Two new polls tonight – Populus for the Times (only their second poll since the election), has topline figures of CON 39%(nc), LAB 37%(+4), LDEM 14%(-4). Changes are since Populus’s last poll just after the budget.
YouGov’s daily poll for the Sun meanwhile has figures of CON 41%, LAB 38%, LDEM 12%.
UPDATE: YouGov’s government approval rating today hits a new low for the coalition, down to minus 8 (37% approve and 45% disapprove). To some extent this will be an outlier, but it is part of a continuing downwards trend in the government’s approval rating.
Moving onto Populus’s poll in the Times, as part of their poll Populus asked people to choose which of three approaches to the deficit they most agreed with, roughly representing the views of the coalition, Labour, and the trade unions (though the question did not identify them as such). Only 22% supported dealing with the deficit by the end of the Parliament, compared to 37% who supported dealing with it within 10 years. 37% preferred the policy of putting protecting the vulnerable and keeping unemployment ahead of cutting the deficit. This suggests little support for the coalition’s economic policy… except when people were asked if they approved of the coalitions policy 53% did, compared to 45% who disapproved.
Populus also asked who people blamed for Britain’s debt problem, and found most people blamed the banks. I would be cautious about the Times’s interpretation of how bad this is for the government though – Polls have consistently shown that if people are asked who is most to blame for the economic crisis they will pick the banks over the government. However, the banks won’t be standing at the next election.
If people are given a list of groups that could be at fault and asked how much blame each should bear, the overwhelming majority think the last government should have some degree of blame as well. The essential question politically is now whether the public blame the coalition government for the cuts they are carrying out, or whether the government can successfully shift that blame onto their predecessors.
On that front YouGov’s tracker on who people blame for the cuts (on page 5 of this pdf) gives a better measure, and this still shows 45% put more blame on Labour, while 22% put more blame on the coalition. The figures are very slowly drifting towards blaming the government, but very slowly – it’ll be interesting to see how it shifts when the actual cuts start happening and people start looking for someone to direct their anger towards. I suspect it will increasingly be the current government, but we shall see.
UPDTATE2: The graphic in the paper copy of the Times has a bit more info, and actually Populus did ask the blame question separately for each group, so 75% put blame on the banks, but 64% did also blame the last Labour government. Currently 49% blame David Cameron and George Osborne.