Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

party-logosPoll shock: Tory lead slashed by Labour

A survey of voting intentions in Hastings and Rye shows Labour closing the gap on the Conservatives to 4%. The poll was conducted by Coastal Action, who explain their findings.

Researchers from Coastal Action have been out and about over the last week talking to local voters about their voting intentions for the general election on 8 June.

The findings suggest that we could be looking at a very tight race in the Hastings and Rye constituency, held from 2010 by the Conservative Party candidate and current Home Secretary, Amber Rudd.

Coastal Action’s figures mirror the sharp decline in support for the Conservative party nationally following their manifesto launch on 18 May, which has seen a significant drop in their poll lead and an unprecedented mid-election U-turn following widespread concern over their proposals for elder care, widely dubbed the ‘dementia tax’.

Poll results

The poll, based on a face-to-face survey of 130 voters in five locations across the Hastings and Rye constituency, generated the following figures:

  • Conservatives 43%
  • Labour  39%
  • Undecided 18%

This represents a swing of 2.9% from the Conservatives to Labour.

Commenting on the polling, Coastal Action founder and director, James Prentice, said, “The groundwork was conducted in a range of locations selected to represent different demographies and political preferences. Sampling also took account of the need to involve all age groups and for gender balance. We also went for a large sample, to ensure the widest possible range.”

“The conversations as we went about asking our questions were fascinating,” said Chris Connelley, co-director and part of the fieldwork team, “and it was clear from very early on that the Conservative care policy has had a major negative impact in terms of voter perception.

“This is demonstrated through an apparent softening of support for Mrs May and her party, with a number of former Conservatives declaring as undecided, though this could, of course, simply represent the ‘shy Tory’ effect, where supporters of this party are less likely to ‘out’ themselves.”

“The behaviour of former Ukip voters is also crucial,” added Prentice.” If many of them turn out and vote Conservative this time, as widely predicted, it may reinforce the Conservative vote, though Amber Rudd’s active role in the Remain campaign may deter any straight transfer of allegiance.”

The Labour vote, by contrast, seemed firm, with just two narrative references to the party leader Jeremy Corbyn. In one case, a former Labour voter said he would be voting Conservative, while the other said he would not vote.

Invisible candidates

The Liberal Democrats, Ukip and independent candidates enjoyed almost complete invisibility in polling. This is unsurprising, as the Liberal Democrats are focused on winnable seats elsewhere in the county, notably Lewes and Eastbourne, whilst Ukip, though running a candidate in the seat, are operating without the head of steam and celebrity Gogglebox candidate that gave them such a high profile in 2015. The independent candidate, Nicholas Wilson, running without a party machine and with a tiny budget, has inevitably struggled to cross over into public consciousness.

A key factor in the eventual outcome will be the behaviour of the undecided voters who say they are certain to vote on 8 June, nearly half of whom identified as having voted Conservative in 2015. If they vote the same way this time, the Conservatives should win comfortably. If, however, there is switching to other candidates, or the undecided Conservatives stay at home, the potential is there for a major upset.

With just days to go, and such tight polling, the Coastal Action team believe that much will depend on the ability of the two main parties to mobilise their support. They argue that the Conservatives tend to enjoy an advantage with regard to getting out their vote, but note Labour’s large and enthused local network, as well as the substantial numbers of recent registrations as factors that could tip the balance in their favour.

“If the weather is good on 8 June, the turnout is high and there are a lot of young people in the queues, it might just be Labour’s night. That said, the prediction must still be for a Conservative win,” said Connelley.
To find out more about Coastal  Action, go to their website.


Posted 10:40 Tuesday, May 30, 2017 In: Election 2017


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  1. James Prentice

    John Faulkner. Our poll is a poll. We used a clear and good methodology. We went to different areas with typically different demographics and voting patterns. We got a equal sample in each area and got over 130 responses, a very high poll sample for just one constituency seat. To read our methodology and sample in more detail please go to our polling report: We noted the Lib-Dems absence, simply because we did not find anyone voting Lib-Dem. There is a lot of tactical voting going on, a lot of former Lib-Dems in 2015 now say they will vote Labour in this seat, to stop a hard Brexit. The Theory of Greens going to Lib-Dems is unfounded in our poll. We met 3 former Greens, around 3% of the vote, which they get nationally, who all said they were going Labour, again to stop a hard Brexit and also because Corbyn represents them more than Farron does. We found former UKIP people all saying they either would vote Tory this time, or were undecided, or would not vote this time. The smaller parties may struggle to get more than 5% of the vote due to tactical voting over the Brexit issue. I think some of the undecided people will go for the smaller parties, but have not decided which ones yet, where is where there small vote will come from. Also our poll mirrors similar figures to national polls, like YouGov for Labour and Conservative, released in the same week as ours was.

    Comment by James Prentice — Thursday, Jun 1, 2017 @ 17:31

  2. Ms.Doubtfire

    Watching the chaotic political discussion on BBC1 last night it is little wonder to hear that the Tory party is losing votes. When you start to penalise the older members of society who have worked hard all their lives, what do you expect?
    Frequently Amber Rudd was asked to outline details of these means tested proposals,and she could not answer. To present a manifesto without the detail is shameful.
    Why would anyone vote for a party who does not have the courage to explain their intentions? All Ms Rudd would say last night was that millionaires would not be getting the heating allowance!!! Well thanks a bundle Amber – one would have assumed that. What we want to know is how poor do you have to be before you lose all these very important benefits.
    I have a vision of pensioners without heating, without a TV, taxed and insured off the road, no bus passes and possible much else besides.
    One does get the feeling that this party would like to see all older people simply disappear. Well, that ‘aint going to happen any time soon!
    I think it may be a good investment to put a couple of quid on Peter Chowney – the odds are good…and you never know your luck..!!!

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Thursday, Jun 1, 2017 @ 08:35

  3. John Faulkner

    That is not a poll. It is someone randomly taling to people. It is obviously bisaed, for example, in stating that the Lib Dem vote is undetectable. Lib Dem support has increased since the last General election and many of the voters who voted Green at the last election will now vote Lib Dem as they have similar views on a second referendum and environmental issues, as was shown in the debate earlier this eveining.

    Comment by John Faulkner — Wednesday, May 31, 2017 @ 22:08

  4. Nick Weekes

    And don’t forget to take a Biro with you voters!

    Comment by Nick Weekes — Tuesday, May 30, 2017 @ 11:12

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