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End of term polls: Cameron and the Conservatives not damaged by Hackgate, continued grassroots support for the Coalition, and Labour's unconvincing fiscal message

By Matthew Barrett
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ConHome-David-Cameron

(1) THE PARTIES ARE POLLING AT THE SAME NUMBERS AS IN SPRING

  • On the 26th April of this year, YouGov for the Sun had the parties at Con 36Lab 41Lib 10
  • A month later, on the 25th May, YouGov/Sun found the parties at Con 37Lab 41Lib 10
  • On the 24th June, YouGov for the Sunday Times had the parties at Con 36Lab 43Lib 9. No real change. 
  • On 25th July, YouGov for the Sun found the parties' support to be at Con 37Lab 41Lib 10. Identical to the position two months before, and very similar to both April and June.
  • All the signs point to there being a consistent, but not-at-all insurmountable Labour lead. Some polls in the last few months have put the Conservatives ahead, Labour ahead by only one point, or the parties neck-and-neck. The Labour lead is not stable or strong enough to guarantee it won't be evaporated by a relativelty small political development.

(2) DAVID CAMERON HAS NOT BEEN WOUNDED BY HACKGATE

YouGov for the Sunday Times, conducted 28th-29th July, gave Cameron a -11 approval rating, with 41% saying he is doing well, and 52% badly. Before Hackgate, Cameron was at -10, and in the middle of Hackgate (21st-22nd July), Cameron's approval rating was as low as -16. So, as can be seen, his approval ratings are back to a pre-Hackgate level. 

(3) ED MILIBAND'S REPUTATION HAS IMPROVED - BUT REMAINS LOW

Miliband Ed Politics Show 470 Ed Miliband's approval rating for YouGov (28th-29th July) is at -17, with 34% thinking Miliband is doing well, and 51% thinking he is doing badly. That is a better position for Miliband, compared to his rating of -34 before Hackgate became big political news. However, his approval ratings may have peaked already - a YouGov poll conducted on the 21st and 22nd July found Miliband's approval rating at -15, and so having declined a week later, for the 28th-29th July poll, we may have seen Ed Miliband's highest poll ratings come and go. Even if he were to stay at around the -17 mark, he is doing worse than Cameron. 

(4) CAMERON IS THE ONLY LEADER WITH OVERWHELMING INTERNAL SUPPORT

What are the chances of David Cameron still being leader of the Conservative Party by the time of the next election? 90% of Conservative supporters believe he will still be leader. Only 4% of the Tories take the opposite view. On the other hand, only 66% of Labour voters feel Ed Miliband can "probably" make it through to the next election. Nick Clegg is the weakest of the three leaders, with only 58% of Lib Dems believing he can last until 2015. (YouGov/Sunday Times).

(5) TORIES AND LIB DEMS CONTINUE TO BACK THE COALITION, AND THE REASONS FOR IT

Cameron Clegg 81% of Conservative supporters are satisfied with the government. 93% of Conservatives think David Cameron is doing well. So do 55% of Lib Dems and 10% of Labour supporters. 79% of Tories say the Coalition partners are working well together, as do 67% of Lib Dems and 9% of Labourites. Majorities of both Tories and Lib Dems say the government is good for "people like me". 79% of Tories think the Coalition is handling the economy well - again, Lib Dems agree. Conservatives and Lib Dems are also united in blaming the previous Labour government for our economic situation. (YouGov/Sunday Times). Finally, Lib Dems, even more than Conservative supporters - 74% compared to 73% - back the Coalition Agreement. (YouGov/Sun).

(6) CAMERON BEATS MILIBAND ON KEY LEADERSHIP CRITERIA

A YouGov/Sun survey for the 31st July/1st August found that Cameron beat Ed Miliband time and time again on key leadership qualities*:

  • By 26% to 5% on charisma;
  • By 19% to 8% on being "strong";
  • By 20% to 5% on being a "natural leader";
  • By 20% to 9% on being decisive

Worryingly for Miliband, Labour supporters give him relatively low scores on these leadership qualities. For example, only 12% of Labour supporters think Miliband is a "natural leader". A number of Lib Dems are also willing to concede Cameron's leadership qualities - but Miliband doesn't even get more than 5% of Lib Dems thinking he is decisive, charismatic, etc.

*If you think the numbers look low, it's because respondents were asked to "tick all that apply" out of a range of leadership traits, as opposed to a simple "Who is more decisive  - David Cameron or Ed Miliband?" - type question.

(7) VOTERS BACK GEORGE OSBORNE AND THE COALITION'S ECONOMIC PLANS

Osborne on AM In a YouGov survey conducted 28th-29th July, voters backed George Osborne over Ed Balls by 25% to 23% on the question of which man would make the better Chancellor of the Exchequer. The previous survey on the topic found the two level on 27% each, so George Osborne has pulled in front of Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls. 

(8) THE GOVERNMENT'S CURRENT STRATEGY IS MORE POPULAR THAN LABOUR'S "PLAN B"

The same survey as above also found the most popular economic plan was for the government to "stick to its current strategy of reducing the deficit, even if this means growth remains slow". Conservative supporters strongly back that policy, as do a majority of Lib Dems. A majority of Labour supporters, and 29% of voters overall, want the government to "change its strategy to concentrate on growth, even if this means the deficit gets even worse", which is a coherent summary of Labour and Ed Balls' economic "Plan B". 

(9) LABOUR'S ECONOMIC TEAM IS NOT TRUSTED ON THE ECONOMY

Balls Ed 470
A late-July ComRes/ITV News poll asked whether people would trust Ed Balls "to see the country through the current economic situation". The outcome was 16% would trust him, and 61% would not. Curiously AB voters - the upper, upper middle and "middle middle" classes - trust him more (20%) than C1C2D voters. 

Ed Miliband fared marginally better, with 18% of people trusting him for the same task, and 60% not trusting him. As with Balls, Miliband's firmest support (21%) comes from the AB voter category.

Neither is trusted as much as George Osborne or David Cameron, and Nick Clegg scores roughly the same trust level as Ed Miliband, at 18%. 

(10) A MAJORITY NOW THINK THE LIBYAN INTERVENTION IS GOING BADLY

While the Libyan intervention is not as intense or in the headlines as much as the Iraq war was, it remains Cameron's big contribution (other than aid) to foreign policy so far. YouGov tracking polls, listed here, show that in the first poll on the topic of Libya, conducted March 22-23, 47% of people thought the intervention was going well, and 26% badly. Within a week, this was 58% to 20% thinking it was going well. However, a poll released on the 1st August shows 54% think the intervention is going badly, and 24% think it's going well - a reversal of the initial public opinion. Despite that, 34% still think the intervention is right, and 43% wrong.

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