YouGov are carrying out genuine daily voting intention polls throughout the conference season. The first week’s figures for the Lib Dem conference are up on the YouGov website here now (hopefully – it’s IP blocked until we pass the embargo at 10.15!), and for the next two weeks they’ll go out daily there and on Sky News at 5pm. As well as voting intention, there will be daily topical questions on whatever issues arise at the conferences.

In the past daily polling has almost always been a “rolling poll”, so each day’s sample was actually made up of a couple of days small samples, with the oldest one dropping off each day to be replaced by new data. Each day’s YouGov poll is a completely new sample of 1000 people (less than the normal YouGov sample of 2000, to make sure we don’t start asking people too regularly). They are also being carried out in just 24 hours, so the data published on Monday was all collected on Sunday and Monday morning, Tuesday’s data was collected between Monday and Tuesday (for those of who interested in the mechanics, in the past we were wary of really quick polls in case people who responded fast to surveys were different from people who responded slowly. We’ve got round this using a different method of inviting people to surveys, without going into details the end result is that some of the people answering the daily surveys will have been invited a day or two before the survey even began, meaning you still get a mix of fast and slow respondents).


The latest voting intention figures are CON 40%, LAB 24%, LDEM 21%. As you can see from the graph, the Lib Dems peaked straight after Nick Clegg’s conference speech when they reached 23%, but only for a day. Their Friday score of 21% is still significantly up on the 17% they scored on Monday at the beginning of conference season. The Conservatives went down to 38% at the same point, but ended the first week of conference season back at 40% (still down on the last YouGov poll from before conference which had them at 41%).

The big losers so far as Labour, pushed down to 24%. Of course, starting today we will have the first daily poll conducted during the Labour conference, and in the next few days we may (or may not) see Labour’s totals climbing.

An ICM poll yesterday suggested that 53% of people agreed with Jack Straw’s comments on Muslim women wearing the veil, with 36% disagreeing (compare this result with the voodoo polls
paraded around by the Express and Radio Five Live last week).

The latest figures from YouGov’s BrandIndex political trackers suggest it has given Jack Straw a real boost. His net popularity (the proportion of people with a positive impression of Straw minus the proportion of people with a negative impression) has short up fifteen points since his comments, from minus 15 to a net score of zero in the most recent figures. This makes him the only Labour politician tracked who doesn’t have a negative score.

The latest figures also show the results of the party conference season on perceptions of party image and on the leaders’ job approval ratings. A rough summary would be that the Lib Dems enjoyed a brief boost in people’s perception of the party and in how well Sir Menzies Campbell is doing as leader, but that it rapidly subsided once the conference was over.

In contrast Labour also saw a rise in people’s perception of their competence and the proportion of people who though they’d made it clear what they stood for, but the increase in their figures has been sustained (at least so far). Equally Tony Blair saw a big boost in his ratings that has not yet subsided.

The Conservatives meanwhile saw very little rise in their figures at all – David Cameron saw only a meagre rise in his popularity and there was no boost at all to the party’s image (in fact the proportion of people thinking the Conservatives had made it clear what they stood for fell by 4 points). The only consolation was that Cameron’s emphasis on the NHS in his speech did seem to register, with the Conservatives now equalling Labour as the party with the best policies on the NHS

For the full graphs pdf download the full report HERE.


Below is the updated graph of the net impression figures for senior Labour party politicians from YouGov’s BrandIndex tracker, now including the effect of the Labour party conference. Click on the graph to see a larger version of it.


The figures are all based on a five day rolling average, so it will take a few days for a full effect of the conference to work its way through onto the graph, but the figures already tell an obvious story. There is a general upwards trend in ratings after a Labour conference that could have been dominated by infighting, but wasn’t. The most striking increase is in Tony Blair’s ratings, which have shot upwards since his powerful leaving speech – his ratings are now at the highest level yet recorded on the BrandIndex political trackers, above those recorded before the prisoner release scandal and “Labour’s Black Wednesday”.

Gordon Brown’s figures are up as well, but were gradually recovering from the slump that followed Tom Watson’s resignation even before the conference, which doesn’t seem to have speeded the pace of his recovery. He remains below his ratings prior to Watson’s resignation.

There is also a noticable increase in perceptions of John Reid. Alan Johnson’s figures do not seem to have been affected by the conference, but have been slowly rising over the past month.

The chart below, based up on the 3-day rolling averages (i.e. around 1,875 responses, so still reasonably robust) shows the contenders ratings before and after the party conference.

NET rating 22 Sept NET rating 28 Sept Change
Tony Blair minus 31 minus 19 UP 12
John Reid minus 12 minus 7 UP 5
Gordon Brown minus 28 minus 24 UP 4
Alan Johnson minus 7 minus 6 UP 1
David Miliband minus 13 minus 12 UP 1

Given that John Reid’s speech was on the final day of conference, his boost was probably more to do with his ‘victory’ in Newsnight’s focus group on the Labour leadership (or more to the point, given that not many people actually watch Newsnight, the media speculation that followed it). He may yet get a further boost (or a reverse) as data from after his conference speech comes in.

There haven’t been any voting intention polls since the party conference yet, but if the boost in people’s perceptions of Tony Blair is in any way echoed in voting intentions Labour should see a healthy conference boost. We shall see…

*As ever, BrandIndex does not use a nationally representative sample, but a sample that is slightly skewed towards younger and wealthier respondents. However, because the demographic make-up of the sample is consistent from day to day, trends within the data will be broadly accurate. The political figures are calibrated to match the answers given in a parallel nationally representative sample.

The graph of YouGov’s BrandIndex tracker data below (click on the graph for a bigger version) shows the net impression figures for senior Labour party politicians over the last five months, hopefully in the coming months I’ll be updating it so we can track the manoeuvring for the Labour crown.


To date Gordon Brown has been on a slow downwards trajectory – his ratings have taken knocks after the stock market falls in mid-May, after his backing of Trident in June and after Lord Levy’s arrest when all the Labour politicians tracked saw their figures drop to some extent. These dips are small compared to the stark fall in the public’s impression of Brown since the “failed coup” against Tony Blair last week. Brown has fallen from minus 20 on the day of Tom Watson’s resignation to minus 32 in the latest figures.

In contrast the public have warmed towards Tony Blair as his party put him under pressure – his net impression rating rose from minus 34 on the day of Watson’s resignation to minus 30 now. This means that for the first time in YouGov’s daily trackers the public have a more positive impression of Tony Blair than Gordon Brown.

Amongst the other potential candidates for Labour’s leadership, John Reid enjoyed a huge boost in popularity as a result of his handling of the terror arrests in early August, which saw his net ratings shoot up from minus 16 to minus 2. However, the effect has since faded and Reid’s figures are now back to minus 15, only slightly above their level before the arrests.

Alan Johnson is once again the most popular of those politicians on the tracker who are currently being suggested as potential leadership candidates, with a rating of minus 7. To some extent however, this is due to his low public recognition. Only 22% of respondents expressed any opinion – positive or negative – about Johnson. This compares to 24% for Miliband, 42% for Reid, 71% for Brown and 77% for Blair.

However, those few who do have opinions about Johnson do tend to be positive. If you take the positive ratings as a proportion of those expressing an opinion about each politician, Johnson remains the most popular with 35% of those expressing an opinion on Johnson being positive, 32% of opinions on Reid were positive, Blair 30% positive, Brown 28% positive and Miliband just 22% positive.

pdf Download full report HERE.

In the absence of Tony Blair it was John Reid, not the Deputy Prime Minister, who was the public face of the government after the police foiled a plot to smuggle liquid explosives onto planes last week. Since then various media commentators have speculated that Reid’s calm handling of the terrorist arrests has increased the chances of him becoming a serious alternative to Gordon Brown when Tony Blair stands down.

The figures from YouGov’s daily tracker polls released today suggest Reid has indeed improved his reputation – in fact dramatically so. The net impression figures for John Reid – the percentage of people who say they have a positive impression of him, minus the percentage of people who say they have a negative impression of him – has risen from minus 17 the day before the arrests, to minus 2 last Thursday.

graph of John Reid's net impression rating

To put this in context this now makes John Reid the most popular of all the politicians tracked by YouGov – including the Conservative leader David Cameron, who currently scores minus 5, other cabinet members who have been touted as potential leadership contenders, such as Alan Johnson on minus 8, and way above Gordon Brown on minus 21.

Reid is seen far more positively by the public than Gordon Brown. If – and it’s a big if – there does turn out to be a contested leadership battle and if – and it’s another big if – John Reid has permanently improved his public image and it doesn’t drop straight back down against once the news agenda moves on, then he appears to gone a long way towards positioning himself as the best alternative to Brown.

pdf Download full report HERE.