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. Typical misunderstanding of polling by a journalist (Tom Newton Dunn) – polling window for tonight’s poll mostly before press coverage of Autumn Statement.

  2. I believe this is the first time ever that the Greens have been ahead of the Lib Dems in two consecutive YouGov polls…

    @ Jack R

    Looks like they’re still hurting LIB more than LAB…

  3. @spearmint

    http://i.imgur.com/UkxRvVB.png

    This is very interesting. It makes me wonder about the growth of climate change denial among Tory MPs. The Green Party would be the only place for a Green Tory to register their disgust. But as you say, a small slice from the Conservative pie becomes a big slice int he Green pie. So it would be nice to extrapolate to real numbers.

    Is there any chance you could add the 2010 Did Not Votes into this chart? And would that also pick up 2010 Too Young to Votes? This will be the first GE for everyone 22 and under.

  4. @John P

    Yes – though remember that except for the stamp duty changes pretty much everything was announced or leaked before the actual statement. And stamp duty changes aren’t likely to register with people not thinking of moving house any time soon which is probably most of the electorate.

  5. I think it’s clear that Lab worked out their strategy yesterday really rather well, with Ed M at PMQs and Ed B in the AS response basically saying the same thing, scripted in advance. That the IFS and news outlets have helped them by jumping in within 24 hrs to flag up what wasn’t said is doubly helpful.

    However, @Blueblob has a strong point. Economic confidence is falling and the coalition has failed it’s primary mission on it’s own terms, but many of us on here have previously suggested that Labour seems to be preferred in the times of plenty. We can’t now ignore what we said previously and start saying things look good for Labour when the reverse is true.

    Both sides face great difficulties in providing a credible and honest position. Labour will be under pressure, which I’m sure they will meet like Osborne has – with some small but specific cherries to demonstrate what their core values are, paid for by named savings somewhere, while failing to deal with the sixty billion pound question.

    For Labour, the silver lining is that if the public thinks the economic outlook is gloomy, their opponents lead on economic competence falls, helping to neutralise their biggest threat.

  6. I think it’s clear that Lab worked out their strategy yesterday really rather well, with Ed M and Ed B in the AS response basically saying the same thing, scripted in advance. That the IFS and news outlets have helped them by jumping in within 24 hrs to flag up what wasn’t said is doubly helpful.

    However, @Blueblob has a strong point. Economic confidence is falling and the coalition has failed it’s primary mission on it’s own terms, but many of us on here have previously suggested that Labour seems to be preferred in the times of plenty. We can’t now ignore what we said previously and start saying things look good for Labour when the reverse is true.

    Both sides face great difficulties in providing a credible and honest position. Labour will be under pressure, which I’m sure they will meet like Osborne has – with some small but specific cherries to demonstrate what their core values are, paid for by named savings somewhere, while failing to deal with the sixty billion pound question.

    For Labour, the silver lining is that if the public thinks the economic outlook is gloomy, their opponents lead on economic competence falls, helping to neutralise their biggest threat.

  7. @Howard (10.29)

    What makes you think stamp duty carries more weight than cutting the state back to the 30s. Stamp duty will possibly help a few (for the next few months until house prices compensate ) while the cuts will affect us all. Today’s news is all on the cuts, stamp duty left the radar last night.

  8. Straw grasping here. There is little change in YG because there is little origin of a cause for change. We could have had Con 34 Lab 32 and it would not have meant anything special at all.

  9. Peter Bell
    See my 1045 and I thought you knew me by now.

  10. @Peter Bell:

    We’ll have to wait til Yougov Sunday to see what’s the public reaction is.

    However, the positive side of the Autumn Statement was on most front pages this morning.The magnitude of cuts was the second story or lower on the broadcast news.

    Agree that if both had equal reporting the cut size may have had the bigger factor.

  11. Re my previous comments. Cuts the number one topic on QT

  12. @John P (10.49)

    This morning papers were yesterday’s news. As I said before, today’s news (and I suspect for the next few days) is about the cuts.

  13. @ Catmanjeff

    Yep I agree entirely that Ed M needs to come out of his shell a bit more, he is right on that line of looking weak and passive.

    As most will guess I am a Tory through and through but I do hope that Pressman’s message will not actually happen, Ed M seems a good man, passive but good nonetheless and one thing I hate is personal attacks on people doing what they believe in just because he eats a bit funny and such like.

  14. Yes cuts definitely leading discussions now, and a lot of coverage for IFS/OBR stuff, with stamp duty overtaken.
    As others have said, this could work either way and both reds and blues should beware of wishful thinking :p

  15. @ Pthiers,

    Is there any chance you could add the 2010 Did Not Votes into this chart? And would that also pick up 2010 Too Young to Votes?

    Alas, there is not, because I don’t have that data. YouGov only gives 2010 crossbreaks for the three main parties in their tables, so I can only look at movement from those parties, not at 2010 DNVs or the smaller parties. (This is also why there are no 2010 Greens in the pie, even though we know there must be some who are still planning to vote Green.)

  16. Some Conservatives are clearly appealing for the Green vote.

    Our candidate for next May, who may well be the only Tory MP elected from Scotland, is pushing his Green actions and views at every opportunity.

    In our local paper a lot of space is devoted to his firm`s Biomass Energy Centre, which is now additionally being equipped with a large array of solar panels. The whole is generating enough to be exporting to the National grid.

    These Green views are clearly popular here, since the candidate was elected by an open primary.

  17. Quite extraordinary outburst by Osborne on Today this morning. Word of advice for the Chancellor- you will never win votes by slanging the BBC. Why?
    Because despite Murdoch et al, it is still the second most respected institution in Britain.

  18. I don’t think cuts are going to matter to the Tory VI, we have had cuts for five years and the people still voting Tory are not going to change now.

    And, I can’t see the more cuts narrative will help Labour:

    Do people think Labour will cut less than Tories, so increasing deficit and taking us back where we started? Or cut the same as the Tories in which case may as well vote for the economically competent party.

    So my prediction is no change on Sunday (MOE stuff).

  19. @John P

    But the IFS report today was quite downbeat and that could feed into tomorrow’s newspaper headlines.

    Because Lab and the Cons are practically tied every poll will generate interest even if they show no movement outside of MoE.

  20. Ironic on QT tonight.

    First question. Why can’t we trust politicians.
    First answer, from Sajid Javid contained a quite outrageous untruth
    “In 2010, people were telling us that if we cut the deficit at the rate we have done, there’d be a disaster.”

    Arrrgghhhh!

    Second answer from Sajid Javid contained an economy with the truth. “The OBR have said that the reason we didn’t hit the deficit reduction target was the EZ crisis, the commodity price increase and the slowdown in countries like China.” Yes. And they also said that Austerity reduced cumulative GDP by about £100bn from 2010-12, even using the conservative multipliers that the OBR employ.

    Why don’t people trust politicians? I wonder…

  21. @spearmint

    Yes, I wondered why there was no Green slice in the pie. Though it would be a very small slice indeed. Given that they polled 0.7% in the last GE, if they are really on 7% now, only 10% of their current IVs are repeat voters. Shaky ground, indeed.. Maybe their campaign slogan should be “Vote Green, You’ve Tried Everything Else.”

  22. Here are the updated correlaations for the last 20 YG polls:

    Correlation – Coefficient – Standard Error – 95% CI – 99% CI

    Con/Lab – 0.03 – 0.22 – 0.45 – 0.56
    Con/LD – 0.21 – 0.21 – 0.45 – 0.56
    Con/UKIP – (0.65) – 0.13 – 0.45 – 0.56
    Lab/LD – (0.06) – 0.22 – 0.45 – 0.56
    Lab/UKIP – (0.24) – 0.21 – 0.45 – 0.56
    LD/UKIP – (0.43) – 0.18 – 0.45 – 0.56

    The strongest correlation by far is Con/UKIP. The coefficient is 5 times the SE and exceeds the 99% CI level too.

    Note the tiny coefficient between Con/Lab.

    The only other close to being significant to a 95% CI is LD/UKIP.

    Lab/UKIP is weak, close to the standard error (therefore could be noise) and nowhere near significant either.

  23. @ NUMBER CRUNCHER
    Yes. I was already thinking of posting that the number of days between occasions when Greens were ahead of LDs was falling. The sequence is (I think) 141 days,10 days, 20,10, 7 …and now yes consecutive days for the first time.

  24. @Ptheirs

    IPSOS Mori looked that their Jan-Nov polls and pulled out this analysis of who the Green voters are, who they voted for before and what their issues are

    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/11/who-are-green-partys-supporters-and-should-labour-be-worried

    ” Just 1 per cent of those who voted Conservative in 2010 and 3 per cent of 2010 Labour voters say they would now vote Green. One in five (20 per cent) of Green supporters say they didn’t vote at all in 2010, compared with an average of 13 per cent for other parties. The bigger threat would appear to be to the Liberal Democrats; one in eight of those who voted for Nick Clegg’s party in 2010 (12 per cent) would now vote for the Green party”

    Peter Kellner also did a similar analysis of Yougov data, I’ll dig the link out, but pretty much the same conclusions.

    But I agree, it would be good to see a separate column for them in crossbreaks on all polls now that they are a significant chunk of the electorate (and so that Spearmint can tell us how they are churning properly each month as new policies are announced, and as the election gets closer)

  25. The Blue to Green shifting is an interesting one, though it shouldn’t exaggerated, it must still be well under half a percent of total VI. But it indicates that not all Tory dissidents are pining for lack of a more right-wing agenda.

    Actually looking at today’s YouGov tables, I’m struck by something I’ve often noticed before. Which is the oddness of the under-25 panel members. This is normally seen as being the most pro-Labour age group, but has Con 35, Lab 23. It not a rare event either – Con were ahead on Sunday as well, though the small sample size means a lot of variety. Tues was Lab 47, Con 21, for example.

    But that sort of split would be normal for other pollsters and a Tory lead unheard of. For example if you aggregate 18-24s in the last four Ashcroft weeklies (half of which are mobile phones)[1] you get:

    Con 21%

    Lab 43%

    Lib Dem 5%

    UKIP 7%

    Green 20%

    SNP 4%

    Other pollsters, online and phone, tend to produce similar figures regularly. Admittedly YouGov do as many polls as all the others put together so outliers can be expected. But it’s still odd and suggests that maybe the under-25s that YouGov gets to sign up to its panels are a bit anomalous.

    [1] The last batch of Ashcroft Con-Lab marginals showed Con 26%, Lab 43%, Lib Dem 5%, UKIP 17%, Green 7% for this group. I wonder if the high UKIP and low Green scores might be due to only landlines being used.

  26. Whatever the remedies for the current economic and debt-related situation, I think the only way to begin tackling it properly would be to have a single-party government with a decent majority, as in Mrs Thatcher’s first term. It really does not look to me like we will get that, at most a minority government instead.

    But I think what will force large scale economic adjustments will be the markets aka “reality”. It’s just a case of what the next government thinks it can achieve to go along with this whilst staying popular enough to win again. And who will bear the brunt of these adjustments.

    I don’t think the obtuse arguments of economists are of much interest to the general public: it’s much more a case of them being concerned with their own livelihoods. Would “cuts” or “tax increases” become an election issue? Probably, at least until someone mentions immigration.

  27. KeithP

    “Would “cuts” or “tax increases” become an election issue?”

    I suspect ‘back to the thirties’ has some impact.

  28. @Lefty

    “Why don’t people trust politicians? I wonder…”

    Perhaps it’s because, like some posters, they plough ahead with their own agenda. Politicians should listen to the voters, and posters should listen to AW. :))

    (I thought QT was a taboo subject in this place, but it seems that every week now folk bring it up. I myself avoid that terrible program, as it’s no more than a platform for useless politicians and even more useless journos / celebs. I haven’t touched the BBC with a bargepole since September.)

  29. Interestingly, the Tory supporting Mail and Telegraph are reporting the dispute re cuts on their front pages tomorrow – not helpful to the Conservatives.

    Makes poll reading more difficult; Yougov on Sunday will probably catch the effect of the positive reporting of the Autumn Statement but not the coverage of the cuts.

  30. @ Lefty,

    “In 2010, people were telling us that if we cut the deficit at the rate we have done, there’d be a disaster.”

    What? That’s not an untruth, that’s 100% true.

    The Conservatives spent that whole election claiming that the Darling Plan, which is what they’ve implemented, would be a disaster.

  31. ALEC
    “many of us on here have previously suggested that Labour seems to be preferred in the times of plenty. We can’t now ignore what we said previously and start saying things look good for Labour when the reverse is true.”

    Perhaps there is a different response when there are times of plenty, but the plenty is going to the highest earners, and when the economic opinion is focused on a need for better distribution of wealth (globally, not just in UK). This situation may also cast some doubt on the validity of the polling question: “Who is best at the economy”, since it begs the question, best at running the economy as it currently operates, or best at reforming the economic system to achieve better wealth distribution.

  32. Spearmint

    I bow to your ability to see the most honorable intentions in our politicians.

  33. I wonder why whatever party is in power next year, the prevailing mood has been that the deficit must be cleared within 5 years, and not 10, 15 or 20 years? It’s not as if it’s going to make much of a difference to the credibility of an economic plan. It may even appear more credible than present plans.

  34. Not sure yougovs reputation will be enhanced by being named in the personal attack on the front page of the Sun.

  35. OK, only one poll, and I hear all the arguments about the weekend polls being the ones most likely to pick up any Autumn Statement bounce for the Tories, but tonight’s YouGov is based on fieldwork conducted almost entirely after Osborne’s statement was plastered in fairly favourable terms all over news bulletins and newspaper headlines. The result? Not a flicker. Tories still flat-lining.

    Am I the only one that finds that rather surprising and, dare I say, significant too? Just what is it that has to happen to lift this Tory VI out of the low 30s? Not even a sharp Labour decline has benefited them. Take last night’s poll, for example. Labour plumbing new YouGov depths yet the Tories still stuck on 32%.

    All these polls still point to an astonishing and persistent reluctance amongst a large section of the British electorate to vote Conservative.

    A reluctance that may now be generational and deeply ingrained.

  36. I do actually think that the Lib Dems might be on the right track by suggesting
    that raising taxes might actually be better than ever more austerity and cutting
    services down to the bone.

  37. Crossbat.

    Aye. As I’ve noted times many, the Natural Party of Govt has hit 40% in the polls only 4 brief times in the past 25 years, and then only in the most propitious of circumstances.

    What we’re seeing now is the support levels when conditions are not propitious. Tory VI in the low 30s is no surprise to anyone who casts a cursory look over the polling figures of the past quarter century.

    It’s become a shift of significant, historic importance.

  38. @Bluebob,
    You deserve a lot of respect for your last comment.!

  39. But I think what will force large scale economic adjustments will be the markets aka “reality”.
    ———–
    Markets = “reality”.
    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry….

  40. PS

    And, barring some unforeseen “event” in the next 5 months, by 2020, the Tory party will not have secured a majority for 28 years. That hasn’t happened since the reign of George III.

  41. @Crossbat11 :

    A bit of hyperbole there (and possibly wishful thinking?).

    There is no simple generational change in attitudes given that large sections of the country hate the Conservatives for completely opposite reasons.

    Ukippers consider the Tories too moderate. Labour supporters consider them too right wing.

    The new phenomenon is the rise of UKIP splitting the right wing vote.

    The SDP hindered the Labour Party for an election then disappeared.

    There is currently no evidence that ukip will be different.

  42. Just to add, there is of course the longer term phenomenon of a drop in trust in all 3 major parties, which is secondary to a loss of faith in politics in general.

  43. Ann in Wales
    Raising taxes rather than cutting services is actually more articulated by Labour than LD as they have announced taxes on income and property.
    However, Labour are reluctant to be painted as the tax , borrow and spend party.
    Presumably the absence of various power levers constrains their marketing.
    I’m surprised the re-financing of First World War debt hasn’t been used as a way of supporting the argument that national finance is different from family finance. I get the impression that Labour is keeping their powder dry. Not sure if their powder is worth keeping dry.
    The argument, as Ann says, is crystal clear. Tax or cut spending. And borrow extra at Rock bottom rates for capital spending.
    Alistair Darling must be as happy with the halving of the deficit (his plan, though different method) as David Moyes must be with Fellaini driving Man Utd into the top four .

  44. Hugh Bayley, Lab MP for York Central, is the latest to announce his retirement at the GE.

    63yrs of age & served 22yrs in Parliament.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30339417

  45. @Amber Star

    I mean market forces outside the range of our democracy. Unfortunately, they are getting ever stronger.

    @John P

    I think UKIP will have a longer lasting effect than the SDP. It’s just that the root cause of UKIP’s existence will be a factor until the EU question is resolved: either we get out or dive in with both feet. While we stand with one leg in and one out, the social and economic tensions will continue to drive UKIP. I don’t know how long that will take, but it does not sound a quick or easy process either way.

    Compared to that – the SDP’s cause was fairly quickly dealt with after 1983 – it’s just that voters had other reasons not to vote Labour.

    Concerning the two parties’ electoral prospects: 6 MPs for SDP sounds to me like the limit for UKIP. They have a worse VI but somewhat better vote concentration. To me their chances of being in a coalition, even holding the balance of power, seem slim. Probably not enough seats, and they are a difficult ideological fit with most of the other parties.

  46. @Statty

    “I haven’t touched the BBC with a bargepole since September.)”

    ———

    Ah, well, you prolly don’t follow the cricket…

  47. @Alec

    “I haven’t checked the detail, but I recall that household finance surveys are generally showing people still broadly negative about their own current circumstances”

    Every Sunday Alec, i put the figures for this, every Sunday

    The figures for the personal financial situation in the next 12 months since January 2014 is between -15 and -21%,

    Better in the teens and Worse in the 30’s ( I think there are 2 Sundays of -14 and -13 and 1 Sunday of -22)

    Here is the chart from yougov at the bottom of the page

    LINK

    https://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/12/03/drop-economic-confidence-since-march/

    As you can see from the chart the narrowness of the range in 2014 is remarkable. It rose from a much more negative average range in 2013 and then remained static

    Groups who are more optimistic

    The Young
    People in London and the South East of England
    ABC1 class
    Conservative voters
    Men

    Groups who are more pessimistic

    The older voter
    People in Scotland and the North of England
    C2DE class
    UKIP and Labour voters
    Women

  48. The Independent

    “According to the latest report from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the public is forecast to add to its pile of unsecured lending, by £360bn over the next five years.”

    “and would take households’ unsecured lending, as a share of total household incomes, to a record 55 per cent by 2020”

    “If the public fails to spend, then growth would collapse and the Government’s deficit would be likely to start increasing again.”

    The Independent

  49. @Floating Voter

    Why are you reading such trivial stuff in the papers?

    Don’t you know 64% of the public don’t find Russell Brand funny? I was shocked.

    :-)

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