A couple of interesting YouGov findings in yesterday’s Sun and this morning’s Times. Both had questions about perceptions of the state of the economy, and both showed a stark decline since earlier in the year. Regular readers will remember that there had been a pattern of the public still being pessimistic about their personal finances, but becoming more optimistic about the state of the economy as a whole. That appears to have changed.

In the YouGov Sun poll poll yesterday 25% of people expected the economy to get better in the year ahead, down from 39% in March. 32% expected it to get worse, up from 23% (tabs here.)

A similar poll for the Times RedBox done a day later found the proportion of people thinking the economy was either on the way to recovery or showing signs of recovery was down to 40% from 50% in August, and the percentage of people thinking the economy was getting worse was up from 13% to 22% (tabs here.)

Both questions were run prior to the government’s Autumn Statement, and while I doubt many people actually watch it the media coverage of the economy over the last few days may yet make a difference – either positive or negative. Beyond that, as with most political events, I wouldn’t expect the Autumn Statement to make much difference.

432 Responses to “Falling economic optimism”

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  1. And cross bat I will now retire with a hot water bottle

  2. @Alec

    Love it!

  3. Johntt

    Wish I could help in your quest.

    I don’t know how they choose.
    Are your lists really things which people understand/recognise/distinguish between/ prioritise?

    I wonder if it might be much more simple than all of that.

    Don’t you (we) need to understand the voters , rather than those being voted for?

    And isn’t this nearly impossible-I mean apart from Die in a Ditch/ My Party Right or Wrong?

    Anyway-won’t be long now & the the “experts” will explain what the result meant.

    toodle pip & all the best :-)

  4. @Alec
    Nah, that isn’t very helpful advice: better to try something more accessible like the Hot Fives.

    …meanwhile, thanks Wes. If it wasn’t for @charleshymas, even I wouldn’t have spotted that it was 3 YouGov’s running with Greens ahead of LDs. That’s 3 of the last 5 polls all told, with Opinium also putting Greens and LDs level, and only Populus still giving a lead to the LDs in that period (after using their methodology that weights up those few they find who still identify themselves as LD supporters).

  5. @Alec My friend is not conventionally daft. He has a first class degree and a responsible job. However you are clearly right in saying that the future is unpredictable but that it is possible to identify issues and that this makes it easier to act intelligently.

    In this case the issue my friend identified for Labour is that they are finding it difficult to frame a policy that conforms to what is widely deemed sensible and to satisfy their supporters demands for a fairer society and decent jobs. Hence on the one hand Ed Balls claims that he is going to go on with austerity and on the other they fail to state what cuts exactly they are going to make,

    In this respect the Tories do a better job of putting it across that policies that favour their side are essentially the ones that any tough minded person would take if they had the nation’s interests at heart.You rightly, as I see it, describe this view as deficit fetishism but Labour has failed to craft comparable mantras of their own, coming across instead as kind of Tory-lite.

  6. Alec


    If, in 1973, you’d have predicted that within 10 years, a Govt would preside over 21% inflation, 15% interest rates and 3.2million unemployment and STILL win a landslide, you’d have been laughed at.

    If, in the height of the 1988 boom, you’d have said that Thatcher would be knifed within 24 months and Labour would be returned to power within 9 years with a 1945-esque majority, you’d have been shooed away from the grown-ups’ discussion.

    If, in 2006, you’d have said that the 2010 GE was going to be fought against the backdrop of the worst public finance position for 3 generations, and the run-up to the 2015 GE would see the three major parties struggling to pick up 70% of the vote between them, you’d have been sectioned.

    Prediction is very hard. Especially about the future.

  7. Charles,

    I don’t think Balls is saying he will continue with austerity. He wants to get the current account in balance (eventually!) but even that does not preclude investment. Or tax rises.

  8. @Lefty
    Prediction is very hard. Especially about the future.

    I can’t argue with that. Predicting the past is much easier. Some people call it research ;)

  9. @leftylampton – That it will be colder on average this winter than last summer, and that the conservatives will win Witney at the next election are pretty safe bets. That It will rain here three weeks from now or the party which wins the next election will not win the one after it are not.

    Some events are essentially unpredictable, some would be predictable if we were clever enough and some are fairly easy to predict. The trick is presumably to take account of unpredictability, get smarter at making difficult predictions, and work through the implications of both the predictions and the uncertainties.

  10. @hal – Thanks for that and hopefully so. It still feels to me as if Osborne has somehow set the terms of the debate.

  11. Harold Macmillan summed up the unpredictability of politics being caused by …… ‘events dear boy, events’.

  12. Latest YouGov / Sunday Times results 5th December – Con 32%, Lab 32%, UKIP 17%;, Greens 7%, LD 6%, SNP/PCY 4%, Others 1%

    Pretty usual poll for the last month with usual cross breaks

    not much to say really

    The general question about the state of the economy has turned quite negative, although no particular increased blame to the coalition parties

    I don’t suppose that would harm the coalition parties if the economy is seen as declining but that they are doing their best in the circumstances

    The question

    How do you think the financial situation of your household will change over the next 12 months? -19% (Better -17%, Worse -36%) which is inside the range for 2014 as usual –

    Both Lab and UKIP show -41%, which is really pessimistic, never seen them that gloomy together this year

    I think something worrying is happening on the economic front now – not sure if it is an actual change or from scary reports in the media – cuts, borrowing etc

  13. Floating Voter

    As AW suggested there appears to be no visible effect from the Autumn Statement either good or bad for the Government. The message that has come across however is that things are still difficult with much still to do despite economic growth of 3% and this is making people pessimistic. Not at all surprising for a Nation that yearns for a soft option. There isn’t one of course IMO.

  14. Ukip at 19 in london ?

  15. Re the autumn statement, today’s Peter Hitchens’ Mail On Sun day blog “Well done, George – now we’re just £1,500,000,000,000 in debt” is a sobering view of the real situation.

  16. Hi AW,

    I’m writing an article on the polling in Sheffield Hallam. Could you possibly furnish me with a quick quote on why Lord Ashcroft’s polls are generally treated with respect and why the ICM poll there wasn’t?

  17. LEFTY

    @”Prediction is very hard. Especially about the future.”


  18. MS at pb pleads for more Scotland only polls because “The constant flow of GB-wide surveys is giving a distorted picture of what is going on”

    One of the more sensible suggestions of late, and a timely antidote .

  19. @Colin

    It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have region-specific polls across the board actually. Then perhaps we could gauge things more accurately.

    However, with Scotland at a sample of 1000 and the keeping things proportional, it would mean a GB-wide poll of 12,000 or so. Unless 1,000 per area is sufficient?

    It would be handy to know just where YG get their samples in Scotland from (i.e. what proportion of the sample are Glasgow, Edinburgh, rural and so on).

  20. The Observer/Optimum Poll which gives Labour a 5 point lead seems a bit optimistic for Lab well wishers. Two polls this am put the big parties neck and neck, (big shock there then). Furthermore the movement of Optimum from last month is 1 point up for Lab and 1 point down for Con. Perhaps more interesting is the economy. It has been noted that the Tories are way in front here, but they have dropped 3 points since last month. But, Labour have dropped 5 points on economic competence over the same period.

  21. Roland,

    Two neck-and-neck polls? Did I miss something?

    I have to stop reading UKPR on a Saturday night because some ****er is sure to mention football results before MotD. If I had read Alec’s post earlier I would have been very rude.

  22. HAL
    Telegraph/ICM Wisdom Index Survey. LAB 31 CON 31. Of course the
    Times YOU GOV 32 a piece. The Telegraph poll claims the Tories in Scotland are in front of Labour. After a stiff Brandy, I read the story. More Scots think they will have a Tory Westminster government, than a Labour ditto.

  23. @Hal:

    Probably referring to the ICM Wisdom Index WHICH IS NOT AN OPINION POLL OF VOTING INTENTION.

    I always get irritated when that poll is misrepresented.

  24. @Hal – ” If I had read Alec’s post earlier I would have been very rude.”

    Just to be clear – Scotland haven’t won the World Cip

    @Roland – pedant alert – two polls don’t show it neck and neck. There is one VI poll, and one wisdom index. That is not a poll of voting intention. But you are right – 34/29 doesn’t feel right to me.

    @Charles – I’m really fascinated by your concept of ‘conventional daftness’. How does this differ from being unconventionally daft?

    @Everyone – clearly I had a bit of a rough night last night, and while I can’t recall everything I said, I’d better apologise just in case I upset anyone.

    I have vague memories of standing on the bar shouting that ‘Farage is a lizard eating surrender monkey’, or something similar, and I have a fuzzy memory of trying to convince someone that Caroline Lucas inherited a collection of several thousand shoes from her real mother that she keeps in a lock up in south London.

    (The shoes I mean – not her real mother. But perhaps that’s where her biological father is?).

    Like I say, sorry if I caused any upset.

  25. Alec,

    Oh I see. You ARE a Newcastle supporter.

  26. Just to point out the Opinium polling window was Wed -Thur and Yougov Thur – Friday.

    Opinium wouldn’t have caught the full impact of the Autumn Statement (if any).

    And Yougov wouldn’t have caught the full impact of the coverage of the size of the cuts (again, if any).

  27. @Roland

    From the wisdom article:

    “The poll shows that voters in Scotland believe“other”parties, which include the Scottish National Party, will win 14 per cent of the vote across the UK at the next election.”

    This assume that “other parties” does not include UKIP of the Greens. They managed 11.9% in 2010, so I’m inclined to believe that the 14% prediction is low. With 3% last time, UKIP should get 5-15% and push the numbers from 14% to 24% for Others. The SNP will probably add 1-2% to that, with the Greens adding another 2-5%.

    Based on current VI, I’ll go for 25-30% for Others, per my recent article:


    Actually, with UKIP on 15-16% at present, taking that from 30% gives the 14% to ‘ Others’, which is rather insulting to the Greens and the SNP, considering they have more elected representatives across the UK.

  28. @HAL

    “You ARE a Newcastle supporter.”

    You just reminded me. When I return to Aberdeen, I occasionally visit my old local, and one of the barmen is from the North East of England. Now I know he supports one of the following:


    But I’m damned if I can remember which, so every time I go in, I say “[random North East team] are doing ok these days” and I always get it wrong, and always get a look.

    Other than that, we get on quite well. :))

  29. Colin

    Did you get my OBR link? Bottom of p7

  30. Lefty


    There were two assessments-one of GDP effect & one of growth effect.
    They were different.

    I’m not sure if the recent revisions to GDP / Growth in GDP will impact that assessment.

    Anyway-its all history now & thanks again.

  31. colin

    “Anyway-its all history now”

    That is what awaits us all Colin ………….

    “The past is just a memory the future left behind.”

    [ From: “Wonnov mie Songs.” ]

  32. PAUL

    catchy :-)

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