Rishi Sunak’s three point lead over Keir Starmer in the Best PM metric when he became Prime Minister, now stands at a nine point deficit, according to an assessment of Sunak’s first year by Savanta.
While 38% of the public believed that Sunak would make the better Prime Minister, compared to the 35% who said the same about Starmer, back in November 2022, Sunak’s backers have dropped by six points (32%), while Starmer’s have risen by the same amount (41%).
Starmer has led Sunak in each of Savanta’s last six polls that contained the Best PM metric, including a 12 point lead over the incumbent Prime Minister in September.
Rishi Sunak’s net favourability has dropped from -3 in November 2022, to -20 in October 2023.
The rating, which subracts those that say they feel unfavourably towards a politician from those that say they feel favourably, has been consistently below -10 since May 2023, reaching a low of -23 in September.
September also marked the largest gap in net favourability between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer (25 points).
While Keir Starmer’s net favourability has only been positive (above zero) three times in the same period, it has only been below -5 once (February, -7).
Dislike of Sunak and his policies / party
Those that say they “dislike both Rishi Sunak and his policies” has risen by 13 points since he became Prime Minister (from 30% to 43%).
However, the three other options (like both, like Sunak but dislike his policies, dislike Sunak but like his policies) are all virtually unchanged over the same period.
Those that Don’t know, however, has dropped from 23% in November 2022 to 13% now. People have made up their mind on Sunak, and the trends indicate that they’re not viewing him or his policies very positively.
Similarly, those that say they “dislike both Rishi Sunak and his party” has risen by (a slightly more modest) nine points since he became Prime Minister (from 33% to 42%).
Labour’s average lead over the Conservatives stands at 15.9 points since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister.
Their average lead was 20.4 points during Truss’ tenure (including leads of just 10, 10 and 14 points during the period of national mourning following the passing of Her Majesty, the Queen), and was just 8.4 points during the earlier parts of 2022 when Boris Johnson was Prime Minister.
The highest Conservative vote share recorded in a Savanta poll under Sunak was 32% (fieldwork 3-5 March 2023), while there have been four times that the vote share has been as low as 26%. The average in Sunak’s tenure is 28.9%, lower than the actual national vote share achieved by John Major at the 1997 General Election.
Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director at Savanta said, “Rishi Sunak was supposed to be the leader to turn the Tories’ fortunes around, but this data collected over the last year implies he’s done nothing of the sort. His personal ratings have slowly but significantly declined, and the Conservative vote share has remained relatively static, allowing Labour to enjoy leads consistently in the mid- to high-teens.”
Some Conservative strategists will be unmoved by these numbers, believing that the final year before an election the country is now entering would be the one where Sunak’s personal ratings, and that of his party, can recover. It’s also true that Labour’s numbers, along with those of Keir Starmer, are far from amazing.”
“But heavy by-election defeats, a lack of enthusiasm towards the Conservative brand, and a country that’s perceived to be no better off after more than a decade of Conservative government leaves Sunak with little room for manouvre.
“And while the Conservative’s polling numbers are so bleak, Labour needs equivalent figures that are little more than decent to indicate anything other than a healthy Labour majority being the most likely outcome at the next General Election.