News.

According to polling by More In Common UK for the News Agents podcast, Labour is projected to finish on 406 seats, a majority of 162. The Conservatives would lose more than half their MPs to 155. The Liberal Democrats would quadruple their number of MPs to 49, while the SNP would be left with 18 seats. Read a full report on this poll from The Independent

According to polling by Savanta and Electoral Calculus for the Telegraph, Sunak could become the first sitting prime minister to lose his seat of Richmond and Northallerton to Labour - though Savanta acknowledged this projected result was still in the balance.

Out of the three polls, this one projects the biggest victory for Labour. This polling puts Labour on a massive 516 seats, with the Tories on only 53 - just in front of the Lib Dems on 50 - a forecast that would be remarkable were it to be reflected on polling night. According to the Telegraph, this is the first poll to project more than 500 seats for Labour and would be a truly astonishing result were it to happen. Read the full report of this polling on The Telegraph

So why the disparity between the three polls?

Firstly, it's important to point out that polls cannot predict future changes in voter sentiment.

And, as acknowledged by Electoral Calculus, no polling method is "fool-proof" and "all different pollsters will get different national vote shares".

It has previously said in the blog post - published on 4 June following similar polls showing widely differing sizes of a huge Labour majority - that: "These results, if they are to materialise, would be unprecedented in British electoral history. Given the nature of these seat totals, it is natural to be slightly sceptical."

It adds: "Not every MRP is the same. The statistical 'building blocks' used to model voter behaviour will vary from pollster to pollster, which will in turn lead to different vote shares and seat totals. All different pollsters will get different national vote share."

The MRP methodology, as described by YouGov, "uses data at the constituency level to predict the outcomes of seats based on the concentration of various different types of voters who live there".

Stuart Wilks-Heeg, writing in The Conversation earlier this month, points out some of the other limitations of MRP polling: "There are ... factors MRPs cannot take into account. Some constituency results will be influenced by locally specific issues that statistical models can’t capture. For example, adjustments cannot be made for who the candidates are in each constituency and whether any have a profile that could enhance, or detract from, their party’s chance of winning. Think Nigel Farage standing for Reform UK in Clacton.

"And competing MRPs produce contrasting outcomes because each model uses specific assumptions and data. Different inputs produce different outputs. This election has seen more MRPs produced than ever before, and from various organisations. In the early hours of July 5, we’ll know which one came closest to getting the result correct."

As of 19 June, Oddschecker – a website which compares odds across different bookmakers – had Labour at 1/41 to win the most seats. To put that in context, this is seen as so likely that a £10 bet would return just £10.24.

The Conservatives are 40/1 to win the most seats, a scenario seen as so unlikely that a £10 punt would return £410.

YouGov's voting intention tracker between January 2020 and June 2024. (YouGov)
YouGov's voting intention tracker between January 2020 and June 2024. (YouGov)

So, why have the polls changed so dramatically? It's worth looking back on an extremely eventful four-and-a-half years in UK politics.

According to YouGov's voting intention tracker (see chart, above), Tory support peaked at 53%, with Labour on 32%, in April 2020, months after the party's stunning success in the 2019 general election and Boris Johnson's pledge to “get Brexit done”. That month also saw Starmer take over as Labour leader from Jeremy Corbyn.

This was also amid a spirit of national unity following the onset of the COVID pandemic which nearly killed Johnson himself. The then-PM had been released from hospital five days before this particular survey was taken.

TOPSHOT - Britain's outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his final speech outside 10 Downing Street in central London on September 6, 2022, before heading to Balmoral to tender his resignation. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson formally tenders his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday, handing over power to Liz Truss after his momentous tenure dominated by Brexit and Covid was cut short by scandal. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson delivers his final speech as prime minister outside 10 Downing Street in September 2022. (AFP via Getty Images)

Over the rest of the year, there was a downturn in support amid chaos over COVID rules, with the Tories falling as low as 35% in November 2020, compared to Labour on 40%.

However, the UK’s successful COVID vaccination programme provided a pathway out of lockdown and with it, improved poll ratings. Tory support peaked at 41% in June 2021, with Labour at 30%.

In October that year, there was a sense Johnson was untouchable. At the Tory party conference, the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg remarked how the PM was "in total command of his party, and politically dominant in the country".

But this fell apart quickly with the Partygate scandal, which emerged in November that year. Time and again, reports emerged of government and Tory staff – including Johnson – having taken part in lockdown-era social gatherings when their own COVID rules had prohibited them.

By January 2022, Tory support had plummeted to 28%, with Labour on 38%. Johnson struggled on, but never recovered and a wave of ministerial resignations forced him to resign in July that year.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 12: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss during the National Service of Remembrance at The Cenotaph on November 12, 2023 in London, England. Every year, members of the British Royal family join politicians, veterans and members of the public to remember those who have died in combat. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
The UK had three separate prime ministers – Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak – between 6 September and 24 October, 2022. (Getty Images)

His successor, Liz Truss, then embarked on arguably the most disastrous prime ministerial reign in history, characterised by the catastrophic "mini-budget", containing £45bn of unfunded tax cuts, which prompted an economic crisis. Like Johnson, she lost the confidence of Tory MPs – and voters – and had to resign.

Her 49-day spell as PM was the shortest in history, with Tory support plummeting to 19% (with Labour on 56%) the day after she announced her resignation in October 2022.

Rishi Sunak, who had lost to Truss in the previous month's Tory leadership election, took over. However, as the above YouGov chart indicates, he has failed to cut through with voters. Tory support was at 23% two days after he assumed office, with the most recent survey, carried out on Thursday, showing support is now lower than under Truss at 18%.

In short, the polls and odds, not to mention other factors such as notable by-election victories for Starmer's Labour, are pointing to a Labour government next month.

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