Budget polling

We won’t have any more voting intention polls till tonight, but we have had some polling as the budget itself. YouGov’s Sun poll also had some specific questions on the poll, ComRes had a poll for the Daily Politics, Populus have some findings here and Political Betting have a new poll from Angus Reid. At first glance the two latter ones look rather contradictory – ComRes implies the budget has gone down well, Angus Reid doesn’t. Compare all three and the picture is slightly more consistent.

A majority of those with an opinion disapprove of the budget.
Angus Reid found 54% disapproved, 30% approved. YouGov found 41% thought it wasn’t fair, 32% thought it was. This is not unusual though, or necessarily that bad. Budgets are not usually very popular. In recent years I’ve commented here about polls that have found all the measures within the budget are approved of, but the budget as a whole is still frowned on. People just don’t like them!

If YouGov’s “net fairness” for this budget is minus 9, that needs to be seen in the context of previous years. In 2009 it was -16, 2007 it was -14, 2006 -7, 2005 +15. Hence the budget is not seen as being as fair as those in better times, but it is being received considerably more positively than recent budgets.

ComRes, incidentally, gave people the option of saying the budget wouldn’t make much difference, and the majority of respondents too it! Of those who thought it would make a difference more thought it was good (18%) than bad (12%)

The budget has improved Alistair Darling’s reputation. This was the big finding from ComRes’s budget poll, that Brown & Darling lead Cameron & Osborne as the most trusted on the economic downturn by 33% to 27% (Populus asked a similar question and found a similar lead for Brown & Darling). This is in contrast to other recent poll findings still showing Cameron & Osborne ahead, but that will largely be because ComRes offered the third option of Clegg & Cable, whereas most of these economic team questions ask only Brown & Darling v Cameron & Osborne (it also looks as though neither poll was politically weighted – Populus’s question on how people’s vote was affected by the budget implies the sample is far more Labour than their normal ones).

In contrast YouGov’s post-budget poll asked a normal best party on the economy question giving people a forced choice between Labour and the Conservatives and continued to find a narrow Tory lead (34% to 30%) – though some of that difference will also be from asking parties rather than politicians.

More interesting is that when ComRes previously asked an identical question in December Cameron & Osborne were ahead, so there is movement in the direction of Brown & Darling. YouGov also found a boost in Darling’s reputation. They asked the same questions on the Tuesday before the budget and straight afterwards. Pre-budget 17% of people thought Darling would make the best Chancellor, that rose to 20% afterwards. His job approval rating rose from minus 17 to minus 14.

Economic optimism has dropped. Asked immediately before the budget YouGov found economic optimism at minus 10, straight after the budget it had fallen to minus 19. Like previous budgets, this one seems to have reminded people quite how bad the economic situation is. Increasing economic optimism does appear to have played a significant role in Labour’s recovery over the last 6 months, so this could be significant.


156 Responses to “Budget polling”

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  1. “Like previous budgets, this one seems to have reminded people quite how bad the economic situation is. Increasing economic optimism does appear to have played a significant role in Labour’s recovery over the last 6 months, so this could be significant.”

    Interesting observation Anthony.

  2. I like the comment about people just not liking budgets generally, even if the measures individually are popular. The public can be a very glass-half-empty lot, can’ t they!
    I’m sure there are some who are better off overall after the budget, but the only thing they can remember is 10p on a pint of cider (the so-called Wurzel tax)! It’s all about the headlines, I guess.

    Btw Anthony, yesterday’s YouGov poll is still missing from the list on the right. :-)

  3. From these polls on the budget, I think it’s hard to tell how the general opinion polls will go. They seem a tad contradictory – the earlier one that had Lab take a lead on economic competence seems to have been cancelled out by others. I think it’s hard to say which party the public has more confidence in for economic policy.

    Also, it will be interesting to see how the declining confidence in economic recovery will affect the polls. I suspect Labour’s success with the electorate over the past decade has mainly been because the UK economy was growing (until 2008). Once the economy starts contracting or slowing down, voter loyalty/confidence in a party generally starts to decline again. However, this isn’t a guarantee as a lot will depend, surely, on the Tories, and whether the general public will like their tax cuts and economic policies.

    All in all, this makes the next week more exciting.

  4. I’ve also posted this on the other thread.
    Just looked at the AR poll figures for the Budget. Overall, I agree it is better for Con than Lab.
    This is just an observation – AR are saying in the accompanying blurb that “Only 22 per cent of respondents are “very confident” or “moderately confident” that the budget will promote economic recovery in the UK, while 71
    per cent are ‘not too confident’ or ‘not confident at all’ that this will be the case.” (The latter split is 39/32.) The question was “How confident are you that the budget will promote economic recovery in the UK?”
    Perhaps it’s me, but isn’t it possible to interpret the answers to this question as being “61% of respondents are confident that the budget will promote economic recovery in the UK, while just 32% are ‘not confident at all'”?
    Surely, if you answer the question by saying “not too confident” you’re confident?!

  5. @SUE MARSH
    On the previous thread you make the point that the public are smart enough to see the financial meltdown of recent times as a global issue. This if I may say is a very “Labour flavoured” view point. Its like me saying “everyone knows we must have nuclear weapons”, a tinsy bit Tory perhaps. The fact is a very large number of people do not altogether believe that Brown is personally responsible for every financial problem which besets us, but they are aware that vast spending programes have made matters worse. Your hope at present is not that Brown is off any hooks, but that the Tories are very poor at selling an alternative.

  6. “The public can be a very glass-half-empty lot, can’ t they!
    I’m sure there are some who are better off overall after the budget, but the only thing they can remember is 10p on a pint of cider (the so-called Wurzel tax)! It’s all about the headlines, I guess.”

    That’s the point I have been making during the past few days. People care about the economy, the NHS/public services etc. but the vast majority of people today don’t think that they, as an individual/group within society, should pay for it (i.e. they think others should!!) Elections are largely decided, whether we like it or not, on pre-election sweeteners and each person’s perception of how each party would affect their own finances (i.e. again, most people think that others in society should pay for the massive borrowing/banking/economic crises).

    The idea that ‘we are all in it together’ with regard to the economy/borrowing, and therefore must ALL take on extra debt ourselves, is a concept rejected by most people.

  7. Anthony,

    I’m curious to know, when a polling company is asked to poll members of Unite but the request comes from the Conservative party, where would the polling company get a listing of current Unite membership & their contact details?

  8. Amber – good question!

  9. @ MATT

    …but the vast majority of people today don’t think that they, as an individual/group within society, should pay for it (i.e. they think others should!!)
    —————————————
    That’s a rather sweeping statement, any polls or other evidence to back it? I haven’t seen any recent polling on this, which is why I ask.

  10. I would agree that the polls sound pretty bad for Labour. They show that more people don’t have faith in their economic policy than do.

    However, it’s worth remembering that even if people are dissatisfied with Labour economic policy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t vote for them. Even if they switch political allegiance to another party, many could turn to the Lib Dems, which would be less damaging to Labour than if they switch to the Tories. So what I’m trying to say is that it may not affect the voting intention that much (especially if the Labour deserters detest the Tories). Only time will tell.

  11. “That’s a rather sweeping statement, any polls or other evidence to back it? I haven’t seen any recent polling on this, which is why I ask.”

    Just watch the news/talk to people on the street, and the vast majority of people (not all, admittedly), talk about the budget/government policy in terms of how it affects them.

    Also, look at the breakdown of voting behaviour according to a few weeks ago (i.e. where high-income earners tend to be much more likely to vote for the Tories, and the inverse being true with low earners). I don’t think this is based on ideology (just who benefits them most).

  12. In fact, I don’t think I have spoken to a person yet who feels that they personally should pay for the irresponsible behaviour of the bankers/financial sector/economic collapse.

    I think if you asked most people if they think that they personally should owe the government around £50,000 each (can’t remember the exact figure) over the course of their lifetime, the overwhelming reaction would be a resounding no!!! This goes for Tories and Lab supporters.

  13. @ MATT

    I guess I meant the not being willing to pay for services. The last polls I saw about this were a while ago but I believe a majority of those asked said they’d prefer to forego a tax cut that personally benefits them, to have better health & education.

    Have attitudes changed since then? It would be interesting to see a poll now asking whether people would prefer a tax cut for themselves paid for by less spending on health & education.

    That said, if Osborne does go ahead with the touted tax cuts, I guess we’ll get some kind of answer from the polls that are bound to follow.

  14. Looking at the Populus presentation, is there a Populus poll out there (giving an 8% Conservative lead) and a Com Res poll (ditto) that hasn’t been reported?

  15. “Also, look at the breakdown of voting behaviour according to a few weeks ago (i.e. where high-income earners tend to be much more likely to vote for the Tories, and the inverse being true with low earners). I don’t think this is based on ideology (just who benefits them most).”

    Actually, on further reflection, I think this is based partly, in some cases, on ideology, but how it affects people financially undoubtedly plays an important part – hence the above split based on income/financial situation.

  16. “I guess I meant the not being willing to pay for services. The last polls I saw about this were a while ago but I believe a majority of those asked said they’d prefer to forego a tax cut that personally benefits them, to have better health & education.”

    Yeah, but when it comes down to it (away from polls where they feel socially pressured to say otherwise), I don’t think people do, generally speaking, want to forego personal tax cuts. I think they don’t mind foregoing tax cuts if they are for the country as a whole, but if they are hit hardest they perceive it as being unfair – and hence vote accordingly (generally).

  17. @SEAN FEAR
    Hav’nt seen a thing Sean, what makes you ask?

  18. “to have better health & education.”

    I think that’s the other point. Most people would be more willing to forego tax cuts if they felt the public services were going to improve significantly, but most of the public are cynical enough (I think) to believe that the health service won’t improve significantly under any of the three main parties. Therefore, they feel their increased taxes would be wasted.

  19. @ Roland Haines

    “The fact is a very large number of people do not altogether believe that Brown is personally responsible for every financial problem which besets us, but they are aware that vast spending programes have made matters worse”

    Do we have any polling showing people believe public sector spending is responsible for the recession? Really?

  20. I think most people accept taxation for health and education. The bigger question is whether they also accept it to fund Labour’s wars, overseas aid, Trident, and a bank bail-out that the government seems unwilling to demand that the banks repay.

  21. I also got an Opinium poll on Thursday with voting intention and some budget questions. Surprised its not been published yet. How long do Opinium generally conduct their surveys for?

  22. James Ludlow – Won’t the Gov get the bailout money back when selling the shares?

  23. “I think most people accept taxation for health and education.”

    They accept taxation for health and education, yes – but my point was that I don’t believe that most voters believe that they should face extra personal burden than others for the above. In other words, they adhere to what they see the ‘unfairness’ principle, that they shouldn’t be personally burdened more than others (i.e. most people would prefer to contribute less/the same as others).

  24. @BODMASS
    Do we have any polling showing people believe public sector spending is responsible for the recession? Really?

    Not to my knowledge, but the levels of personal debt, irresponsible banking practice, false accounting, regulation failure, all occured on GBs watch. He has enough front to deny any responsibility whatever. However, my point to Sue is that the public do still hold Brown a certain amount responsible for what has happened.
    May I say I am not running away from a fight when I say pursuance of potential Gordon is great, no he is not, he is a burk will lead to moderation. Therefore not playing.

  25. To illustrate this:

    If you asked the following cross-section of the British population whether they should pay more and lose personal tax allowances/experience tax cuts to pay for health and education (and have their own personal tax/otherwise contribution increase disproportionately to others) :

    1) Millionaires
    2) The middle classes with children
    3) The middle classes – without children
    4) Poorly paid workers (i.e. working class)
    5) Single parents and people seeking employment;

    I think the majority of people from each group would say it was placing an unfair burden on them. Of course, if you ask people if tax (generally) should increase to fund the health/education services, more people would reply in the affirmative. But some would be making the assumption that it may leave their own tax contribution unaffected.

  26. @AW
    Off topic but related to polling. Have you seen the article on the BBC website re: Social Media Scoring?

    This seems to be a way for a compant (Yomago) to study the various blogs/tweets/etc and score them positive and negative. Then produce a single score.
    This is showing some interesting results concerning the Parties and leaders and MAY be worth monitoring for future.

  27. @ MikeN – that rather depends on the share prices, and it might not happen for some considerable time.

  28. “That said, if Osborne does go ahead with the touted tax cuts, I guess we’ll get some kind of answer from the polls that are bound to follow.”

    I think it will be a slight indicator – but remember many people who are left out by the Tory tax cuts will still perceive it as being unfair to their own financial situation. They may feel left out by Tory spending cuts (which only affect certain people), so it may not be too much of an indication . Some may even vote Labour as a consequence of what they see as ‘unfairness’.

  29. Roland, Populus’s presentation shows poll leads of 8% for the Conservatives with Populus, and Com Res. I’m just wondering where those figures have come from.

  30. Incidentally, Sue is aware that her view of the world just entirely ignored China, India and Australia :)

  31. @SEAN FEAR
    I just dont know mate, but I will gladly accept them!

  32. Mike N – Now there’s something you don’t hear every day eh? Spot on. If Gordy was a dealer, who’d managed to pick up majority shares of two major high street banks at absolute, historic-rock-bottom-all-time-low-prices, we might conclude he’d pulled off quite a good deal eh?

    Sure might be next year, might be the year after, but whoever the gov is stands to receive a stonking great windfall from these shares and the longer they leave them, the more they’ll make.

  33. @JAMES LUDLOW
    That’s the problem for the government. They can’t sell the bulk of the shares for many years. That is why they have to cut spending. But how do you sell that to an electrorate that thinks it is paying the price for irresponsible investment banking practices and poor oversight?

  34. Re. the EU row over bailing Greece out.

    Merkel want’s “European economic management” of member states, so the prudent Germans don’t have to fund the unsustainable deficits of others again.

    It seems she is not talking generalities-she means it.

    Apparently she has actually said “I think we will not be able to bypass possible treaty changes, I think we need them,”

    This is going to be fun.

  35. “So, Sue’s thought for the next 5 minutes – Did Gordon Brown cause the global credit meltdown and our towering deficit”

    I don’t personally think GB is directly responsible for the credit crunch/recession per se. However, the economic crises is bad for Labour because Labour promised to abolish the ‘boom and bust’ that happened under previous governments.

    If anything else, this recession has undermined voter confidence by showing that Labour’s previous success with economic growth was also probably part of a global economic growth cycle i.e. can’t be directly attributable to Labour’s economic management. The worry for Labour has that it has reinforced to the public at large that Labour cannot insulate us against future risks (as they have previously claimed).

    I also think that the issue of how the recovery will be managed is also playing on voters’ minds. They want a credible plan, which spells out future spending cuts etc. The problem is that they know they won’t get this with either Labour and the Conservatives, and hence, voter confidence in both party’s economic management has been seriously undermined.

  36. @COLIN
    Merkel’s comments were directed at Eurozone countries, rather that at all EU Member States.
    If this is picked up as Euro-meddling by the electorate, however, it will harm the Conservatives by increasing support for UKIP.

  37. Actually Matt that’s an excellent point.
    (Don’t tell any Tories I’m about to say this…..)
    No I can’t do it.
    OK I will. When DC was raging about the promise to abolish boom and bust it was way more painful than anything he’s said lately.
    Shhhhhhhhhhh

  38. @MATT
    Or to put it another way, people want to know from Lab and Con whether the axe will fall on them.

  39. Hello Everyone,

    As this is really a POLLING SITE and not really a Slag all other Parties off site or an @I think I know better than you lot as to who caused the Economic downturn and Massive record breaking Debt we find ourselves in (one thing is absolutley for certain though it wasn’t the Conservative Party this time)

    So after pointing those small details out why don’t we start to predict Tonights/Tomorrows Polls in the Sunday Papers?

    I will start it off:

    Con 38/39

    Lab 31/32

    LD 18/19

    There now have a go :o

  40. JAMES LUDLOW:
    “..that rather depends on the share prices, and it might not happen for some considerable time.”

    From Reuters:
    “But a report Wednesday [24/3/2010] from UK Financial Investments, which manages the government’s stakes in wholly and partially nationalised lenders, places the state’s average investment per share in Lloyds as low as 63.2p when fees are included.”

    Lloyds share price at close on Friday: 64.05p

    In a similar way, average share price for RBS is 49.9 (when fees are included) and the price at close on Friday was 45.59.

    With return to profit for Lloyds this is likely to rise. Similarly for RBS.

  41. @ Matt – not sure what your point is. Is the government selling shares this week?

  42. Sorry – above was meant for Ash, not Matt.

  43. @SUE MARSH
    I am sorry Sue but it depends which poll you want to believe. COMRES would support your point, AR most certainly would not.
    GBs personal popularity level is poor, according to Mike Smitson the other day, poor enough to hurt Labour seriously in a GE.
    A certain type of person realises that billions squandered 5 or 6 years before any down turn would have helped us now. You know yourself if life suddenly got very tough for you and yours, spending £60,000 on a couple of cars 18 months ago that are now worth £20,000 if you are lucky, would not look smart. And then there is all the stuff re the banks regulator ect. Not everyone is a convinced Labour supporter.

  44. Roland, you’re correct about Brown’s unpopularity.

    But, it begs the question. Just think how Labour would be doing now, had they replaced him?

  45. @ RAF

    “Merkel’s comments were directed at Eurozone countries, rather that at all EU Member States.”

    Yes-technically.
    So you foresee a set of Treaty amendments, to establish “European Financial Management”; which would not apply to UK?

    “If this is picked up as Euro-meddling by the electorate, however, it will harm the Conservatives by increasing support for UKIP.”

    An interesting view-with which I don’t altogether agree.
    Depends how Cameron played it.
    It could deal him some cards too.

  46. The indications are that this budget will not result in the normal 3% dip for labour

    it will probably see a 1.5% on average dip.

    I dont agree with Anthony that this budget reminded people of how bad the economy is. I do think his main point that people do not lik ebudgets is more accurate.

    This budget confirmed lower than expected borrowing
    it confirmed falling unemployment
    it comfirmed higher yield from bank tax
    it confriemd medium term growth is likely

    the most conservative estimate i have seen for growth in 2%

    that on its own is less than we need but it is still pretty good

  47. This budget confirmed lower than expected borrowing
    it confirmed falling unemployment
    it comfirmed higher yield from bank tax
    it confriemd medium term growth is likely

    Then why do the public and the city agree it is not much cop?
    Lower than expected borrowing, oh joy only £170 billion, my grandsons aged 5 and 3 will only be paying it back into their 30s rather than their 40s. I really dont know why anyone would consider voting Tory.

  48. Shock – AR poll reveals that 61% of respondents are confident that the Budget will promote economic recovery in the UK.

  49. Perhaps the most significant finding is that the Budget just before the 2005 election was considered “fair” by +15%, compared to -9% now.

  50. Darling’s reputation is enhanced for a reason…….. think about it.

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