How Boris Johnson's electorate is starting to unravel. A short thread 1/?
Almost 2 yrs ago to the day Johnson won the largest majority for any Conservative since 1987. He did so by pushing through the realignment of British politics, reshaping the Conservative vote around Leavers. He promised 3 things. Brexit. Strong borders. A levelled up country.
His victory was emphatic. He won 76% of Leavers (& a not insignificant 26% of Remainers). And in the early months of his premiership he retained almost all of them, holding over 90% of his 2019 coalition together
It was more blue-collar, non-graduate, northern &, partly as a result, more culturally conservative -- more determined to make Brexit a success, more focused on strengthening borders, more patriotic & more critical of the liberal consensus. It was the new Conservative electorate.
It was also ruthlessly efficient in a first past post system. What ppl miss about Johnson's coalition is its geography. Johnson's opponents congregate heavily but narrowly in cities & university towns; his voters are spread out more evenly. So long as he retains Leavers he wins
And even 6 months ago -despite the furore over Cummings, Covid, etc.- most of these voters were still willing to give Boris benefit of doubt. Such was their opposition to the old consensus that they were willing to look past his personal failings in the hope of a new consensus
6 months ago, when Cons still had big lead over Lab, 70% of 2019 Cons were still lining up behind Boris, as were more than half (51%) of Leavers. Only about one in five Cons, 18%, had drifted into apathy, saying they wouldn't vote, didn't know who to vote for or refused to say
But now fast forward to today. The Leave Dam that Theresa May & then Boris erected in 2019 is breaking. The % of 2019 Cons lining up behind Johnson is down to 54%. The % of Leavers is down to 37%. Meanwhile the % of Cons drifting into apathy or other parties has rocketed to 38%
Remarkably, if you just look at the raw numbers & don't filter out undecideds or don't knows then over 60% of the Leave vote is no longer aligning with Johnson. This is becoming a major problem for a party & political project that has been completely reshaped around Leave voters
Another canary in the coalmine for Johnson is the new Reform party. In last 6 months their support has basically doubled among 2019 Conservatives (as reflected in their 7% at Bexley & Sidcup by election). Its nowhere near where UKIP once was but could be in the months to come
Clearly, Leavers are not the whole story. Johnson's support among Remainers is also down (approx 5 pts). But remember they are a much smaller share of the Con electorate & the size of the (viable) Blue Wall is massively exaggerated. Johnson's primary problem is with Leavers.
Labour is not currently benefitting from a positive endorsement of either their policies or leader. Starmer remains v weak, is widely seen by approx. 60% as not prime ministerial & on increasingly salient issues like immigration & economy Labour has serious legacy problems
We are also heading into re-run of 2015. Amid tighter polls, Cons will warn against a Lab-SNP coalition & use that to mobilise England. Cameron used 2015 EU Ref to do that. Cons may use illegal migration & culture wars. Either way as a strategy it plays to new Conservative voters
This is why I think if Johnson can get No 10 in order (big if!) Cons still have huge advantage at next GE. Need to cut through noise, repair relationship with 2019 voters & double down on them. But personally I'm not convinced Johnson's advisors understand who they are. Ends.

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