YouGov March poll

YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph unsurprisingly shows voting intentions largely unchanged from their last poll, conducted just a week ago – CON 39%(nc), LAB 32%(+1), LDEM 17%(+1). The poll was conducted between the 26th and 28th March.

On the “forced choice” question, asking if people would prefer a Labour government under Gordon Brown or a Conservative goernment under David Cameron, the Conservatives lead by 10 points. Taking the responses of current Lib Dem voters as a possible guide to how tactical voting will pan out at the next election, Lib Dem voters would still prefer a Brown government to a Cameron one by 40% to 32%. This is also reflected in a question asking people who their second preference party would be – more Lib Dem voters said Labour (21%) than Conservative (16%), although the party who Lib Dem voters were most likely to name as a second preference was the Greens with 30%. Conservative voters were most likely to name the Liberal Democrats as their second preference (23%), but large sections of Tory supporters named UKIP (18%) or the BNP (12%) as second choices. There was less of a challenge to the Labour party from fringe parties – 33% of Labour voters named the Lib Dems as their second choice, 14% the Greens and 9% the Conservatives.

Asked who would make the best Prime Minister, Tony Blair is once again marginally perfered to David Cameron, perhaps reflecting the recent improvement in the public’s opinion of Blair recorded in YouGov’s brandindex trackers over the past three weeks. Cameron’s lead over Gordon Brown has risen to 5 points, with 30% naming Cameron as the best PM compared to 25% for Brown.

YouGov also carried out a voting intention poll in Scotland. Constituency voting intention, with changes from the last YouGov Scottish poll, are CON 13%(nc), LAB 29%(nc), LDEM 14%(-4), SNP 35%(nc). Regional top-up votes stand at CON 15%(+1), LAB 27%(-3), LDEM 12%(-2), SNP 33%(+1), GRN 6%(+1), SPP 2%(+1), Solidarity 2%. Weber Shandwick’s swingometer translates this into a Scottish Parliament with 46 SNP seats, 39 Labour seats, 18 Lib Dem seats, 19 Conservative seats, 5 Greens and 2 others.

47% of respondents in YouGov’s survey said that if the SNP emerge as the largest group they would like to see them form an executive through a coalition with a smaller party (10% would prefer a minority SNP exective, 18% a continuation of the Labour/Lib Dem executive). There was majority support for a referendum on Scottish independence with 64% of people respondents saying they support one. If a referendum is called, 28% of respondents said they would vote for independence, with 51% favouring the status quo.

Communicate Research’s monthly poll has voting intention figures with changes from last month of CON 35%(-5), LAB 31%(+2), LDEM 20%(+3). The poll was conducted between March 23-25th. The figures appear to show a very sharp drop in Conservative support, but as noted before, the lack of political weighting in Communicate and Ipsos-MORI polls means the results are more volatile and shifts from one month to the next less meaningful. (UPDATE – someone’s pointed out that the Independent’s coverage of the polls that that it was indeed weighted by past vote. I’m trying to find out if Communicate have altered their methodology and will update once I get an answer. UPDATE II – confirmed, Communicate Research polls are now weighted by past vote – I’ll put a proper post up on it when I get the details of their new methodology. What this means is that their future pollls should be less volatile, although it doesn’t mean that we can read much more into the changes this month, as last month’s sample could have just been unusually stuffed full of Tories!).

Meanwhile Populus have released their first poll of Scottish voting intentions ahead of the Parliamentary elections in May. The voting intention figures in the constituency section are CON 14%, LAB 28%, LDEM 15%, SNP 38%, while in the more important regional top-up vote support stands at CON 14%, LAB 30%, SNP 35%, LDEM 14%. On Weber Shandwick’s swingometer this translates into the SNP becoming the largest party with 49 seats to Labour’s 43, with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats both on 18.

UPDATE: MORI’s monthly figures have also been released…sort of. A note on their website says that “as we are still running methodological tests while merging the Ipsos and MORI field operations, we are not publishing a full Political Monitor in March”. However, they have released voting intentions from a separate face-to-face omnibus survey which uses the same sampling and weighting regime as their normal figures. The topline voting intentions, with changes from the last MORI poll in January, are CON 41%(+2), LAB 33%(-2), LDEM 17%(-2). It was carried out between the 9th and the 15th March.


This morning’s Telegraph has the first post budget test of public opinion, a YouGov poll has voting intentions of CON 39%(+1), LAB 31%(-1), LDEM 16%(nc). The poll was conducted between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday.

The changes from YouGov’s last poll in the Sunday Times are insignificant, but they do suggest that there is no immediate “budget boost” for Labour. Overall 34% of people thought the budget was a fair one, while 46% thought it was not. YouGov have asked the same question after each budget since 2002, and this is the most negative reaction so far, the -12 “net fairness” figure compares to -7 last year, +15 in 2005, +13 in 2004, +23 in 2003 and +34 in 2002. That said, answers to the question are quite partisan – 70% of Tory voters think it was unfair and 65% of Labour voters think it was fair, so the trend may simply be a reflection of Labour’s falling popularity.

Overall 40% of people thought that the budget would leave the country worse off, with only 21% thinking the country would be better off. Despite the publicity attached to the headline 2p cut from income tax, 48% thought they personally and their families would be worse off, with only 18% thinking they would benefit, though put into historical context these figures are not incredibly bad. People tend to assume the worst about budgets – if you look back at some previous Brown budgets 45% thought they would be worse off in 2004, 63% in 2003 and 60% in 2002.

Asked about who will benefit from the budget, Labour will probably be quite pleased with the answers – 45% think schools will be better off (12% worse off), 34% think hospitals will benefit (18% worse off), 48% think families with children will benefit (22% think they’ll be worse off), 39% think pensioners will benefit (27% worse off), 33% think companies will benefit (25% think they’ll be worse off). The only group that a plurality of people thought would suffer from the budget was workers on low incomes, 42% thought they would suffer with only 29% of people thinking they’d be better off.

There were few questions on specific aspects of the budget. The cut in the standard rate of income tax and the increase in road tax on “gas guzzling” cars were both popular. Only 27% though Brown should not have cut the standard rate of income tax, 29% thought he was right to do what he did and 33% would have been happy with even larger cuts. Only 25% objected to the increase in vehicle duty, while 23% would have been happier with even larger rises.

Attitudes to Gordon Brown however remain ambivalent – 40% think he is an asset to the Labour party, but 38% think he is a liability. 44% think he is doing a good job as Chancellor, 36% a bad job. These are good figures compared to the sort of dire approval ratings recorded by Tony Blair, but compared to perceptions of Brown a few years ago are miserable. In YouGov’s 2005 post-budget poll Brown was seen as an asset rather than a liability by 63% to 16%, and his job approval figures were 61% to 19%.

Looking at direct comparisons with Tony Blair, 30% think Brown is doing a better job as Chancellor than Blair is as PM, 24% think the opposite. Compare this to two years ago, when 52% thought Brown was doing the better job. 35% of people would now prefer to have Tony Blair as Prime Minister, with 30% preferring Brown. This isn’t just Labour’s opponents playing silly buggers – Blair is now preferred across the board, amongst Labour supporters 52% would prefer to see Blair as Prime Minister.

Better news for Brown is that the “Stalinist” jibe doesn’t seem to have stuck. Only 25% of respondents thought that Brown behaved with “Stalinist ruthlessness”, and these were largely Tory votes. 39% thought he was properly tough and 18% thought he was neither tough nor ruthless.

ICM March poll

ICM’s March poll for the Guardian has another double digit Conservative lead – the topline figures are CON 41%(+1), LAB 31%(+2), LDEM 18%(-3). The increasingly regular hypothetical voting intention question on how people would vote with Brown as Labour leader as usual showed a larger Conservative lead – in this case CON 43%, LAB 28%, LD 18%.

There are new YouGov and BPIX polls in the Sunday papers. Headline voting intentions in YouGov’s poll show the Conservatives on 38% (up one from the last YouGov poll) and Labour on 32% (unchanged from the last poll), the Liberal Democrats are at 16% (down one).

As usual, the Conservative lead increased when respondents are asked a hypothetical question on how they would vote with Gordon Brown as the Labour party leader, with the Conservatives up to 41% and Labour on 31%. Normal voting intentions aren’t given for the BPIX poll, but with Brown named as Labour leader hypothetical voting intentions are CON 38%, LAB 31%, LDEM 14%.

Both surveys show opposition to “green taxation” – increases are viewed cynically, with 63% thinking they merely a way to raise taxes. 60% told YouGov they were opposed to extra taxes on cheap flights, 69% were opposed to more congestion charges, 63% were opposed to higher fuel duties. Measures that meet with support are those which people imagine will effect only other people – so 66% support taxes on larger engined cars, and those which are entirely painless for the respondents themselves, unsurprising 91% support more use of technology to reduce carbon emmissions. There is a plurality in favour of building more nuclear power stations – 42% to 36% against.

In the BPIX poll 66% of people said they expected than an increase in air taxes wouldn’t actually result in a drop in passengers, it would only result in people paying more tax. Only 5% of respondents said they personally would reduce the number of flights they took a year if taxes rose by £10 per flight, and according to the Mail on Sunday, few people told BPIX that higher taxes would stop them flying until extra taxes reached £50 per flight, at which point 48% of people said they would cut down on the number of flights they took.

YouGov also asked about a number of other issues for the Sunday Times – 42% of people favoured renewing Trident, with 37% opposed. 53% of people think British troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan. Following the Channel 4 documentary critical of the Prince of Wales, 60% of people said they thought Prince Charles was correct in the way he speaks out on issues. However, 42% of people continue to think that the crown should skip a generation and Prince William should become King after the Queen’s death, rather than Charles.