Conservative Leadership Contest - Understanding the voter base

  • Insight
  • 13 July 2022

by Luke Tryl

From our More in Common research, we've identified four distinct segments who make up the Conservative coalition that gave Boris his 80 seat majority. These are the voters the leadership candidates need to keep onboard to win the next election. Here’s how they swung in 2019
2017 2019
The first are Backbone Conservatives. They are the base of the Tory party’s support & membership. They supported Brexit, are the most right wing on economic and social issues. They are engaged, optimistic about the future post-Brexit, but also nostalgic for some of our past.
The second are Disengaged Traditionalists. In political parlance, most akin to Essex Man. They believe in self-reliance, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. They support rules and order. Often don’t vote, but they did come out for vote Brexit and to get it done in 2019. 
Third are Loyal Nationals - most akin to red wall voters. Socially conservative but economically left leaning. Think the world is becoming a more dangerous place and feel left behind in it, and are very concerned about channel crossings. They swung Tory in 2019 but the shift started before.
Finally, Established Liberals, who reflect blue-wall voters. Optimistic, outward looking, believe the world is becoming a safer place. Socially liberal but economically right leaning, the only part of coalition that voted remain. Slowly drifting away from the Conservatives.
Here’s how the coalition has swung since 2019. There are two trends. While Conservatives are holding steady with Disengaged Traditionalists and Backbone Conservatives, their support has fallen with Established Liberals in the Blue wall and Loyal Nationals in the Red wall. 
Changing VI
Recapturing Boris's magic in doing that won't be easy. Not least because Loyal Nationals (Red wall) and Established Liberals (Blue wall) have very different world views. Take the question of whether the world is becoming a more dangerous place and they're at opposite ends. 
Or when asked how our society is most divided - a majority of Loyal Nationals say between rich and poor, but the rest of the Conservative Coalition are less likely to agree. 
Like Say In Politics
On having a say in politics, Established Liberals and Backbone Conservatives are more likely to feel like they're listened to compared to Loyal Nationals who are the least likely to agree. 
Those differences in the Coalition extend to cultural issues too. Established Liberals in the blue wall are the only part of the Tory coalition who agree that Black Lives Matter has been a force for good, the other segments say a force for bad.
Good Or Bad

Firstly every segment says cost of living is the top issue facing the country.

May 2022

Secondly, and perhaps unsurprisingly the Tory Coalition is patriotic and proud of our country. Policies which channel national pride and lay out an optimistic vision for a post-Brexit future can unite the different parts of the Tory coalition.

Union Jack

That pride also comes through in our handling of the pandemic. It's got lost in fall out from party-gate, but the 2019 Tory electorate is largely proud of how we responded to the pandemic and thinks Govt made the right calls on vaccines/reopening

Commitment to tackling climate change is another area that unites the different Tory tribes. Majorities of every single voter group making up the Tory coalition support the 2050 net-zero target. They're not XR radicals, but want a plan for pragmatic transition. 
Greenhouse Gases

And on a lighter note, viewing habits bring the Tory Coalition back together as well, for all four segments who voted Tory in 2019 (and six out of the seven segments overall) Line of Duty was their top watched show of last year

Tv Programme

First published on Twitter here