The monthly online ComRes poll for the Indy on Sunday and Sunday Mirror is out and has topline figures of CON 28%(-3), LAB 39%(-4), LDEM 9%(-1), UKIP 14%(+6). The poll shows a big increase in UKIP support since ComRes’s last online poll which was prior to the Rotherham fostering row and by-elections that gave UKIP a publicity boost last month.
Looking at the tables there appears to have been a slight methodology change. ComRes used to weight turnout differently for minor parties than than for the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats – for the big three they included everyone who said they were 5/10 likely to vote or more (weighted proportionally), for other parties they included only those who said they were 10/10 likely to vote. At first glance it looks like they are now treating all parties the same, which would have boosted UKIP support, though it certainly wouldn’t account for all of a six point increase!
The poll also included a question on government’s policy of increasing benefits by 1%, under the rate of inflation, for the next three years. There was some comment on this earlier this week because YouGov and MORI polls on the subject were showing contrasting results –
YouGov asked if Osborne was right or wrong to raise benefits by 1%, lower than the rate of inflation. 33% thought it was right, 35% thought it was wrong and they should have been increased by inflation or more, 19% thought they should not have been increased at all.
MORI asked a similar question, but didn’t mention it was for three years and gave three examples of benefits affected: jobseekers, income support and child benefit. They found 11% thinking they shouldn’t rise at all, 16% that they should rise by less than inflation, 59% that they should rise in line with inflation and 10% that they should rise by more.
The reason for the big difference is perplexing. I’ve seen and I can think of various possibilities, none that stands out above others. It could be that YouGov mentioned it was for the next three years, while the MORI question didn’t so people thought more about the general principle than what should happen now. Another possibility is that it was down to MORI giving the example of child benefit, which affects many more people, and resulted in a different answer. I’ve also seen suggestions that public opinion moved drastically in the small gap between the two polls fieldwork, which given it was all of two days seems particularly unlikely.
Anyway, today’s ComRes poll asked their own question and found more people in support of the government’s policy than opposed, though not by a big gap. ComRes asked if people agreed or disagreed that “The Chancellor, George Osborne, is right to cut most state benefits by 1% a year for the next three years, in real terms (taking inflation into account)” 42% agreed, 36% disagreed.
The wording is interesting because YouGov and MORI have both presented the change as an increase, but below inflation. ComRes presented it as a real terms cut. The terms mean exactly the same of course, but not everyone will realise that, and simply in terms of language “cash increase” will always sound better than “real terms cut”!
It doesn’t appear to have made a vast difference anyway, since ComRes also asked about it in a poll for ITV News earlier this week, which phrased it in terms of an increase and didn’t even mention inflation “George Osborne was right in his Autumn Statement to limit increases in most welfare benefits to 1%”. One might have thought the wording of this statement was far more positive for George Osborne than the version ComRes used for their Indy/Mirror poll, but the results weren’t that different – 44% agreed, 33% disagreed.
UPDATE: The fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer is also out and has topline figures of CON 29%(nc), LAB 39%(+1), LDEM 8%(-1), UKIP 14%(+1). There is no significant change from their last poll, which had already shown a boost for UKIP.