The General Election and beyond

Darren YaxleyAssociate Director, Reputation
May 01, 2015, 11:13 AM GMT+0

Opinion formers and MPs thoughts on the election and beyond

With the General Election fast approaching we asked our Opinion Formers panel – made up of journalists, political insiders, business leaders and NGOs heads – to turn their attention to the likely outcome. We also asked both our Opinion Formers and MPs panels for their views on the runners and riders in the hypothetical post-election leadership races for each of the main parties.

General Election momentum

In February, we asked Opinion Formers whether they thought the percentage national share of the vote that YouGov was reporting at the time would increase, decrease or stay the same.

The Conservatives are the only party which, on balance, Opinion Formers expect to increase their vote share (43% expected the party’s vote to increase, while 24% expected it to drop). Decreases are anticipated for all other parties included in the survey. UKIP and the Liberal Democrats are considered the most likely to see their respective shares squeezed: 52% of Opinion Formers expect UKIP’s vote share to drop and 46% expect the Liberal Democrats’ vote share to fall.

Currently, YouGov polling shows: Conservatives 35%, Labour 33%, UKIP 14%, Liberal Democrats 6%, Greens 7%. Do you think the percentage national share of each party on polling day will increase, decrease or stay the same as it is now?

Base: 629 Opinion Formers, February 2015

Interestingly, the expected “crossover” is yet to occur as YouGov’s daily voting intention figures still show the Conservatives in a deadlock with Labour, while UKIP and the Liberal Democrats have maintained their vote share. If a week is a long time in politics, then we may yet see the kind of shifts anticipated by the Opinion Formers after this final week of the campaign.

Findings on this question correlate closely with the Opinion Formers’ stated voting intention. Around two thirds (68%)of Conservative, Labour (64%) and Green (67%) supporters think that their party’s share of the vote will be higher on polling day, along with over seven in ten (73%) UKIP supporters and over half (55%) of Liberal Democrat backers.

The election outcome

Looking ahead to the actual outcome from the 2015 General Election, in February we found that only 9% of Opinion Formers anticipate any party emerging with a majority on 8th May. That said, the results do indicate that Opinion Formers are considerably more likely to think that the Conservatives, rather than Labour, will play some role in the next government. In total 55% expect some form of Conservative-led administration, while 30% anticipate some form of Labour-led administration.

Which of the following scenarios do you expect to see unfold following this May's general election?

Base: 629 Opinion Formers, February 2015

Post-election leadership races

We asked both Opinion Formers and MPs for their thoughts on who would be the new leader of each of the three main parties in the event of a change of leadership after the election.

Both Opinion Formers and MPs agree that the front runner in any Conservative leadership contest would be Theresa May (37% amongst Opinion Formers and 30% amongst MPs). Boris Johnson is seen as the next most likely by both groups (35% amongst Opinion Formers and 24% amongst MPs). The Chancellor, George Osborne, placed a distant third with both groups.

There is less consensus between Opinion Formers and MPs over who would be most likely to step in if Ed Miliband were to stand down after the election. Both Opinion Formers and MPs place Yvette Cooper as one of the most likely successors, however neither group gives her a clear lead. Amongst Opinion Formers Alan Johnson is seen as a front runner (though, interestingly, only 5% of MPs agree), while Andy Burnham is in second place according to MPs and third place amongst Opinion Formers.

There is even less consensus between Opinion Formers and MPs when it comes to the question of who is most likely to lead the Liberal Democrats in the event of Nick Clegg stepping down after the election. Danny Alexander pulls away from the rest of the pack amongst Opinion Formers (34%) but only 8% of MPs agree with this view. Amongst MPs, 30% select Tim Farron but just 15% of Opinion Formers rate his chances.

In the event that there is a change in leadership, who do you think would be the next leader of the …

Base: 795 Opinion Formers, January 2015 / 100 MPs, March 2015

While all hypothetical, it will prove interesting to see whether the predictions of Opinion Formers or MPs are closest to the mark after 7th May.

YouGov completed online interviews with 795 opinion formers from its UK Opinion Formers Panel in January 2015 and 629 opinion formers in February 2015. Opinion Formers are leaders in their field from business, media, politics, NGOs, academia and beyond. The figures have not been weighted.

YouGov completed online interviews with a representative sample of 100 MPs in March 2015. Results are weighted by party, gender, electoral cohort and geography to give a sample which is representative of the House of Commons.

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