With five weeks to go, fewer than half of voters have made up their minds

Fewer than half of voters have made up their minds what to do on 4 July according to my first poll since the election was called. Our survey also looks at what is cutting through from the campaign trail, the issues that matter most and what separates a Tory loyalist from a defector.


Should he have waited?




Had Rishi Sunak decided to wait until later in the year to call the election, voters were more likely to think the result would have been worse for the Tories than better – but a majority, including most Conservatives, thought the outcome would have been much the same either way.


What have they noticed?



When we asked what people to say in their own words what they had noticed the two main parties and leaders saying or doing so far, the Labour message of “change” was the most prominent in people’s memories. Plans to cut NHS waiting lists, lower the voting age and clamp down on “tax dodgers” had also been noticed.

On the Conservative side, most recalled the election announcement, generic campaign activity and attacks on Labour, though lower inflation and plans for National Service had also cut through to some degree. The “various gaffes” mentioned were usually Sunak’s visit to the Titanic, asking Welsh people if they were looking forward to the Euros despite Wales no qualifying, being questioned by Conservative councillors in a biscuit factory and standing in an unfortunate spot in front of a Morrisons sign.

It is instructive to plot these answers on our political map, which shows how attitudes vary in different parts of the electorate.



Here we see that the left-hand side of the map, where Labour, Lib Dem and Green voters are most likely to be found, seems much more engaged in the election so far than the right-hand side – especially the Brexit-backing, Reform-leaning bottom right where many 2019 “red wall” Conservative voters were to be found.


The issues that matter



When we asked people which issues would be most important when they decided how to vote, the top answers were the NHS, the cost of living, immigration, the economy and climate change. However, there were sharp differences between party supporters, especially over immigration and asylum. This topped the list for those intending to vote Conservative and even more emphatically for those leaning towards Reform UK, 81% of whom named it among their top three priorities. It was mentioned by only 13% of those intending to vote Labour.


The leaders




Asked to choose from a list of words that much describe the main party leaders, voters were most likely to select “out of touch” for Sunak, followed by “out of his depth” and “doesn’t listen”. For Starmer, the most popular choices were “dull”, “indecisive” and “out of touch”. The most positive choices were “determined” for Sunak (chosen by 12%) and “competent” for Starmer (21%).


What separates a Loyalist from a Defector?




Our poll gives a clear picture of the differences between 2019 Conservatives who intend to vote for the party on 4 July (“loyalists”) and those who do not (“defectors”).

They agree on many policy issues – for example, that Brexit has happened and we have to make the best of it, that things in Britain don’t seem to work properly any more whoever is in charge, and that immigration, the NHS and the cost of living are top-three issues.

However, while loyalists are more likely to blame the cost of living on global issues, trust the Tories on the economy, think Sunak is the best available PM and have a negative view of Starmer and Labour, defectors are much more likely to blame the government for cost of living increases, believe Labour has changed significantly, and think Sunak is out of touch, weak and out of his depth.


The fundamentals



When we asked who would make the best prime minister voters chose Starmer over Sunak by 18 points – the same margin since our last poll before the election was called – with 44% (including 46% of 2019 Tories) saying “don’t know”. Those currently leaning towards Reform UK preferred Sunak over Starmer by 17% to 6%, with more than three quarters (77%) unsure.



On the economy, voters said they thought Starmer and Rachel Reeves would do a better job than Sunak and Jeremy Hunt by a 14-point margin, a point narrower than in our final pre-campaign poll. Nearly 4 in 10 (39%) said “don’t know”, including two thirds of those leaning towards Reform UK.



Only 6%, including only 8% of 2019 Tories, said they were satisfied with the current Conservative government. Intriguingly, 77% of those leaning towards Reform UK said they were dissatisfied with the Conservatives but would rather have this government than a Labour one, as did 63% of Tory defectors (2019 Tories who currently say they will vote for another party, won’t vote, or don’t know).


The election choice



In our regular voting intention question we ask respondents how likely they think they are to end up voting for each party at the next election, where 100 means “definitely” and zero means “definitely not”. Those who voted Conservative in 2019 put their chances of doing so again at an average of 45/100, up 2 since before the campaign launch. This compares with 2019 Labour voters’ 70/100, also up 2.

Taking into account those whose highest score for one party was at least 50/100, this implies vote shares of Labour 47%, Conservative 24%, Reform UK 11%, Green 8%, Lib Dem 6%.

However, 31% of 2019 Conservative voters said either that were currently not intending to vote or didn’t know what to do, and a further question revealed considerable uncertainty among voters.



Only 42% of all respondents, including two thirds of those intending to vote Labour and half of those leaning towards Reform UK said they had definitely decided how to vote on 4 July.



Nevertheless, most voters said they expected a clear Labour majority, including most of 2019 Tories and nearly half of those who intend to vote Conservative on 4 July.


The political map

Our political map shows how different issues, attributes, personalities and opinions interact with one another. Each point shows where we are most likely to find people with that characteristic or opinion; the closer the plot points are to each other the more closely related they are.



Here we see that people naming immigration, crime, pensions, national security and tax rates are most likely to be found on the right-hand side of the map, while those most likely to name international issues and climate change are in the more prosperous, liberal-leaning top left. Strikingly, those who say they are happy, relieved or excited about the election are also on the left-hand side, while those who are scared, worried or bored are most likely to be found in the less prosperous, recently Conservative bottom right.


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