Weeks after Rishi Sunak said an election is “not what the country wants”, More in Common found voters want a poll sooner rather than later due to high levels of “dissatisfaction with the current state of politics”.
And while the contingent most happy to hold off an election until January 2025 is the Tory base, fewer than one in five of them want to wait that long.
More in Common’s UK director Luke Tryl warned that far from boosting Conservative fortunes, dragging out a general election could cost the Tories dearly.
The Institute for Government (IfG) think tank has mapped out the three most likely dates when Mr Sunak will call an election: May 2024, autumn 2024 or January 2025, the last moment he legally can.
While an immediate general election is backed by less than a fifth of the public, the option of an earlier May election has majority support, More in Common found.
But the IfG said the benefit of a later January 2025 election for Mr Sunak is “simply, time”.
“A January 2025 election would give the government the maximum amount of time to deliver on its priorities and prepare a campaign,” the think tank said.
Economic forecasts suggest the economy will be improving and it will give voters the maximum amount of time living with lower levels of inflation.
Mr Tryl said: “While it’s understandable that Rishi Sunak will want to wait as long as possible to call an election in the hope that Conservative prospects improve, our polling suggests that waiting too long may in fact have the opposite effect.
“A weary public are not in the mood for a 12 month plus General Election campaign and overwhelmingly would like an election over and done with before next summer.”
Mr Sunak was rocked last week by Labour’s shock by-election wins in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire, which set the Conservatives on course for an election wipeout on the scale of Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide.
Britain’s top polling guru Prof Sir John Curtice warned that without a “dramatic” turnaround, Mr Sunak’s party is on course for a huge defeat.
After the results, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said “people are ready for change”.
But Mr Sunak used the Conservative Party conference this month to set out his vision for the country, promising a focus on “long term decisions”.
The PM suggested he will indeed hold off calling a general election, telling Sky News: “I go out and about every day. That’s not what anybody wants. What people want is politicians making a difference to their lives.”