I want to write something more lengthy about Ed Miliband’s polling, but I though this worth a short post in its own right. In the last few months there has been various rumbling on blogs and the media about Miliband’s leadership, and polling figures have naturally come into that.
The Labour party have tended to point to Ed Miliband’s approval ratings with MORI, which are negative but not toweringly so. In MORI’s last poll in December 34% of people were satisfied with the way Miliband is doing his job, 50% are dissatisfied. Labour’s case is that this is not out of line with past leaders of the opposition.
Meanwhile anyone looking to criticise Miliband would want to point to his approval ratings with YouGov which are dire – in today’s YouGov/Sunday Times poll only 20% thought he was doing a good job, while 66% thought he was doing badly. YouGov doesn’t have as much past trend data as MORI, but compared to what they do have these are very bad.
What’s the reason for the big difference though? Well, some of it is probably methodological (MORI don’t use political weighting, which means their samples sometimes have more Labour voters than other companies), but I think most of it is down to the question asked. While we tend to dump them all in together as job approval, MORI and YouGov are actually asking very different questions – MORI ask if people are satisfied or unsatisfied with how Miliband is doing his job, YouGov ask if people think he is doing well or badly.
If you break people’s answers down by party support (and here I’m using YouGov figures from December, so we are comparing apples with apples)
Miliband approval ratings in December MORI poll:
MORI Con supporters – 25% satisfied, 61% dissatisfied
MORI Lab supporters – 54% satisfied, 37% dissatisfied
MORI LD supporters – 33% satisfied, 51% dissatisfied
Miliband approval ratings in December YouGov poll:
YG Con supporters – 8% well, 87% badly
YG Lab supporters – 59% well, 31% badly
YG LD supporters – 24% well, 63% badly
You can see where most of the difference lies – amongst Labour voters the answers are not that different, Miliband’s approval rating is in the 50s, his disapproval in the 30s. The big difference is how the supporters of opposing parties answer the question. Basically, if Conservative supporters are asked if Miliband is doing well or badly, they overwhelmingly think he is doing badly. Asked if they are satisfied or disatisfed with his leadership, a significant minority of Tory supporters say they are satisfied – presumably because they are perfectly satisfied with Labour having a leader who they think is doing badly.