Support for Conservatives and Labour falls sharply

Ipsos MORI's May 2019 Political Monitor shows the lowest combined Conservative and Labour vote share recorded in the forty years of polling history.

Support for Conservatives and Labour falls sharply

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Head of Political Research
  • Keiran Pedley Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
  • Glenn Gottfried Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
  • Cameron Garrett Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
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  • Support for Conservatives and Labour falls sharply
  • Combined Conservative / Labour vote share lowest recorded in Ipsos MORI polling history
  • Worst scores yet for Theresa May’s leadership and handling of Brexit

Headline voting intention scores this month shows the Conservatives falling behind Labour with a dramatic fall in support for both main parties. The poll shows:

  • The Conservatives at 25% (down 13 points),
  • Labour at 27% (down 7 points),
  • Brexit Party on 16% (up 15 points),
  • Liberal Democrats at 15% (up 7 points),
  • Greens at 7% (up 3 points),
  • UKIP on 3% (down 4 points),
  • Change UK at 2% (no change).

The combined vote share for the Conservatives and Labour stands at just 52% - the lowest level ever recorded in the Ipsos MORI Political Monitor series (just over 40 years old). The previous low was a combined score of 54% in 1981.

Ipsos MORI May 2019 Political Monitor Voting Intention

Ipsos MORI’s new Political Monitor also reveals that the public’s satisfaction with Theresa May is at its lowest level since she became Prime Minister nearly three years ago. Seven in ten (69%) Britons say they are dissatisfied with the PM (up 4 points from March) with a quarter (26%) saying they’re satisfied (down 3 points); leaving her a leadership satisfaction score of -43.

The Prime Minister still wins approval from most Conservative voters. However, this support is waning. Just over half (53%) say they are satisfied with her – down 10 pts compared with March this year when 63% of Conservative supporters said the same. Forty-three percent say they are dissatisfied with her (up 11 points), which leaves her a net satisfaction score of +10. 

Despite Theresa May’s woes she still commands stronger satisfaction ratings with the public than Jeremy Corbyn. Nearly three quarters (73%) are dissatisfied with the way Mr Corbyn is doing his job as leader of the Labour Party (up 3 points) with one in five (20%) satisfied – leaving him a net leadership score of -53. Jeremy Corbyn however has improved his scores with Labour voters – more than half (54%) say they are satisfied with him (up 12 points) while two in five (40%) are dissatisfied (no change), leaving him a net score of +14. A third of Britons (32%) are satisfied with the way Vince Cable is doing his job as leader of the Liberal Democrats (up 8 points) while 37% are dissatisfied (down 5 points), leaving him a net score of – 5.

Ipsos MORI's May 2019 Political Monitor Leadership Satisfaction

When asked when the Conservatives should change their leader, just over a third of Britons (36%) say as soon as possible, 18% say once parliament has agreed a deal on Brexit, 20% say once Britain has left the EU but before the next general election, and 15% say after the next general election. Most Conservatives however say they should hold out until at least Britain has left the EU. One in five (21%) say they should change their leader as soon as possible, 21% say once an agreement has been made in parliament, 28% say once Britain has left the EU but before the next general election, and 24% say after the next election.

When it comes to Brexit the new poll shows worrying figures for Theresa May.

  • Seven in ten (71%) think she’s doing a bad job at handling Britain’s exit from the European Union (up 6 points from March) with a quarter (25%) saying she’s doing a good job (down 5 points). Conservatives are split however with 50% saying she’s doing a bad job and 45% saying a good job.
  • Meanwhile, the public remain very sceptical about Theresa May’s ability to get a good Brexit deal – four in five (80%) Britons are not confident in her ability to do so (up 1 point) – including 64% of Conservatives – while just 18% are confident.
  • When asked about the party and its approach to Brexit, one third (33%) say they like the Conservatives (58% do not like the party) while just 12% like their approach to Brexit (79% do not).  Three in four (76%) 2017 Conservative voters do not like the party’s approach to Brexit. By comparison, half of Conservative voters from 2017 like The Brexit Party’s approach.
  • Among the public as a whole, 31% like the party’s approach to Brexit but 49% do not. This is similar to the proportions that like and dislike the party (28% vs 52%).

Britons continue to be pessimistic about the state of the country’s economy, although there has been an improvement from March. The latest Ipsos MORI Economic Optimism Index shows 51% believe it will get worse over the next 12 months, 16% think it will improve and 25% it will stay the same – leaving an EOI score of -35, up 7 points from March.

Commenting on the findings, Keiran Pedley, Research Director at Ipsos MORI, said:

Our numbers show the two main parties losing support – particularly the Conservatives – as the Brexit impasse drags on. With Theresa May’s personal poll numbers also continuing to fall, the pressure on the Prime Minister looks only set to grow. With no sign of the Brexit deadlock being broken, these numbers should worry the Conservatives greatly. The last time their headline voting intention figures were this bad, they were in opposition and it took them two changes of leader and the best part of a decade to get back into government. Of course, now they are in government and perhaps finding a Brexit solution will change their fortunes. In the absence of one it is difficult to see how their support will grow. However, the political situation is volatile, and it would be worth waiting to see how voting intention figures look after the European elections to see if these trends are temporary or fixed.

 

Technical note

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,072 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 10th – 14th May 2019.  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 Head of Political Research
  • Keiran Pedley Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
  • Glenn Gottfried Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
  • Cameron Garrett Ipsos Public Affairs, UK

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