I’ve had chance to look at the proper figures from this mornings YouGov poll, including their regular trackers which produce some interesting findings. While there were more respondents who claimed their opinion of Brown had got worse over recent weeks than those who said it had improved, the trackers confirm this really isn’t the case. A month ago Gordon Brown’s approval rating was minus 58, now it is minus 38. Still awful of course, but the improvement is undeniable.
Looking at some of the other trackers there is an interesting pattern. Across the board topline voting intention figures have shown Labour increasing their support… but Conservative support only falling slightly, with most polls suggesting they are holding on at 40+ percent support. YouGov’s trackers show a similar pattern. Looking at the best Prime Minister figures, Cameron’s lead over Brown has fallen from 18 points a month ago to only 7 now. However, Cameron has remained steady on 34%, it is Gordon Brown who has taken support from Nick Clegg and “don’t knows”.
On who will run the economy better, the Conservative lead has dropped from 17 points a month ago to only 4 points now, but their own percentage has dropped by only 3 points; the big shift was Labour gaining at the expense of “neither”. It suggests that what has happened in the last month is that Labour supporters who had been disillusioned with Brown’s government, but in most cases hadn’t embraced the Conservatives as the alternative and were just dismissing the lot of them, have been won back over.
The survey also included a very interesting finding about perceptions of party sleaze. YouGov found that 34% of people thought that the Conservatives gave the impression of “being very sleazy and disreputable” this compared to 42% who thought the same about the Labour party.
This shows that, despite the recent fuss over George Osborne, Labour are still seen as the “sleazier” party. However, the wording has been used by YouGov in the past and going back to look at find findings reveals a transformation in perceptions. The Conservatives score is up marginally from 31% in November 2007, but in general has been pretty stable – they registered 33% to 34% on the question several times between 2002 and 2006. The proportion of people who think Labour are sleazy though has plummeted – between 2002 and 2007 YouGov were registering between 56% and 69% of people thinking Labour were “very sleazy and disreputable” and the last time the question was asked in November 2007 60% said they were sleazy. 42% is a significant drop.
It could just be the aura effect of the government’s crisis handling, or perhaps just the fact there there is not currently any Labour scandal in the news (almost by definition these questions only tend to get asked when there is sleaze story in the newspapers), but it looks as though Gordon Brown is successfully decontaminating Labour from some of the perceived sleaze of the Blair years.