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Three weeks from election day – how much could the polls change?

Recent history suggests a lot could happen in the next 21 days.

Ballot boxes at an election count (David Jones/PA)
Ballot boxes at an election count (David Jones/PA)

By Ian Jones, PA

Exactly three weeks from today, millions of people across the UK will be voting in the General Election.

Opinion polls continue to suggest the Conservative Party enjoys a strong lead over Labour.

The latest poll averages put the Tories on 43%, with Labour on 29%, the Lib Dems 14%, the Brexit Party 5% and the Greens 3%.

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(PA Graphics)

What is the likelihood of the polls shifting decisively between now and election day?

At this point in the 2017 election campaign, the polls showed the Tories on 47%, with Labour on 31%, the Lib Dems on 8%, Ukip on 5% and the Greens on 3%.

But on election day, the Tories finished on 43% – four points below where they had been three weeks earlier – while Labour had risen 10 points to 41%.

While the Lib Dems remained on 8%, both Ukip and the Greens dropped to 2%.

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(PA Graphics)

The change was enough to deny the Tories a majority and produce a hung parliament.

There was movement in 2015 as well, albeit on a smaller scale and with different consequences.

Three weeks before polling day in 2015, both the Tories and Labour were averaging 34% with Ukip on 13%, the Lib Dems 8% and the Greens 5%.

These figures pointed to a hung parliament – but come election day, the Tories opened up a seven-point lead over Labour to finish on 38% while Labour ended on 31%.

Ukip, the Lib Dems and Green finished on 13%, 8% and 4% respectively.

This was enough to give the Conservatives a small overall majority in parliament.

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(PA graphic)

The pattern in 2015 and 2017 suggests a lot can change in the three weeks before polling day.

It also serves as a reminder that polls are not predictions, merely snapshots of opinion at a certain point in time.

(Note: all figures quoted above are for vote shares in Great Britain)

PA

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