Sunak managed to eat away at the lead in opposition polls – Keir Starmer’s The Labor Party was about 27 points ahead when Sunak took over in October, and now leads by about 15 points. But a real electoral test looms next week, with thousands of local council seats up for grabs in votes across England. And there are big challenges ahead on the track. Conservative ministers, strategists and advisers fear Sunak may be losing momentum, hitting a ceiling in the polls as political issues and political drama mount. These include concerns that Sunak may find it harder than expected to deliver on five key promises he made to voters in early 2023, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity during the discussion. of their private opinions.
Polls show Sunak winning back a group of voters who generally favor the Tories but lost faith in the party during the Truss and Boris Johnson turmoil, according to people briefed on internal party strategy and polls. The Prime Minister’s team attributed this to Sunak’s early success in projecting an air of relative competence.
Winning back the trust of even those voters was by no means guaranteed, but a significant part of Labour’s huge lead in the initial post-Truss period was always going to be soft, one strategist said. Polls are always likely to dwindle as an election approaches, agree Tory and Labor advisers.
Now Sunak must win over voters who have no historical affinity with conservatives. Conservative aides admit that if the party doesn’t get them enough back, Sunak will still be on course for a resounding election defeat. To take the next step, the Prime Minister may have to make a more meaningful offer to the public, senior Tories have said. Party headquarters have warned Downing Street that Labor’s lead could become harder to break.
The key question has always been how Sunak’s team can reduce the deficit to between 5 and 10 points before the start of the election campaign, a minister has said. Tory strategists see it as the kind of Labor polling head that allows them to argue that the country is headed for a hung Parliament, with no party securing a ruling majority.
Some Sunak allies are increasingly nervous that the tests he has set for himself – halving inflation, reducing debt, growing the economy, reducing service waiting lists health and stopping migrant smuggling – are proving trickier than many thought. When they were announced in January, many dismissed them as deliberately easy to achieve. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore, one Sunak supporter joked.