Good Thursday Afternoon,

It’s time to take a look at the polls! In this week’s issue of Magnified, we examine the state of the polls in the aftermath of crushing losses for the Conservatives in both the Wellingborough and Kingswood by-elections.  

This week, our research also covered:

  • The launch of our new inFocus video series
  • The state of the 2024 US Presidential race

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 46% (–)
Conservative 23% (+2)
Reform UK 11% (-1)
Liberal Democrat 9% (-2)
Green 6% (+1)
Scottish National Party 3% (–)
Other 1% (-1)

Changes +/- 11 February

Combined Net Approval Ratings (18 February):

Keir Starmer: +9% (–)
Rishi Sunak: -25% (–)

Changes +/- 11 February

Another night of by-elections, another night of chastening results for the Conservatives.

In Wellingborough, the second biggest swing to Labour from the Conservatives in a by-election since WWII was enough to see Labour’s Gen Kitchen overturn an 18,000 vote Conservative majority.

On the same night, Labour overturned an 11,000 vote Conservative majority in the Gloucestershire seat of Kingswood to elect Damien Egan as the constituency’s new MP. 

As is always the case with by-elections, the campaigns in both seats had their own distinct local contexts.

Peter Bone, the long-serving MP for Wellingborough, had been ousted by his constituents in a recall petition, having been found by Parliament’s behavioural watchdog to have bullied and behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner towards an aide. Any hope the Conservatives might have had of disassociating from the Bone scandal was scuppered when they nominated Bone’s partner as their candidate.

The Kingswood by-election, meanwhile, was forced by the resignation of former Minister Chris Skidmore, who resigned in protest—according to his letter of resignation—“at the Government’s decision to prioritise and politicise new oil and gas licences above a sensible investment plan for the future.”

Despite the important local factors involved, both results serve to highlight the grim prospects for the Government as it faces an imminent General Election campaign.

In Wellingborough and Kingswood, Labour secured swings of 28.5% and 16.4% respectively, following swings of 23.9% in Tamworth last October, and 23.7% in Selby and Ainsty in July (a result whose true implications were obscured by the Conservatives’ victory in Uxbridge & South Ruislip on the same day).

At the root of the Conservatives’ troubles is the sundering of the coalition that powered the party to victory in the 2019 General Election.

Only 44% of those who voted Conservative in 2019 now say they would vote Conservative again—the lowest percentage we’ve recorded since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, and just seven points higher than the lowest percentage (37%) we’ve ever recorded (On 16 October 2022 in the dying days of Liz Truss’s premiership).

In recent weeks, Sunak’s net approval rating has fallen to the lowest level (-25%) we have ever recorded for him as either Prime Minister or Chancellor. Keir Starmer, while certainly not enjoying stratospheric ratings, still holds a rating of +9%, 34 points higher than that of Sunak.

In their head-to-head contest, Starmer currently leads Sunak as the person Britons think would be a better Prime Minister by 16% (44% to 28%), just one point shy of the largest lead Starmer has ever held over Sunak.

Perhaps most tellingly, on a list of 17 vital leadership characteristics, Starmer has now led on all 17 since the middle of December, including ones such as ‘can build a strong economy’ and ‘can work well with foreign leaders’ on which Sunak used to semi-regularly lead.

To grasp the true depth of the hole the Conservatives now find themselves in, look no further than our super poll of 5,000 voters published last week.

Among every single type of voter, even ones who might be expected to be more supportive of the Government than others, the Conservatives now trail Labour.

Financially comfortable voters who have avoided the worst of the cost of living crisis? Labour leads the Conservatives by 3%.

Pensioners, a group which favoured the Conservatives over Labour by a more than 40 point margin in 2019? Labour leads by 7%.

Rural voters, historically the bedrock of the Conservative Party and hostile to urban-based Labour? Labour leads by 9%.

Taken together, all polling and by-election indicators, including the exodus of Conservative MPs who clearly see the writing on the wall, point to the Government being decisively rejected at the next election. Any outcome bar a brutal electoral defeat seems improbable.

In fact, the pertinent question as regards the Conservatives has not been whether they can win an upset victory or even force a hung parliament. 

Rather, the question has become whether the Conservatives’ upcoming defeat will be merely on the scale of their Blair-era losses, something that will take at least a decade to eventually recover from, or an extinction-level event such as that suffered by the Progressive Conservative Party in the 1993 Canadian Federal Election—after which conservative politics in the United Kingdom will never be the same.

Launch of Britain inFocus Series

With the General Election now only months away, we at Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ have launched a new project to complement our polling research.

Britain inFocus will see us visit key constituencies across Britain—constituencies with a story to tell—to let individual voters say what they think in their own words, in contrast to the set, limited answer codes that we provide to respondents in our polling.

On Tuesday, we published our first video in this new series from Bury North, the most marginal seat in Britain at the 2019 General Election (with a 105 vote Conservative majority).

Next week, our cameras head to Godalming & Ash, the newly created seat in south-west Surrey which will be contested at the next General Election by Jeremy Hunt, the current Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Video of our interviews from across the country will be released every Tuesday from 2pm.

Be sure to follow @RedfieldWilton to see all our inFocus videos as soon as they are released! 

2024 US Presidential Election 

2024 US Presidential Election Voting Intention (10 February):

Donald Trump 42%
Joe Biden 41%
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 8%
Others 3%
Don’t know 6%

Amid Donald Trump’s on-going legal troubles and renewed focus on Joe Biden’s age in the wake of Special Counsel Robet Hur’s report, the fundamentals of the 2024 Presidential race remain unchanged.

Despite Nikki Haley’s refusal to withdraw from the Republican nominating contest ahead of the primary in her home state of South Carolina on Saturday, Donald Trump remains the overwhelming favourite to reclaim his party’s nomination.

On the Democratic side, the primary race has never shifted out of first gear, with the token challenges of Marianne Williamson and Rep. Dean Philips failing to catch any sort of fire, leaving President Biden cruising to re-nomination.

With the choice facing voters in November now almost certainly a re-run of the 2020 Election, the race remains tight.

As he has done in every poll since July last year, Donald Trump continues to lead President Biden in a hypothetical match-up, although his current one point advantage is within the margin of error (42% vs 41%).

While Robert F. Kennedy Jr. continues to struggle to make it onto the ballot in all 50 states (a quest which has encouraged him to flirt with running on the Libertarian Party ticket), he currently scores 8% of the vote in our national poll.

Much will ultimately depend on how voters end up framing the race in their own minds.

If (as Donald Trump and Republicans wish) the election becomes simply a referendum on President Biden, the President’s odds of re-election will dramatically lengthen.

A little over nine months from polling day, the President’s net approval rating has fallen to -12%, its lowest rating since last May, with 50% of the public now saying they disapprove of his performance. Even among those who voted for Joe Biden in 2020, more than one-fifth (21%) now say they disapprove of his job performance.

If voters instead treat the election as a genuine contest, and if President Biden can make the campaign about the contrast between Trump and himself while reminding voters why they rejected the latter in 2020 (when his net approval rating was also negative), the President might stand a fighting chance.

One oddity about this election is that it presents American voters with a situation that has not occurred since 1912: an election which features a choice between at least two candidates who have already served as President. No voter can say they do not have some idea how either man might behave in office: their records are there for all to judge.

It might be worth noting, however, that it was the candidate who had not served as President before—Woodrow Wilson—who won in 1912…

To stay up to date on our US polling, sign up for email updates here.

R&WS in the Media

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

What do you think will change if Labour will win the next General Election?
ITV News | 21 February 2024

For the sake of the party, Rishi Sunak must not hold back in calling for an election he is going to lose
The Scotsman | 20 February 2024

US Support For NATO Grows After Donald Trump’s Threats
Newsweek | 19 February 2024

Bank of England’s Andrew Bailey sees signs of ‘somewhat stronger’ UK growth
Financial Times | 12 February 2024

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!

Numbers of the Week

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