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. @Howard

    I agree with the principle you talking about.

    Here is Dewsbury, polled in July by Lord Ashcroft:

    Labour 40%
    Conservative 29%
    Liberal Democrat 4%
    UKIP 20%
    Green 6%
    Other 1%

  2. @RS

    And how do you explain away the fact that Ashcroft had the Greens at 8% in October and 6% now?

    RS, relax. I get excited when I see polls look like they are starting to move. Polldrums bores me. Usually my excitement gets quashed soon after. I’m sure the Greens will be down to 6 again with Yougov on the weekend, that is just margin of error, up one day down the next.

    But if you look at the trend, it does look good for them


    (Ignore the last dot, as that is only the polls for the 4th/5th, we need a few more to get the next average)


    Yes I stand corrected on the Lib/Dems having 2 FPTP seats in Scotland. How could I forget the independent nearly taking Orkney? while lavish Tavish lavishes it up in Shetland. ;-)

    What I meant with regards to the Lib/Dems in Scotland taking a hammering because of being a junior partner was to do with the 2011 election and the Scottish party bearing the brunt because of the coalition in Westminster rather than them being in coalition with Labour.

    But yes the coalition with Labour did not do the Lib’s any harm in 2007 possibly because both parties were hard to tell apart and both did enjoy a reasonable fruitful time in office.

  4. @Richard

    Sorry to disappoint, but the sic-poll averages only have the today’s sample on the last data point. However, you can see some change in the Greens’ situation:


  5. sic-poll? Maybe it feels a little Green? :))



    I love the MAD graphs but here is a MAD idea. If the SNP and Plaid stand as one party, lets call them “The United Celtic National Party” then the combined vote share could out poll the Lib/Dems in 2015 pushing them into 6th place.

    Tory or Labour… UKIP….Green….UCNP…Lib/Dems. Och I’m getting carried away.

  7. @Thanks Statgeek

    I did say ignore the last data point (I called it a dot!), but got the number of polls in that last one wrong!

    The Greens are still edging up looking at the data point before the last one on the 6 poll average graph.

    PS – how many polls need to be in an average before you can say you have a trend? I see you have many day averages, but I like to know sooner rather than later!

  8. @RS

    And how do you explain away the fact that Ashcroft had the Greens at 8% in October and 6% now?

    AW, our kind host, has produced some explanations about polling matters that you raise, and in fact show that what you have observation is entirely normal. They can be found on the left – Articles and FAQs.

    Spend five minutes there, and you will know more polling than 99% of Politicians and Journalists do :-)

  9. Allan
    Surely you meant to say “Och and Boyo!”

    If your MP is as you say, he should be deselected by his party. Very many MP’s do a good job despite ministerial/shadow responsibility and their own business career’s.

    Your initial comment sounded very like the usual politics of class and envy which is so popular in the north of England.

  11. Howard,

    CMJ is right. The regional Labour Students take a similar view to you, but we have ignored it. Polling seems to bear out that we were right to do so.

    Put it this way. Oliver Coppard is more likely to win than any other Sheffield MP is to lose. Given that it’s a city, many (probably the majority) of the campaigners, particularly the students, don’t have cars, so campaigning in High Peak or Dewsbury is an inefficient use of our time.

    Plus I spent a good deal of time last night designing some rather snazzy “Students for Oliver Coppard” posters and I’ll be buggered if that’s wasted effort.

  12. Your initial comment sounded very like the usual politics of class and envy which is so popular in the north of England.

    Yes, and we all wear flat caps, race whippets and say eh up to everyone.

    Can you see a stereo-type?


  13. BTW I live in Batley and Spen, adjacent to Dewsbury, so Simon Reevell is not my MP.

  14. @Mr Nameless @Howard

    The great Lib Dem leap to Labour in the North has meant that what were marginals based on 2010 data now look solid Labour bets.

    Given that, I think targeting the next strata of seats makes sense, given limited resources. Sheffield Hallam fits the bill for this level,

  15. Mr N
    You are a treasure to your party. I suppose if the nearest Con /Lab marginal (apart from Dewsbury) is many leagues away, perhaps you have a point on transport. Where would you judge the next nearest one is? I would lay on transport and provisions to your young colleagues to get them to that one, wherever it is. I believe in ruthless targeting and ‘I am unanimous in that’,

  16. Getting from Sheffield to Dewsbury by public transport would take a while and getting to Hadfield or Glossop in High Peak would be much worse so I think the Sheffield students are probably making the right call here.

    Also, activists going to Hadfield would never leave ;)

    It would be pretty daft if activists were makng the opposite journey though.

  17. I would appreciate all feedback (especially Anthony’s) on this:


    Let’s call it my thoughts out loud, rather than an authoritative piece, but the opinion stands. :))


    “how many polls need to be in an average before you can say you have a trend”

    One had nothing to do with the other. An infinite number of polls can exist in an average, and none of them may form a trend. (smug)

    If you mean, how many polls before a blip becomes a trend, I tend to go with 4-6 personally, but it depends on the typical volatility of said polls.


    UCNP? I have a feeling that might be misused by political opponents. Parties that start with ‘U’ do tend to get a little more ‘banter’.

  18. Howard,

    The nearest nominal marginals are Penistone and Stocksbridge and Rother Valley, but as CMJ says the LD>Lab swing makes that not the case in practice. Further out we’ve got High Peak, Dewsbury, Doncaster Central and North East Derbyshire – all covered by above statements.

    A convenient to access Con/Lab marginal where we might make a difference? Nearest one is probably Derby North.

  19. @Statgeek

    When using SPC systems (where a variable can go up or down), it generally considered that 7 pieces of data one way is significant.

    I guess it comes down to this.

    If two data points are the same way (up or down) the chance of that happening by random is 1/2 x 1/2 = 1/4.

    If three go the same way the chance is 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 = 1/8

    Therefore the formula is 1/ 2^number of data points.

    For 7 data points you end up at 1/128 = 0.8 % of it happening by the points being that way randomly. It’s therefore unlikely to be random, so logically there is a special cause.

    Something like that.

  20. Howard

    A quick look at the timetable reveals that going from Sheffield to Hadfield by train would mean going via Manchester and taking nearly two hours. Glossop would not be much faster. You have to remember that the Woodhead line no longer exists. ;)

    Amber Valley (Alfreton) would be 30 minutes away, but most of that constituency would need a car to cover it.

    I understand your targeting point, but students are not usual activists and there are not many urban marginals with easy public transport access to Sheffield. If Ashcroft’s poll is accurate, the only seat that fits the bill is Hallam as that may well be a Lib Dem/Labour marginal now.

    I used to think Hallam was a no-hoper but now I think it is a possible.

  21. @Lurker @Mr Nameless

    Given the history of this Parliament, if Nick Clegg was beaten by the work of students, then it would be ironic.

  22. CatManJeff,

    Clegg ought to be extraordinarily grateful he isn’t the MP for Sheffield Central, otherwise we wouldn’t even be bothering to campaign.

  23. Catmanjeff

    It wouldn’t be ironic, it would be bl**dy hilarious.

  24. Mr N
    Just looked up Derby North. You can’t be serious, man. A three way, already held by Lab that has a host of Red LDs who have already moved over – it’s in the bag.

    Try another. I, as Central Lab head honcho have taken note of other contributions from Lurker and CMJ, but I’m willing to arrange tickets and local Lab stalwarts to put you up.

    So where to. (That’s Bristolian for ”to where”).

  25. Howard

    Sherwood would be possible, but presumably Nottingham Uni students would have that covered.

    Also, a lot of them would be motivated by getting Clegg so would be less motivated in going after nondescript Tories.

  26. There ought to be a Fantasy Campaign Manager website, like there is with the Premier League football.

    Me, Howard and CMJ would be three people signing up!

  27. I’d appreciate it if you could round up all your students and bring them down to Clacton, Mr N ;)

  28. Norbold

    As that is a no-hoper for Labour, could you justify the reasoning?

    I saw your smiley, but believe me, there are, in every constituency, party members of all parties, nutters, ignorami, who just can’t face facts.

  29. Bramley

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

    A Labour Party insider will know better than me, but is there a cut off date before the General Election after which the central Party are able to impose candidates (or at least a shortlist) on constituencies? Because we might be seeing more of these last minute stand-downs and the air becoming thick with parachutes as favourite sons (sometimes literally) descend from London into safe seats.

    There are always some sitting MPs who may have personal reasons for retiring last minutes (according to AndyJS’s invaluable list Bayley was due to re-stand), but there’s always a bit of suspicion hovers in these cases. Sometimes it comes from the MP themself trying to shoehorn someone as their successor, but often it comes from a swift retirement being promised in return for a seat in the Lords or some other bauble.

  30. We did think about heading down, actually Norbold. Decided to head to Heywood instead (and may have achieved more!)

    Also on the main line down to London are South Derbyshire, Loughborough, Broxtowe and my haunt of North West Leicestershire.

  31. Stephen Fisher’s predictions are making interesting reading.


    For well over a year now, his predictions of the Lab vote share in 2015 have been rock solid at 31-32%. In that time, Lab’s actual poll VI figures have fallen from ~37-38% down to ~33%. So he’s captured that slide pretty much perfectly [1].

    But look at his predictions for the Tories and LDs. Back in Oct 2013, when the Tory and LD VIs were ~ 33% and 9% respectively, he was predicting that they’d get ~38% and 16% of the vote respectively in May 2015. Since then, both parties’ VI in the polls has fallen, rather than risen as his model expected them to do, and his predictions have dropped almost monotonically. He’s now predicting that the Tories will get ~34% and the LDs ~10% in May. I wonder if either party can buck this trend?

    [1] BIG question for Labour is, how much of the VI that they’ve lost to SNP/Green/UKIP in the last year is soft and recoverable?

  32. This is all very well, but St Nicholas is celebrating his birthday tomorrow and all of you have to have been well-behaved otherwise you won’t get presents, or possibly that very un-PC character Black Peter will come and give you what for.

    It’s all going off over there (all over the mainland) and we know not what of here and are instead looking forward to some American nonsense.. Sorry, my mouth is full of pepernootjes.

  33. “The point I think being missed is that the major underlying factor which led to the credit crunch was…. unsustainable levels of household debt.”

    Debt-based consumption is inevitably deflationary in the long term because as household debt goes up an increasing proportion of their disposable income goes on debt repayments.

    Eventually you hit a tipping point where the extra demand from borrowing is outweighed by decreasing demand caused by the drop in disposable income from the extra repayments.

    debt based consumption -> shrinking disposable income -> deflation

    In the long term anyway, in the short term it causes a boom but for every 7 years of feast you end up with 7, 14, 21 or 28 years of famine afterwards.

    It’s just arithmetic.

    And there’s no way out of it till the root problem is sorted because every scrap of actual real growth (as opposed to the fake mass immigration kind) will just be soaked up and stagnated in extra debt.

    So who benefits from this obviously very bad idea?

    You can easily tell the difference between banking and banksterism because

    Banking encourages saving.

    Banksterism encourages debt.

    (The weird thing is how the argument over household and government debt – which is at root the same argument – has been divided into two contradictory pieces and shared out between right and left.)

  34. Howard


    As that is a no-hoper for Labour, could you justify the reasoning?”

    um….er……um….er….let me see….er….well…..um…..


  35. @statgeek

    “I would appreciate all feedback (especially Anthony’s) on this:”

    I think not prompting at all would be best as people who can’t remember are probably non-voters so prompting them is effectively putting lots of don’t knows down as voters and skewing the result.

  36. @statgeek2

    so net effect would prob drop the Lab vote a touch and thereby increase the rest by a bit.

  37. @ Roger Mexico,

    A Labour Party insider will know better than me, but is there a cut off date before the General Election after which the central Party are able to impose candidates (or at least a shortlist) on constituencies?

    There is, and we reached it a few weeks ago. So yes, view all abrupt retirement announcements at this point with suspicion.

    (Although if Miliband is serious about Lords reform, I don’t see what good a peerage does anyone at this point…)

  38. Spearmint

    (Although if Miliband is serious about Lords reform, I don’t see what good a peerage does anyone at this point…)

    Perhaps he’ll let them keep their titles and their funny frocks.

  39. Yougov have done some more analysis of the Green vote today, in particular the 18-25’s


    Looking at that graph it looks like a lot of Labour votes in this age group shifted to the Greens in October. (Labour went from 40 to 34% of this age group over that month, Greens went from 14 to 19% over that month, and Lib Dems dropped a percent or 2.

  40. All Statgeek’s links are “403 – Forbidden.”

    Is this something to do with Cameron’s moves to ban British porn? Are you trying to show us naughty numbers? 69?

  41. I have been intending to make this comment for some time and the sad death of Jeremy Thorpe brings it to mind:

    GE2015 will be show the most significant party vote change since that of February 1974 Liberal vote increased by 12.2% and that of 1983 first election after formation of SDP.

    This time UKIP vote share will likewise increase but as in the above elections I believe they will be seriously impeded by electoral system gaining very few seats.

  42. @CMJ

    “When using SPC systems (where a variable can go up or down), it generally considered that 7 pieces of data one way is significant.”

    Interesting. My fiddling with the weighted MAD system has discovered that it reacts to changes on six data points (depending on the variance).

    I suppose if the seventh didn’t revert the average to prior norms, then we could conclude a trend from that.


    I think false recall is a real problem (how much of a problem is debatable). More so with Scottish elections, EU elections, lcoal elections (I suppose PCC elections if applicable). One might vote tactically for one, then with their principles for another, and forgot which was which later.

  43. @statgeek

    I don’t mean false recall. I mean people who don’t vote and would say “don’t know” if they weren’t prompted with party names.

  44. I thought a classic piece of taking a politicians remarks out of context and then
    spinning a non story was in all it’s glory today.Namely Farages comment about
    women breast feeding .There is a real need for press regulation in this country.

  45. @Statgeek

    Six pieces of data equates to1/64 or about 1.59% chance of it being entirely random.

    That’s good enough for me and for most applications.

    Bear in mind that when applying SPC into where it was intended (critical industries like aircraft manufacturing) they have quite rightly a whole different set of permitted errors and tolerances etc than monitoring polls. Therefore, I think six is perfectly sound, given the cost making a wrong call in polling frankly doesn’t matter.

  46. Did Ashcroft not report today?

  47. And now, ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the one, the only, the much anticipated…. churn analysis! This one includes all the polls up to the Autumn Statement. As always, graphs are of 5-poll rolling averages, view all crossbreaks with a healthy skepticism.

    I should also say before I proceed that the New Statesman’s new Drilldown app does everything I do, only much, much better and updating in real time instead of once a month. But I like to think I’m wittier. On we go.

    Broken up into lots of annoying bits because I somehow doubt Anthony is spending his Friday evening waiting around to release it from auto-mod.

  48. The State of the Parties

    Absolutely everyone is doomed. The Tories are stuck, Labour are falling apart, the Lib Dems have been falling apart since 2010, Ukip and the Greens are screwed by FPTP, and Nicola Sturgeon can’t become Prime Minister because she’s trapped in a tiny nation dependent on falling oil prices.

    Still, the emerging parties have had a good month, with Ukip and the Greens stabilising on new, higher plateaus and the SNP continuing to grow. Also, the Greens and the Nats got added to my graph, so I’m sure that was very exciting for them.

    The main parties had a lousy month, with the Tories remaining completely static despite the media blitz on Miliband, Labour stabilising at their new, horrible VI of 33% and then sliding downward again, and the Lib Dems now stuck on 7%.


    (A note: the Nationalists got stuck with grey and black in these graphs because a) the SNP and Plaid have different party colours and b) green and yellow were already taken anyway. This is not meant to imply they are blackshirts.)

  49. The Conservatives

    With six months to go until the general election, the Tories find themselves exactly where they were after the 2012 Omnishambles Budget. They had a decent-ish summer, edging up into the 34% range. All that progress (such as it was) has now been undone: they’re back on 32% and they can’t seem to pull up. According to the swingback models, they should be gaining by this point in the election cycle, but they’re utterly becalmed.


  50. This is entirely a retention issue: Tory -> Ukip churn is up slightly since Carswell’s defection, so Tory VI is down. The good news is, the Rochester by-election didn’t hurt them and contrary to some predictions in the media party discipline seems to be holding. The bad news is: a torrid month for Ed Miliband hasn’t gained them a single voter. On the plus side, Lab -> Tory switching has overtaken Tory -> Lab switching. The first signs of swingback? Probably not, most of those ex-Tories have just gone to Ukip, but it should gain them a good 0.1% in the election. Every vote counts!


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