Archive for September, 2012


The NHS returns as the Conservative party’s Achilles’ heel

Sunday, September 30th, 2012


Tory Ipsos-MORI ratings on NHS drop to pre-Dave levels

One bit of polling that I missed before the weekend was a special survey from Ipsos-MORI on which party has the best policies on specific areas.

The most striking of the findings, seen in the chart above, was on the NHS which during David Cameron’s time as leader of the Opposition had seen a sharp recovery for his party. Getting over the message that the “NHS was safe” Tory hands was almost the linchpin of the Cameron modernisation with the aim of neutralising it as an issue.

By 2008 MORI had the two main parties almost level pegging. Now all that has changed and the question is how damaging is it for the blue?

Mike Smithson

For the latest polling news from the US and UK


Two and a half years in and Labour continues to lose the economy blame game

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

46% say it’s responsible with just 29% blaming the coalition?

Amongst the deluge of polling ahead of the Labour conference there’s one set of numbers that should really worry the Two Eds – when asked this week by Opinium for the Observer “Who would you say is most responsible for the current state of the UK economy?” 46% said the last Labour government with just 29% saying the coalition government.

A total of 18% said none of these with the balance responding don’t know. Even amongst Labour supporters only 53% say the responsibility lies with the coalition.

The questioning and the figure for the coalition is very similar to the regular YouGov tracker. Where Opinium, top pollster in the London Mayoral election, differs is that it offers fewer options. YouGov offers the choice of “both” whereas Opinium doesn’t.

All this is in a poll where the national voting intention figures are CON 29%-1/LAB 39%+1/LD 10%+2/UKIP 10.

    Given how central the argument over the economy will be in 2015 Labour is going to be in a difficult position if it is still blamed for what happened until 2010.

We see so often how Labour attacks on the economy are blunted by the same response from coalition ministers about what they inherited. It can sound a bit hackneyed but the polling suggests that the message continues to resonate.

To my mind a huge problem for Ed Miliband is the presence of Ed Balls who is so associated with the Brown years. While he remains shadow chancellor it’s going to be hard breaking free from the past as the latest Tory poster campaign suggests.

Ed Miliband needs a new shadow chancellor if he’s to break with the past.

Mike Smithson

For the latest polling news from the US and UK


It’s not a question of whether Obama will win but the size of the victory

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

All the money goes on Barack winning by a biggish margin

The big political betting story of the days has been the activity and movement on PaddyPower’s electoral colllege vote market in November’s White House election.

This morning the firm was offering 5/6 that Obama would win 319.5 electoral college votes or above and 5/6 that he’d get below. Given the way the polls have been going in the battleground states this seemed like a great bet.

Peter the Punter mentioned it in on the thread and shortly afterwards the firm increased the threshold to 329.5. Now it’s edged up even further to 334.5.

At that level Obama would need an overall lead over Romney 128 ECVs.

Other bookies have ECV markets up but I like the simplicity of the PaddyPower offering. Unfortunately I was tied up today with a family event and wass unable to pop into my local PaddyPower to get some money on.

Mike Smithson

For the latest polling news from the US and UK


Who’ll go down least well with voters – EdM or George?

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Is that what the election could come down to?

Some elections are won; most are lost. Rarely do the electorate have the luxury of two parties, both of which look like they could offer a strong, competent team which could govern well and lead the country forward in the way it would like. Sometimes they don’t have any and it’s a matter of choosing the least-worst option or opting out altogether.

It’s not inconceivable that 2015 may be a case in point. As Mike has commented on in several threads over the last few months, the combined leadership ratings of all three main leaders are at historically dreadful levels. The government’s approval rating in YouGov’s daily polls averages in the high minus thirties yet David Cameron remains the public’s preferred prime minister against Ed Miliband by some margin.

The point at which there was a step-change in the polling is not difficult to identify: after the budget, Labour’s lead jumped by five or six points and the government’s general rating slumped by around fifteen points and its economic management rating by twenty points.

The cause was almost certainly George Osborne’s enthusiastic jumping into the elephant trap Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling laid for him, when he increased the top rate of Income Tax.

Other PR difficulties didn’t help at the time but the decision to reduce the top rate by 5% had two deep and damaging effects for the government: it undermined the argument that we’re all in it together and it’s difficult to reconcile with the case for austerity, which makes the spending cuts seem ideological rather than a practical necessity.

The unforced political error of the income tax cut has been compounded by a failure to continually remind the public of the reason for the austerity programme: the structural deficit the Labour government built up, the boom they allowed and encouraged and the failed regulation they introduced. Although about 5% more still blame Labour than the Coalition for the cuts, that’s down from a 15% gap at the start of the year.

And yet for all the government’s problems and Labour’s consistent poll leads, both Miliband’s personal figures and Labour’s image ratings suggest an underlying weakness of their position.

Labour is doing well because it is not the government. The question is whether it will continue to do well when voters have to weigh their leaders as an alternative government.

The government – or Cameron specifically – does have one other card to play which is unavailable to Labour. Even if Labour had a tradition of replacing underperforming leaders, which it doesn’t, and even if the party’s mechanism made it relatively easy to do so, which it also doesn’t, it would be extremely difficult to justify a change when Labour’s ten points or more ahead in the polls. By contrast, it’s far easier to reshuffle a Chancellor.

David Herdson


For the latest polling news from the US and UK


After a busy week – Marf gives her take

Friday, September 28th, 2012

  • If you would like to purchase one of Marf’s prints or originals, please contact her here.
  • Recent Threads


    How the 47 percent gaffe is killing Romney: The betting and the polling

    Friday, September 28th, 2012


    Plus the latest RCP averages from the key swing states

    OHIO (2008: Obama +4.6, 2004: Bush +2.1)

    VIRGINIA (2008: Obama +6.3, 2004: Bush +8.2)

    FLORIDA (2008: Obama +2.8, 2004: Bush +5.0)

    In a new article on the excellent 538 blogNate Silver makes the following observation about the impact of the 47%.

      “After a secretly-recorded videotape was released on Sept. 17, showing Mitt Romney making unflattering comments about the “47 percent” of Americans whom he said had become dependent on government benefits, I suggested on Twitter that the political impact of the comments could easily be overstated.

      “Ninety percent of ‘game-changing’ gaffes are less important in retrospect than they seem in the moment,” I wrote.

      But was this one of the exceptional cases? A week and a half has passed since Mr. Romney’s remarks became known to the public — meaning that there’s been enough time to evaluate their effect on the polls.There’s a case to be made that they did damage Mr. Romney’s standing some.”

    For the latest polling news on both sides of the Atlantic check out my Twitter feed.

    Mike Smithson


    Ed Miliband’s big speech has got to be better than last year’s

    Friday, September 28th, 2012

    Henry G Manson looks forward to the next conference

    A year ago Ed Miliband gave an alarming performance at Labour party conference. Even thinking about it is traumatic. The speech wasn’t very good, the delivery was worse, delegates booed Tony Blair’s name and the TV feed was lost for several minutes half-way through. All that was needed was for the set to collapse and there would have enough material for a new series of You’ve Been Framed. The conclusion of many was that this was not the next occupant of Downing Street.

    Ed’s allies insist he’s been proven right and that his division of predator and producer interests. Perhaps. Either way it shouldn’t take the thick end of a year to win an argument of your own choosing. The fact is this year’s conference speech will have to be considerably better. It should be.

    After a very wobbly six months after the conference Ed has steadied himself and as Mike says not looks more secure than other leaders. Consistent poll leads have killed off any short-term prospect of him being ditched. The Labour leader deserves some credit, however he has been aided by a number of unforced errors, mainly from one of the most politically inept Budgets in living memory.

    The challenge this year for Ed Miliband is not to set out new philosophical territory or introduce new lingo. He really must resist the temptation. Some close to the leader have enthused at Bill Clinton’s focus on policy at his successful speech at the Democrat Convention suggesting there’s an overlooked demand from the public to hear the more detailed political diagnosis. But Clinton was able to pull this off because he, more than anyone else in the US, had earned the permission to be heard. It’s this Ed has to work on, starting now.

      A conference speech can do many things. This year Ed Miliband has to start looking and sounding like a real leader rather than a promising new Chief Executive of a pressure group.

    To do that he should cash in some chips. The country might not be interested in Leveson, but they are interested in politicians who won’t kowtow to the powerful. His Shadow Cabinet might not have set the world alight, but they haven’t routinely offended sections of the electorate either. The Parliamentary Labour Party might be overly careful but at least it is united and has the scent of competence to it. These are shared enterprises, but Ed needs to take credit for them all. It’s what leaders do.

    Most importantly Ed needs to really talk about the years to come and how we will ‘rebuild Britain’. Clinton’s election anthem ‘Don’t Stop’ is filled with a relentless focus on the future. Blair recognised that too. If the Labour leader wants to borrow one thing from Bill, he could do worse that listening to those lyrics. To have a big political future Ed Miliband will have to show he has answers for the future.

    Henry G Manson


    What would be the outcome of an IN-OUT EU referendum?

    Thursday, September 27th, 2012
    If there was an IN-OUT EU referendum what are the chances that Britain would vote to leave?