Only a few weeks ago, the polls brought nothing but joy for the Tories. With just six days to go until election day, that’s no longer the case. An Ipsos MORI survey out today cuts the Conservative lead down to just five points. Labour’s support has burst through the 40 per cent mark – rising by six points since Ipsos MORI’s last poll on May 18th. The poll comes off the back of this week’s shock YouGov estimate, which suggested we could be heading for a hung Parliament. And YouGov’s updated election model for today doesn’t bring any better news for the Tories: it suggests that Theresa May will now fall 13 seats short of an overall majority.
Today’s Ipsos MORI poll is interesting for three reasons. Firstly, it kills off the argument that the YouGov poll was a one-off. Theresa May’s supporters were quick to question the accuracy of Wednesday’s survey: Jim Messina, who is involved in the Tory campaign, said he spent the day laughing. Is he still laughing now?
Secondly, the poll fits into the pattern of waning support for the Tories. Less than four weeks ago, the Conservatives hit a new high in the polls: 49 per cent, handing them a 22-point lead over Labour. Back then, the only question was how high they could go. Now the Tories are only marginally ahead. Come polling day, will Labour have overtaken them in the polls?
Finally – and perhaps most dangerously for the Tories – is the question of Theresa May’s popularity. The Prime Minister has made much of her own ‘brand’ throughout the campaign: ‘Team Theresa’, ‘Theresa May’s team’ and ‘Theresa May for Britain’. Yet for the first time in an Ipsos MORI poll, more voters are now dissatisfied with Theresa May as Prime Minister than are satisfied (50 per cent, versus 43 per cent). The Tory campaign is doing its best to backtrack with a rebrand of ‘Theresa May and the Conservatives’. And there’s no more ‘Team May’. But with precious little time to go, can that strategy pay off in time?
Elections always carry risks. When May announced she was going to the country, that risk seems tiny. With the PM’s poll lead slashed by three quarters, her decision now seems altogether much more dangerous.