ICM’s monthly poll for the Guardian, conducted after this week’s budget, has the Conservatives back ahead – CON 37%(+2), LAB 36%(-2), LDEM 16%(-2). Changes are from their February poll.

Full report to follow shortly

UPDATE: Proper post now up here

Full tables for YouGov’s post-budget poll are now available here. The overall position is a small thumbs up, but not one that had made any real difference to the bigger picture.

Overall 44% of people thought the budget was a fair one, with 31% thinking it unfair. This is less positive than the emergency budget back in June 2010 (which 50% saw as fair). George Osborne’s approval rating as Chancellor is up – 34% now think he is doing a good job, 40% a bad job (compared to 27% good, 46% bad before the budget).

On the specific measures in the budget, 81% supported the 1p cut in fuel tax, 78% the increase in the personal tax allowance, 71% the fuel stabilizer and 63% retaining the 50p as a temporary measure. Least popular were the 10% reduction in inheritance tax for those leaving 10% to charity (supported by 51%) and the announcement that future rises in the state pension age should be linked to rises in life expectancy (supported by 47%).

However, a budget is more than just the sum of its parts, and in the past we’ve seen budgets where people supported all the individual announcements contained within it, but where it still had negative impacts for the government. A better guide may be whether it has actually shifted perceptions of the government’s economic policy.

All the regular YouGov trackers have moved in the direction of the government, but by relatively small amounts. The proportion of people thinking the cuts are good for government is up 4, thinking it is fair is up 5, necessary is up 4. The proportion of people thinking the cuts are too deep is down 5, too fast is down 4.

The changes are positive for the government… but aren’t enough to change the bigger picture. Overall the majority of people still think the cuts are unfair (56%), and being done too fast (53%). 46% of people think they are bad for the economy. On the scale of the cuts, 44% think they are too deep, 39% that they are about right or too shallow.

However, 59% still think they are necessary, and people are still more likely to blame Labour than the coalition for the cuts. Asked who they most trust to make the right decisions about dealing with the deficit, the coalition continues to lead Labour by 38% to 24%.

The contrast between this last figure and voting intention is itself interesting – the overwhelming majority (92%) of Conservative voters trust the coalition to make the right decisions on the deficit. However, amongst Labour voters only 69% say they trust Labour to make the right decisions on the deficit, with 21% saying they trust neither.


YouGov’s first daily poll since the budget has topline figures of CON 37%, LAB 41%, LDEM 11%, Others 11%. The day-on-day changes since yesterday are not significant, but it is the smallest Labour lead since February. Government approval has also risen – today’s figure is minus 19, the highest since January (33% approve and 52% disapprove).

This suggests there may be a slight boost from the budget, but I wouldn’t get to excited. As we saw in the previous post, the previous budget in June gave the government a boost of a couple of points, and it lasted all of a week.

Naturally there were some more questions on the details of the budget which will be up in the Sun later or on the YouGov website tomorrow.

As we look forward to what effect the budget has on the polls, here’s an updated look at what they’ve done in the past. The graph below shows the government’s lead in the two YouGov polls before and after each of the last ten budgets (for the most recent budgets, done in the era of daily polling, I’ve taken the average government lead in the two weeks before and after the budget).

Effect of budgets on opinion poll leads

As you can see, the idea of governments getting “budget bounces” hasn’t really hold water in recent years. Most of the time budgets don’t have much of an effect at all. The exceptions were Alistair Darling’s budgets in 2008 and 2009 when his speeches brought home exactly how dire the economic situation was and had consequentially horrid effects on the government’s poll position.

George Osborne’s first budget in June last year appears to have produced a very short term boost for the government, but it was (a) only minor and (b) lasted all of a week.

Somewhat strange timing, given the political news is going to be budget-budget-budget tonight, but there is a new ComRes poll of London mayoral voting intentions out. First preferences apparently show Ken on 46%, Boris on 44%, with second preferences re-allocated Ken remains ahead on 51% to Boris’s 49%.

Westminster voting intention in London is meanwhile CON 31% (down 4 from the general election), LAB 48% (up 11), LDEM 9% (down 13). These are broadly in line with the sort of changes we are seeing in the national polls.

When ComRes last measured London mayoral voting intentions in October they found Boris ahead of Ken by 44% to 35%, so this is a significant change in the picture.

The only other polling of the London race we have is from YouGov, which has a pretty similar picture to this latest ComRes poll – the last YouGov London poll had Ken 2 points ahead on first preferences, but Boris marginally ahead in a forced choice question. Essentially both pollsters have the race neck and neck at present.