Sunak and Starmer Monthly Polling Report Card (April 2024)

May 1, 2024
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | Conservative Party | GB Politics | Keir Starmer | Labour Party | Rishi Sunak | UK Elections | Voting Intention

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Ahead of what is likely to be a grim set of local and mayoral election results for the Conservatives, a review of our polling in April continues to point to a heavy Conservative defeat at the next General Election.   

Nationally, Labour now holds a 23% lead in our final April poll, almost unchanged from the 24% advantage they enjoyed at the end of last month.

The Conservatives vote share dipped to its lowest level ever under Rishi Sunak’s premiership on 21 April (20%) before recovering slightly to 22% by the month’s end. The party previously reached 20% in our polling on 16 October 2022, the Sunday after Liz Truss sacked Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng. Only once in this parliament have the Conservatives recorded a lower vote share: 19% on 19 October 2022, the day before Liz Truss announced her resignation.

The same poll on 21 April also found that only 42% of those who voted Conservative in 2019 said they would vote Conservative againthe joint-lowest percentage we have recorded since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, and just five points higher than the lowest percentage (37%) we’ve ever recorded (16 October 2022). By month’s end, the percentage of 2019 Conservative voters who now say they will vote Conservative has recovered only slightly to 45%.

The picture in the Blue Wall is much the same. Our latest poll in those seats finds Labour leading the Conservatives by 9%, one point more than in our previous Blue Wall poll last month, and tying Labour’s largest lead in these seats since 26 February 2023.

At 25%, the Conservatives vote share in these seats is now the lowest that we have ever recorded. The Conservatives current vote share is one point lower than their previous record low of 26%, recorded in our previous Blue Wall poll in late March.

And in the Red Wall, where Labour now leads by 20%, the Conservatives are now on their joint-lowest vote share (24%) since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, only three points above the lowest vote share (21%) they have ever achieved in our Red Wall polling (in mid-October 2022 when Liz Truss was still Prime Minister).

In Wales, the Conservatives are now polling at 18%, level with Reform UK in a tie for second-place, while in Scotland, the Conservatives remain a distant third behind Labour and the SNP in General Election polling on 17%.

The Prime Minister’s own personal net approval rating has now sunk to its lowest ever level in the traditionally Conservative Blue Wall seats of southern England, falling three points in a month to now stand at -20%. Sunak’s ratings nationally (-20%, +1), in Scotland (-26%, +8), and in the Red Wall (-21%, +4) have all improved, but remain firmly in the negative double digits.

On the question of who would be the better Prime Minister, Keir Starmer now leads Rishi Sunak in all five of our regular tracker polls, having opened up a record lead in the Blue Wall for a second consecutive month (39% vs 30%).  

Starmer’s nationwide lead over Sunak remains unchanged from last month at 14 points (42% vs 28%), although Sunak’s current vote share of 28% in his head-to-head with Starmer is now only one point above the lowest he has ever achieved (27% on 24 April and 1 May 2022) and is the lowest he has recorded since becoming Prime Minister. Starmer now leads Sunak by 21% in Scotland (43% vs 22%), 20% in Wales (44% vs 24%), and 12% in the Red Wall (41% vs 29%).

The Labour leader’s national rating is down four points from March to finish April on +6%. Against that negative national trend, however, Starmer’s rating is now at an eight-month high in the Blue Wall (+8%, +6), while also returning to positive territory in Scotland (+2%, +3). Starmer’s approval rating has also also improved by one point to now stand at a neutral 0% in the Red Wall. 

All eyes in Westminster now turn to the local and mayoral elections being held today. 

For context, Labour led the Conservative Party by 17% in our final national Westminster Voting Intention poll conducted before last year’s local elections, in which the Conservative Party lost more than 1,000 council seats. Two-thirds of the council seats being contested today were last contested in 2021, a year in which the Conservatives consistently led in our polling from January until the Owen Paterson scandal in November.

Altogether, we find the electorates swinging towards Labour in the three Mayoral Election races that we have polled. In London, Sadiq Khan leads Susan Hall by 13%, up from his five point lead in first preference votes in 2021. In the West Midlands, our poll has Richard Parker leading incumbent Andy Street by 6%, a reversal from Street’s eight point winning margin in first preference votes in 2021. And in Tees Valley, Chris McEwan and Ben Houchen are tied at 47%, which would be a stunning shift from Houchen’s 73% to 27% victory in 2021.

The final results in these three closely watched races may be better for the Conservatives than our polling initially suggests.

Given their strong personal brands, Andy Street and Ben Houchen may indeed hold on in what historically have been low turnout elections. Both candidates lead in our polling when only considering those who say they are certain to vote.

For similar reasons, the London Mayoral Election may be closer, given a lack of enthusiasm for the two-term incumbent. Indeed, Sadiq Khan’s lead is much smaller—just 5%—when only considering those who say they are certain to vote.

Nevertheless, a narrower loss for Susan Hall or narrow wins for either or both of Andy Street and Ben Houchen—all of which are possible, given our polling—should be taken as little comfort to the Conservatives, much like last summer’s by-election victory in Uxbridge and South Ruislip should not have so captivated the Conservative Party’s imagination.

Labour’s lead in Westminster Voting Intention in all three sets of polls are considerably wider than their respective Mayoral contests: 28% vs 13% in London, 20% vs 6% in West Midlands, and 23% vs tied in Tees Valley.

Likewise, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s approval ratings in the West Midlands County and in Tees Valley are, respectively, -19% and -28%, in contrast to the positive approval ratings for the incumbent Conservative Party Mayoral candidates in those two combined authorities.

However, if Street and Houchen do go down to defeat and if they are joined by hundreds of incumbent Conservative councillors, in addition to losses for Susan Hall in London and for David Jones in the Parliamentary By-Election in Blackpool South, then the situation for the Conservative Party is truly as bleak as our polling has been suggesting all along.

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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