Polling on how voters identify politically presents challenges and opportunities for Labour

New polling from Ipsos MORI shows those on the right more favourable to Johnson and the Conservatives than those on the left are to Starmer and Labour.

The author(s)

  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Gideon Skinner Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
  • Dylan Spielman Public Affairs
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  • Ipsos MORI asked GB adults whether they thought of themselves as on the left, right or in the centre and how favourable they are to parties and their leaders.
  • Although just as many Britons place themselves on the left as on the right, those on the right are more favourable towards Johnson and the Conservatives than those on the left are towards Starmer and Labour.
  • Centrist voters are lukewarm towards Starmer and Labour. Although those in the centre (and on the right) are less hostile towards the Labour leader than the Labour Party – which could present an opportunity for both.

A new poll from Ipsos MORI asked a representative sample of GB adults aged 18+ where they placed themselves and others on the left-right political spectrum and how favourable they were towards the main GB political parties and their leaders.

  • Overall 24% of GB adults place themselves on the left, 25% on the right, 34% in the centre and 17% don’t think of themselves in this way, or just don’t know.
  • There was little difference in how the public perceive Boris Johnson and the Conservatives on the ‘left-right’ axis but Labour is more likely to be seen as left-wing (57%) than its leader Keir Starmer (49%).
  • The Lib Dems are most likely to be seen as centrist (33%) but they are also more likely to be seen as a party of the left (27%) than the right (12%). They are also the most likely to have people say ‘don’t know’ (Lib Dems 28%, Labour 21%, Conservative 20%).

Where do people and the parties stand?Looking at favourability towards Starmer, Johnson and their respective parties by political alignment highlights some challenges for Labour.

  • Those identifying as on the right are more favourable towards Johnson (73%) and the Conservatives (72%) than those on the left are towards Starmer (60%) and Labour (62%).
  • In fact, those on the left are more unfavourable towards Johnson (84%) and the Conservatives (85%) than they are favourable towards Starmer and Labour, suggesting opposition to the Tories is a key driver of left-wing support for Labour.
  • The same pattern is not observed on the right, where those identifying as right-wing are just as favourable towards the Conservatives (72%) as they are unfavourable towards Labour (76%). Encouragingly for Starmer, those on the right are less hostile towards Starmer (54% unfavourable) than those on the left are towards Johnson.

Views of the leftViews of the right

  • Centrist voters are generally lukewarm towards Labour. 27% are favourable towards the Labour Party and 31% are favourable towards Keir Starmer. In contrast, 42% are favourable towards Boris Johnson and 31% towards the Conservatives.
  • More encouragingly for Labour, self-identified centrists are less likely to be hostile towards Starmer (24% unfavourable) than Labour (37%), the Conservatives (34%) or Johnson (35%) – although this is largely driven by neutrality / don’t knows.

Views of centrists

Other findings in the poll showed:

  • Those identifying as left-wing are less likely to see Keir Starmer as left-wing (67%) than they are the Labour Party (80%) but they are equally favourable towards both.
  • Those identifying as right-wing are much more likely to see the Lib Dems as left-wing (53%) or centrist (25%) rather than right-wing (14%).
  • Those identifying as centrist support all manner of parties. For example 1 in 3 (33%) 2019 Conservative voters, 29% of 2019 Labour voters and 45% of 2019 Lib Dem voters consider themselves as in the political centre.

 

Ipsos MORI Research Director Keiran Pedley said of the findings:

Labour will be encouraged that Keir Starmer appears to generate less hostility from the public than Johnson but will be mindful of the apparent ‘enthusiasm gap’ between the left and right – where the left are less favourable towards Labour and Starmer than the right are towards the Conservatives and Johnson. The Conservatives will welcome strong support from the right and Johnson’s healthy favourable numbers among centrists. However, Johnson and the Conservatives still polarise opinion overall, with those placing themselves on the left of the political spectrum holding staunchly unfavourable views

Technical note

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,118 British adults aged 18+. Interviews were conducted online from 10th - 13th July 2020. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.

The author(s)

  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Gideon Skinner Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
  • Dylan Spielman Public Affairs

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