Updated: Jun 11
Today’s YouGov poll shows more people disapprove of the government than approve of it. Have you changed your mind?
Boris Johnson led the Conservative party to a barnstorming victory at the 2019 election, and has enjoyed rising approval ratings ever since. The Government, senior ministers, and the Conservative Party have all enjoyed levels of support which are unprecedented. This peaked on the 11th of April when 55% of respondents to Opinium indicated they would vote Conservative if the election were tomorrow, this number is the highest ever recorded. However, as of today, just five weeks later YouGov polling shows more people disapprove of the government, than approve of it.
WATCH: Boris in Fierce Exchange With Labour MP
Evidence the public still backs Boris:
Despite the Government dipping into -3% approval by the recent YouGov poll's assessment, the Conservative party still holds a commanding lead over its principal rival, the Labour Party. Polls conducted from the 15th of May onwards show the Conservatives lead Labour by 12 points, 15 points, and 19 points.
Boris Johnson’s personal approval rating remains high. On May the 17th he still had a 46% approval rating, versus a 36% disapproval rating. This is a net approval rating of 10%. For reference, David Cameron has a net approval rating of 16%, versus a disapproval rate of 61%, which is a net approval of minus 45%.
While many thought the government would be blamed for the COVID-19 crisis, experts think the opposite is actually true. It is far more likely that public support for a government will continue to increase in times of crisis: this is known as the rallying round effect.
Evidence the public is turning against Boris:
The UK is now reporting Coronavirus deaths in all settings, whereas previously it had only reported hospital deaths. This spike in the death toll does appear to correlate with the recent fall in government support.
The new Labour leader, Kier Starmer is very popular. On the 17th of May Opinium showed that 42% approve of his job performance versus a staggeringly low 18% who disapprove. While the low disapproval rate is mostly due to low exposure, and will rise with time, a more popular opposition leader gives pause for thought to wavering supporters of the government. For reference, in April a YouGov poll showed Jeremy Corbyn had a disapproval rating of 65%, with only a 20% approval rate; A net score of minus 45%.
Today’s YouGov poll shows the government has a net disapproval rating for the first time since March. However given that Boris as an individual, as well as the Conservative party are both continuing to enjoy high levels of support, this could be an indication voters are differentiating between the government (and all the Ministers in it) and Boris as an individual.
The 55% of voting intentions that the Conservative Party were commanding a few short weeks ago was unsustainable. It was the highest on record, and beat Margaret Thatcher’s post-Falkland War victory honeymoon to the top spot. Since that time the government has also been under attack over the crisis in care homes, and on its testing strategy. However, while government approval is falling, the approval of Boris and the Conservative party remains high. This indicates public discontent is being levied at Ministers such as Matt Hancock and others, rather than Boris himself. Broadly speaking, despite the latest polling, the public do appear to still be backing Boris.