British Election Study report gives government stark warning

New Conservative voters are not happy with the party’s handling of Coronavirus says work released by Nuffield Elections Unit


The Government is losing support over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among its new 2019 voters. This is one of the main conclusions of the first Elections Unit Report, published by the Nuffield Politics Research Centre as part of its ongoing co-leadership of the British Election Study.

‘As of June 2020, the Government had lost the support of a quarter of its December 2019 voters, who had mainly switched to “undecided’’,’ said Jane Green, Professor of Political Science and British Politics and Director of the Nuffield Politics Research Centre. She added: ‘They are the voters who are vulnerable to either staying at home come the next election or being picked off by one of the parties on the Conservatives’ flanks.’

The report, co-authored by Green with Geoffrey Evans, Professor in the Sociology of Politics and Dan Snow, DPhil candidate at the Department of Sociology, also explains why new voters may be abandoning the Conservative party. The voters most likely to have stopped supporting the Conservatives over this period are the party’s new voters, those who voted Conservative in 2019, but not in 2017.

Adressing the report, John Rentoul, Chief Political Commentator of The Independent wrote: ‘The study suggest that the politics of coronavirus have complicated Johnson’s attempt to retain the trust of these first-time Tory voters.’

The report also reveals that new Conservative voters are far less concerned with the issue of personal freedom than Conservative MPs. Instead, new voters place more importance on the governments’ poor execution of the coronavirus response. Rentoul’s article quoted Green’s comment that ‘the [Conservative] party risks losing its newly won working-class supporters if it takes a relaxed approach to tackling the virus.’

The first Nuffield Elections Unit - British Election Study report also noted that while only one fifth of those who voted Conservative in 2017 and 2019 thought the government had handled the crisis badly, that figure rose to one third of new 2019 Conservative voters.