Time for a round up of YouGov’s regular cuts trackers. While they’d been pushed aside by other issues over the last few days (perhaps why the Labour lead has shrunk a bit), the cuts remain the defining feature in the current political landscape.

The first point to make is that the criticisms of the cuts have largely struck home. In terms of whether they are fair a solid majority now percieve the cuts as unfair. The government’s initial battle to try and portray their cuts as being done in a fair matter seems to have been lost. Immediately after the emergency budget in June 45% thought the cuts were being done fairly. In this week’s poll 62% thought they were being done unfairly. This includes 25% of Conservative supporters and over half (53%) of remaining* Liberal Democrat voters.

Too fast and too deep. 50% of people now think the cuts are too deep, compared to only 27% who think they are about right (6% would prefer even deeper cuts). 58% think they are being done too quickly, compared to 26% who think the speed is about right (and 5% who think they should be even faster). Again, these doubts are not confined to opposition supporters – amongst Conservatives 20% think the cuts are too deep, 23% too quick. Amongst Liberal Democrat supporters 39% think they are too deep, 50% too fast.

Perhaps most damaging is the growing perception that the cuts are not even good for the economy. Only 34% of people think they are good for the economy, with a majority 51%, thinking they are bad. This is a relatively recent change. By last Autumn people were tending to think the cuts were unfair, but did at least think they were for the good of the economy. Only from January has public opinion swung towards the position that the cuts are bad for the economy.

BUT – despite the perception that the cuts are unfair, too fast, too deep and not good for the economy, there is some good news for the government too. First a majority of the public continue to think that they are required. 55% of people think the cuts are necessary, with only 33% saying they are unnecessary. While between a fifth and a quarter of the Conservative party’s own supporters have doubts about the fairness, speed or depth of cuts, they are almost universal in thinking they are necessary. Lib Dem supporters think the cuts are necessary by 71% to 18%.

While the proportion of people blaming the government for the cuts is growing, there is also still a substantial body of opinion that puts more blame on Labour than the Conservatives for the cuts. In the latest poll 25% of people blamed the coalition most for the cuts, 41% the last Labour government with 24% blaming them both. Adding those who blame one party more to those who blame them both, this means that in total 49% blame the coalition, but 66% blame Labour.

Taking a longer term view this suggests that while the proportion of people blaming the coalition for the cuts has grown steadily since the election (from 36% in June, to around 42% in September to around 49% now), there has not been any corresponding drop in the proportion of people thinking that it is also Labour’s fault. In June 2010 67% blamed Labour, by September it was around 65-66%, the latest results are 65%. The government may not be stopping a growing proportion of people blaming them, but do seem to be making sure that Labour continue to share the blame.

Finally, despite people seeming to agree with Labour’s criticisms of the cuts as being too unfair, too fast and too deep it doesn’t mean they would necessarily trust Labour more on the issue. Asked who they would trust to make the right decisions on the deficit, 38% trust the coalition more, compared to 29% who would trust Labour more. 22% don’t trust either.

In summary, it would seem people dislike the medicine in many different ways and aren’t sure it’s good for us… but equally they still think it’s necessary to take it and would trust the present government more to deliver it than the alternative.

ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian is out. Topline voting intention figures with changes from ICM’s last poll in January are CON 35%(nc), LAB 38%(-1), LDEM 18%(+3). The three point Labour lead is very close to Populus’s (who use a similar method to ICM’s), and to YouGov’s four point lead at the weekend (though I still expect that one was a bit of an outlier). The reallocation of don’t knows in Populus and ICM’s polls should be expected to produce slightly lower Labour leads than other pollsters.

More surprising is that 18% for the Liberal Democrats, their highest score since October. We’ve seen quite a lot of variation in the levels of support different companies give the Liberal Democrats this Parliament, but recently it had looked as though they were starting to come together. Looking at all the companies’s most recent polls YouGov have them at 10%, ComRes, Populus and Angus Reid at 11% and MORI at 13% – there’s no obvious explanation for the large contrast with ICM’s figure.

ICM also have some interesting findings on the AV referendum. They have voting intention in the referendum standing at YES 37%(-7), NO 37%(-1), Don’t know 27%(+9). Changes are from the last time ICM asked the question in December – this is the first time that a poll that was not prompted with explanations of the system or pro- and anti- arguments has shown the NO campaign catching the YES campaign. Note that the fieldwork was conducted between Friday and Sunday, the first since Cameron’s and Clegg’s repective pro and anti speeches and the first since the media have starting to devote some attention to the campaign.

UPDATE: YouGov’s daily poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 36%, LAB 42%, LDEM 11%. After 7 polls in a row with the Labour lead at 7 points or above, including two ten point leads, we’ve now just seen three YouGov polls in a row showing the Labour lead of below 7 points.


This coming Friday has the general election in Ireland – for those who are interested, here are the latest polls.

Date Fianna Fail Fine Gael Labour Sinn Fein
Ipsos MRBI/Irish Times 21/02/11 16 37 19 11
RedC/S. Business Post 20/02/11 16 39 17 12
Millward Brown/S. Independent 20/02/11 16 37 20 12
OI/Daily Star 17/02/11 17 39 18 10
Millward Brown/Independent 16/02/11 12 38 23 10
RedC/S. Business Post 13/02/11 15 38 20 10
RedC/S. Business Post 06/02/11 17 35 22 13
Ipsos MRBI/Irish Times 03/02/11 15 33 24 12
RedC/Paddy Power 02/02/11 18 37 19 12
Millward Brown/Independent 02/02/11 16 30 24 13

I’ve no particular insight to offer into polling methodology in Ireland – Millward Brown and Ipsos MRBI are traditional face-to-face polling using quota sampling, RedC is phone polling very much along ICM lines, with past vote weighting and suchlike (I have a recollection that it was set up by a former ICM employee). That said, there isn’t a huge difference between the pollsters anyway (though RedC appear to be showing Labour slightly lower).

Across the board Fianna Fail have collapsed to well under half of their general election vote, Fine Gael are just below 40%, Labour have doubled their support since the election. I haven’t included them in the table, but the Greens are in low single figures, but Independents/Others are up in the mid-teens (I haven’t tracked down any recent polls on the company websites that have broken that “Independent/Other” down into it’s component parts).

With STV I don’t think there is a widely accepted equivalent of a swingometer to translate shares of the vote into seats. Certainly it will depend to some extent how votes transfer between the parties in individual constituencies.

There is a nice table and graphing of voting intention polls here, and some commentary from my Irish equivalent (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!) at IrishPollingReport.

Tonight’s YouGov/Sunday Times poll has voting intentions of CON 37%, LAB 41%, LDEM 10%. A four point lead is the lowest YouGov have shown this month.

Of course it’s possible that the government have recovered a bit – Cameron has spoken out against the prisoners voting, shut down the forestry commission issue and launched their universal benefit reform – but I’ll just add my normal caveat about being cautious about any poll showing a shift until it’s confirmed by other polls. It may be a sign of the lead narrowing a bit, or it may just be an outlier.

Of late polls on AV have shown somewhat contrasting figures. Most companies have been measuring voting intention on AV by just asking the bare question that will be on the ballot paper. This has tended to show a lead for the YES campaign. Meanwhile YouGov have a tracker question on how people would vote which they’ve been asking since last Summer, which includes brief explanations of what FPTP and AV are, until very recently when opinion started to shift towards YES this was showing a lead for the NO campaign.

The last Populus poll for the Times did both – splitting the sample and giving half of them just the bare referendum question and half of them a brief description of what the options were – describing AV as a system where “voters number the candidates they like in order of preference, and the candidate who gets more than half the support of the voters in the constituency is elected”.

They found pretty much the same pattern as the other polls – with the bare question, 41% supported YES, 29% supported NO and 30% said don’t know. When given an explanation of the systems the figures were 29% YES, 43% NO and (pesumably) 28% don’t know.

People do appear to like the idea of a change of electoral system, but are more doubtful when told about what AV actually is. In one sense this is probably better news for the No campaign than the Yes campaign as people are likely to find out more about the options on offer as the referendum campaign continues. However, whether it comes across as a good or bad change to them will be largely down to how well or badly the two campaigns sell it. It also suggests that people’s views are very open to change, and in that sense things could easily go either way.

(On other Populus news, Andrew Cooper has now been confirmed as David Cameron’s new director of Strategy, so Populus’s political polling will now be in the hands of Rick Nye)

UPDATE: Just to confirm, this wasn’t part of the normal monthly Populus poll for the Times, it was a seperate online poll.