Archive for the 'Leader approval ratings' Category


Farage joins the minus 20 leader dissatisfaction club

Thursday, December 18th, 2014


The Maggie Thatcher 1979 experience: Why leader and “best PM” ratings are not necessarily the best guide to how people will vote

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

CON GE2015 hopes are too reliant on Miliband’s poor ratings

The Times is leading on polling about Ed Miliband’s PM ratings which are not good for Labour. There is no doubt that on almost every measure when put up against Cameron he does worse – sometimes by quite a margin.

But you have to put these sorts of numbers into context. The PM ratings trend chart above is from the last general election that the Tories were returned to power with an overall majority – May 1979.

As can be seen as polling day, May 3rd 1979, got closer Callaghan’s lead on this measure got wider.

    At the time I was an editor with BBC News and remember vividly how much reliance senior Labour people were placing on the polling gap between Callaghan and Thatcher. This was the straw that the red team was clutching to.

Time after time we were assured that the polling clearly showed that Mrs. Thatcher was unelectable and I have to admit that I found this convincing.

As we all know the Tories won an emphatic victory with an 8% lead on votes and an overall majority of 44 seats and went on to secure majorities in the next three general elections. They remained in power for eighteen years.

Mrs Thatcher, however, continued to trail in the MORI “best PM” ratings for another year until Jim Callaghan stepped down.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


Is it all about leader ratings and the economic lead?

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Atul Hatwal at Labour-Uncut posted a piece yesterday about Labour’s polling, he had one observation, which stood out, and I decided to investigate if it were true, his observation was this,

The fundamentals of politics do not change. Voters generally make their electoral choice on the basis of who they feel is best suited to be prime minister and which party they feel is the most economically competent. No opposition has ever won an election while being behind on both economic competence and leadership. 

What I’ve done is take leader approval ratings from Ipsos-Mori and their Best Party On Key Issues: Managing the Economy polling going back to 1990 (I’ve used their all respondents figures, rather than just the ones that  mentioned the economy as important.)

A couple of caveats, Ipsos-Mori don’t ask the economic questions every month, but periodically, so I’ve had to go with the one closet to the seventeen months away from a General Election (so if it is a minus, the Opposition is trailing the government, if it is a plus, they lead the government)

Opposition Leader/Year Opposition Economic Lead Leader of the Opposition Leader net rating lead over PM (17/18 months from an election)
Kinnock October 1990 Minus 4 Plus 47
Blair March 1996 Plus 9 Plus 61
Hague January 2000 Minus 18 Minus 52
IDS September 2003 Minus 11 Plus 2
Cameron Dec 2008 Plus 1 Plus 21
Miliband September 2013 Minus 18 Minus 2

As we can see, it is fair to say Atul Hatwal’s observation is accurate. Only the Leaders of the Opposition with both leads on Leader ratings and the economy at this point of the electoral cycle go on to win the election and become Prime Minister.

For completeness, the Conservatives under Michael Howard never led Labour on the economic question.

I thought it might be useful to see what the polling shows close to election day.

Opposition Leader/Year Opposition Economic Lead Leader of the Opposition Leader net rating lead over PM
Kinnock March 1992 Minus 5 Minus 11
Blair April 1997 Minus 7 Plus 49
Hague Feb 2001 Minus 26 Minus 29
Howard April 2005 Minus 26 Plus 15
Cameron March 2010 Plus 3 Plus 27

For the Tories, findings like this will be encouraging, for Labour it may lead to more speculation about Ed Balls position as Shadow Chancellor, particularly, as the economy remains the most important issue for the voters.

Tony Blair showed in 1997, on the eve of the election, you can still trail on the economic question, but you can still win the General Election if you have a substantial lead on the leader ratings, the other caveat I’d add is this is a small sample size, but the findings are interesting.

At Atul notes

Labour must refocus its efforts and return to tackling the core problems that existed before the price freeze temporarily upended politics. Unless headway can be made on the economy and leadership, history suggests Her Majesty’s Opposition in 2013 faces a similar fate to its predecessor in 2000.

Though, I would say the political landscape (particularly the electoral system) is more favourable to Ed Miliband and Labour now than it ever was for the Tories and William Hague in 2000.

Hopefully today, we should be getting the Ipsos-Mori Political Monitor for December.

Hat-tip to Scrapheap for posting the link to the Labour uncut article yesterday.


Overnight there was some polling for the Times by YouGov on Scottish Independence, and there was the usual YouGov poll for The Sun.



Leader ratings 18 months before an election

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

I thought it might be useful how Ed and Dave compare to their predecessors as Leader of the Opposition and Prime Minister, eighteen months prior to a General Election.

First onto the Leader of the Opposition net ratings with Ipsos-Mori, eighteen months before the General Election. A few caveats about this data. 

I’ve included Iain Duncan Smith’s final rating, before he was removed as Tory Leader, Michael Howard’s rating, is his first rating as Leader of the Opposition.

Overall, it is fair to say, Ed Miliband’s ratings are the towards the bottom of the table, he compares to those leaders who are generally regarded as the worst post-war Leaders of the Opposition, Michael Foot, William Hague and IDS, none of whom ever went onto be Prime Minister.


Onto the Prime Minister ratings, a few of caveats to this data, I’ve included Margaret Thatcher’s ratings from October 1990 and also included John Major’s first ratings, for completeness

Gordon Brown’s ratings in November 2008, were boosted by the credit crunch, in the period either side of the crunch, his ratings were recording breaking dire.

Overall, David Cameron’s ratings at this time, rank him mid table when compared to his predecessors, leaders with better ratings, went onto lose the election, leaders with worse ratings than him, went on to win the election.

It is fair to say, neither Dave or Ed can match their more successful predecessors, the 2015 General Election, when it comes to the leaders, it may be the case of the resistible force meets the moveable object.



Dave’s lead as “Best PM” is nearly wiped out when you add Nigel Farage to the equation

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Tracker questions now need to include UKIP

Even when things were at their worst in the polls for the Tories party loyalists clung onto to one polling tracker – who voters saw as “Best PM” where as the chart shows Dave had enjoyed large and in the summer increasing leads.

This helped fuel the strong pro-Dave narrative that we saw in the build-up to the conference season. Ed could never be PM, many were arguing, because he was so far behind in these ratings.

    Now however new polling has been carried out which suggests that Dave’s numbers were being artificially inflated by Nigel Farage not being included as a “Best PM” option.

All the polls in the chart above bar the last one had the options of Dave, EdM and Clegg. The final poll, published last weekend, included Farage and the Dave lead was reduced to just 3%. This was six points down on the finding with the standard options recorded 48 hours earlier.

Dave’s 28% rating in that last poll was its lowest ever since he entered Number 10. ED’s number dropped one and Clegg was unchanged at 5%.

The lesson on this, I’d suggest, is that many non-voting questions where respondents have to choose from a party or named politician list should make provision for what is currently the third biggest party, UKIP. This could include the regular “best party on immigration/economy” type questioning.

We are in a completely new situation since the rise of UKIP and polling trackers need to take that into account.

Mike Smithson

For the latest polling and political betting news


ICM leader ratings in the Mirror make miserable reading for Miliband

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Is his survival till GE2015 looking less likely?

There some new polling from ICM for the LAB friendly Mirror, linked to in the Tweet above, that’s certain to add to party’s jitters even though the voting intention trend continues to be for Labour.

Overall just 21% of those polled said they were satisfied with his leadership compared with 42% saying dissatisfied. Amongst Lab voters the split was 45-31.

The only saving grace for Ed is that the poll finds no clear alternative. Amongst Lab voters 28% say he should lead party at GE2015 with the former MP, David Miliband backed by 18%. Next one down is Harriet Harman on 5%.

In a way that suggests that this is more than just Miliband matter but a reflection on the weakness of the party leadership as a whole. There are no big figures who command respect or even are recognised.

The bookies, meanwhile, have been tightening their odds on EdM not it through the general election. It was 9/2 with Ladbrokes that he wouldn’t survive – now that is 4/1.

Update – latest YouGov

Mike Smithson


While Labour continues to have problems with leader ratings Dave should be worried about how his party is perceived

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

The above netted off figures are based on these more detailed numbers.

There were, as it turned out only two polls overnight, and the findings that I am highlighting are the party and leader favourability figures from Survation for the Mail on Sunday.

    These show, I’d suggest, the biggest challenges facing both the blue and red teams just 21 months before GE2015. Labour’s weak link is its leader while the big drag on Cameron is the Conservative party itself.

These findings are very much in line with other polling questions that have sought to treat parties and leaders with the same format.

It should be noted that you cannot make direct comparisons with voting intention figures which are netted off to exclude the don’t knows and won’t say.

The latest voting figures from both firms show no change on previous surveys between the Tories and Labour.

Mike Smithson

For the latest polling and political betting news


Poor “best PM” ratings: How Ed Miliband can take some comfort from Mrs. Thatcher

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Putting those “best PM” ratings into context

Polling day came a few days later May 3rd 1979. The Tories won an emphatic victory with an 8% lead on votes and an overall majority of 44 seats and went on to secure overall majorities in the next three general elections. They stayed in power for eighteen years.

Mrs Thatcher, however, continued to trail in the MORI “best PM” ratings for another year until Jim Callaghan stepped down.

Mike Smithson

For the latest polling and political betting news