Conservatives and Labour end 2020 in a dead heat

Ipsos MORI's December 2020 Political Monitor shows the Conservatives and Labour in a dead heat, each on 41%.

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Public Affairs
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Glenn Gottfried Public Affairs, Ipsos MORI North
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
  • Dylan Spielman Public Affairs
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  • Post vaccine boost observed for the Conservatives in handling of coronavirus – but public still negative overall
  • Almost two-thirds of Britons think Boris Johnson has handled Brexit badly

Voting intention, leader rating and economic optimism

  • Following a 5pt Labour lead in October, the Conservatives and Labour finish 2020 neck and neck in voting intention preferences. The Conservatives are on 41% (+4 from October), Labour 41% (-1), Lib Dems 6% (-2).

voting intention

  • Satisfaction ratings for the government and Boris Johnson have improved this month. 37% are satisfied with how the government is running the country (+7), 53% are dissatisfied (-8). This net rating of -16 is up from -31 in October. Meanwhile, 42% are satisfied with the job Johnson is doing as PM (+9 from October), 50% are dissatisfied (-9) giving the PM a net satisfaction score of -8 (up from -26 in October).
  • Keir Starmer’s satisfaction ratings continue to dip. 38% are satisfied with the job the Labour leader is doing (-7 points from October), 33% are dissatisfied (+3). This gives Starmer a net satisfaction rating of +5 (down from +15 last month and +31 back in June). Starmer’s net satisfaction rating with Labour voters is +31 but this is down from +50 in October and +66 in June.
  • 27% of Britons think the economic condition of the country will improve in the next 12 months (+12 from Oct), 63% think it will get worse (-8 points) and 7% think it will stay the same (-3). This gives an Ipsos MORI Economic Optimism score of -36, up from -56 in October.

Brexit and government performance

  • 48% of Britons say the Johnson government has performed ‘about the same as expected’ since winning re-election a year ago. 15% say better than expected and 34% say worse than expected. 3% don’t know. 25% of 2019 Conservative voters say the government has performed better than expected, 20% say worse than expected and the majority (54%) say about the same as expected).
  • 63% think Boris Johnson’s government has done a bad job handling Brexit. 28% say his government has done a good job. 8% don’t know. whilst the government’s net rating on this measure is underwater (-35), it is considerably better than the rating achieved just over a year ago in October 2019 (-68).
  • On other issues 8 in 10 (80%) Britons say the government has done a good job at ensuring the UK has a coronavirus vaccine but 7 in 10 (70%) think the government has done a bad job at delivering a working ‘track and trace system’. The public are divided on the government’s record at managing the economy and are generally sceptical of efforts to-date regarding the ‘levelling up’ agenda or delivering for the north of England.

Government score card

Coronavirus

  • Since news of the vaccine, public perceptions of the government’s handling of coronavirus have improved though they are still underwater overall.
  • 37% think the government is handling the virus well (+7 points from October), 47% badly (-3). Net score -10 versus -20 in October.
  • 37% think the Boris Johnson is handling the virus well (+5 points from October), 46% badly (-10). Net score -9 versus -24 in October.
  • Meanwhile, 31% think Keir Starmer has handled the outbreak well (-2), 23% badly (+1). Net score +8 versus +11 in October.

Ipsos MORI Head of Political Research, Gideon Skinner, said of the findings:

There has been a pre-Christmas boost in public ratings for the government and the Prime Minister, thanks in part to the coronavirus vaccine, which is seen as good news across the country. Taking a longer term view, despite the levels of pessimism the government is also given some credit for how it’s managed the economy - but on two of the core issues it was elected on last December, Brexit and levelling-up, the public’s scorecard is more harshly marked. 2020 has been dominated by the challenges thrown up by the pandemic, but although 2021 looks more hopeful on that front public priorities can change quickly, and the government will need to show it can deliver on the recovery next year.

Technical note

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,027 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 4th – 10th December, 2020 Data are weighted to the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error. On the basis of the historical record of the polls at recent general elections, there is a 9 in 10 chance that the true value of a party’s support lies within 4 points of the estimates provided by this poll, and a 2 in 3 chance that they lie within 2 points.

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Public Affairs
  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Glenn Gottfried Public Affairs, Ipsos MORI North
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
  • Dylan Spielman Public Affairs

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