YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times has voting intention figures of CON 42%, LAB 37%, LDEM 13%. It’s a higher Conservative lead than YouGov have shown recently, and the highest Lib Dem score from YouGov for a while – but nothing that couldn’t just be normal random variation. What it does suggest is that the continuing row over housing benefit is not damaging the government. Full tables are here.

On that specific issue, YouGov asked again about support for the cap on housing benefit, and found 72% of people in favour (this is much in line with the levels of support YouGov found when the cap was first announced in the budget back in June, althought the question itself was not the same so you cannot draw a conclusion about support going up or down).

The regular trackers are broadly positive for the government. David Cameron’s approval rating is up to plus 15, from a low of plus 8 a week ago and people’s opinion of whether the government is managing the economy well is back in positive territory after falling into negative territory a week ago.

Ed Miliband’s approval rating has dropped to plus 2, as those thinking he is doing a bad job rises to 32%. This is largely following the normal pattern for party leaders – when they first become leader people give them the benefit of the doubt for a couple of weeks. After a while supporters of other parties start giving them negative answers and leader’s net ratings fall.

Impressions of the state of the economy have risen following the announcement of GDP figures – 7% think the economy is in a good state, 70% a bad state. While extremely pessimistic, the net figure of minus 63 is actually the highest since the end of July and start of August… straight after the last lot of GDP figures were announced. The boost in optimism then didn’t last very long.

YouGov also asked some questions about Europe. Unsurprisingly people overwhelmingly thought that Britain paid too much towards the European Union. Attitudes towards an expansion of the EU’s powers to limit government borrowing and impose greater budget discipline were more positive though. 29% supported the idea of gving the EU greater powers to stop countries borrowing too much, including the UK. 37% supported the EU having such powers over the Eurozone, but not the UK. We did also ask a question about David Cameron supporting the economic powers in exchange for a freeze in EU funding, but it was alas overtaken by events.


Sunday Polls tonight

I’m out tonight, so won’t be around to make any posts. We can expect the YouGov/Sunday Times poll at around 10pm, and possibly some other polls in the Sunday papers. Feel free to use this thread to discuss them – I’ll have my own say late tonight or tomorrow morning.


I haven’t posted the daily YouGov figures for much of this week – simply because there hasn’t been much change – but after a while that itself is noteworthy. For the last three days YouGov has showed the Conservatives with a 2 point lead over Labour, with the Conservatives on 40-41%, Labour on 38-39% and the Liberal Democrats on 11-12%. If there ever really was a slight narrowing of the Conservative lead after the spending cuts it rapidly disappeared again – YouGov’s polls now are basically identical to those before the spending review.

The political debate for most of the week has been about housing benefit, which clearly hasn’t had any effect on support – not that we would expect it to. Straight after the budget in June when the housing benefit cap was first announced YouGov found 78% of people supporting it, ICM found 68% of people supported the cap. YouGov asked again in August as part of a poll to mark David Cameron’s 100 days in power and found 72% in support.

Of course, that was two months ago and it’s possible the focus on people in London losing their homes may have changed opinions… but I wouldn’t count on it. I expect we’ll see some more up to date polling on housing benefit sooner rather than later.

Public Sector voters

There was also a rather unremarked methodology shift from one of the pollsters this week. Back in 2008 when MORI reviewed their methodology after wrongly showing Ken Livingstone ahead in the London mayoral race, they discovered they had too many public sector workers in their telephone samples and started weighting according to it (quite drastically, it’s sometimes a case of almost halving the number of public sector workers). At the time I pondered whether, if MORI have too many public sector workers in their phone polls, would other phone pollsters have similar problems? At the time Andrew Cooper of Populus pointed out – correctly – that it was worth looking at but if there was a problem it shouldn’t affect voting intention as past vote weighting should sort that out.

Well, this month Populus have gone down MORI’s route and weighted their poll by public and private sector employment. As with MORI’s experience, it’s quite a big shift, weighting public service employees down from 19% of the sample to 12%. This may well still not make any difference to voting intention, but it might well make an impact on questions about the cuts, were there are big differences between public and private sector opinions – for example, Populus found 46% of private sector employees thought the cuts were fair, but only 27% of public sector employees.

Voting intention amongst public sector employees is hard to judge, since the sample size of public sector voters in standard polls is often under 200, so is very volatile (for example, this month Populus found the Lib Dems on 17% amongst public sector voters, ICM found them on 8%). Looking at the handful of polls in recent months that have included a public sector cross break though the rough position seems to be that the Conservatives are at around 25%-30% and Labour around 45%-50%. The polls from the last Parliament showing the Conservatives ahead amongst public sector workers seem to be a distant memory.

Europe

Today there have been a couple of interesting posts by Mike Smithson and James Frayne on how salient an issue Europe is, or more to the point, how salient an issue it isn’t. Essentially there is no conflict between their views. Europe is, as Mike says, an issue of very low salience that currently excites no one but Conservative diehards and some UKIP supporters (yes, only some, YouGov polling at the time of the last European election suggested that many UKIP voters were more motivated by immigration than Europe as an issue). However, James is also correct that it has potential to be more salient – you only need to look at the graph Mike uses to illustrate his piece to see that back in the 1990s more than 30% of people used to cite Europe as one of the most important issues facing the country.


New YouGov Welsh poll

There is a new YouGov poll of Welsh assembly voting intentions for ITV. The topline figures, with changes from the last monthly poll, are as follows:

Constituency: CON 19%(-3), LAB 44%(nc), LDEM 9%(-2), PC 21%(+2)
Regional: CON 18%(-2), LAB 40%(-1), LDEM 9%(-3), PC 23%(+4)

At both regional and constituency level Plaid take second place from the Conservatives. On a uniform swing (and assuming Labour retake Blaenau Gwent now Trish Law is standing down) this would result in the Conservatives losing 4 of their 5 constituency seats to Labour (Monmouth would be the only hold). Add on the regional seats, where the Conservatives would get back some of the seats they lost at a constituency level, and the final result would be Conservatives 10 seats (down 2), Labour 31 seats (up 5), Lib Dems 5 (down 1), Plaid 14 (down 1) – giving Labour an overall majority for the first time.


Back in August there was a YouGov poll showing that 30% of people thought that Dr David Kelly was murdered. Following the publication of the post-mortem this week we asked if people thought it was right to release the post-mortem report (58% did) and repeated the same question as we asked in August on how people thought David Kelly died. The proportion of people thinking he was murdered has halved to 14%, the proportion thinking he committed suicide has gone from 32% to 52%. Just over a third said don’t know.