Will the voters think the vaccine rollout doesn’t forgive the high death toll beforehand?
I find the this polling very interesting because recent experiences over the last decade has shown leadership ratings and supplementaries are a better predictor of electoral outcomes than headline voting intention figures, which is why I look at the supplementaries with a fine-tooth comb.
Opinium, in their poll published last night, found something similar to the YouGov findings above.
The public think the government has continued to do too little too late
Approval of the government’s Covid handling is up very slightly on last week, now at a net approval of -18% (51% disapprove, 33% approve) compared to -20% a fortnight ago (50% disapprove, vs 30% approve).
This is in the context of two thirds (68%) agreeing that government should have done more to stop the spread of Coronavirus (25% believe they did ‘all they reasonably could’) and 61% believing the government had the information available to make better decisions (28% believe they made “the best decisions based on the information available to them at the time”). On the other side, 56% think the government generally did follow the scientific advice, 34% believe they generally did not.
Similarly those that disapprove of the government are evenly divided in their critique of the government: 48% of those that disapprove think the government has failed to handle any aspect well, while just over half (52%) of that group think there are aspects that the government has succeeded in doing relatively well, usually in relation to the vaccine or financial support for individuals and businesses.
I’m not sure a government that around two thirds of the electorate think hasn’t done all they reasonably could have done to stop the spread of Covid-19 and protect public is on course to win a majority at the next election. 42% of Tory voters thinking the government has not done everything it reasonably could to stop the spread of Covid-19 will be alarming for Tory strategists even ‘if when asked who they hold most responsible for coronavirus case rates increasing, Britons consistently blame the public more than the government.’
The last party that was previously associated with a large number of avoidable deaths was Labour following Tony Blair’s (mis)adventures in modern day Mesopotamia but Blair went on to win a majority a couple of years later. That comparison is inelegant because not many British voters knew anybody who died in Iraq but according to YouGov ‘one in eight Britons say they have lost a close friend or family member to [Covid-19].’
A more apt analogy might be the 1945 general election. Churchill handled the war successfully but still lost the subsequent election in part the electorate remembered the disastrous appeasement policy of the Tory government that got the country into such a mess. As a Churchill fan I’m not sure losing a general election to a Labour lawyer, after a successfully guiding the UK through a world changing event, was what Boris Johnson had in mind in following in Churchill’s footsteps.
I hope this polling question is something the pollsters carry out regularly going forward, it will be one to track.
PS – I think Tories need to win a majority at the next election to continue in office because they won’t have any potential coalition or confidence & supply allies in Parliament. Nobody will be keen to fall for David Cameron’s black widow strategy on the Lib Dems, and I don’t think the DUP will be keen to reward the Tories for putting a border in the Irish Sea.