Ipsos MORI's December poll - some notes

Ipsos MORI's December poll - some notes


When Sarah Olney overturned Zac Goldsmith’s 23,000 majority in the Richmond by-election, the Liberal Democrats were dragged out of their low position in the news agenda.  After the party’s decimation in the 2015 election, there had always been an anticipatory murmur about the resurgence of its fortunes, and the by-election success has given a turbo-boost to what has been termed the #LibDemFightBack.

Well, good news breeds good news, and the Lib Dems’ success in Richmond may be paying off in the national polls: in today’s Ipsos MORI political monitor, they jump 4 points in the headline figures, moving to 14%.  While this is just one poll, it will be interesting to see how the fightback narrative continues to be reflected in the polls.

This last set of results isn’t great for the two major parties.  However, while the Conservatives move down 2 points to 40%, this is still an extraordinarily high figure for a governing party – especially in our modern multi-party environment.  The news for Labour, on the other hand, really is bad.  They move down 4 points from 33% in November to 29% now.  In fact, before Labour today, the last time an opposition party polled so frequently in the twenties, it was being led by Ian Duncan Smith.  

Our latest polling average gives the Tories a 13.5 point lead

Our latest polling average gives the Tories a 13.5 point lead

Support for government falls

Last November’s Ipsos poll put net satisfaction with the government at -11, with 37% satisfied and 48% dissatisfied.  This round of results is worse: the percentage of respondents satisfied with the way the government is running the country fell 4 points to 33% and the percentage dissatisfied rose to 53%.  Thus net satisfaction is down 9 points to -20.

Support for the Prime Minister, however, stays strong.

While the government’s ratings are in the negative, Theresa May’s are still strong.  50% of voters are satisfied with the way she is doing her job, with 35% dissatisfied, giving her a net rating of +15.  The same question asked in reference to Jeremy Corbyn yields a net satisfaction rating of -31.  Therefore, the Prime Minister is 46 points more popular than the Labour leader.  This pattern is also reflected when voters were asked specifically about Brexit: approval of the government’s approach to Brexit is -20 while approval for Theresa May’s approach stands at +16.

But there’s another interesting thing to note here, and it may explain why the Prime Minister’s ratings are so high while her government’s ones are relatively low.  The effect of partisanship on support for the Prime Minister seems remarkably low.  We looked through May’s net ratings among voters of each party and compared them to the net ratings for the government across each group.


Theresa May





Liberal Democrat







Looking at the table above, it’s clear that while other parties’ voters are not satisfied with the PM, they are markedly more dissatisfied with her government.  In short, among non-Conservative voters, the Prime Minister is 20-30 points more popular than the government she leads.  Given that the traditional ‘honeymoon’ period is long over, this may be evidence that her focus on the ‘Just About Managing’ class and her appeal to traditional voters with her tilt towards grammar schools has brought together Conservative, Labour and UKIP voters and bumped up her ratings.

Labour is losing its working class base

With the arrival of Paul Nuttall to the party’s leadership, a UKIP assault on the Labour working class core vote seems inevitable.  And this seems to be reflected in today’s poll.  UKIP’s polling figures move up 2 points among voters as a whole as well as working class voters, while the Labour vote among this C2DE socio-economic group falls from 35% in mid-November to 28% today.  As it is traditionally a core group of support, the steady drop in Labour’s working class vote ought to worry the party deeply.

Labour's NHS Crisis

Labour's NHS Crisis

That YouGov Poll

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