Five months since Theresa May’s ascendancy to Downing Street, the public’s impressions of her are more positive than negative but waver slightly in the face of growing opposition.
Ipsos Mori’s satisfaction tracker show the new Prime Minister has over the course of the past five months – with the exception of October (where it was 48 per cent) – had half or more of voters indicating satisfaction with her premiership. This is not particularly remarkable when satisfaction with David Cameron in the first five months of his premiership was also 50 per cent and above before falling to the mid-40s and high-30s as his administration continued.
One month following May’s ascendancy 27 per cent of voters could not say whether they were satisfied or dissatisfied with her performance. By December this had fallen to 15 per cent, with much of the August bench-sitters seemingly moving towards dissatisfaction. August had her at 54 per cent satisfaction, 19 per cent dissatisfaction. December has it 50 and 35 per cent respectively.
Chart: Public opinion on how well the Prime Minister is doing at her job, month by month
When asking voters whether they have a favourable or unfavourable opinion of the Prime Minister, 41 per cent told a ComRes survey in December they have a favourable view (down 1 point from August), 30 per cent said unfavourable (up 6). Whether you ask voters about satisfaction or favourability, Theresa May can take heart that she has net positivity in both areas but must be aware that attitudes are beginning to, slowly, shift against her.
Public perceptions of May, while mostly good, are not exclusively so. A recent Opinium survey (13-16 Dec) showed she is seen by a great deal of the public as decisive, strong, principled, able to get things done, able to stand up for Britain abroad, and someone with the nation’s interests at heart. She is not, however, seen as in touch, possessing of views similar to most voters, or representative of public opinion.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn fares worse than May in most categories but beats her on perceptions of principle and being in touch with ordinary people.
Chart: Public perceptions of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Despite some comical process stories and perceptions that her government is handling Brexit badly, Theresa May is seen as strong, decisive, capable and has a net satisfaction rating of +15 (Ipsos Mori, Dec). Whether these positive perceptions will continue or collapse in 2017 is yet to be seen.