This week’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is now up here. Topline results are CON 30%, LAB 41%, LD 12%, UKIP 12%, so again suggesting that the budget has had no significant effect on voting intention (though as I’ve said before, that’s isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the government. In recent years budgets have more often had negative effects on government support, so it should perhaps be seen less as an positive opportunity missed, than a pitfall avoided).
There is little change in people’s attitudes towards the economy, the overwhelming majority still think the economy is in a bad state and very few expect their finances to improve in the next year. Confidence in the government’s ability to deal with the economy has ticked up very slightly… but not by much. 33% say they have a lot or some confidence in the government’s economic ability (up from 29% last week), 24% think the government’s economy strategy has started to work or soon will (up from 19% last week).
Looking more specifically at the budget, only 19% think it will be good for the economy, 25% bad for the economy with 40% thinking it will have no effect either way. Asked how it will affect them personally 30% of people think they will be worse off compared to only 10% who think they personally will be better off.
YouGov also asked who people thought had benefitted or suffered from this year’s budget – the biggest winners were seen as people trying to buy a home (39%) and rich people (36%), followed by small businesses (22%), big business, people in low paid jobs and working parents (all on 19%). I suspect the government would be quietly pleased if people went away with the perception that the budget was one that helped people trying to buy a home or run a small business if it wasn’t accompanied by the continued perception that it was helping the rich. In contrast the people who are seen as suffering from the budget are public sector workers (24%), people on benefits (22%), people in low paid jobs (18%) and stay at home parents (18%).
On specific measures, the increase in the personal allowance has extremely wide support – 89% are in favour. The mortgage guarantees are supported by 50% with 28% opposed. The reduction in beer duty, despite being seen as crowd pleasing measure actually produced mixed feelings. 41% of people were supportive, 42% opposed.
Finally, the budget does seem to have tempered hostility towards George Osborne slightly. A week ago only 17% wanted him to remain as Chancellor and 51% wanted him replaced. The figures now are 27% stay and 46% go.
YouGov also asked about the new system of press regulation, finding people broadly supportive. Overall 52% of people support it, 23% are opposed. There are similar splits on whether it is threat to press freedom (27% think it is, 53% think it is not) and whether it is right that newspapers who do not join the regulator should face larger damages (55% think they should and 23% think they should not). People are much more divided over whether the system will actually work – 40% think it will help stop intrusive and unethical behaviour by the press, but almost as many (37%) think it will not.
Last night we also had the fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer. Topline figures there were CON 28%(+1), LAB 38%(-1), LDEM 9%(+1), UKIP 16%(-1), though fieldwork was conducted partly before the budget. The poll also asked what result people expected from the next election – 25% expect a Labour majority, only 9% a Conservative majority, 45% another hung Parliament (two thirds of which expect Labour to lead the subsequent government).
A note for polling pedants, as far as I can tell from the question text in the graphic the Observer’s headline “54% of voters expect Ed Miliband to be next Prime Minister” is not true. Opinium seem to have asked which party people expected to form the government after the next election, which is a slightly different question. People could expect a difference Conservative MP before the general election, or expect Labour to win under a different leader… but more importantly, people may well have answered the question differently if they had asked who will be Prime Minister after the next election. Logically unless people think the two main party leaders might change before 2015 the two answers should be the same… but as we have seen again and again, that is not the way answers to polls actually work.