An exclusive BMG poll for the Evening Standard reveals that the former Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith would re-elected as an Independent with a clear majority if the by-election was held today, but his majority could easily drop to within reach of the Lib Dems if they put up an effective campaign that cuts through on national and not local/personal issues.
56% (-2) – Zac Goldsmith
29% (+10) – Sarah Olney/Lib Dems
10% (-2) – Labour
5% (-5) – Other
*Note: Results may not sum to 100% due to rounding. Figures in brackets are changes on 2015 General Election. Readers should note; 19% said they were undecided; those who didn’t indicate which way they were leaning were excluded to calculate the above figures.
A snapshot in Richmond Park
The snapshot poll shows Goldsmith currently taking 45% of the vote, well ahead of the expected Liberal Democrat candidate, Sarah Olney, in second place on 22%. A Labour candidate is polling on 7% (Other 4%^). 19% said they were undecided and 5% refused to say.
After asking those who were undecided which way they were leaning, the remaining were excluded puting Goldsmith on 56%, the Lib Dems on 29%, and a Labour on 10% (5% other).
Four in five (79%) of Richmond residents that voted Leave in the EU referendum will vote for Zac Goldsmith. However, Remainers are split between Zac Goldsmith (43%) and the Lib Dems (42%).
Readers can interrogate the data for themselves using the toggle menu below
When compared to the 2015 General Election result in Richmond Park, Goldsmith’s majority could be slashed. If turnout at the by-election was 50%, his majority of just over 23,000 from 2015 could be cut to under 10,500, based on an estimated swing of 6% to the Lib Dems and the expected fall in turnout^^.
When voters were asked what the most important issue in making their decision is, the results show that Brexit is the most important, but by no means a stand-out issue.
Constituents’ top three voting considerations are Brexit (25%) followed by their local MP’s record/views (22%) and then Heathrow/3rd Runway (21%).
It’s all about Zac
For Goldsmith supporters (51%) a majority say that their main motivation for voting is about the particular candidate, his views or his record as an MP, followed by Heathrow/3rd Runway (28%). Those voting for the Lib Dem candidate, expected to be Sarah Olney, are more motivated by Brexit (41%) and the government’s record (26%).
When residents were reminded that both candidates oppose a 3rd runway being built at Heathrow, the salience of this issue drops by 6 points, and Zac’s record as an MP becomes the top consideration when deciding how to vote (28%), beating Brexit into second place (26%).
What if the Tories had stood a candidate?
The results also show that even if the Conservatives did stand a candidate, Zac Goldsmith would still be ahead, though by a much smaller margin of just nine percentage points, with Mr Goldsmith on 34% followed by Sarah Olney – Lib Dem candidate – (25%) and the Conservative candidate on 20%.
Dr Michael Turner, Research Director at BMG Research, said “Goldsmith is clearly a popular figure in Richmond Park, with most of his supporters citing his personal qualities and record as their motivation for voting for him.
Although the Lib Dems are within reach, they may rue the day they passed an opportunity to run a ‘big-hitting’ personality like Vince Cable.
Because Goldsmith has resigned the government whip, and our poll shows him on message with residents about Heathrow, Olney will be searching for wider issues to campaign on, like the EU referendum and attacking Goldsmith’s Mayoral campaign.
To win, Olney will need cut-through with residents on Zac’s Brexit stance, and almost certainly, for a large number of Labour supporters to vote tactically in December.”
The poll also asked residents their stance on the third runway at Heathrow and found that a majority (60%) oppose a third runway while one quarter (25%) are in support for the third runway (14% are undecided)
^Other parties/candidates are currently polling on 4% – composed of 2% UKIP [confirmed not standing] and 2% Greens [unconfirmed if standing].
^^BMG have assumed a by-election turnout of 50% for the purposes of estimating an expected majority based on these results. Turnout could vary substantially from this figure.
An article based on these polling results, released by the Evening Standard, can be found here.
Fieldwork dates and methodology can be found here.
A full breakdown of these results can be found here.
For a more detailed breakdown of results from this poll, or any other results from our polling series, please get in touch by email or phone.
0121 333 6006
Dr Michael Turner – Research Director & Head of Polling