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Sunak fighting to stop women who backed Tories in 2019 voting Reform

Women who voted for the Conservatives in 2019 are among those most likely to be undecided on who to back in the UK’s 2024 general election, polling suggests.

With less than three weeks to go, the Tories are reeling from a series of surveys which put them well behind Labour and, in some cases, edged out by Reform.

But pollsters say a large number of voters remain undecided, or may still change their mind.

Analysis published by polling company JL Partners (JLP) earlier this week showed around 8 per cent of respondents answered “don’t know” when asked who they were likely to vote for.

Digging into their demographic profile, JLP found that 62 per cent of these voters were women and their mean age was 53.

Around 57 per cent of these voters backed the Conservatives in 2019 and are more likely to own their own homes than the average member of the public.

JLP also found this group more likely than the average voter to be politically engaged.

“What this does is paint a vivid picture of one of the most important subgroups in this election,” the report says.

Callum Hunter, data scientist at JLP, said due to their previous voting habits, this group should be the kind of voter the Conservatives ought to be winning back.

“However, our model predicts that nearly half of these undecided voters that voted Conservative in 2019 will defect to either Labour or Reform in this election,” Mr Hunter said.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (centre left) meets with swing voters at Stafford Rangers Football Club, while on the General Election campaign trail in Satfford, in the West Midlands. Picture date: Saturday May 25, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Election Labour. Photo credit should read: Jacob King/PA Wire
Sir Keir Starmer meets swing voters at Stafford Rangers Football Club while on the campaign trail (Photo: Jacob King/PA Wire)

“This indecision is being driven by a general lack of certainty around policy ownership and leadership qualities.

“Whilst both parties dominate on different issues with these voters, a sizable chunk is simply unsure who would better tackle their top priorities.”

A similar trend has been identified by Ipsos, whose most recent poll found 45 per cent of voters say they may still change their mind.

“This is slightly higher than we saw in the last two general elections at the start of the campaign but not hugely so – and experience suggests the number falls as the campaign progresses,” Gideon Skinner, senior UK director of politics at the research firm, told i.

“And of course, just because someone says they might change their mind doesn’t mean that they will – it could just be they haven’t finalised their decision yet. So it will be important to see what happens to this number closer to the election.”

Getting undecided voters on board is proving to be more crucial than ever for the Prime Minister due to the growing threat of Nigel Farage‘s Reform UK.

New polling for i on Friday – which came hours after a separate poll showed support for Reform was now higher than that of the Tories – showed that nearly half of Tory voters want to see an alliance with Mr Farage’s party.

Of voters who backed the Tories in 2019 but have signalled they won’t be voting Conservative this year, 52 per cent said they are satisfied with Mr Farage and just 12 per cent happy with Rishi Sunak, the survey by BMG for i showed.

In terms of the demographic profile of the “undecideds” Ipsos agreed with JLP that it is more likely to be women, at 49 per cent, and more likely to be former Conservative voters (50 per cent) compared to Labour (34 per cent).

They also found them more likely to be in the “ABC1” socio-economic group, meaning they are more likely to have a skilled, professional job and an educated background.

However, in contrast to JLP, Ipsos found these swing voters more likely to be younger (53 per cent aged 18 to 34).

Polling experts More in Common have also found the undecided voter is most likely to be a women, putting it as high as 70 per cent.

They find them to be older than the average Briton, at around 61, and more likely to be a homeowner.

This demographic group has been labelled the “Whitby woman” because the Whitby and Scarborough constituency is the kind of seat which would see Labour gain an overall majority if they win it.

More in Common director Luke Tryl said: “If the Tories can win this group back it may not save them from being ejected from office, but it may mitigate any likely defeat.

“If Labour win them in droves then they are in real landslide territory.”

Election 2024

Rishi Sunak, Sir Keir Starmer and other party leaders are on the campaign trail, and i‘s election live blog is the go-to place for everything on the general election.

On Monday, the Lib Dems launched their manifesto, followed by the Tory manifesto launch on Tuesday, which included a further cut to national insurance. On Wednesday, the Green Party launched its manifesto, which it hopes will secure them some important seats.

Labour’s manifesto launch on Thursday was interrupted by a protester urging for more policies for youth, but Starmer was undeterred as he announced changes to voting age and confirmed his party’s position on tax and spending cuts.

i has urged the parties to commit to its Save Britain’s Rivers manifesto to improve our waterways. The Lib Dems became the first to back the campaign, followed by the Green Party.

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