Tag Archives: polling

The Impact of National Party Popularity on Local Politics

GK Associate Hugo Tuckett and GK Adviser Rebecca McMahon discuss the extent to which voter perception of national parties will shape the upcoming local election results.

Can local Conservative campaigners turn the tide on a bleak national picture?

Labour’s national polling lead over the Conservatives appears deeply entrenched. According to YouGov, the Party has held a 20+ point lead since September 2022. While on a national level the polls indicate that the Conservatives could be heading for annihilation in 2024, could there be a ray of hope for Conservative mayors and councillors ahead of the local elections on 2 May? Does national polling translate to voter preferences locally?

Support for the Conservatives under Boris Johnson’s leadership only consistently fell behind Labour following high-profile events such as Owen Paterson’s breaching of parliamentary rules on lobbying and the Partygate scandal. Rishi Sunak (with a little help from Liz Truss’ short-lived premiership) has been unable to turn the tide on the Party’s lack of national appeal.

Sunak has been unable to solidify Conservative support in the red wall – a key element of its 2019 voter coalition – and polling indicates that all red wall seats won will return to Labour at the upcoming general election, expected in October or November. Traditional Conservative voters from both wings of the Party are also deserting it over perceived policy failings. Voters focused on immigration policy are increasingly voicing support for Reform UK, and the Liberal Democrats are making inroads with environmentally aware voters in Southern England.

However, with local elections taking place in early May, will these national trends translate to local level results?

Pollster Ipsos Mori has found that 42% of voters considered local factors most important in determining their vote in local elections. However, 33% of those polled also said that party policies on national issues were a decisive factor.

Conservative mayoral candidates have sought to distance themselves from their Party’s national brand and promote their personal appeal ahead of polling day. Andy Street, the West Midlands Mayor, has largely excluded references to the Conservative Party from his campaign material and, by his own admission, is running an individual ‘brand Andy’ campaign. Similarly, Conservative MP Ben Bradley, candidate for the East Midlands mayoralty, admitted to adopting a similar strategy, saying there is “clearly not a brilliant national picture”.

The extent to which these candidates can successfully separate themselves from the national party brand may be crucial to their success at a local level. However, with a third of voters saying party policies on national issues will be key in deciding how they vote in local elections, local campaigners could be bound by their Party’s national fortunes.