There is a new ComRes poll out tonight for the Independent. Topline voting intention figures, with changes from their previous poll a week and a half ago, are CON 40%(+4), LAB 31%(+1), LDEM 18%(-5). As with ICM and YouGov, that represents a sharp drop in Liberal Democrat support, though ComRes are showing a rather lower level of Labour support than other companies.

There is also a new ICM poll tonight, carried out for the Sunday Telegraph. The topline figures, with changes from ICM’s poll a week ago, are CON 41%(+2), LAB 35%(+4), LDEM 16%(-5). The figures are pretty much in line with those from YouGov tonight, with the Liberal Democrats pushed down into the mid teens while both the Conservatives and Labour are considerably up on their general election support.

The full tables don’t seem to be available yet, but the Sunday Telegraph report suggests similar findings to YouGov when it comes to the budget. 47% thought the budget would improve the economy, compared to 19% expecting it to make things worse. Once again, almost all the measures of the budget recieved majority support with the exception of the VAT rise, which ICM found 60% of people opposed (including 55% of remaining Liberal Democrat voters).

52% of people thought the cuts were necessary, 43% thought that it was tougher than necessary and the government were “using it as an excuse to introduce measures it had always wanted to”.


YouGov have a poll for the Sunday Times tomorrow – full results are up on the YouGov website here. Topline voting intention figures, with changes from the Thursday poll, are CON 43%(nc), LAB 36%(+2), LDEM 16%(-1). Putting aside YouGov’s poll on Tuesday which looked like a bit of an outlier, this is the higher Labour have been for a long time (though they remain 7 points behind the Conservatives, also high compared to most recent polls), and the lowest the Liberal Democrats have been. Support seems to be polarising around the two main parties.

Looking at the approval ratings of the government, Cameron and Clegg, net approval is down on all three – although in every case it remains well into positive territory (Government net approval is at +15, Cameron’s net approval at +34 and Clegg’s at +27). In every case the drop is mostly down to an increase in those disapproving and a drop in don’t knows – it looks as thought some who were reserving judgement have come down against Cameron/Clegg (the proportions approving of Cameron & Clegg have also dropped since the budget, the proportion of those approving of the government is above that pre-budget).

Reactions to the budget are pretty much the same as YouGov found in their poll for the Sun, a plurality of people thought it was good for the country (41%) and was fair (49%). Asked who would loose the most, 33% thought people on middle incomes would, with 18% thinking all incomes groups would suffer. 18% thought the rich would suffer the most, 29% thought the poor would.

Asked about individual measures, once again almost of them met with majority approval, including freezing child benefit (52% approval), freezing public sector pay (55% approval) and cutting housing benefit and DLA (56% approval). The sole exception was, once again, VAT – which 52% of people said they disagreed with, compared to 38% who agreed. Asked if they would rather have had an income tax rise instead though, only 31% said they would, with 52% preferring VAT.

YouGov went on to test what people thought about the VAT rise given the Conservative and Lib Dems’ statements about it during the election campaign. Asked about the Conservative statement that they had no plans to raise VAT, 53% of respondents thought they had intended to all along, and just didn’t want to admit it for electoral reasons. 34% of people thought they really hadn’t had any such plans, but were forced to raise VAT by the state of the economy. The public were slightly more forgiving towards the Liberal Democrats – asked if they had abandoned their principles by supporting a tax rise they had attacked during the campaign 43% thought they had, but 43% thought it was a necessary compromise to secure other measures that helped the poor.

There is also an ICM poll due out tonight – I’ll update on that when it appears.

YouGov’s post-budget poll for the Sun shows a broadly positive reception. Overall 57% think Osborne made the right decisions for the country as a whole, with 23% thinking he made the wrong decisions. 42% think he made the right decisions for them, 33% the wrong ones. Overall government approval is up since before the budget, from 41% at the start of the week to 46% now. Headline voting intention stands at CON 42%, LAB 34%, LDEM 17%.

In YouGov’s pre-budget poll the two obvious concerns for the government were that the public were evenly split on whether the cuts would be fair or unfair (34% thought it would be fair, 35% unfair), and whether they would push the country back into recession or not (40% thought it might). Osborne seems to have made progress with swinging public opinion behind him on both counts. The proportion of people thinking that the deficit will be reduced in a fair way has risen 11 points to 45%, the proportion of people who think cutting the deficit now might put the country back into recession is down to 33%. Overall 50% thought that the budget was fair, compared to 27% who thought it was unfair.

Asking about the specific measures, all but one measure met with the support of a plurality of respondents, with the most popular measures being the rise in personal allowance on income tax and the tax on the banks. Reducing tax credits for families earning over £40k, limiting housing benefit, increasing capital gains tax, restoring the earnings link and helping councils freeze council tax all met with overwhelming support. Support for increasing the pension age to 66, reducing corporation tax and (slightly surprisingly) scrapping the planned increase in tax on cider all met with lukewarm support. The only measure that was opposed by a majority of respondents was the VAT increase – this was supported by 34%, and opposed by 54%.

Despite the overall approval of the budget, people were actually very pessimistic about its short term effects. Optimism about people’s own financial situation over the next 12 months has fallen, with a net optimism falling from minus 43 before the budget to minus 48 now. 55% of respondents said they thought the budget would increase unemployment in the next year or two (19% disagree) and 44% think it will increase poverty (32% disagree).

52% of respondents thought that the Liberal Democrats were right to back the budget, this included 69% of their own voters. 17% of Lib Dem voters thought that they were wrong to do so.

Finally YouGov asked if people thought the economy would be run better if Labour had been in power instead, or if the Conservatives had obtained an overall majority. In both cases people expected the economy would have been run worse, and found the same when asked if Labour or Conservative governments would have looked after the poorer better, or would have better helped people like the respondent. Notably Labour supporters overwhelmingly thought that the Conservatives alone would have been doing a worse job, perhaps suggesting that the Liberal Democrats will be able to sell a narrative that they have tempered a Conservative government (in fact, even 22% of Conservative supporters thought that the Conservatives alone would not have been as good at protecting the poorest in society).

The poll was conducted between Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon, so not quite as rapid as some of the instant reaction polls we’ve seen after budgets in the past. All the same, at past budgets we have sometimes seen bad news from the budget emerge in the days that follow, which could alter the public’s reaction. The initial response, however, seems to be that people see the budget as pointing to hard times ahead, but are broadly supportive of it.

I’ve mentioned in various comments over the last few weeks that YouGov were still looking at their post-election methodology and what changes to make. It is a rather more complex task than one might think (especially since all of us in the team took breaks for holidays at various points during May or June to recover from the general election campaign). Anyway, we have finally rolled out the new methodology, and the pre-budget figures yesterday were the first using the updated method. On the whole, the changes are minor and build upon what we were doing anyway. It is mainly updating our weighting figures, and upgrading them where we can – there are no big departures from what went before.

Anyway, below is a copy of paste of my article on the YouGov website explaining it in full:

The polls at the general election were something of a mixed bag. For the first time in the quarter of a century the polls did not overestimate Labour support. YouGov’s own final poll got the Conservative lead over Labour and, therefore, the swing from Labour to Conservative exactly correct. However, at the same time all the pollsters, including YouGov, overestimated the level of Liberal Democrat support.

I am sure there are many debates to come about why the polls overestimated the Liberal Democrats. What we can be relatively sure about it is that it wasn’t due to individual problems with pollsters’ methods – every company got the Lib Dems wrong, whether they polled by phone, online or face to face, and regardless of the political weighting they did or did not use. This was a systemic error. It has been suggested that it is due to a late swing (including on the day abstentions), or young people who hadn’t voted before not actually turning out, or a disproportionate likelihood for polls to be answered by Liberal Democrat supporters or people interested in politics who had seen the debate. Some of these explanations – such as late swing – are not necessarily things that pollsters can do much about.

On election day itself and the days that followed YouGov carried out a massive survey of our panel, contacting just shy of 100,000 panellists. We used this data to analyse exactly what happened and what we could do to make our samples and weightings more accurate, and for the last month we have been testing updated samples and weights on the back of it.

After considering many possible changes, the result is that YouGov will be making modest updates to our methods, rather than any drastic change. Given we actually got the swing from Labour to the Conservatives right, and that the reasons for the over-estimation of the Lib Dem vote may well have been a late swing or a temporary reaction to “Cleggmania”, we needed to be very careful not to over-react. We wouldn’t want to artificially weight down the Lib Dems and end up underestimating their support come the next election.

While there are no big changes though, we are making various tweaks and updates to our methods to bring things up to date. In most cases these are just things that need updating regularly anyway, or where the growth of our panel or the availability of more data on them has allowed us to do things more accurately.

First, we are introducing more advanced social class weighting. Up until now YouGov have only weighted social class by ABC1 and C2DE – essentially a middle class vs working class divide. We have now got more detailed social grade classifications for a large proportion of our panel, so we can switch to weighting AB, C1, C2, DE separately. For those not versed in social classifications, these roughly equate to professionals and managers, clerical and office workers, skilled manual workers, and unskilled manual or reliant upon benefits.

Secondly, we have changed our age weightings slightly. This one isn’t really a result of the election, but because older people are now far more likely to be on the internet. Our top age band used to be over 55s, on the basis that over 55s were one of the hardest groups to recruit to the panel. These days there are more older people on the internet, more older people on our panel, and we have the opportunity to weight them more accurately – so our oldest group is now the over 60s.

Thirdly, our old party ID weightings were based upon the party ID we found at the time of the 2005 election, adjusted to take account of panellists joining YouGov since then. Obviously the election gives us the opportunity to take a new fixed point of reference for party ID, so we have collected party ID from most of our panel afresh, and taken a new snapshot of 2010 party ID to weight to. Over time some people have changed party ID as the Conservative party became more popular, but nevertheless our target weights are not actually that different from the figures we used to weight to. We have updated our newspaper readership targets in the same way, mainly to take account of a growing number of people who no longer read a newspaper.

Moving forward, we are weighting party ID to Conservative 28.5%, Labour 32.5%, Lib Dem 12%, Others 3% and none or don’t know 24%. Note that the proportion of people identifying with the Labour party is still actually higher than the Conservatives, the Conservative lead at the election was due to Labour identifiers voting for other parties or staying at home, and unaligned voters backing the Conservatives.

We are continuing to look at whether to separately weight Labour identifiers who were “loyal” or “disloyal”. At present we will be controlling it in our sampling, rather than weighting as we did during the election campaign. We will keep it under review, in case we need to begin weighting by it again in the future.

Finally, we have made a slight adjustment to our sampling – the only change directly aimed at addressing the Lib Dem over-representation in the election polls. In analysing our elections polls we found that amongst some age groups respondents tended be too educated, with too many having degrees and not enough with few or no qualifications. In future we will specifically sample people in those age groups with low levels of educational achievement to make sure respondents are not too “graduate heavy”.

Taken together, the effect of these changes reduce the recorded level of Liberal Democrat support slightly and increases Conservative and Labour support slightly, but not to any great extent. In test surveys we have asked respondents how they voted in the 2010 election, and the new weighting tends to produce answers within 1% of the actual election result. That isn’t necessarily a guarantee of accuracy, since we know that some of those answers will affected by false recall and we’re not quite sure how that will affect the Lib Dems, but we are confident that the new weighting scheme accurately represents the British public.