YouGov’s first voting intention poll of the year looks very much like the polls at the end of last year. Topline figures are CON 40% (nc), LAB 41%(-1), LDEM 9%(+2). Fieldwork was on Sunday and Monday and changes are from mid-December. For the record, the nine point share for the Lib Dems is the highest that YouGov have shown since the election, though I would urge my usual caution about reading too much into that unless it is echoed by other polls. Full tables are here.

Most of YouGov’s regular trackers in the poll show a similar lack of movement: Theresa May continues to have a modest point lead over Jeremy Corbyn on who would make the better Prime Minister (37% to 31%), a majority (59%) of people think that the government are handling Brexit negotiations badly, and slightly more people think that Brexit was the wrong decision (46%) than the right decision (42%).

The one striking change since the last poll is how health has risen up the political agenda. 53% of respondents picked health as one of the most important issues facing the country, up fourteen points since the last YouGov poll (though still behind Brexit on 60%). It is by no means unusual for health to rise up the agenda at this time of year on the back of media coverage of the NHS struggling to cope in the winter months, but this is an unusually large rise and the 53% figure is the highest YouGov have recorded since they started asking this question in 2010.

YouGov’s latest poll for the Times has topline figures of CON 42%(+2), LAB 41%(nc), LDEM 7%(nc). Fieldwork was Sunday to Monday, and changes are from last week. While the movement from the last poll is well within the normal margin of error, it’s worth noting that this is the first YouGov poll since the election to show a Conservative lead.

Looking at some of the other results it does suggest a small boost for Theresa May from the progress on Brexit last week, but one that still shows the public judging the government’s negotiating efforts very negatively. 26% of respondents now think the government are doing well at negotiating Brexit (up five points), but 57% still think they are doing badly (down seven points). Asked who has the upper hand in the negotiations so far 50% think the EU are doing better and Britain are accepting their demands, 26% think there has been give and take on both sides and just 4% think Britain has the upper hand.

Of course, this is just one poll done just after some good news for the government. It remains to be seen whether it is replicated in other polls and, if so, whether it lasts or rapidly fades away.

The Times story is here, tabs should be up on the YouGov site tomorrow.


YouGov’s regular voting intention figures this week are CON 40%(+1), LAB 41%(nc), LDEM 7%(nc). Changes are from late November.

The poll was conducted on Monday and Tuesday, so at a point when the Brexit negotiations looked to be in extreme difficulty and before today’s progress. They do, however, give us a point of comparison. At the start of the week just 21% of people thought the government were doing well at negotiating Brexit, 64% of people thought they were doing badly (including a majority of both Remain and Leave voters).

We shall see in the next poll if this week’s later events have done anything to change that.

Full tabs are here.

We used to get a flurry of opinion polling around a budget, but this year there has been very little. Part of that will be polling’s recent troubles (many companies are doing much less polling than before the election), perhaps it is just because it wasn’t a very interesting budget. If Hammond had done something that was spectacularly unpopular I expect many newspapers would have been scampering to commission a poll, as it was however, it was rather a dull affair and few seem to have bothered. I think the only post-budget poll we’ve seen is YouGov for the Times.

Topline figures there were CON 39%(-1), LAB 41%(-2), LDEM 7%(nc). Fieldwork was Wednesday afternoon/evening and Thursday and changes are from the Sun-Monday before the budget.

Even after a year and a bit in the job a large chunk of the public have no real opinion of Philip Hammond – 48% say they don’t know if he’s doing a good or bad job (20% say good, up five points from before the budget, 32% say bad, down three points from before the budget). Asked whether he or John McDonnell would do a better job as Chancellor 23% pick Hammond, 13% McDonnell and a hefty 64% say don’t know. Put simply, this is a comparison between two people who the general public either don’t know or don’t care about.

Moving to the question of wider economic expectations, people expect the state of the economy to get worse over the next twelve months by 51% to 11%, and expect their own personal finances to get worse by 40% to 12%.

The budget itself seems to have gone down adequately. All the budget measures YouGov asked about recieved more support than opposition, with the most popular being giving extra money to the NHS (87% thought it was a good idea) and increasing the National Living Wage (82% a good idea). The least were extending the young persons railcard up to the age of 30 (45% a good idea) and setting aside money for Brexit plannong (48% good idea). Most of the changes were giveaways of some sort of course, without anything likely to cause a big political row – the most contentious issue after the budget seemed not to be the unpleasant things Hammond had done, but whether his Stamp Duty cut would actually have a negative impact and whether the changes to Univeral Credit were enough.

On those two issues, only 9% of respondents thought that the Universal Credit changes went far enough and addressed all the problems, 45% think there are still problems with the policy (7% thought no changes should have been made and 39% said don’t know). On Stamp Duty for first time buyers, only 30% thought this would help make housing more affordable, 45% thought it would make no real difference (and 10% thought it would make housing even less affordable).

Overall, 34% of people thought Hammond’s budget was fair, 23% unfair. YouGov ask that same question after every budget, and that answer is pretty so-so. Nothing to shout about, but not the sort of negative reaction that Osborne got in 2016 or 2012. Full tabs are here.

The government have, needless to say, not had a particularly good few weeks. They have lost two cabinet minsters and have several more under clouds who the media have portrayed the Prime Minister as too weak to sack. You’d probably expect the government to be tanking in the opinion polls.

Yet YouGov’s latest poll for the Times has topline figures of CON 40%(nc), LAB 43%(+1), LDEM 6%(-2). Fieldwork was on Tuesday and Wednesday, so right in the middle of the Priti Patel row but before her resignation, and changes are from mid-October. Labour are ahead, but it’s the same sort of narrow lead that they’ve held since just after the election. As in other recent polls, Conservative support appears to be holding steady at around 40%.

It is a similar case with Theresa May’s own ratings. Her approval ratings are negative, but show no sign of collapse: 31% think she is doing well (unchanged from last month), 55% think she is doing badly (four points down from last month). 29% of people think she is a strong leader (up one point), 49% think she is weak (down three). 42% think she is competent (no change), 38% think she is incompetent (down three).

This raises the question of why support for the government and Theresa May is holding up when, on the face of it, they seem to be in such a mess. One eternal reason is that most people pay far less attention to political news than anyone reading this blog does. Cabinet rows and government weakness will make no difference to the voting intention of people who are wholly unaware of them. As an illustration, the poll also asked people if they thought Theresa May should get rid of Priti Patel (at a time, remember, when the story was all over the news and had been for four days). 17% said she should stay, 30% that she should go, 53% gave a “don’t know”. Government incompetence won’t hurt Tory support among people who are unaware of it.

An alternative possibility is that Tory voters are sticking with the Conservatives, however poor they are, because the alternative is Jeremy Corbyn. To test this YouGov asked people who said they’d vote Tory tomorrow why they were supporting them. Only 7% of Tory voters said it was because they both agreed with the government’s aims and thought they were delivering them, 48% said they agreed with the government’s aims even if they were struggling to deliver them, 22% said they thought the government were competent, even if they didn’t agree with all their aims. 19% of Tory voters, however, said they didn’t think the government were governing well and didn’t agree with their aims… but they still preferred them to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.

Why is the government’s support holding up? As ever, there is never a single simple reason, but part of it is that most people don’t pay much attention to the day-to-day soap opera of politics, so individual scandals will not necessarily make a huge difference. Secondly, while even most Tory voters think the government are struggling to deliver their aims, they do mostly agree with what they are trying to do. Thirdly, there are a significant chunk of Tory voters who don’t think they are governing well and don’t agree with what they are doing… but would still vote for them because they aren’t Labour.

Full tabs are here.