Good Thursday Afternoon,

It’s time to take a look at the polls! In this week’s issue of Magnified, we analyse recent polling in the mayoral elections due to be held across England on 2 May.  

This week, our research also covered:

  • Our latest Westminster polling
  • 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 (14 April):

Labour 44% (–)
Conservative 22% (+1)
Reform UK 15% (–)
Liberal Democrat 9% (-1)
Green 6% (–)
Scottish National Party 3% (+1)
Other 1% (–)

Changes +/- 7 April

Combined Net Approval Ratings (14 April):

Keir Starmer: +6% (-3)
Rishi Sunak: -24% (-4)

Changes +/- 7 April

For Rishi Sunak, even his successes these days come covered in asterisks.

On Tuesday, his signature promise at last October’s Conservative conference to phase out smoking in England passed its first parliamentary hurdle. The vote on the second reading of the bill, which passed by 383 votes to 67, was a comfortable win for the Government.

But given the measure was backed by Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and the SNP, the measure was never likely to fail.

More significant, however, was the identity of those voting ‘No’ or abstaining.

58 Government MPs voted against the measure, including Liz Truss, Graham Brady, and Kemi Badenoch, in addition to a further 100 who abstained. Only a little over half of Conservative MPs (178) backed the Government.

That the Conservative Party is so divided over a policy which an overwhelming majority of voters in England and Wales appear to support is an illustration of how frayed the Prime Minister’s own authority is becoming as the General Election approaches.

Underscoring those divisions is the continued dire state of the polls.

Nationally, our latest tracker poll finds the Conservatives more than 20% behind Labour (44% to 22%), with only 42% of the party’s 2019 supporters now saying they intend to vote Conservative at the next election.

The Red Wall shows much the same story, with Labour now 20% ahead in a set of seats the Conservatives won by 9% in 2019.

While Labour remains well in front, Reform UK continues to eat into the Conservatives 2019 vote share. Record numbers of 2019 Conservative voters now say they intend to back Reform both nationally (24%) and in the Red Wall (24%).

Westminster now holds its collective breath ahead of the Local and Mayoral Elections on May 2 (See Long Exposure), a final major electoral indicator before the General Election.

2024 US Presidential Election

2024 US Presidential Election Voting Intention (6-7 April):

Donald Trump: 41% (-3)
Joe Biden: 41% (+1)
Robert Kennedy Jr.: 9% (+2)
Other: 2% (–)
Don’t Know: 6% (+1)

Changes +/- 15 March

With less than seven months to go until election day, Redfield & Wilton Strategies latest hypothetical US Presidential Voting Intention poll finds Donald Trump and Joe Biden are now tied nationally, the first time since last July that Donald Trump has not led in our 2024 Presidential Election Voting Intention poll.

Recent weeks have brought some tentative positive signs for Joe Biden’s re-election bid.

Decisions about abortion access by the State Supreme Courts of Florida and Arizona have handed Democrats a rallying issue in two key swing states. 

And while the President has been campaigning in the swing states, his opponent has been preparing for his hush money trial in New York. With jury selection now underway, the trial is likely to force Donald Trump from the campaign trail for several weeks.

Last week, the President could even cheer an uptick in his approval rating which, while still in negative territory at -6%, has now risen to its highest level since mid-May last year.

Nonetheless, the headwinds the President continues to face are strong. He is less trusted than Donald Trump by swing state voters on important domestic issues like the economy and immigration. The recent bump in his approval cannot disguise the fact that he himself is broadly unpopular.

The situation in the Middle East appears at risk of spiralling even further out of control, with no sign yet that the President and his Administration has much capacity to shape events.

Moreover, in an election the Biden team would like to turn into a choice between him and Donald Trump, many Americans remain unhappy with the binary choice they now face.

Indeed, a majority (57%) of voters wish that there was someone else, including 63% of those who voted for Biden in 2020 and 48% who voted for Trump.

Long Exposure: In-Depth Analysis

Street’s Struggles Illustrate Toxicity of the Conservative Brand

Andy Street is the rarest of politicians these days: He is a popular Conservative.

Those things rarely go together in Britain in 2024.

While our recent poll of the West Midlands finds Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands since 2017, enjoys a net approval rating of +12% among voters in the metropolitan county, the same survey finds the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak languishing with a net rating of -19%, some 31 points worse.

Before entering politics, Street worked in business as the Managing Director of John Lewis.

He first won the Mayoralty by a narrow margin of less than 4,000 votes out of more than half a million cast. Four years later, his reelection was considerably more comfortable, as he beat the former Labour cabinet Minister Liam Byrne by 8% and almost 50,000 votes.

Despite being a fellow Conservative, Street has staked out different positions for himself and his Administration against the UK Government led by Rishi Sunak, most notably when it came to Sunak’s decision to cancel the northern leg of HS2.

Consequently, Street has had a reputation as a more independent-minded figure.

He is, in short, exactly the kind of figure the Conservatives might hope would be able to overcome the party’s atrocious national standing and win reelection in the Mayoral Election on May 2.

Which is why our poll this week finding Street losing to his Labour opponent, Richard Parker, by 14% should come as a huge blow.

Street’s likely defeat is not because of personal failings on his part.

His personal approval rating, as noted above, is robust. He is considerably better known than his Labour opponent. His Administration can even boast positive net satisfaction ratings for its handling of most policy issues we prompted, including on policing/crime (+11%), education (+5%), and the economy (+2%)

But the fate of Street and hundreds of other Conservative candidates throughout England and Wales running in local elections on May 2 has been sealed by the toxicity of the Conservative Party’s national brand.

The contrast is stark. 

In our Mayoral Voting Intention poll, Street trails his Labour opponent by 14%. But in our Westminster Voting Intention poll among the same voters, Labour leads the Conservatives in the West Midlands county by 28%.

In other words, despite Street running 14% better against his Labour opponent than the Conservatives are running against Labour, he is still losing by double digits.

Our Mayoral poll in London last week tells a similar story, albeit from the reverse direction: a less popular Labour incumbent.

In London, Labour’s Sadiq Khan is running for a third term, with Susan Hall running as the Conservative challenger.

Hall, like Street, is polling well ahead of her party, trailing Khan by 13% while the Conservatives trail Labour in Westminster polling by 28%.

Yet Hall’s margin, which is 15-points better than her party’s, is still not enough to get Khan’s margin into the single digits, let alone overtake him.

Critical to voters’ unwillingness to vote for Conservative Mayoral candidates is the common perception that, ultimately, Westminster is in charge. Most voters in both London and the West Midlands tend to think the Prime Minister and Westminster are the entities that have the most power over what are touted as local issues.

The Mayor and local authorities are, instead, seen as the conduits—or, perhaps, blockers—for that authority.

For this reason, after the implementation of the expansion of the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone in August, Khan led Susan Hall by a narrow 1% in our September poll

Despite implementing a policy that the Conservative Government had, in policy terms, encouraged him to implement (and could have prevented him from implementing), Khan was seen as the more powerful figure in London at that moment in time. The events had put Sadiq Khan, not Rishi Sunak, in the spotlight.

Months later, and our polling finds that opinions on ULEZ have only marginally changed, but Khan now comfortably leads Hall as the controversial issue—and Khan’s prominence—has faded.

For Andy Street and Susan Hall (and other local Conservative candidates), the collective failings of Rishi Sunak and his fellow Conservative MPs in Westminster are too much in the spotlight. They are seen as the primary entity responsible for the state of things across the country.

Voters who might otherwise be voting Conservative are reluctant to send a message of positive feedback back to Westminster via a vote for a local Conservative candidate.

While some such voters will simply not turnout, more than a quarter of those who voted for the Conservative Party’s mayoral candidates in the first round in 2021 in London (26%) and in the West Midlands (31%) will simply vote for a candidate from another party. They will vote against the Conservative Party.

Andy Street could still make the coming West Midlands Mayoral Election competitive. His positive approval rating and greater local familiarity attests to key strengths, but he is working with an electorate for which the Conservative Party’s brand has become too toxic.

R&WS in the Media

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

How Men and Women are Dividing on Politics
Newsweek | 17 April 2024

Tories on course to lose key mayoral battle reigniting leadership crisis for Rishi Sunak
The Mirror | 16 April 2024

Let’s talk about more devolution to London
OnLondon | 15 April 2024

US news organisations urge Trump and Biden to commit to debates
The Telegraph | 14 April 2024

New Scottish independence poll gives Yes two-point lead
The National | 10 April 2024

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Numbers of the Week

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