Latest GB Voting Intention
(21 October 2020)

October 22, 2020
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | Boris Johnson | Conservative Party | GB Politics | Keir Starmer | Labour Party | Rishi Sunak | Voting Intention

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Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest voting intention poll of 3,000 eligible voters in Great Britain finds the Conservative Party and the Labour Party tied at 40%. The return to parity between the major parties represents a reversal of the slight 2% lead that the Conservatives had a fortnight ago. The full numbers (with changes from 6-7 October in parentheses) are as follows:

Conservative 40% (-1)

Labour 40% (+1)

Liberal Democrat 7% (-1)

Scottish National Party 5% (+1)

Green 4% (–)

Plaid Cymru 0% (–)

Other 4% (+1)

In the version of our results that does not exclude those who say they don’t know who they would vote for, the proportion of those who answered “don’t know” has increased by 3% since two weeks ago and now stands at 15%. When ’don’t know’s are included, the two major parties are tied at 34%. We believe it is essential to also provide this set of results given that 15% is a significant portion of the electorate, the next election is three to four years away, and the changes in voting intention results thus far are primarily as a result of a noticeable proportion of 2019 Conservative voters saying they now don’t know how they will vote in the next election (rather than switching to another party).

Among respondents who say they would vote in the event of a General Election, Labour continues to retain the support of the overwhelming majority (86%) of their 2019 voters. Only 6% of 2019 Labour voters say they currently don’t who they would vote for in the event of another General Election. By contrast, only three quarters (75%) of those who supported the Conservatives last year now say they would vote for the Conservatives again, while 14% of 2019 Conservative voters don’t know who they would vote for in the event of a General Election (a marginal increase of 2% since a fortnight ago).

At this stage, 43% of respondents lean towards thinking the current Government is incompetent (a decline of 6%), while 24% consider that the Government is competent (the same proportion as a fortnight ago). Therefore, the Government’s Net Competency Rating has improved by a substantial 6% since last week, yet it still stands at -19%.

As our analysis has regularly highlighted, the Government’s negative Net Competency Rating is likely correlated with public perceptions on how the coronavirus pandemic has been handled.

Prime Minister Johnson’s leadership of what is perceived to be a failing response to the coronavirus pandemic has negatively impacted his approval rating. For the fifth consecutive week, the Prime Minister’s net approval rating is below zero. Currently, 45% disapprove of Boris Johnson’s job performance since he became Prime Minister, whereas 35% approve, giving him a net approval rating of -10%, which is 3% lower than a fortnight ago.

During the period since our last national poll, Labour Leader Keir Starmer announced his support for a two-week “circuit breaker” national lockdown, in direct opposition to the Government’s favoured localised approach. The Labour Leader’s support for this policy marked a shift away from a period where Labour provided what they termed “constructive opposition.” Despite this decision, or perhaps because of it, Keir Starmer’s approval rating has decreased by a further four points to +9%. Overall, the Labour Leader’s approval rating is 7 points lower than it was three weeks ago. Meanwhile, a third (33%) continue to neither approve nor disapprove of the performance of the Labour Leader, including 33% of 2019 Conservative voters and 30% of 2019 Labour voters.

At a time, when he is facing increased pressure to provide further economic support to areas where strict coronavirus restrictions are in place, Chancellor Rishi Sunak continues to enjoy high approval ratings. At this stage, 50% approve of the Chancellor’s job performance, while 20% disapprove, leaving him with an overall approval rating of +30% (2% lower than last week).

Moreover, Rishi Sunak is currently ahead of Boris Johnson when voters are asked which individual would be the best Prime Minister for the United Kingdom. At this stage, 36% would prefer Rishi Sunak, while 33% would prefer the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson’s lead over Keir Starmer on this same question has shrunk by two points, and it stands at 5% this week.

Indeed, the Prime Minister holds a lead over Keir Starmer in regard to several key characteristics. When compared directly to Keir Starmer, a plurality believe that Boris Johnson best embodies the characteristics of being the leader who best understands the problems afflicting the United Kingdom (37%), stands up for the interests of the United Kingdom (42%), knows how to get things done (36%), can build a strong economy (41%), and can work with foreign leaders (38%)

Nevertheless, a plurality consider that the Labour Leader better embodies the characteristics of someone who can bring British people together (37%), is in good physical and mental health (45%), represents change (39%), and is willing to work with other parties when possible (38%). It is also notable that a quarter to sometimes even half of respondents select ‘don’t know.’

Overall, while Labour is now tied with the Conservative Party again in voting intention, the approval ratings of both major party leaders continue to decline. Moreover, Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains trusted over Keir Starmer on several key metrics.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Follow us on Twitter

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