Good Thursday Afternoon,

It’s time to take a look at the polls. In this week’s issue of Magnified, following comments by the Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party about capital punishment, we take an in-depth look at British voters’ attitudes towards the death penalty.

This week, our research also covered:

  • Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation as Scotland’s First Minister
  • Americans voting intentions ahead of the 2024 elections
  • A potential momentous victory in Nigeria’s Presidential Election

If you would like to find out more about how Redfield & Wilton Strategies can help your organisation succeed through polling and strategic advice, click here.

Westminster Insights

Westminster Voting Intention (18 February):

Labour 51% (+3)
Conservative 24% (-3)
Liberal Democrat 10% (+1)
Reform UK 6% (–)
Green 5% (–)
Scottish National Party 3% (-1)
Other 1% (–)

Changes +/- 12 February

Combined Net Approval Ratings (18 February):

Keir Starmer: +12% (+3)
Jeremy Hunt: -17% (-3)
Rishi Sunak: -22% (-6)

Changes +/- 12 February

This week’s Westminster voting intention poll finds Labour leading the Conservatives by 27%, the largest lead the party has held over the Conservatives since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister. In all eight voting intention polls we have published so far this year, Labour has led by 20 percentage points or more.

Meanwhile, despite recent efforts to reconnect with voters in the ‘Red Wall’—symbolised by the appointment of Ashfield MP Lee Anderson as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party—there is, as yet, no sign of a Tory recovery in those seats.

Our latest poll of the Red Wall—published on Tuesday this week—finds Labour with a 28-point lead in a set of seats that they had lost by 9-points in 2019. Labour’s margin in the Red Wall was last this wide in late October, just before Sunak came to office. 

Labour leader Keir Starmer’s approval rating stands at +12% nationally, his highest approval rating since late November. He last held a negative net approval rating on 7 September 2022.

By contrast, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s approval rating falls to another new low of -22%, having previously hit a record low of -20% two weeks ago. The most recent poll in which Sunak recorded a positive net approval was over four months ago, on 10 November.

Nicola Sturgeon Resigns

After more than eight years as leader, Nicola Sturgeon announced last Wednesday her intention to stand down as leader of the Scottish National Party and as First Minister of Scotland, saying that she knew “in [her] head and heart” that it was the right time to go. 

In the week of her resignation, her approval rating in Britain was -11%, the second-lowest figure she recorded behind the -13% she fell to in mid-December, shortly after the UK Supreme Court ruled the effort by the Scottish Government to legislate for a second independence referendum to be unconstitutional.  

Among Scottish voters, Sturgeon’s average approval rating also fell to its second-lowest figure in the week before her resignation (-8%) in the wake of controversy over the government’s handling of the Isla Bryson case (a matter which Sturgeon said played no part in her decision to stand down). 

The Race for The White House

2024 Presidential Election Hypothetical Voting Intention (19 February):

Joe Biden: 43% (+4)
Donald Trump: 42% (+1)
Don’t Know: 9% (-2)

Changes +/- 28-29 January

2024 Presidential Election Hypothetical Voting Intention (19 February):

Joe Biden: 43% (+3)
Ron DeSantis: 34% (-5) 
Don’t Know: 15% (+2)

Changes +/- 28-29 January

For the first time since mid-November, Joe Biden leads Donald Trump in our latest 2024 Presidential Election Hypothetical Voting Intention poll, reversing a 2-point deficit in our last poll two weeks ago to hold a narrow one-point advantage (43% to 42%).

His margin over Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is more emphatic, leading by 43% to 34% when weighted by likelihood to vote, with a further 15% undecided. A potential matchup between Vice-President Kamala Harris and former President Trump results in a one-point lead for the latter (42% to 41%).

With the declared Republican primary field having expanded to two in the wake of Nikki Haley’s announcement that she is running, Donald Trump is still the candidate the public expects to be the Republican nominee. 43% of Americans expect Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee, while 18% think it will be Ron DeSantis.  

While some Democrats are concerned Joe Biden will be too old to run again, 45% of Americans expect him to be the Democratic nominee in 2024, against 12% who expect Kamala Harris to be the party’s choice. 27% of voters don’t know who the Democratic nominee will be. 

Chart of the Week

Nigerian Presidential Election Voting Intention (10-12 February)

Peter Obi (Labour Party) 62%
Bola Tinubu (All Progressives Congress) 22%
Atiku Abubakar (Peoples Democratic Party) 12%
Rubi’u Musa Kwankwaso (New Nigeria People’s Party) 3%
Another candidate 1%

On Saturday, voters in Nigeria will go to the polls to elect a new President. After two decades during which power in the country has been held by two dominant parties—the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)—this cosy duopoly looks set to be shaken up by the insurgent campaign of the Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi.

Fuelled by an army of young, social-media savvy supporters—millions of whom are first-time voters and have no loyalty to the established parties—the man who in 2019 was Atiku Abubakar’s running mate on the PDP’s presidential ticket appears to be on the cusp of a historic victory. 

A recent poll by Redfield & Wilton Strategies shows Obi 40% clear of his nearest challenger, Bola Tinubu of the PDP (62% to 22%). 70% of those who voted for Atiku Abubakar in 2019 now say they intend to support Obi, as do a plurality (40%) of those who voted for the current incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari, in that election.

Obi’s challenge is being fuelled by widespread social discontent with the state of Africa’s largest economy. Inflation is running above 20%, while a poorly rolled out currency redesign has led to riots as customers struggle to get hold of new notes. The state continues to face massive security challenges, from Islamist rebels in the north and armed separatists in the south to a surge in ransom kidnappings by criminal gangs. Corruption, meanwhile, remains an everyday scourge, while the country ranks 150th out of 180 on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.

Should he be successful on Saturday, these challenges will be Peter Obi’s to face. The task will be daunting. But with 70% of respondents saying they would feel excited and optimistic if he were to win the election, it may be that, despite all these difficulties, brighter days could be ahead for long-suffering Nigerians.  

Hire Us: If you are a business, campaign, or research organisation looking to expand your understanding of public opinion, Redfield & Wilton Strategies has the tools to help. Get in touch to find out more.

Long Exposure: In-Depth Analysis

“Bring Back Hanging” Support for the Death Penalty in Britain

Appointing Lee Anderson MP as the new Conservative Party Deputy Chairman was always likely to be controversial. In the past, Anderson has attracted outrage—and ridicule—for claiming that people visit foodbanks because they “cannot cook properly,” suggesting members of the Traveller community were thieves who would steal “your lawnmower and half of your tools,” and refusing to watch England at Euro 2020 in protest at players taking the knee before kick-off.

Now, Anderson has sparked a debate about capital punishment. In an interview with The Spectator, Anderson told the magazine that he supports re-introducing the death penalty because “nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed.” Following his comments, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was forced to clarify that re-introducing the death penalty is not government policy.

Anderson’s position is not without its defenders on the Conservative backbenches. In support of his comments, his party colleague Brendan Clarke-Smith cited a March 2021 poll by Redfield & Wilton Strategies which showed a majority of British voters supported re-introducing the death penalty for those convicted of terrorist offences. 

In light of this renewed public commentary, we asked Britons last week for their views on capital punishment. Our poll shows majorities of British voters would support re-instating the death penalty for those convicted of murdering a child (57%), murdering multiple people (56%), or terrorism (55%). 

A plurality of 41% would also support re-instating the death penalty for those convicted of any murder, against 32% who would oppose bringing back the death penalty for murder. 

Among 2019 Conservative voters, 52% would support reinstating the death penalty for those convicted of murder. In fact, majorities of Conservative voters at the last election would support re-instating the death penalty for every hypothetical crime we polled, with support rising to 67% in the case of those convicted of infanticide.

Even among 2019 Labour voters, pluralities would be in favour of re-instating the death penalty for those convicted of every hypothetical crime, apart from the murder of an MP (for which 33% would support the death penalty, while 37% would oppose) and all-encompassing any murder (35% support, against 39% who oppose).

Furthermore, a majority of Britons (54%) think re-instating the death penalty would be effective or very effective in deterring someone from committing a serious crime. That viewed is shared by 58% of 2019 Conservative voters. Another 22% think it would be somewhat effective, while 24% think it would be not at all effective in deterring serious crime.

The British state last executed a prisoner in 1964, and the United Kingdom is unlikely to join the list of countries who still practise the death penalty any time soon. Lee Anderson himself has acknowledged that there is no possibility of bringing back capital punishment becoming government policy. 

But as Mr. Anderson defiantly told a recent interviewer, “I am allowed to have opinions.” And uncomfortable though it may be for some, a majority of voters do share his opinion that the death penalty is a suitable punishment for the most heinous crimes.

R&WS in the Media

Each week we bring you the top stories from the media that have featured our research.

UK public services need more cash to arrest further decline, says damning report
The Financial Times | 23 February 2023

Ukraine’s Talk of Taking Back Crimea Leaves U.S. Divided
Newsweek | 22 February 2023

Tories hope U-turn on nurses’ pay will boost poll numbers
The New Statesman | 22 February 2023

Fresh poll blow for Rishi Sunak as he suffers his lowest approval rating EVER
Daily Mail | 20 February 2023

Sunak’s UK Tories Trail Labour in ‘Blue Wall’ Stronghold Seats
Bloomberg | 14 February 2023

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