70 years of data suggest the Conservatives will suffer a big defeat at the next election’

Over on The Conversation, Professor Paul Whiteley has written a piece entitled: “70 years of data suggest the Conservatives will suffer a big defeat at the next election – here’s how I worked it out“.

Professor Whiteley goes back to 1945 and looks at polling for the Conservatives taken 19 months before each general election, compared to the seats they won at the subsequent election.

The result is a remarkable correlation, with exceptions for a couple of occasions.

Professor Whiteley’s conclusion is:

The actual seat total line ends in 2019 but the forecast continues further. It predicts that the Conservative party would win just 196 seats if an election were held in May 2024. This is based on the 365 seats the party won in the December 2019 election and their voting intentions in a YouGov poll completed on October 22 which gave the party 19%.

You can read the full article here.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Paul Barker 1st Nov '22 - 2:42pm

    I would put the chances of the Tories winning the next Election at essentially Zero, the mo -st likely result is a re-run of 1997 minus Scotland, perhaps a bit worse. Our Result essentially depends on Tactical Voting, if it happens we could get 30 or 40 MPs, if it doesn’t then maybe a dozen.

    There is another possibility though, that something really fundamental has shifted & The Conservatives could be on their way to Minor Party status. Currently Sunak is getting a Bounce of an extra 5% – just for not being Truss but that could be very temporary. A lot depends on what the Markets think of the next Interest Rate Rise on Thursday & The Budget 2 Weeks after that . Then there is the ongoing battle within The Tory Party & the Bad News coming down the line – Recession & Falling House Prices to name two. Its too soon to say That this Government has hit its low point.

  • I cannot see any general election before summer 2024. In that time the conservatives will seek to control the debate aided by the Tory press. The blue wall may have become harder to attack. In that time we must move from living off conservative bad news stories to distinctive LibDem messaging and a stronger media presence. Right now we are well near invisible

  • I suspect given how the Conservatives have been behaving these last few years, I expect they will play dirty – throwing up lots of FUD about Labour and the LibDems, and being very obstructive to the opposition gaining access to government sources. Ie. 1997 will look like a clean well-tempered election campaign…

  • nigel hunter 1st Nov '22 - 10:01pm

    Yes .Beware of Tories fighting dirty with support of their press.They will obstruct the publishing of data that puts them in a bad light and push the ‘good!?’ that they have done.I do hope their infighting continues.They will not use the Labour/Scots nats ploy but find another to replace it.It is true our media coverage is poor and will be controlled.However we can use the locals to sell our policies BUT MUST sell our policies on the doorstep and leaflets,even in stalls on the street.A council of war must be declared and go on the offensive.

  • John Bicknell 2nd Nov '22 - 8:07am

    “the Conservative party would win just 196 seats if an election were held in May 2024. This is based on the 365 seats the party won in the December 2019 election and their voting intentions in a YouGov poll completed on October 22 which gave the party 19%”
    It seems dangerous to make such a specific prediction, based upon a single poll. I do think that the Conservatives are likely to lose the next GE, but the scale of that loss is still in the balance.

  • Barry Lofty 2nd Nov '22 - 9:40am

    If there was any justice in this world the Tories would lose heavily at the next election for a whole list of reasons, but???

  • Martin Gray 2nd Nov '22 - 7:52pm

    Sadly under FPTP their core vote will usually see them poll above 30%….They always seem to get their vote out & have many long serving MPs sitting on large majorities…Also a very complaint media that tends to set the tone of the debate..

  • If the level of poll share 19 months before the election is the important one, then the Conservatives should win a substantial majority by calling an election for sometime between October 2022 and January 2023, 19 months after their March 2021 – June 2021 polling peak.

    Which should highlight the major problem with the “model” – it assumes that rapid changes in voting intention don’t occur. This is usually true, but one just did! 2017 and 2019 also had large changes in voting intention shortly before the election; 2015 and 2017 had systematic poll errors. As a result, the model has been significantly wrong for all of the last 3 GEs, getting even the direction of change wrong in 2015 and 2017.

  • nvelope2003 3rd Nov '22 - 3:23pm

    There was a piece on BBC TV recently where voters were asked their view of the Liberal Democrats in a seat which had until recently been a Liberal Democrat stronghold. Most if not all of them did not know anything about the party’s policies and one who had voted Lib Dem said she would not vote for a party that broke its promises when they were in Government. It is far too early to predict what might happen in an election in 2024. All sorts of unforeseen events could occur between now and then as we have observed. The Labour lead will probably decline slowly as it did between 1995 and 1997 and the performance of the Conservatives will depend on the performance of their leader and of course the economy. Those who have secured large wage increases because of the very tight labour market will not wish to risk a Labour Government which they think might relax immigration controls and those who have suffered because we are no longer in the Single Market are not the type of people who would traditionally vote Labour. Rishi Sunak does come across as more Prime Ministerial than Keir Starmer from recent performances of the two of them.

  • David Evans 3rd Nov '22 - 3:34pm

    nvelope. Very interesting. Can you remember anything about the programme that might help me find it – name, channel, when broadcast


  • nvelope2003 3rd Nov '22 - 4:06pm

    Davis Evans: It was BBC1 Points West on Tuesday 1st November or Wednesday 2nd at 6.30 pm

  • Political thinking is dominated by ‘regimes’, which offer an analysis of issues and portfolio of policy solutions.

    Generally, there is just one dominant regime, implemented enthusiastically by the party that ‘invented’ it and in watered-down versions by other parties. Hence, regimes are remarkably cross-party affairs, apparently able to suppress potential rivals by excluding oxygen from them.

    In my lifetime there have been two – a Labour dominated (‘Butskellite’) regime from 1945 to the early 1970s which advocated for public ownership of the ‘commanding heights’ of the economy, NHS, public housing, welfare etc. This comprehensively collapsed in the 1978-79 Winter of Discontent and was replaced by the Thatcherite/neoliberal regime of ‘free’ markets, privatisation, deregulation etc.

    Significantly, The Conversation article admits the model prediction did relatively poorly in the run up to the 1979 regime change. I believe we’re at a similar turning point now but with two important differences.

    Firstly, the neoliberal regime failure is going to be massively worse than the Butskellite regime failure. Most industry has been sold or closed, the economy is largely a Ponzi scheme, and the basic operation of nearly everything (eg schools, migrants, emergency services) has fallen apart. We’ve gone ‘Soviet’.

    Secondly, there’s little new thinking on the horizon. From the early 1970s a small group of Tory activists were developing alternatives, eventually implemented by Thatcher. But now?

    With good ideas the next GE is ours to take. But where is the Liberal thinking?

  • John Bicknell 4th Nov '22 - 8:39am

    Someone – possibly Roy Jenkins – once commented that there was a sea change in society every 30 or 40 years, reflected in politics, which set the tone of the national debate for the following decades. We can see that this happened in 1945 and 1979. Arguably, the Brexit vote in 2016, and the GE of 2019, saw something new in British politics – a populist rejection of the prevailing consensus. Whether that will set the tone of the debate, or was merely a short term phenomenon, is debatable. I don’t see the next GE as representing a sea change in opinion, as there is no big new philosophy on the horizon, from any party.

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