A poll commissioned by the Telegraph has put Boris Johnson far ahead in voters’ opinions – but several commentators have cast doubt on its methods.
To repeat: Making any decisions based on polling about a hypothetical General Election with a hypothetical party leader and then trying to translate that to seats incorporating a new party into the equation with nearly a quarter of the vote would be.... Brave.— Joe Twyman (@JoeTwyman) June 11, 2019
The survey of 2,017 adults between June 7 and 9 found that if Boris Johnson were Tory leader, 24% would vote Conservative – nine per cent ahead of Jeremy Hunt and Dominic Raab.
The poll also found that under this hypothetical Johnson leadership, the Brexit Party vote share drops from between 12% to 14% under other candidates, to 9%.
The figures have spurred speculation that the candidate, who has gathered the support of 64 MPs, is the only person who can see off the Brexit Party threat.
The poll also found that 27% of respondents felt Johnson has what it takes to be a good prime minister, 13 points ahead of his nearest rival, Jeremy Hunt.
2/? First: the poll assumes equal knowledge of the candidates. That's obviously not the case. Boris is far better known than the others. But that wouldn't hold through a leadership campaign, nor would it hold if he were PM. This head start he gets is misleading— Rob Ford (@robfordmancs) June 12, 2019
Crunching the numbers, Sky News has projected that a Johnson leadership would give the Tories a general election with with a majority of 140 seats.
But academics and professional pollsters have warned against taking too much from the poll.
“Making any decisions based on polling about a hypothetical general election with a hypothetical party leader and then trying to translate that to seats incorporating a new party into the equation with nearly a quarter of the vote would be … Brave,” said Deltapoll founder and former YouGov pollster Joe Twyman on Twitter.
Manchester University politics professor devoted a thread to breaking down “a number of obvious methodological problems” with the poll, calling it “badly designed”.
In the thread, he elaborates on several assumptions that the poll has made.
He starts by pointing out the poll assumes both the candidates and their political positions are equally well-known by the respondents.
In addition, “The poll assumes voters are good at predicting their own behaviour in a hypothetical situation,” he said. “They really aren’t. There is a lot of good evidence on that.”
It’s “uttlerly nuts” to assume people can predict, after the year in politics we’ve had, their future reaction to the unknown impact of a new prime minister on the political context.
He also warned against the electoral maths being done on seat changes, suggesting it’s simply not possible to translate votes into seats with the shifting party landscape.
“There’s nowt wrong with the fieldwork or representativeness of this poll,” he said. “It’s just badly designed, pretending to give info that its simply not possible for a poll to give.”
Johnson’s campaign launch coincides with the poll results.
Although the Telegraph employs Johnson as a columnist, the poll conducted by ComRes was weighted to represent all British adults.