Is this finally the end of rosy polling for the Tories?
We’re seeing a shift against the govt by all metrics in terms of public opinion, and there’s little reason for it to bounce back.
The latest YouGov poll has the Tories down 6 points in one week, cutting what was a double digit lead to a 4 point lead in the space of 7 days. This isn’t an outlier; in the last week or so other polls have shown the Tory vote share falling at the expense of either apathy or other parties, and the govt’s approval ratings in terms of both leadership and pandemic response taking a new hit.
This is curious, and it’s new. For the past 6 months we’ve seen the govt enjoying rising approval ratings and massive double digit leads, often beating their own 2019 election performance and heading for a larger majority when you look into the modelling. At the same time, we saw Labour’s vote balkanize and collapse in modelling, taking it down to 28% at one point, with the Greens and Lib Dems making gains at their expense as a result. But, after all this time, we’re finally seeing a shift against the government; let’s look into why.
The reason the govt has polled so well for six months is twofold: the overwhelming reason is the fact the public is willing to be very forgiving in a pandemic, and in the midst of a world beating vaccine rollout the approval of the govt across the board shot up, and the window to inflict permanent damage to the government which would stick regardless of what happened closed, missed by Keir Starmer. As we headed into May this resulted in polls such as this:
This would have resulted in a 134 seat Tory majority, with the Tories on 392 seats, and Labour on 176 seats, had the country gone to the polls. This was the peak for the Tory vote share, and the low point for the opposition vote share; Labour hit rock bottom and the govt hit the ceiling in support (although Lab has gone lower in the past and the Tories hit 52% at the early phases of the pandemic). All the metrics swung against Labour during this time, Starmer’s personal ratings hit lows that equalled Jeremy Corbyn’s lows, preferred PM rankings saw Johnson outperforming his party’s vote share, and Starmer underperforming his party’s vote share.
Now we’re seeing this:
In short, the govt is loosing ground on all metrics. The key out of all of this is that a majority now think the govt is doing a poor job on the pandemic, something we haven’t seen since Christmas (the very Christmas where Labour opened a 5 point lead in the wake of govt fiasco).
The most damaging above all else here, is, as I say, the pandemic management. The government is loosing ground in the wake of Freedom Day, because of the pingdemic, the shortages on shelves, the mixed messages, and the terrible management of it all from the very top. Right through this pandemic the public has been far more sensible than the average government minister, meaning they see the dangers of this new approach and the lack of direction, and they aren’t satisfied with their government anymore.
As Ben Walker from Britain elects very succinctly puts it, the thing that should be worrying the government here is the fact the good news is run out; they’ve had their peak, there won’t be another moment like that brief world beating moment when it came to the vaccine rollout; the government is being hit with scandal after scandal, social care is pissing off their base whatever they do, especially when it comes to new taxes, talk about the triple lock hits their voters too, and revelation after revelation about conduct at the very top is starting to get some cut through. In other words, the sunshine is over, hard choices lie ahead, and the govt is going to get increasingly unpopular for a time, as incumbents very often do.
Quite aptly, as we’ve unlocked, the usual laws of political gravity seem to have kicked back in.