Good Thursday Afternoon,

It’s time to take a look at the polls! In this week’s issue of Magnified, following a spate of recent mass shootings in the United States, we highlight the contradictions in Americans’ opinions and beliefs with regard to the Second Amendment and gun control legislation, including an assault weapons ban.

This week, our research also covered:

  • Our latest Westminster polling
  • The SNP’s decline and Labour’s resurgence in Scotland
  • Coronation viewership and celebrations

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 (30 April):

Labour 45% (+1)
Conservative 28% (-1)
Liberal Democrat 12% (+1)
Reform UK 7% (+1)
Green 4% (-1)
Scottish National Party 2% (-1)
Other 1% (–)

Changes +/- 23 April

Combined Net Approval Ratings (30 April):

Keir Starmer: +10% (+5)
Rishi Sunak: -5% (+1)
Jeremy Hunt: -9% (-1)

Changes +/- 23 April

With important local elections taking place across England today, our headline Westminster voting intention poll is trending back in Labour’s favour. 

Having seen a lead of 27% over the Conservatives in two polls in February whittled down to just 12% two weeks ago, Labour in the fortnight since have recorded leads of 15% and (this week) 17%.

The Conservatives vote share, having risen above 30% in mid-April for the first time since September, is meanwhile back in the high 20’s (28%).

Keir Starmer has extended his lead over Rishi Sunak as the person most Britons think would be the better Prime Minister to four points (41% to 37%). His approval rating has also taken a five point jump this week to +10%.

But there is good news personally for Prime Minister Sunak. His approval rating continues its upward trajectory, with this week’s rating of -5% his highest net approval rating nationally since 3 January. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, on the other hand, sees his rating fall one point to -9%. 

This week’s Red Wall poll—published on Tuesday—shows many of the same trends, with Labour’s lead up two points to 18%, and Keir Starmer extending his lead over Sunak as better Prime Minister to seven points (39% to 32%).

The Prime Minister’s net approval rating in the Red Wall falls two points to -9%, while the Labour leader’s net approval rating is up one point +4%, just a point above his lowest rating of the year in these seats.

While the politicians and pundits await the results of the council elections, the overall picture remains as it has been for most of the year, with Labour holding a sizeable lead and the Conservatives with much ground to make up in the eighteen months to the next election. Therefore, expect a difficult night for the Conservatives.

Latest Scotland Tracker

Scottish Independence Referendum Voting Intention (30 April – 2 May)

No, against Independence: 52% (+2)
Yes, for Independence: 42% (-2)
Don’t Know: 6% (–)

Changes +/- 31 March – 1 April

Scottish Westminster Voting Intention (30 April – 2 May)

Scottish National Party 35% (-1)
Labour 32% (+1)
Conservative 18% (-1)
Liberal Democrat 9% (-1)
Green 3% (+1)
Reform 2% (–)
Other 1% (–)

Changes +/- 31 March – 1 April

A month on from winning a hard-fought victory in the Scottish National Party leadership election, Humza Yousaf might be forgiven for wondering whether the effort has been worth it.

Yousaf has faced a nightmare start as First Minister, with his attempts to launch a new legislative agenda being drowned in almost daily revelations concerning Police Scotland’s on-going investigation into the SNP’s finances. A non-exhaustive summary of the events which have transpired since Yousaf took office would include:

  • Police appearing at Nicola Sturgeon’s home to arrest her husband, the former SNP Chief Executive Peter Murrell, and conduct a search of the property.
  • The seizure from outside the home of Murrell’s mother of a luxury campervan—estimated price tag: £110,000—which had been purchased using party funds (a fact Yousaf apparently only learned after becoming leader).
  • The revelation that the firm which audited the party’s accounts had resigned in October, leaving the party without auditors.
  • The arrest and subsequent resignation of the party treasurer, after twenty years in the role.

Meanwhile, Yousaf’s debut First Minister Questions suffered multiple interruptions from environmental protestors, and divisions within the party over its approach to gender reform continue to play out in the media. Such has been the chaos of recent events that Yousaf has already been asked whether he has contemplated resigning.

After such a turbulent start, our latest Scottish tacker poll—released yesterday—provides no comfort for Yousaf, the SNP, or the wider Scottish independence movement.

52% (+2 since our last poll) of Scottish voters would now vote ‘no’ to independence if an independence referendum were held tomorrow, while 42% (-2) of Scots would vote ‘yes’ to independence. When undecided voters are excluded, ‘no’ also leads by ten points, 55% to 45%.

Meanwhile, Labour has closed the gap to the SNP in our Westminster voting intention poll to just three points, with the SNP on 35% (-1) and Labour on 32% (+1). That figure represents the lowest vote share the SNP has received in any Westminster poll by any pollster since October 2014.

The significance of this shift cannot be understated. If this polling results holds or worsens further for the SNP up until the General Election, Labour will not only benefit from gaining a number of seats in Scotland, they will also no longer face a consistent Conservative attack line from the 2010s: that a vote for anyone but the Conservatives would risk a Labour coalition government with the SNP and the potential breakup of the union.

Labour has also overtaken the SNP in Scots voting intention on a regional ballot for a Holyrood election (27% to 25%), although the SNP still holds a four-point advantage (36% to 32%) on the constituency ballot. One has to go back to August 2014 to find a poll in which the SNP’s constituency vote share was that low or to find someone other than the SNP leading on regional list voting intention.

Yousaf’s own personal approval rating drops ten points to -17%, while the Scottish Government he leads now holds a net competency rating of -19%, down 14-points in just one month.

The American novelist Cormac McCarthy wrote, “There are no absolutes in human misery and things can always get worse.” As brutal as the last month has been for the First Minister and the SNP, the next few weeks could yet be even worse.

Chart of the Week

On Saturday, Britons—joined by a global audience of millions—will gather to watch the Coronation of King Charles III. 

Charles’ Coronation will be the second such ceremony to be televised, after Queen Elizabeth II’s in 1953, which was watched by 20 million viewers on the BBC. With all the pomp and pageantry of a major royal occasion and with a glittering guest list in attendance, the Coronation will bring Central London and much of the United Kingdom to a standstill.  

64% of Britons say they are at least ‘somewhat’ likely to watch the Coronation. Older voters are the most enthusiastic about watching the Coronation, with about a third of those aged 65+ (33%) saying they are ‘very likely’ to watch. As many as 39%, meanwhile, say they are likely to attend a street party or other celebration to mark the occasion. 

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

Americans’ Mixed Opinions on Gun Control

A recent wave of mass shooting incidents involving the AR-15 have once again put the spotlight on gun violence in the United States.

The sale of AR-15s was banned in the United States in 1994 as part of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban signed into law by President Clinton. But when that law lapsed in 2004, so did federal restrictions on the sale and distribution of assault rifles. In the two decades since, the number of AR-15s in circulation in the United States has surged from about 8.5 million at the time the ban lapsed to more than 20 million today.

In response to this lack of a federal ban, some Democratic states have taken matters into their own hands. In mid-April, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a state law banning the sale, distribution, manufacture and importation of more than 50 gun models, including assault weapons such as the AR-15. In so doing, Washington became the tenth state to enact a state-level ban on assault weapons, after Illinois passed its own ban in January.

But how do Americans overall feel about assault rifles? And would they support a new assault weapons ban?

For starters, Americans in large numbers support the right to bear arms. 68% of the American public—including 78% of Trump 2020 and 62% of Biden 2020 voters—support the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which states that “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

A plurality of 46% further believe the ‘right to bear arms’ should include the right to own an assault weapon such as a semi-automatic rifle. Intriguingly, there is no great partisan split on this question, with 48% of Trump 2020 and 47% of Biden 2020 voters holding this view, although Biden voters are twelve points more likely than Trump voters to say they do not believe the ‘right to bear arms’ should include assault weapons (47% vs 35%). 

At the same time, however, 63% of Americans say they would support a ban on assault weapons such as semi-automatic rifles, against just 18% who would oppose it.

While former President Trump recently told the annual convention of the National Rifle Association that he was “proud to be the most pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment president you’ve ever had in the White House,” 50% of Trump 2020 voters would support a ban on assault weapons. 27% of his supporters at the last election would oppose it. An overwhelming majority of Biden voters in 2020 (77%) would also support such a ban.

Despite this majority support, the likelihood of any such legislation being passed in the near term is vanishingly small, not least due to the contradictions in American public opinion which includes considerable support for the Second Amendment whose meaning can be interpreted in many ways.

The last Congressional effort to ban assault weapons—passed by the then-Democratic majority in the House of Representatives last summer—died in the Senate. While President Biden has urged Congress to act to ban assault weapons, the election of a Republican majority in the House of Representatives in the midterm elections makes such a move unlikely. 

Even in the wake of the March school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee—a crime committed with legally bought weapons, including an AR-15—Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, a previous co-sponsor of bipartisan gun control legislation, said he thought Congress had “gone about as far as we can go” on gun control. As Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), a proponent of a federal assault weapons ban, recently recognised, the reality is that there are simply “not the votes” in Congress for such a ban at this time. 

As a result, gun control activists are focusing on statehouses, in the hope that more states will follow Washington and Illinois’s lead. But even at that level results, so far, have been mixed, with the Democratic legislature in Colorado recently failing to pass a ban on semi-automatic rifles after several Democrats voted with Republicans to defeat it. Altogether, working through Americans’ various contradictory thoughts and opinions on gun control appears likely to be a long and arduous process.

R&WS in the Media

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

Poll shows Labour 17 points ahead of the Tories with just two days to go until crucial local elections
Daily Mail | 2 May 2023

Millennials Want Gender Pronouns on Work Emails, but Many in Gen Z Don’t
Newsweek | 30 April 2023

Poll: voters still swung by Liam Byrne’s ‘no money’ note
The Spectator | 24 April 2023

Exclusive: Montenegro Earthquake Poll—Waiting for ‘Europe To Arrive Now’ in the ‘Post-Milo Era’
Europe Elects | 20 April 2023

Are you a journalist needing a stat for your latest piece? We can be your resource—our polling covers hundreds of issues in multiple countries each week. If you are working on an article on a topical issue, chances are we have already asked the public about it. Get in touch and we’ll share our polling data with you!

Have a question or want to know more about our research? Get in touch! Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Follow us on Twitter

Share this issue of Magnified:

Our Most Recent Research