A recently released YouGov poll suggests that almost four in ten voters are yet to form an opinion about the party’s new leader.
The poll, conducted between the 9th and 10th November, suggests that 37% of voters don’t know how they feel about the former coalition's business secretary. This is down from the 39% at the start of September, suggesting that Cable needs to get more exposure and build his political brand with ordinary members of the public.
On top of this, 20% have a favourable view of him and 44% have an unfavourable view. This is hardly surprising as the coalition casts on long shadow on his party, but the fall in his net approval rating from -15% to -24% in two months makes for stark reading for Liberal Democrat members and supporters.
Unsurprisingly, he does well with remainers, with a net approval rating of 3%, and poorly with those who voted for Brexit (43%). The figures are consistent with views towards the party.
Sir Vince Cable brings abundant political experience to the leadership role, as well as a sound economic background, but four months on from his election, he his failing to cut through to the masses. No doubt as Brexit approaches, he will appeal to hard-remainers and the Liberal Democrats will receive a bounce the polls if negotiations are going south, but such an outcome risks turning the Liberal Democrats into the anti-Brexit party.
The party evidently opposes the UK’s decision to leave the union, but focusing too much one divisive issue could put them into a box. Cable is a crucial champion of the EU, but in order gain recognition and build support for his party, he and the Liberal Democrats need to reach out beyond Brexit and return to leading on issues that took them from third-place to a party of government in 2010.
The electorate has a long memory, but with the centre opened up, Vince Cable could cut through.
The full results of the YouGov poll can be viewed here.