Olympic poll boosts

No – don’t get excited – tonight’s poll doesn’t show one. Today’s YouGov poll for the Sun has perfectly normal topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 42%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 6%. Once again it is well within the range of the 9-10 point leads that YouGov have been showing for the past couple of months.

As yet there is no sign of any Olympic effect. I wouldn’t necessarily expect one, but I wouldn’t rule one out either, in the same way we saw a (brief) Jubilee effect straight after the Jubilee weekend. Two things to remember:

First, why these things happen. After the Jubilee I saw several comments saying how absurd it was that it affected the polls. Why would someone think “Oh look, the Queen has been there a long time, better vote Tory”? Well, that would be absurd, but the reasons things like this can affect the polls is more straightforward. First there is a general feel good factor – if people feel generally more positive about the country and the way things are going they may be more likely to support the incumbent government. Secondly, and in my opinion probably more significant, is the absence of bad news – looking back over recent months an average month for the government has at least a few party rows, a couple of controversial policies, a spattering of bad news, perhaps a rebellion and, on recent form, a U-turn or two. With the Olympics totally dominating all news coverage the next couple of weeks will have significantly fewer of all those things, so you can imagine how the absence of bad news may have an effect.

Secondly, remember that if there is an Olympic effect on the polls it will be probably be temporary. The Jubilee effect, if it ever existed, only lasted a couple of days. A positive feeling from a big national event fades; once the Olympics and silly season are over the normal news agenda and the trail of bad news stories that governments have to cope with will resume. If the Olympics does have an effect, it is unlikely to be long lasting.

UPDATE: I haven’t seen it mentioned on twitter or by the Indy, but the voting intention fgures from ComRes’s monthly poll have now appeared on their website here. Topline figures, with changes from their previous telephone poll a month ago, are CON 33%(nc), LAB 44%(+2), LDEM 10%(-3), Others 13%(+1). Certainly no sign of any Olympic boost there either!

Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 44%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 7% , so very much in the normal range of YouGov’s recent polling.

We are also due the monthly ComRes poll for the Independent tonight, but so far they have only press released a question on the Olympics, so I’m not sure whether or not the voting intention figures will be released tonight or held over. The Olympic question ComRes asked found 50% of people agreed that it was worth the money being spent it, up from 40% when the question was last asked in March.


The full tables for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are now up here. On the regular leader trackers David Cameron is at minus 25 (from minus 23 last week), Ed Miliband at minus 27 (from minus 20 last week), Nick Clegg at minus 54 (from minus 52). Cameron has the best rating again, but realistically him and Miliband have much the same rating and have done for the last couple of months.

While the GDP figures this week don’t seem to have had any effect upon voting intention, their impact is visible on some of the economic questions. Economic ratings and optimism remain very low. 80% of people think the economy is currently in a bad state (including 35% who think it is in a very bad state, up from 26% last week before the GDP figures were announced). Only 25% think the government is handling the economy well. 51% of people say they personally feel worse off financially than they did a year ago and only 10% of people expect their financial position to get better over the next 12 months.

The support for a change of economic strategy continues to grow – now only 28% of people say the government should stick to their current strategy compared to 45% who would like to see growth prioritised instead. David Cameron & George Osborne’s lead over Ed Miliband and Ed Balls on who people would most trust on the economy has also fallen, now down to 3 points. 34% would trust Cameron & Osborne more, 31% Miliband and Balls more.

Asked about various changes to economic policy spending more on large infrastructure projects and cutting taxes seem to be the most popular options (and no, that isn’t necessarily contradictory! YouGov presented them both as being funded from borrowing – there was very little support for bigger cuts). People would support more spending on big infrastructure projects by 46% to 37%, the most popular option. 41% of people would support cutting taxes to encourage growth, but 43% would be opposed. There is significantly less support for reversing spending cuts, supported by 32% but opposed by 48%, or reducing spending more quickly, supported by 24% but opposed by 60%.

Support for George Osborne has continued to drop. Only 19% of people think he should remain in his role with 52% of people thinking he should be replaced. Amongst Conservative supporters only 48% think Osborne should stay, compared to 28% who think he should go and 24% who don’t know. The most popular replacement for Osborne remains Vince Cable, but this is again a largely partisan response – Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters would like Vince Cable to take over, but Conservatives would prefer Hague or Clarke.

Finally on the economy YouGov asked whether people believed the GDP figures, or the claims of some commentators that the unemployment figures suggest that the economy is actually doing better. The majority (61%) of people think the economy is as bad as the official figures suggest, only 18% of people think the employment figures are a better indicator and the economy is, in fact, doing better than the official figures suggest.

Moving onto “cash in hand”, 64% of people say they have paid a tradesman “cash in hand”, but only 26% say they have done this in the knowledge that they were intending to avoid tax. 30% of people say they have asked for a discount for paying cash-in-hand. The majority of people think that it is not wrong to pay cash-in-hand, or to ask for a discount for doing so. However, 57% of people think it is wrong to pay cash-in-hand if you know the person you are paying intends avoiding paying tax on it.

Finally on the Olympics there is growing optimism that they will be a success – 60% of people now think they will (up from 53% a week ago), with only 15% thinking they won’t be successful. People think they will improve Britain’s image abroad by 50% to 7% thinking they will damage it. The survey was, of course, done before the opening ceremony – I expect we’ll have it asked again during the Games so we can see how figures for interest and if the Games have been a success go up or down.

Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 8%, exactly the same as Thursday’s YouGov poll for the Sun. As usual I will do a proper update sometime tomorrow once the tables are published.

There are two new polls out tonight. The daily YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 33%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 8%, so after an eleven point lead yesterday we are back into the middle of the normal nine to ten point lead that YouGov have averaged around for the last month or so.

Secondly there is a new poll from TNS BMRB, conducted over the last three days, which has topline figures of CON 30%(-2), LAB 42%(+2), LDEM 11%(+1), Others 17%(-1). Changes are from their last poll in June.