PSA experts are now somewhat more cautious about Conservative prospects than betting markets, and nearly all polls and forecasting models than they were in 2017.

 

London, 9 December - The U.K. Political Studies Association (PSA) today released the results of its survey of expert predictions for the 2019 general election. The survey was distributed to members of the Association as well as survey researchers from major polling companies in Britain and to journalists from the print and broadcast media.

 

Fieldwork was conducted between 20th November and 2nd December 2019, with most responses in the first few days of that period. At that point the opinion polls were recording Conservative leads over Labour of 13 points on average, and forecasting models were suggesting that the Conservatives were on course for a majority of around 60.

 

Overall, 93% of our respondents predict a Conservative lead, whilst only 5% expect a Labour lead and 2% a tie. However, the Conservatives are expected to see a decrease in their vote share, with only 9% of respondents predicting an improvement on their 2017 election result. Despite this, Conservatives are expected to increase their lead because Labour are expected to suffer a substantial fall in their vote share of 10 points on average.

 

KEY FINDINGS

 

Asked to share their predictions of the vote shares for each party, the number of seats won, the probability of a Conservative majority of more than 100 seats, and the level of turnout, the results were as follows:

 

  • Half of the respondents forecast a Conservative majority while half predicted that the Tories would fall short of a majority. On average they gave a 19% probability of Boris Johnson winning a majority of more than one hundred seats.

 

  • The average vote share prediction for the Conservatives was 39%, with a lead of eight points over Labour. This is below the average leads in the polls at the beginning (13 points) and end (10 points) of the fieldwork period. The predicted share for the Liberal Democrats was 15%, with 6% for the Brexit Party and 4% for the Greens.

 

  • There is a prevailing view among experts that the Conservatives will end up as the largest party in parliament: the median prediction was that the Conservatives would win 326 seats, Labour 231 seats, the Lib Dems 23 seats and the SNP 45.

 

  • The average predicted turnout for the election was 66%, slightly below the 69% turnout at the general election in June 2017 and far below the 72% achieved at the 2016 EU referendum.

 

The survey elicited responses from 380 academics, pollsters, and journalists. Of these 191 gave forecasts for headline votes or seats for the two main parties. The fieldwork was conducted between 20th November and 2nd December 2019.

 

Stephen Fisher, Associate Professor of Political Sociology at Trinity College, Oxford observed:

 

“The Political Studies Association expert survey findings concur with general expectations of a Conservative victory at this election, however the expert respondents were divided over to whether they think Boris Johnson will win the majority in parliament that he needs to deliver his Brexit deal.”

 

Joe Greenwood, Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), said:

 

“In the judgement of the experts who completed the survey, the wide gap between the Conservatives and Labour in the opinion polls is likely to close somewhat. The experts anticipate a tighter result on polling day than would be the case if the public voted today and seem to be anticipating a rerun of 2017, albeit a less dramatic version.”

 

Martha Kirby, Doctoral Student in Sociology at Nuffield College, Oxford remarked:

 

“Whilst the forecast vote shares from the 2019 PSA Expert Survey are broadly in line with vote-intention opinion polls, the experts in the survey are much more sceptical than most forecasting models as to whether the Conservative lead on votes will translate into a majority of seats for the party. This fits with the predominant media narrative of being cautious about reading too much into the polls.”

 

FOR FURTHER DETAILS OF THE PSA EXPERT SURVEY, PLEASE CONTACT:

 

MARTHA KIRBY: email martha.radford-kirby@nuffield.ox.ac.uk 

 

JOHN POLLOCK, POLITICAL STUDIES ASSOCIATION: email john.pollock@psa.ac.uk, phone 020 7321 2545.

 

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