LONDON — A fascinating Business Insider / GfK general election opinion poll came out on Wednesday morning.
The poll was based on a nationally representative sample of 1,952 British adults online and published with just over three weeks to go until Brits go to the polls to vote in the June 8 general election.
Here were our main findings:
- The Conservatives have a 20-point lead over Labour: Tories 48%, Labour 28%.
- Corbyn would win more votes as Labour leader than Tony Blair, Ed Miliband, Sadiq Khan, and Yvette Cooper.
- Brits do not regret Brexit.
- Just 11% of respondents plan to vote tactically in the election.
Beyond these headline figures are some interesting findings into the state of Britain’s political parties heading into the general election, plus how the public is feeling about the election, the party leaders, and the main issues at stake.
Business Insider Political Editor Adam Bienkov and Political Reporter Adam Payne joined GfK Research Director Keiran Pedley on this week’s episode of Polling Matters to discuss the poll results in depth. You can listen below.
These are some of the key takeaways from the Business Insider / GfK poll.
Labour has big problems other than its leader
Jeremy Corbyn continues to suffer from poor approval ratings — the Labour leader has a net approval score of -30 — but our poll also found that the party may face a problem in finding a successor who is more popular with the public.
31% of respondents said they’d consider voting Labour under Corbyn’s leadership. However, just 25% would consider voting a Labour Party led by London mayor Sadiq Khan, despite Khan being hugely popular among London voters.
Yvette Cooper MP, too, who is a rumoured to challenge Corbyn in the event of an election defeat, isn’t much better than the current Labour leader. Just 24% would consider voting for a Cooper-led Labour, giving her a net score of -21% compared to Corbyn’s -21%. Finding a viable election winner to replace Corbyn could be a huge challenge.
“The main reason Corbyn has survived these challenges is that there isn’t an obvious replacement for him and we can see that in these numbers,” Bienkov told Pedley.
“Yes the amount of don’t knows for Yvette Cooper in this poll is higher than the other candidates but as we’ve seen in elections, people who say don’t know [who they’re going to vote for] tend to end up leaning [the same way] as people who’ve already made a decision. It’s not necessarily the case that as the public gets to know Yvette Cooper she’ll suddenly become a more viable candidate.
There is no Lib Dem surge
One of the popular theories heading into the general election was that the Liberal Democrats would enjoy a resurgence fuelled by Remain-voting Brits who want to stop Brexit. But, in reality, there have been no real signs of this happening.
Tim Farron’s party suffered net losses in the local elections earlier this month and continues to linger below 10% in opinion polls. The Business Insider / GfK poll put the party at just 7% — no change from GfK’s last poll in March.
“We had a similar story in 2015 when everybody suggested the polls were bad for the Lib Dems but they were popular locally, are great campaigners, and will do better than the national polling numbers suggested,” Bienkov explained.
“In reality, they did slightly worse than national polling numbers and I think we’re going to see something similar today. The narrative that we are going to see some sort of Lib Dem breakthrough is not going to emerge.
“We had local elections this month and one of the big stories out of that was the death of UKIP. There is a very good chance we could be talking about not quite the death of the Lib Dems but certainly the stultification.”
Farron’s strategy of reaching out to the 48% is falling flat. The party was able to pull off a remarkable by-election result in heavy pro-Remain area Richmond Park but the strategy isn’t producing the desired effect on a national level.
The party was able to pull off a remarkable by-election result in heavy pro-Remain area Richmond Park last year but the strategy of being the unambiguous anti-Brexit party so far hasn’t produced the desired effect on a national level.
As I told Pedley: “what’s worth noting when we talk about Remainers and Leavers is that lot is said about the 48% but as has been written a lot rightly over the past few weeks, the 48% is now a myth,”
“Research came out earlier this week showing that around 68% of Brits wanted Theresa May to get on with Brexit, leaving just 32% of hardcore Remainers. May’s pitch is effectively to 68% of Brits, going off those numbers.”
First impressions matter
Prime Minister May has been accused of running a negative campaign based on hiding from the public and attacking Labour’s policies while saying nothing about her own — but remains hugely popular with the general public.
49% of respondents said they approve of the job May is doing as prime minister while just 22% said they approved of the job Corbyn is doing as leader of the opposition. With these figures in mind, it’s not difficult to understand why the Conservative Party campaign has been so heavily focused on May rather than the Tory party as a wider machine.
On the other hand, despite many of Labour’s manifesto policies proving to be popular with the public, Corbyn continues to be an unpopular figure among Brits and according to past opinion polls has been for some time.
As I explained, reputations are difficult things to shake off once fixed in the public mind.
“In the grand scheme of things, it [Corbyn’s improved ratings] seems to be a minor consolation,” I told Pedley.
“Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn’s reputations among the public have been fixed for quite a while. For the majority of people, May — no matter what journalists say about her campaign and dull and unexciting it may have been — is seen as a stable, reliable and rational leader, while Corbyn is seen as a chaotic maniac who can’t be trusted with anything.
“Those perceptions — whether they are right of wrong — have been there for months.
“There have been polls recently asking the public to judge the quality of the campaigns.
“I don’t think it’s controversial to say Corbyn has run a pretty sound campaign while May’s hasn’t been incredibly inspiring, but figures show the public is more impressed with Theresa May’s.
“Corbyn’s numbers are improving which is a positive but the general picture hasn’t changed that much.”