This morning ICM/Guardian published an orthodox poll showing an 18-point Conservative lead. This reflected our position over the last two weeks, but was somewhat behind the brace of 21-point lead polls we saw over the weekend, one from YouGov and one from ComRes.
Maybe those two polls were the straws that broke Theresa May’s back, and responded with a U-turn on calling an early General Election. ICM immediately set in motion our election planning agenda, generating a Flash poll sample of 1,000 people, completed within four hours of the announcement.
Voting intentions compared to this morning’s poll are as follows:
Con 46% (+2)
Lab 25% (-1)
LibDem 11% (+1)
UKIP 8% (-3)
Green 4% (nc)
SNP 4% (nc)
PC *% (-1)
Oth 1% (nc)
But how the public respond to the snap election is key to this snap poll, and the PM can take heart from an immediate, positive response. Over half (55%) support her decision with only 15% against. But the pattern of response is not heavily weighted to 2015 Conservative voters – a narrow band of support is found across all the parties (with the slight exception of UKIP, whose supporters may fear what’s coming). Indeed as many (65%) Labour intenders support May’s decision as Tory intenders (64%) which must imply that its core is itching for the electoral fight.
The public recognises that May needs a mandate of her own, particularly with regard to Brexit. Six in ten (58%) think she is right to have called an early election, with only 17% thinking it wrong given the mandate she already has. A similar number (54%) believe that the situation has changed and the PM is right to have changed her mind.
And the public are pretty sure that she’s headed to a whopping overall majority. A quarter (24%) think it’ll be over 100 seats, with a further 29% suggesting it’ll be an overall majority but less than that number. With a third (33%) not knowing, that leaves only 14% who think another outcome is likely. It should be noted that 44% of current Labour intenders think the Tories will win some overall majority.
Brexit will undoubtedly feature strongly in this campaign, but the public won’t treat this as a second referendum. Indeed two in three (67%) will treat it as a normal General Election, with only 17% saying it’s a second Brexit referendum by proxy. This might explain why Brexit is only third on the list of issues important to people (23%) just edged out by immigration (24%) and jobs, prices and wages (25%). For many, Brexit is now priced in – easily the most preferred policy on it to promise Brexit no matter what (36%), with a further wanting it so long as negotiations work out well for the UK (25%). Only 15% want to reverse Brexit, which may dampen enthusiasm somewhat over at Liberal Democrat HQ.
So we have a 7-week campaign in front of us, and few would imagine that the Tory attack dogs will leave the Labour top team alone, constantly reminding the public of who the nation’s alternative leaders are. Well might they, sitting on a fat margin on economic competence (51% for May & Hammond vs 12% for Corbyn and McDonnell) and approval ratings for the PM of +33 compared to Corbyn’s -48.
As we enter this campaign it’s clear that Labour have an electoral mountain top climb, and its leadership appears to have left its ropes and crampons at base camp.
ICM Unlimited interview a representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 18+ online immediately after the announcement that General Election had been called on April 18th 2017. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.