We are still waiting for a voting intention poll since the Tory conference, but Populus did carry out one of their regular mini-polls for the BBC’s Daily Politics show on Friday.

The poll found that 74% of people said that environmental issues were important to them and will influence how they vote at the election. I am wary of questions like this – which I like to think of as “are you a heartless bastard?” questions. Saying no is like saying you don’t care about the environment, and it is socially responsible to say you do. In terms of judging how important issues actually are, questions that ask people to say what issues are important to them are far more useful, especially if they are unprompted. The best is in MORI’s monthly surveys, here, and shows that while if asked directly if they care about the environment people say yes, asked what issues are important only 10% mention the environment, trailing behind crime, terrorism, immigration and health.

(Incidentally, the clearest example of the “Are you a heartless bastard” effect skewing a poll is a Populus poll from January 2005 that asked people if they’d given money to the Tsunami appeal and, if so, how much honey they or people in their household had donated. On average each household had given £33, suggesting that in total people in the UK had donated £810 million to the appeal. In fact, only about half that was raised. The difference was very probably due to people not wanting to admit they hadn’t given any money at all – 83% of people told Populus they had.)

Back to the latest poll, Populus found a majority (57%) did support the higher environmental taxes, even if they meant an end to cheap flights and more expensive motoring. 35% of people agreed that the Conservatives were more likely to take action to prevent the environment than Labour or the Liberal Democrats, 49% disagreed – though there is no way of telling if they think Labour or the Lib Dem or both would be more likely to take action than the Tories.

The results of Populus’s open access, but fun none-the-less, message meter for David Cameron’s speech are also now available here.

Populus’s monthly poll for the Times should be published on Tuesday and, unless there are any polls in the Sunday papers, will be our first chance to see if the Conservative conference has been enough to cancel out the boost Labour received from theirs. Either tomorrow or Monday I will also be publishing the updated figures for my notional results based on the new constituency boundaries.


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