Rishi Sunak Less Unpopular with Swing Voters in UK PM Race, Survey Finds

Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak has an edge over his rival, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, in the race to be elected the next Conservative Party leader and British Prime Minister among swing voters, a new survey revealed on Thursday. The British Indian ex-minister, who has been trailing Truss among the hardcore Tory members who will vote for their favourite in postal ballots from next week, is favoured among voters who had voted Conservative for the first time in the 2019 general election.

“While there is little to separate the two leadership candidates among for example those who currently intend to vote [Opposition] Labour (minus 59 for Sunak, minus 62 for Truss) or those who voted Conservative in 2019 (0 and +3 respectively), the crucial difference between Truss and Sunak comes among swing voters, YouGov said in a statement. “Net favourability among those who voted Conservative in 2019 but now tell us they plan to vote Labour stands at minus 25 for Sunak and minus 45 for Truss. Equally, scores among those who voted Labour in 2017 but Conservative in 2019 register at minus 6 for Sunak and minus 19 for Truss, it said.

Sunak also does slightly better among those who voted Conservative in 2019 but who now told the survey that they do not know how they would vote in an election being held today. Among this group, the former Chancellor sits at minus 12, whereas the current Foreign Secretary is at minus 16. Boris Johnson by comparison is at minus 22, while [Labour Leader] Starmer is all the way down at minus 59, it said. The study of 4,946 adults, which was carried out between July 10 and 24, suggests Sunak has an overall net favourability score at minus 30 while Truss has a net favourability of minus 32. Net favourability scores are measured by the percentage of people telling YouGov they have a favourable opinion of someone minus the percentage telling them they have an unfavourable opinion.

Overall, the YouGov survey suggests both candidates are unpopular with the public as a whole but more popular than outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Both candidates are significantly less unpopular than current Prime Minister Johnson, who stands at minus 45. However, they are considerably more unpopular than Labour leader Keir Starmer (minus 18), YouGov said of its survey results.

It comes as one of Johnson’s key loyalists and supporters of Truss, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, accused Sunak of leading a “ruthless coup” against his former boss. Earlier this week, the Cabinet minister faced criticism for attacking the expensive suits and shoes worn by Sunak. “It’s about judgment and it’s about who voters can relate to and who voters think have walked in their shoes and can understand their lives, she told the BBC, when confronted about the attacks.

“I am bitterly disappointed that Boris Johnson was removed via a ruthless coup, as he was, led largely by Rishi Sunak, she said. The two finalists will address their first official Tory leadership hustings in the northern England city of Leeds on Thursday evening and set out their stall for the estimated 180,000 members who will be casting their ballots in the race soon.

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