I did a graph. It shows opinion polling over the terms of three parliaments. It's a bit confusing, soz. But dots are 87-92, dashes are 92-97, solid lines are this parliament. 92 & 97 GE results are shown too.
I did it because I was interested in the question of whether we're in '92 or '97 territory for the next election. My guess? Somewhere in between.
Thoughts from me:
- Labour aren't as strong as in 1997, but not as weak as 1992. Note as well that pre-92 opinion polls seemed to dramatically underestimate the shy Tory effect, which is less likely today.
- The Tories, on the other hand, are very firmly in 1997 territory, and it was Liz Truss who put them there. Were it not for her, they might have been in with a fighting chance about now.
- Lib Dems are polling roughly in line with 87-92, but received a jump in polling at this point in that parliament, for which there's no evidence this time. Difficult to see what would shift them upwards.
- Labour will win more Scottish seats at the next election than in 2019, but in the 90s they were very dominant there. Without that stronghold, even if we were in 1997 territory in the rest of GB, they'd have a smaller majority.
- One of the key facets of the 92-97 parliament is the consistency of the support for Labour. Yes, it declined roughly by ten points over about half the parliament, but it started so high that that made no difference. I'd wager we're broadly in the same place now.
- In 1997, the overegging of the Labour pudding in opinion polling was at the expense of the LDs, not the Tories. The Tory polls were accurate. Be interesting to know whether we're in a similar position on that axis now or not.
- The key factor is whether or not the polls are accurate, and in what direction they're inaccurate if not. In 92 they underestimated the Tory vote. In 97 they got that bob on, but underestimated the Lib Dem vote. In both, they overestimated Labour. In more modern times, 2017 saw the Labour vote underestimated, and the Conservative vote about right. 2019 was roughly in the right place - a little much for Labour, a little shy for the Tories, but not far off. We might see similar next time - though the inaccuracy tends to run in the opposite direction next time around.