Tories and Labour on course for lowest share of the vote since 1945

Tories and Labour on course for lowest share of the vote since 1945

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Labour and the Tories are on course for their lowest combined vote share since the second world war, as the latest Opinium poll for the Observer shows a shift away from the main parties.

With all the parties having now unveiled their election manifestos, Labour has maintained a dominant 17-point lead over the Tories with less than three weeks to go until polling day. However, Reform and the Lib Dems are up two points each.

It is a reversal of the trend seen at the last election, when the main parties were able to squeeze the support of their smaller competitors. According to Opinium research, support for the smaller parties dropped 10 points between the first and last poll in the 2019 campaign. So far, the total vote share for smaller parties is up five points this time round.

“Voters are turning away from the two major parties in a huge break with the trend seen in the 2019 general election campaign, when the smaller parties’ votes were squeezed,” said James Crouch, head of policy and public affairs at Opinium. “The biggest surprise is that both major parties are being hit, with Labour and the Conservatives down to their lowest share of the vote since Liz Truss was in office.”

It comes alongside analysis that the election points to historically low support for the two major parties. Elections researcher Dylan Difford found that according to current polling, the main parties were on course for their lowest share of the vote since 1945. He said that the elections that took place in the wake of Brexit could actually be the exception, masking a longer-term fall in backing for the big two.

“After the Brexit polarisation seen in the last two elections allowed the smaller parties to get ‘squeezed’, this represents a return to the pre-2016 trend of growing multi-partyism among British voters,” he said. “Regardless of a belief that first past the post will always push voters back to the big two, the increasing anger, frustration and distrust voters feel towards mainstream politics is fuelling this fragmentation across western democracies – and Britain is simply not immune.”

The latest Opinium poll also revealed a big hit to Rishi Sunak’s approval ratings. He now has a net rating of -40, with 20% approving of his performance and 60% disapproving. Keir Starmer’s ratings have also slipped, though less severely, to -3 overall.

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Voters regard the last week as the worst of the campaign for the Tories. Two-thirds (65%) thought it had gone badly for them, perhaps reflecting the fallout from Sunak’s decision to leave D-day commemorations early and a difficult Sky interview with Beth Rigby.


The Guardian