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. @don’t-tell-em-pike

    I had a look at these kinds of ‘Social Media Ranking’ systems myself during #PMwithPM.

    The main problem with them is they focus on one social group, those that use internet social networking and who were interested enough to say something about it. That’s a really small number compared to the rest of the population, and not at all representative of it. Certainly, if we went by the BBC ‘Have Your Say’ website column, Labour should have lost in 2005, and UKIP would be the strongest party in the country.

    Secondary, these automated systems use language ranking. They don’t really measure the attitude to what’s being discussed, since that would require human review. Instead they measure the type of language used. So if you use a lot of ‘positive’ language to say something bad about the budget, it would register as a positive comment. Since we do often use sarcasm, damning with faint praise, and other subversions of ‘positive’ language, this means that there’s a lot of error in the result.

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

    Slightly. But he’s still at -14% with Yougov, and -15% with MORI.

  3. @Roland Haines

    Dentist effect. You go to a dentist, he tells you that you need three fillings and have to quit smoking and stop drinking so much cider or you’ll get more. A fair number of people will blame the dentist, or want to get another dentist who doesn’t tell them they need to quit smoking.

  4. @ Eoin – “This budget confirmed lower than expected borrowing
    it confirmed falling unemployment”

    How “positive” these are is very much in the eye of the beholder, because to quite a few people this just as easily reads as “We’re still borrowing vast amounts, but not quite as much as this heavy-borrowed government said we might have to borrow” and “Unemployment is really high and not falling very quickly”.

    My point is, establishing staggeringly low expectations and then trying to sound upbeat when things are marginally better than your first suggested, isn’t quite the same thing as a new economic dawn.

  5. @ COLIN
    So you foresee a set of Treaty amendments, to establish“European Financial Management”; which would not apply to UK”

    There is no reason why it necessarily should. There are many anciliary protocols, side agreements etc within EU agreements. There are also areas of the Treaty of Rome (as amended) that do not apply to all states in all circumstances.

    Of course the UK is signed up to the Stability Pact, which does include assurances on our part that out debt will not higher than a certain % of GDP. If Merkel wants stronger measures, at Community level, to enforce these caps, then that could affect us. But this is doubtful, as many member states are currently exceeding their debt obligations under the Stability Pact.

    “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. Depends how Cameron played it. It could deal him some cards”

    I don’t see how. If UKIP were not around, it certainly would.

  6. IMO the budget wasn’t so bad but the day after when Labour said they would have to increase taxes by £20 billion wasn’t so good.

  7. The main point you are all mising is this…

    pollsters ask ho do you trust to run the economy more?

    it is the most important question of 2010

    Darling’s honesty is helping win that argument for labour- he has proven truthful

    the polling evidence supports this

  8. ÉOIN – absolutely right. People don’t have to think Darling is a genius, or like him, or that the budget was good, or anything positive at all. They will be making a choice between Brown/Darling and Cameron/Osborne – it may not even be which pairing is best, just which is least bad!
    We could have 99% of people polled saying the budget was awful, but it might still not hurt Labour.

  9. Eoin,

    It depends which poll you look at. Com Res suggests one thing, Yougov the other, AR something else, but in each case, it’s down to their polling methods, and the way the question is framed.

  10. “Surely, if you answer the question by saying “not too confident” you’re confident?!” Nope.

    I agree its a bit of an imprecise colloquial question; but when I use a phrase like that I mean I am not confident.

    Taxation? People accept taxation for services they receive – that they need and want. They do not accept taxation for waste. They do not accept taxation for profligate government spending. But brown has been spending money other than from taxation – he has been borrowing even in the good times. In 1979 the national debt was about 300 billion. In 2014 it will be 1.4 trillion. explain to me somebody how that level of spending can continue?

  11. Even I’m bored by the partisan nature of this thread.
    Roland – Not true. All polls show an improvement to Lab/Darling in the economy, even if some of them are still rubbish for them/him

  12. Saying a majority disaprove of the budget or have lower economic confidence and this is bad news for Labour is more than a tad silly. It’s certainly a delusion.

    The majority will disapprove for a very particular reason.. the majority oppose whichever party is in government. Or indeed opposition.

    If Labour win, 4 out of 5 people will not have voted for them

    If the Tories win, 4 out of 5 people will not have voted for them.

    5 out of 6 people will not be voting for the Lib Dems.

    As far as the effect on opinion polls about the coming election are concerned, the opposition or disapproval of the majority towards a given measure or announcement is absolutely irrelevant, because it is inevitable. It is only the relative size of the minority who don’t disapprove that’s of any significance.

  13. Chrisc – That’s the most sense I’ve read all day

  14. @Sean

    your point has some merit.

    Until we see more data (tonight maybe?) we cannot say.

    I predict a slight dip in labour support but nowhere near the five previous budgetary statements by darling

    he normally averages a 3.2% drop….

    this time maybe 1.2%

  15. Amber – it won’t have been sampled like that. Last time Populus did a poll of Unite members (they did it before in 2009) they did it online, so it would have been a case of asking their whole panel (or possibly the panels of other online panel providers) if they were members of trade unions, and then contacting all those who indicated they were members of Unite.

    (and Sue, don’t complain about the thread being partisan and then egg Trevor into continuing a partisan argument. If you don’t like it, don’t encourage it!)

  16. Cull him then AW – and Roland, don’t just cull the responses (Lab) and leave the causes (Con)

  17. I always complain about partisanship. And I dont baulk at naming names.


    Having read this thread, I can honestly say that 99% of the comments – even where partisan – have been posted in a polite and usually intelligent or analytic manner.

    Which just goes to show, that even when one may dislike an opponent, it IS possible to be both polite AND offer an intelligent contribution.

    Well done, folks! Keep it up!

  18. “After years of pretending that Little George Osborne is a killer politician, even Dave must now realise that all he is killing are the chances of his own party’s winning the election.”

    “The Tories, meanwhile, are all over the place. It is no surprise. The combination of inexperience, opportunism and stupidity is a lethal cocktail when it comes to trying to work out how to govern. The time has come, as the crucial hour approaches, to send a man to do a man’s job. That man can only be Ken Clarke.”

    Reaction by Simon Heffor in the Telegraph.

    I have wondered why Ken Clarke hasn’t been given the role of Shadow Chancelor by David Cameron as, I feel, he would have performed better.

  19. @ Anthony

    Thanks re: Populus – I can never remember which of method each of the newer polling orgs use. Did Populus use YG’s panel for its Unite surveys, by any chance?

  20. @David in F

    I would agree

    There is a lot more substantiation to literally everybodies (I cannot think of an exception) points. If I find myself disagreeing it is usually now over the finer detail than some broad sweeping insult.

    Provided you substnatiate a point and are open to the prosepct you might be wrong then it makes for godo discussion

    I think not having mcuh polling data post budget has made it difficult also.

    Other than YouGov we have had nothing on voting intentions…

    wed, thur, fr, sat…… thats hard for us geeks

  21. @ Ash

    For the avoidance of doubt, I meant Ken Clark gently sniping – not you :-)

  22. @ASH
    I’ve never known anyone be as critical of their own side than Simon Heffer. And I thought he had serious issues with Ken Clarke. Not just over Europe, but over tax cuts, social policy, pretty much everything. Like many other Conservatives.
    Anyone reading his Telegraph column would think that the Tories were 10 points behind, rather than 5 points ahead.

  23. @@Ash/Amber

    As i said yesterday the Telegraph is to the Tories, what Poly Toynbee is to Gordbon Brown. A pain on their preverbial…….

    George Osborne is being judged too harsh too early..

    he has been remarkably consistent.. its his leader who keeps getting muddled up on these matters…

    Osbornes Shadow budger now that he has sensible left it a few days after the budget itself to publish, will almost certainly see a bounce in Tory support…

    the current absence of a narrative form the tories at the moment is a symptom of their silence…

    tory Bloggers would probably be best sitting ont heir quills until they hear his pledges… they might end up with egg on their face if the over egg the cut spending narrative

    afterall the tories are only going 8£ billion further.. combiend with that their tax cuts on inheitance, council tax, corporation tax, national insurce and marriage breaks

    tonight poll will be crucial in establishing the paradigm into which the election will be called

    a 4-6% tory lead will be godo news for labour

    if the tories can eek out a couple of % from the budget and then ahve a good shadow budgets they may still be looking at 9-10%.

    The former will sutain talk of coaliyions and hung parlaiments,

    the latter will instill hope among tories that they can, with good debates graft out a majority…

    sensible people would say it is too early to predict..

    i am not that sensible, I think hope of a tory majority is gone.

  24. @ RAF

    Simon Heffer has a point. Cameron ‘squandered’ about 10 points with his giant posters.

    IMO that was what robbed Cameron of his credibility with the general public. He came over as vain & out-of-touch. How did he not foresee them being altered both digitally & on the streets by a legion of ‘Banksies’?

    I dont believe any cuddley Conservatism has held Ken back its Europe. It would not have suprised me if there had been no rehabilitation for Ken due the the Europe issue within the Tory ranks. Most of us dont care for Europe as it now stands and it is an issue Ken Clarke needs to keep to himself at present.

    George Osborne on the other hand has as much experience of being chancellor as Tony Blair had of being PM.

  26. One small matter, note that Brown’s speech was in Nottingham. I think the midlands is where the election will be won and lost.

  27. Ken Clarke was an outstanding chancellor, and would be again given the chance.

    Leaving (current) party preferences aside, my pick of the three would be Cable, Osborne and Darling in that order.

    I admire Darling for his honesty considerably more than his ability, polls would suggest others also do.

  28. @ ROLAND

    George Osborne on the other hand has as much experience of being chancellor as Tony Blair had of being PM.
    You are making my case for me with this one, Roland ;-)

  29. @Amber

    by keeping the airwaves clear of blue announcments , he freed up time for scrutiny of red announcments…

    the limelight is on reds at a tiem when debt is high etc etc…

    on tactics – i think that was a smart move

    his silence has also built a sense of climax… eg..

    well what are you lot gonna do… it means that when he does launch his shadow budget instead of it being a retort to AD it will be an occasion in its own right..

    smart electioneering

    as for the content… well I could not possibly say ;)

    I cannot remember the name of the scientist whose standard IQ test is normally used when such measurements are needed.
    Anyway average is 100. Einstien is 150 – 160, the old fashioned grammar school entry was 120 and ESN is below 80 or 85.
    Based on your belief a poster has adversely affected Tory support in the face of at least 3 major issues which very many people blame Labour and Gordon Brown for, the British people must have a collective IQ of about 50. These issues may be things that people like yourself will always try to reason away in Labours defence, but I am saying, the economy, Afghanistan /troop equipment and chicanery are still very much in many Tory and uncommited minds. They rate above a poster.

  31. @ Éoin

    I respectfully disagree. The public has moved on from the budget now – they would like to forget about it because it’s a downer.

    They won’t thank Osborne for bringing the whole thing up again. And any ‘sweetners’ he has to offer will be dismissed by Darling as electioneering that Osbourne would know he couldn’t afford if he was actually in government.

    It also whiffs of trying to minimise scrutiny of his proposals before the chancellors’ debates (by the geeks who care about these things & will watch more than the highlights).

  32. @Amber,
    your very right to discuss the impact of an advertising camapign on voter intentions. Parties would not pay for them if they did not work

    There is an online website of the historic tory ones if anyone is inteested. They make for very good viewing if one wished to examine how they have changed.

    These voters can have a dramatic impact. Not necessarily because the change peoples minds but sometime they can crystalize a thought, encapsulate a pre-exisitng fear, or sum up a sentiment…

    Negative posters probably to thsi bette rthan positive ones… The guardian had one of Osborne looking slightly mr beanesque- the idea to show that he was unsure of himself… this plays on voter doubts…

    tories had one with gordy in unifrom the idea was to shwo he was in hoc with the unions… i wont bore you with more

  33. I think the Chancellor’s Debates will reset the news cycle on this, as it’s very different from putting out a pre-prepared statement to rebut the budget when you have to argue your points on Live TV. This will either make of break Osborne’s public credibility.

    I’ll be live-blogging this, as I hope to do for every live debate, on my own site.

  34. @Amber

    “it also whiffs of trying to minimise scrutiny of his proposals ”

    there is no doubt opposition parties do use this tactic…

    Since economy is the number one issue I cant see the voters ever moving on from it… although the may very well be bored of it…

  35. @ ROLAND

    Re: Poster

    In Conservative minds, the issues certainly outweigh the poster. Are you seriously trying to tell me that Labour won back 10 points from the Conservatives on Afghanistan/ defence, the economy & anti-troughing? I somehow doubt that’s what you believe.

    So what, if not that failed poster campaign, caused the squeeze?

    Feel good factor return due to a slight up turn in the economy.
    That is it and all there is about it.

  37. I posted this question at the end of the previous thread but it seems pertinent again here –

    Can Osborne hold off on on his budgetary/tax cut announcements any later than Monday i.e. before the live debate?

    If he doesn’t clarify his position by then, then surely he will be too exposed?

    If he times it well however, then he can surprise AD and VC and put them both on the back foot.

    It could be “smart electioneering” or it could be car crash TV……

    Can he realistically leave it any later than Monday do you think?

  38. Always worth remembering that most people know how they will vote – regardless of events.

    Of those who will decide as a result of the campaign, large numbers live in safe seats, and their votes won’t matter under FPTP.

    As always, the election will be decided by a relatively small number of voters in a relatively small number of constituencies.

  39. @ OLD NAT

    I respectfully disagree. There could be a hung parliament. LD may be asked to form a coalition. LD leadership may take % of vote into account when deciding which party to support. This time around, everybody’s votes could count.

  40. Amber Star
    LD leadership may take % of vote into account when deciding which party to support.

    As I pointed out on a previous thread yesterday, if they don’t then their commitment to electoral reform will definitely be called into question. The only thing which might prevent that is if one of the big Tweedles publicly refuses reform outright and the other agrees publicly to a proper electoral reform referendum.

  41. Amber – there is no obvious drop in people’s perceptions of David Cameron’s qualities since last year –

    YouGov ask perceptions of leaders’s qualities every Sunday, see the figures in this pdf.


    Perceptions of Brown’s qualities are significantly better than last autumn, no doubt about it. Cameron’s are much the same. He hasn’t dropped much in best PM either (and the fall in the most recent poll long post-dates the posters).

    His good job/bad job figures have dropped, but that started back last year before the posters (and the poll conducted after the posters showed a significant temporary *increase* in his ratings!). My opinion anyway is that good job/bad job is more a symptom of lower poll leads than a cause – how does one judge if a leader of the opposition is performing well? If they look like winning the election.

    Quite simply, the polling evidence does not support your theory. Other tracking questions look as if the narrowing is due far more to people becoming more positive about Labour and Gordon Brown.

  42. @Woodsman,

    good question,

    I think the tories are fearing a delayed call by Brown for the election… Cameron has been rabitting on about “calling an election” for this last couple of days…

    I think the tories are scared labour want to flush out their economic policies before even calling election.

    I would be very interested in who times these dabtes for the end of march?

    why the end of march?

    It is dificult for an opposition to gain economi ccredibility when they a) dont have all the facts b) have never had a chance to prove themeselves…

  43. @AW
    I have now looked at the AR budget poll 3 times. If we assume it is largely accurate and further assume the Tories are on a 5 or 6 point lead ONS, with very little more in the marginals, does the whole picture stack up?
    To the untrained eye AR suggest Labour/Brown are in rather deep do do. The general polls however do not and we now see the possibility of Lab largest party.

  44. If GO can offer a few sweeteners in the form of direct tax cuts, offset of course, by spending cuts, and overhead reductions, I think it would play well with the electorate. The sweetened pill is easier to take than the bitter one.
    I know I will be accused of oversimplification or naivete, but a fatter pay packet is a very attractive incentive, and I suspect most voters aren’t too forensic in their examination of govt policies.
    The Tory deal breaker could be, more money in your pay packet with us , or less money with Labour.
    Obviously a lot of flak would appear, most of it justified, but the question remains the same, more money or less money ?

  45. @Ken,

    I think that would win votes.

  46. @Éoin……………I just discerned a flaw in my suggested strategy, The Tories would lose the votes of dandruff covered navel gazers. :-)

  47. Amber Star

    That’s a lot of ifs! But a relatively small number of voters in a relatively small number of constituencies will decide whether the Parliament will be hung or not.

    In any case, everyone seems to have missed one interpretation of the LD’s “strongest mandate” meme.

    Great speculation about votes against seats. But Westminster performs two functions. While it is the Parliament of the UK for reserved powers, it also acts as the English Parliament for their domestic issues.

    Now how does Cleggie decide on mandate for UK issues and mandate for English issues?

  48. Trevorsden – “I agree its a bit of an imprecise colloquial question; but when I use a phrase like that I mean I am not confident.”

    And the difference between “not too confident” and “not confident at all” is what?

    The question is actually quite precise. IMO AR should have offered just answers, and then asked another question on strength of feeling.

    AR have manipulated the result, IMHO.

  49. Trevorsden – In my last posting, please insert “two” between just and answers.

  50. Ken,

    very good :)

    Omphaloskepsis is certainly practised by a chunk of electorate..

    Don’t forget though, principled socialists would happily forgo the .5 penny if it meant protecting front line services….

    it appeals to some of the elctorate but not to us good folk ;) ;)

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