There are unlikely to be any polls out tonight, so I thought I’d have a look at some of YouGov regular trackers that quietly roll by on a fortnightly basis without much comment, since it’s really the long term trends that matter. These figures are all based on YouGov’s regular tracker of what qualities people think the three main party leaders have. People are given a list of qualities and asked which they think that leader has (note this means that if 30% of people say a leader is strong, you can’t conclude that 70% of people don’t – while people are asked to tick all that apply, in practice many people will limit themselves to the ones they think apply most.)
David Cameron. Top ratings are now being seen as decisive (32%) and strong (32%). Contrast this with how he was percieved prior to the election, when the quality people most commonly associated with him was charisma. In the months since then, the proportion of people picking charisma as one of Cameron’s qualities has dropped from 40% to 29%.
Prior to becoming PM only 24% saw him as decisive and 23% as strong, but the big jumps in these scores happened the week he became PM. It seems to have been a result of either his response to the hung Parliament, or just the mantle of office. Since the coalition formed perceptions of Cameron’s decisiveness have remained unchanged, and perceptions of strength have jumped about without an obvious trend. Where he has grown more steadily in office is in perceptions of his honesty (28%, compared to 20% prior to taking office) and sticking to what he believes in (29%, compared to 22% prior to taking office).
Along with charisma, his biggest fall is being seen as in touch with ordinary people. Only 14% now think being in touch is one of Cameron’s qualities, compared to 20% prior to the election. 34% think Cameron has none of the qualities asked about, not much different from the 31% he scored before the election.
Nick Clegg. Nick Clegg’s ratings have collapsed since to the election, but to a certain degree that is purely a result of “Cleggmania” subsiding. It may be fairer to compare perceptions of Clegg now to perceptions of him before the first leaders’ debate, but even then they are pretty grim. In many cases, his ratings now are similar to his ratings prior to the debate – the exceptions are charisma (17%), which is still above his pre-debate levels, being seen as in touch with ordinary people (17%, compared to 23% or so prior to the debates), honest (down to 16%, compared to 25% or so prior to the debates). The steepest drop is in sticking to what he believes in – only 6% now think this applies to Clegg, compared to about 20% prior to the debates. 44% think he has none of the qualities asked about.
Ed Miliband. Ed Miliband’s ratings are still very low on most counts, simply because people don’t know much about him. In the latest survey 32% said they didn’t know what qualities he had. At this early stage his highest score is in being in touch with ordinary people, where he gets 21% (higher than both Cameron and Clegg!). 34% think he has none of the qualities asked about (meaning only a third ascribe any qualities to Miliband so far).
To sum up – Cameron is now seen more as a strong and decisive leader than the charismatic figure from before the election. Clegg has largely declined to pre-Cleggmania perceptions, but hardly anyone thinks he sticks to what he believes in. Miliband is seen as more in touch than the other two leaders, but it still largely an unknown quantity.