The Conservatives and the coronavirus
The fate of the Conservatives, once tied so inextricably to Brexit, now feels similarly tied to perceptions of its handling of the pandemic and its aftermath. Fifty-six per cent of Britons say coronavirus is the most important issue facing Britain, with the economy in second place, at 11%. So it stands to reason that how Boris Johnson and his Government are seen to perform on this issue will be critical to their future success.
In March, the Conservatives were 22 points ahead of Labour, with 49% of Britons thinking the Government was handling the coronavirus outbreak ‘well’, and just 35% thinking it was handling it ‘badly’ – giving a positive score of +14. Meanwhile in April, there was enormous goodwill towards the Prime Minister following his own illness, as 51% of Britons said they were favourable towards Boris Johnson and just 31% unfavourable.
Fast forward and things are now very different. By October, some 50% of Britons thought the virus was being handled ‘badly’ by the Government, with just 30% thinking it was being handled ‘well’. This net rating of -20 stands in contrast to numbers witnessed earlier in the year and falling public satisfaction is having real political consequences – as the table below shows. Net satisfaction with how the Government is running the country overall has fallen to -31. Furthermore, having scored a net favourability rating of +20 in April, Johnson’s ratings have since tumbled, falling to -19 in November.