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9 February 2022

Which voters are still loyal to Boris Johnson?

Johnson’s surviving support is concentrated among men, the over-50s and in the Midlands but the Tories have shed votes from all sides.

By Ben Walker

Few people are uncertain about where they stand on Boris Johnson. Fewer still are unsure about the events of the past few months at Downing Street, events that have dramatically reshaped public opinion. While the country is overwhelmingly of the view that Johnson should resign (63 per cent of voters believe he should and just 25 per cent that he should not), Conservative supporters are, perhaps surprisingly, badly split.

Half of those who voted for the Conservatives in 2019 believe Johnson should resign. Less than half of them view him favourably, suggesting that even some of his biggest past supporters now think we should call time on the nation’s blond bombshell.

Those Tory voters who still back Johnson and hold a favourable view of him resemble the median Conservative voter from 2019. The Prime Minister’s support is concentrated among men, the over-50s and those who live in the Midlands and the south of England. A recent YouGov poll, meanwhile, found that Johnson had higher ratings among lower social classes.

There are, however, fewer and fewer such supporters with every month that passes. Indeed, save for the odd pocket of voters they’ve gained from the now retired Brexit Party, the collapse in support for the Conservative has been strikingly uniform.

In so-called Red Wall constituencies, backing for the Tories has fallen further than it has nationally. In the so-called Blue Wall, of Tory strongholds in the south, this was the case long before “Partygate”. If a general election were held today, it would result in vote share swings not seen for a major party since the Labour landslide of 1945.

Britain Elects modelling shows the Conservatives’ vote share down by more than 12 points compared with 2019. This would represent the largest collapse in support for one of the two main parties in a single election in post-war British history.

However, many Tory voters are telling pollsters that they don’t know who they would vote for, rather than moving firmly to alternative parties, so we can for now view such an outcome as unlikely. The situation remains an uncomfortable one for the Conservatives. Unless Partygate ceases to be an electoral issue, the Tory party’s toxicity will intensify as time goes on. (Looking at you, Rishi Sunak.) Due to this, it would be unwise to assume that apathetic Tories will return home.

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