Survey suggests possible voting trends across South East

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Labour may have won enough support in the South East to overtake the Conservatives, according to an exclusive nationwide survey of voting intentions.

Across the region, 32% of people said they are planning to vote Labour later this week, compared to 25% who said that was their planned vote at the start of the election campaign. The proportion of respondents backing the Tories is at 27%, compared to 31% backing the party at the start of the campaign.

A similar survey at the start of May found 39% of respondents in the region said they were planning to vote Tory on June 8 compared to the 36% who said they voted for the party in 2015, while the Labour vote was at 28%, up from the 25% who said they had voted for the party in 2015.

Other parties have seen their vote share squeezed by the contest between Labour and Conservatives - the Lib Dem vote was 7%, compared to 7.1% saying they supported the party at the start of the campaign, UKIP was 2.4%, down from 2.8%, although the Greens have seen a small increase and were on 3.4%, up from 3%.

Three-quarters of people who planned to vote Conservative at the start of the campaign are still backing the party (75%), but 10% have switched to Labour, and 10% say they are no longer sure who they will vote for.

Labour on the other hand seem to be picking up support from all sides, while 84% of those who planned to vote Labour at the start of the campaign are sticking with their party, 25% of people who previously planned to vote Lib Dem said they have switched to Labour (with 5% of previous Labour voters switching to the Lib Dems), as have 31% of those who had been planning to vote Green, and 6% of those previously backing UKIP.

A quarter of respondents who said they were not sure what their vote would be at the start of the campaign are now behind Labour, 23%, compared to 4% who have decided to vote Conservative, although 68% still have not made up their minds.

Labour’s potentially improving prospects may be down in part to Jeremy Corbyn’s performance, 54% of respondents in the region think he’s had the best general election campaign.

While 91% of those planning to vote Labour think Corbyn has been having the best campaign, so do 55% of Lib Dem voters, a bigger proportion than think Tim Farron is doing best. Of those planning to vote Conservative, 70% think Theresa May has had the best campaign, while a fifth, 22%, think Jeremy Corbyn’s has been better.

Missing the leaders’ debate on BBC1 last week may not have helped the perception of May’s performance, as 55% of respondents said it was the wrong decision, including 91% of those planning to vote Labour, 79% of those backing the Lib Dems and even 15% of Tory voters, although 66% of this group think she was right to skip the debate.

However, the survey suggests the debates had only a limited impact on how people are planning to vote, with just 9% of respondents saying it had caused them to change their vote. People now planning to vote Lib Dem were the most likely to say they had changed their vote as a result of the debates, 15, followed by Labour, 11%.

Labour voters were the most likely to feel more fired up as a result of the debates, with 41% saying they had made them even more determined to vote for their party, compared to 17% of Conservative voters saying the same.

Most respondents said the party they were voting for (63%) was most important, rather than the party leader, 24%, or the local candidate, 13%. Party was particularly important for those planning to vote Labour, 71% put it top compared to 62% of those planning to vote Conservative. Theresa May’s campaign, which has more strongly focused on her seems to have had an impact, with 31% of those planning to vote Tory saying the leader of the party was the most important thing to them.

Social care and the NHS are the issues most likely to determine how a third of respondents are planning to vote, 32%, including 56% of those planning to vote Labour and 30% of Lib Dem voters, followed by Brexit, the key issue for 22% of respondents, including 44% of Conservative voters and 35% of UKIP voters.

Half of respondents in the region (56%) said they have had candidate’s leaflets sent in the post, and 10% said they have seen a candidate or campaigner locally and 9% said a campaigner had knocked on their door. However, a third, 35%, said they have not seen candidates, campaigners or received leaflets.

This is a survey of on-line readers who chose to respond to a series of questions produced in partnership with Google Surveys from on-line newspapers and publisher sites. It does not necessarily reflect the voting intentions of those not choosing to participate in on-line surveys and hard-to-reach social groups.