YouGov’s daily polling for the Sun this morning has topline figures of CON 30%, LAB 40%, LDEM 12%, UKIP 13%. While we have seen much higher from other online companies, it is the highest UKIP score that YouGov have shown so far. All the usual caveats apply: one should never get too excited about a record breaking score as it will almost always be a bit of an outlier. What counts is the underlying trend, and these figures underline the ongoing increase in UKIP support, and indeed the recent modest recovery in YouGov’s Lib Dem support.


The Church of England have released a poll they claim shows the vast majority of people believe in the power of prayer, when it does no such thing. There is nothing at all wrong with ICM’s actual polling, which asks people “Irrespective of whether you currently pray or not, if you were to pray for something at the moment, What would it be for?” (emphasis is mine). A perfectly reasonable question, asking people what they would pray for, if they were the sort of person who did pray.

However, the Church of England have gone rather rogue in interpreting the results, deciding that everyone who gave an answer to ICM’s hypothetical question of what people would pray for if they prayed must therefore believe in prayer – putting out a press release claiming that “Four out of five British adults believe in the power of prayer”. The Telegraph has gone on a similar flight of fancy, declaring “Six out of seven people still believe that prayers can be answered despite a dramatic drop in formal religious observance, a study has found.”

In a population where only around half of people believe in a god at all, any claim that 80% of people believe prayer works should ring alarm bells anyway. For the record the last poll I can find that actually asked whether people believed that prayer worked was by YouGov for the Sun in 2012. That found 31% of people believed that prayer worked in some way (that is they thought prayers were heard by God, or were physically answered in some other way), compared to 45% who did not and 25% who weren’t sure.

Hat tip to Alex Hern at the New Statesman for spotting it – his own mockery is here.

Meanwhile this morning’s YouGov poll for the Sun had topline figures of CON 30%, LAB 41%, LDEM 13%, UKIP 11%. The thirteen points for the Liberal Democrats is the highest that YouGov have shown them since November 2010. While all the usual caveats about individual polls apply, it is indicitative of a broader underlying trend – since the end of last year there has been a definite uptick in levels of Lib Dem support in YouGov’s daily polling. Last autumn YouGov were typically showing them at 8-10%, in recent weeks they have typically been showing them at around 11-12%.


The monthly ComRes telephone poll for the Independent is out tonight and has topline figures of CON 28%(-3), LAB 38%(-5), LDEM 12%(+4), UKIP 14%(+5). There are some significant shifts in all the party’s figures, and unusual figures for most of the parties. The Conservatives are the lowest ComRes have shown them in a telephone poll this Parliament, Labour at the very bottom of their normal range, the Lib Dems their highest for five months, UKIP their highest ever. The broad direction of travel in the figures isn’t surprising, other polls from other companies have also shown UKIP on the rise and the Lib Dems recovering a bit, but the degree of it here is a bit startling. I would advise the usual caution I apply to any poll showing stark changes in party support.

Meanwhile the weekly poll for TNS BMRB is also out tonight. They too show a big jump for UKIP, but in their case not the Lib Dems. Topline figures are CON 27%(+1), LAB 37%(-2), LDEM 10%(-3), UKIP 17%(+4), Others 10%(+2).


This week’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is now up here. Topline results are CON 30%, LAB 41%, LD 12%, UKIP 12%, so again suggesting that the budget has had no significant effect on voting intention (though as I’ve said before, that’s isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the government. In recent years budgets have more often had negative effects on government support, so it should perhaps be seen less as an positive opportunity missed, than a pitfall avoided).

The Budget

There is little change in people’s attitudes towards the economy, the overwhelming majority still think the economy is in a bad state and very few expect their finances to improve in the next year. Confidence in the government’s ability to deal with the economy has ticked up very slightly… but not by much. 33% say they have a lot or some confidence in the government’s economic ability (up from 29% last week), 24% think the government’s economy strategy has started to work or soon will (up from 19% last week).

Looking more specifically at the budget, only 19% think it will be good for the economy, 25% bad for the economy with 40% thinking it will have no effect either way. Asked how it will affect them personally 30% of people think they will be worse off compared to only 10% who think they personally will be better off.

YouGov also asked who people thought had benefitted or suffered from this year’s budget – the biggest winners were seen as people trying to buy a home (39%) and rich people (36%), followed by small businesses (22%), big business, people in low paid jobs and working parents (all on 19%). I suspect the government would be quietly pleased if people went away with the perception that the budget was one that helped people trying to buy a home or run a small business if it wasn’t accompanied by the continued perception that it was helping the rich. In contrast the people who are seen as suffering from the budget are public sector workers (24%), people on benefits (22%), people in low paid jobs (18%) and stay at home parents (18%).

On specific measures, the increase in the personal allowance has extremely wide support – 89% are in favour. The mortgage guarantees are supported by 50% with 28% opposed. The reduction in beer duty, despite being seen as crowd pleasing measure actually produced mixed feelings. 41% of people were supportive, 42% opposed.

Finally, the budget does seem to have tempered hostility towards George Osborne slightly. A week ago only 17% wanted him to remain as Chancellor and 51% wanted him replaced. The figures now are 27% stay and 46% go.

Press regulation

YouGov also asked about the new system of press regulation, finding people broadly supportive. Overall 52% of people support it, 23% are opposed. There are similar splits on whether it is threat to press freedom (27% think it is, 53% think it is not) and whether it is right that newspapers who do not join the regulator should face larger damages (55% think they should and 23% think they should not). People are much more divided over whether the system will actually work – 40% think it will help stop intrusive and unethical behaviour by the press, but almost as many (37%) think it will not.

Opinium

Last night we also had the fortnightly Opinium poll for the Observer. Topline figures there were CON 28%(+1), LAB 38%(-1), LDEM 9%(+1), UKIP 16%(-1), though fieldwork was conducted partly before the budget. The poll also asked what result people expected from the next election – 25% expect a Labour majority, only 9% a Conservative majority, 45% another hung Parliament (two thirds of which expect Labour to lead the subsequent government).

A note for polling pedants, as far as I can tell from the question text in the graphic the Observer’s headline “54% of voters expect Ed Miliband to be next Prime Minister” is not true. Opinium seem to have asked which party people expected to form the government after the next election, which is a slightly different question. People could expect a difference Conservative MP before the general election, or expect Labour to win under a different leader… but more importantly, people may well have answered the question differently if they had asked who will be Prime Minister after the next election. Logically unless people think the two main party leaders might change before 2015 the two answers should be the same… but as we have seen again and again, that is not the way answers to polls actually work.


This morning’s Sun had YouGov’s first post-budget polling. General voting intention stood at CON 32%, LAB 41%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 10% so no obvious impact there.

On the budget itself most of the actual individual measures were widely supported. The increase in the personal allowance and cancelling the rise in fuel duty were by far the most widely supported (89% and 85% supported them). The cut in employers national insurance, interest free loans to help people buying new build houses and the cut in beer duty were all supported by more than half of respondents. Least popular were the revenue raising changes of course, but even then they weren’t very unpopular – the end of contracting out of NI was opposed by 38% to 31%, limiting public sector pay for another year was actually supported by 45% to 41%.

However, budgets are far more than the sum of their parts – there have been cases in the past when polls showed people liked most of the individual measures in a budget, but overall still gave it the thumbs down. It is the whole package that counts.

In this case, there appears to be a cautious thumbs up: 39% thought it was a fair budget, 31% thought it was unfair, a big improvement on last year’s budget which 48% thought was unfair (and that was even before most of the pasty tax coverage!). However, while people support the individual measures and think the budget was fair… they still aren’t convinced it is going to do any good. Only 14% think it leaves the country better off, compared to 52% who think it will make no real difference and 24% who think the country will be worse off.

Neither has it helped George Osborne’s own ratings – only 22% think he is doing a good job, down from 24% at the end of last year and 28% at the last budget. He is still preferred to Ed Balls though – 31% think Osborne would make the better Chancellor, 25% Balls.