Politico reports that Downing Street has commissioned private polls to track the public mood through the coronavirus crisis. What are they telling Boris Johnson?

Peter Kellner
Kellner is a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, where his research focuses on Brexit, populism, and electoral democracy.
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The separate, published, surveys that have been conducted suggest something like the analysis below. It is worth delving into the numbers for they show how and why ministers are losing the overwhelming public backing they enjoyed just seven weeks ago.

The public strongly backed the lockdown when it was introduced. During the week when it came into effect, fully 96 per cent told Opinium that they supported it; only 4 per cent disagreed. Indeed, 57 per cent would have been prepared to go further, for example by banning all public transport. One reason why voters backed the lockdown was that they understood what it meant: more than four in five voters thought the rules were clear.

Voters have reacted very differently to this week’s change in policy. YouGov finds that the public are evenly divided on the new rules: 44 per cent support them, while 43 per cent oppose them. YouGov also reports that only 30 per cent think the new instruction, “stay alert, control the virus, save lives” is clear—in contrast to the 91 per cent who now say the old slogan was clear—“stay home, protect the NHS, save lives.”

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This article was originally published by Prospect Magazine with the title “What do the polls tell Johnson? His response to Covid-19 is losing public buy-in.”