ComRes financial crisis poll: public not so impressed by Gordon’s (think Dave would have handled it worse)

by Stephen Tall on October 18, 2008

Tomorrow’s Independent will carry a poll from Communication Research, the first poll conducted since last week’s financial bail-out of the banks (and therefore of more interest than LDV would normally give to any individual poll). John Rentoul reports the headlines over at the paper’s Open House blog here:

We asked whether people agreed or disagreed with the following statements:

It is right that taxpayers’ money should be used to bail out banks.
Agree 37% Disagree 58%
I will scale back my Christmas spending plans to save money.
Agree 62% Disagree 36%
Gordon Brown’s decisive handling of the bank crisis means that Labour has a good chance of winning the next election.
Agree 37% Disagree 54%
If David Cameron had been prime minister, he would have handled the bank crisis better than Gordon Brown.
Agree 25% Disagree 56%

So, there seems to be a fair amount of scepticism about the Government’s handling of the crisis, despite the laudatory reviews Mr Brown’s received over the past few days. But there seems to be an even greater scepticism that David Cameron would have handled it any better.

I’m a little disappointed by the Indy’s choice of questions: for example, ‘It is right that taxpayers’ money should be used to bail out banks?’ – many might not think it ‘right’ exactly (with its moral connotations), but they might think it necessary. And to ask voters to agree or disagree with a statement as bald as ‘Gordon Brown’s decisive handling of the bank crisis means that Labour has a good chance of winning the next election’ invites the public to respond along partisan lines.

Far better, in my view, to have asked two direct, but neutral, questions which seem pretty relevant right now: 1) do you agree or disagree with the Government’s decision to bail-out the banks; and 2) has the way Gordon Brown has handled the financial crisis made you think of him more or less favourably? The answers of the public to those questions would have been much more instructive of the likely political effects of the last week’s economic turmoil.

For the record, there seems to have been little significant shift in voting intentions, all within the margin of error: Conservative 40% (-1%); Labour 31% (+2); Liberal Democrat 16% (-2); Other 13% (+1).

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38 comments

hmmmm…there seems to have been little significant shift in voting intentions ..

Apart from another 2% drop in the LD vote. A while ago you were all talking about overtaking Labour…

by scampi on October 18, 2008 at 8:48 pm. Reply #

“For the record, there seems to have been little significant shift in voting intentions, all within the margin of error: Conservative 40% (-1%); Labour 31% (+2); Liberal Democrat 16% (-2); Other 13% (+1).”

But note that ComRes is generally one of the more favourable polling companies for the Lib Dems. A month ago immediately after the conference it had us at 21%. 16% equals the lowest rating since Clegg took over – though to be fair it’s been seen 3 times before.

Anthony Wells on UK Polling Report comments:
“On the subject of Lib Dem support the poll also reflects the same sort of fall in Liberal Democrat support that we’ve been seeing across the board. Despite Vince Cable mostly being seen as having come out of the banking crisis with the highest reputation, the level of Lib Dem support in the polls has only been going downwards. Being feted by people who watch politics doesn’t necessarily translate into any support from the wider public.”

by Clegg's Candid Friend on October 18, 2008 at 8:54 pm. Reply #

Indeed. If you look at the ComRes archive 16% is at the bottom of our range.

by Clegg's Candid Admirer on October 18, 2008 at 9:10 pm. Reply #

“For the record, there seems to have been little significant shift in voting intentions, all within the margin of error:”

And this weeks spin award goes to…. Polls will usually show movement within the margin of error – looking at ComRes only once has our movement been more than 3%.

But LDV have hoist themselves by their own petard a bit with their “not obsessed by polls – but lets mention them when they are good” line.

Be nice to be going up, be better to be above 20% than below but I remember the panic around a poll putting us on 11% in the Feb of 1997 and we did OK in the election three months later 🙂

by Hywel Morgan on October 18, 2008 at 9:33 pm. Reply #

But LDV have hoist themselves by their own petard a bit with their “not obsessed by polls – but lets mention them when they are good” line.

Rubbish, Hywel – what about this article on LDV last week, Is there anything more the party can do to turn the polls around?

I have always argued that obsessing about any one voting intention poll is a mug’s game – but also argue that we should be alert to polling trends.

by Stephen Tall on October 18, 2008 at 10:02 pm. Reply #

Then why do a whole piece on the YouGov one which put us on 20% – but not other ones a week before that were less good?

The “turning round” piece was more about the party’s overall performance than a commentary on an individual poll. Individual polls only feature if they are good.

by Hywel Morgan on October 18, 2008 at 10:06 pm. Reply #

BPIX poll for the Mail on Sunday:
Con 46 (+3)
Lab 30 (-1)
LD 13 (-4)

Changes are since the last BPIX poll, which concluded 26 September.

by Clegg's Candid Friend on October 18, 2008 at 10:23 pm. Reply #

Then why do a whole piece on the YouGov one which put us on 20% – but not other ones a week before that were less good?

Well, not that I wrote it, but
1) it was one of two polls that week putting the Lib Dems at 20%+,
2) it came just after a Mori poll putting the party at 12% which had got a lot of media attention, so was partly trying to ‘set the record straight’, and
3) this is Lib Dem Voice – is it really that surprising if good polls for the party are, on exceptional occasions, highlighted?

The “turning round” piece was more about the party’s overall performance than a commentary on an individual poll.

Erm, Hywel, that’s my point. I don’t write about individual voting intention polls because to do so is generally meaningless. What LDV does do is examine polling trends.

by Stephen Tall on October 18, 2008 at 10:32 pm. Reply #

the BPIX (Yes, I know) tommorrow is Con 46 Lab 30 LD 13

by Clegg's Ardent Admirer on October 18, 2008 at 10:52 pm. Reply #

A depressingly consistent picture is emerging.

In the last four polls (from Populus, YouGov and now ComRes and BPIX) the Lib Dems have either equalled their lowest rating since Clegg became leader, or hit a new low for that period.

The one bright spot is that this trend is unlikely to continue, because Ipsos/Mori (due later this week) had us at only 12% in its last poll. At least, I hope the trend won’t continue…

by Clegg's Candid Friend on October 18, 2008 at 11:05 pm. Reply #

Does Clegg have two Admirers – one Ardent and the other Candid?

Just curious. At any rate he seems to have only one Friend.

by Clegg's Candid Friend on October 18, 2008 at 11:07 pm. Reply #

Are BPIX official now, then? Last time I looked they still weren’t registered with the polling regulator and were still refusing to publish their detailed results.

by Alix on October 18, 2008 at 11:15 pm. Reply #

No. I got confused.

by Clegg's Candid Admirer on October 18, 2008 at 11:15 pm. Reply #

No BPIX aren’t official and rightly excluded from our poll of polls . However there field work is done by YouGov on a White Label basis and it is at least worth looking at the trend. Whioch is the same as all the BCP registered companies.

Downwards.

by Clegg's Candid Admirer on October 18, 2008 at 11:17 pm. Reply #

I’m not convinced the downward trend will continue – when the market has settled down (which I think it will, I noticed less stories about the markets towards the end of the week) and people focus on the real economy, and when the Lib Dems put their alternative message of how to drag us through the recession, and when Parliament gets back to normal, we’ll pick up again.

by Thomas Hemsley on October 18, 2008 at 11:22 pm. Reply #

“I’m not convinced the downward trend will continue”

I certainly hope the monthly decrease of 5% in our ComRes rating doesn’t continue, or we’ll be down to no support at all by the end of January!

by Clegg's Candid Friend on October 18, 2008 at 11:33 pm. Reply #

But Thomas, the problem is that the Lib Dems have actually had quite a lot of coverage. Vince Cable has appeared a lot on TV and radio and comes over much better than the 6th Form A Level student George Osborne. But for some reason this is not carried through to the polls.

by David from Ealing on October 19, 2008 at 8:31 am. Reply #

“Vince Cable has appeared a lot on TV and radio and comes over much better than the 6th Form A Level student George Osborne.”

Let’s not be insulting to 6th Form students, now – I’m one. 😉

I’ve said before that Vince cannot be our voice alone.

by Thomas Hemsley on October 19, 2008 at 9:21 am. Reply #

In real elections – council by elections, Lib Dems are doing very well. Whilst I accept these results are the result of campaigns on local issues, if our support really was in freefall, we would not be seeing the Tories loosing share to us.

by David on October 19, 2008 at 10:02 am. Reply #

“In real elections – council by elections, Lib Dems are doing very well. Whilst I accept these results are the result of campaigns on local issues”

Council by-elections are a useful indicator but have a major flaw in that they rarely compare like with like in terms of the campaign we fought this time and last time.

I’ve always maintained when looking at results for ALDC that, as a proportion of seats had no campaign when last fought, and almost all by-elections have at least a one leaflet campaign, our baseline in local elections should be a small increase.

There is also the headline grabbing effect where 1 or 2 great results mask a number of poor results.

However there are so many factors at play, many of which are local and specific that the absolute vote increase isn’t that relevant.

What may be more indicative would be a comparison of our performance over the last three months with the same period in previous years. ALDC have started comparing our by-election performance with opinion poll ratings and it seems that the former broadly tracks the latter but at a higher level.

by Hywel Morgan on October 19, 2008 at 10:52 am. Reply #

Mark Senior has posted the following on PB.com
“So far in October there have been over 35,000 real votes cast in local elections . The vote shares and changes compared to the previous elections in 2006 to 2008 are
Con 11,743 32.5% – 2.7%
Lab. 6,794 18.6% – 1.3%
LD..12,863 35.6% + 2.5%
Oth. 4,825 13.4% + 1.5%”

by Hywel Morgan on October 19, 2008 at 11:10 am. Reply #

Yes – I’m sure we tend to perform better in council by elections than the other parties, just as (historically, anyway) in Parliamentary by elections.

Based on the the national polls, it’s very difficult to believe that Conservative support is really lower than it has been on average over the last three years!

by Clegg's Candid Friend on October 19, 2008 at 12:09 pm. Reply #

Thomas, I don’t see what I said as an insult to A level students. I got an A in A Level Economics, but that was a long time ago and I can’t honestly say that my expertise in that field has increased since. A Level students are great but we wouldn’t normally put them in charge of the country’s economy.

by David from Ealing on October 19, 2008 at 1:17 pm. Reply #

It was the fact you mentioned George Osborne in the same sentence – hence the insult. 😛 It was only meant as a joke, sorry if you go the wrong end of the stick.

by Thomas Hemsley on October 19, 2008 at 1:35 pm. Reply #

CCF, I think you’re confusing two different things.

Polls are good at indicating overall support, but they have their weakness in being unable to show trends easily.

Elections are good at showing trends, but not overall support.

At this time the polls are extremely volatile, so it is hard to take any conclusions from them except that they are likely to continue to change – the financial crisis has completely shaken up public opinion and the battle is on to win the arguments of this phase of history.

We currently have a real opportunity to reshape the political balance of opinion in our country and enhance our political standing in a way that comes along a couple of times in a decade, so I think it is pointless pretending to be a spectator when you can be an actor.

What are you for? Are you for us?

by Oranjepan on October 19, 2008 at 8:10 pm. Reply #

Oranjepan:
“CCF, I think you’re confusing two different things.”

No, believe it or not I do know the difference between opinion polls and elections.

As I said, each of the last four polls released (Populus, 15%; YouGov, 14%; ComRes, 16%; BPIX, 13%) shows us either equalling our lowest rating recorded by that organisation during the period of Clegg’s leadership, or hitting a new low during that period.

It’s all very well saying the polls are volatile, but they’ve been volatile for at least 18 months, and what we’re seeing are ten-month lows.

by Clegg's Candid Friend on October 19, 2008 at 8:23 pm. Reply #

CCF,
you’ve again taken the wrong end of the stick.

I wasn’t accusing you of confusing polls with elections, but of trend with support.

And polls were incredibly stable for the three months prior to this year’s conference season (when the financial crisis hit).

by Oranjepan on October 19, 2008 at 8:29 pm. Reply #

And of course the other thing is that the _only_ time in the current Parliament our rating has been as low as or lower than it is now was the disastrous couple of months at the tail end of Ming Campbell’s incumbency.

We are well below our average rating over the whole Parliament.

by Clegg's Candid Friend on October 19, 2008 at 8:48 pm. Reply #

CCF,
forget the poll rating for a second as opinion is by nature transient, how is the membership of your local branch doing?

In our locality membership is rising by double-digit percentages (though I can’t claim the credit for that) and as a result we are capable of taking more council wards seriously than ever before.

From my perspective I think this shows that more people’s support for our party is becoming stronger and we’re growing a harder core of support as the party becomes clearer that we are heading for government sometime (rather than never) and that our approach is effective. I think we are less dependent on tactical support than ever before and this will stand us in good stead at any forthcoming election.

by Oranjepan on October 19, 2008 at 9:13 pm. Reply #

“forget the poll rating for a second as opinion is by nature transient …”

I think this is what’s usually known as “denial”.

by Clegg's Candid Friend on October 19, 2008 at 10:25 pm. Reply #

Oranjepan,

I have no doubt what you are saying is true with regard to your local branch
but two points are worth making.

1) Is your local experience reflected nationally? If it isnt then it really isn’t indicitive of a trend and could as easily be the result of an exceptional
performance by the local party.

2) Even if what you say is true we have to deal with the reality that this is not likely to translate into more MP’s at Westminster and the trend you note could easily reverse.

by Darrell on October 19, 2008 at 10:56 pm. Reply #

CCF & Darrell,
It’s up to you to make the difference.

If you are more active in setting an example you will attract more members and create a positive spiral where we will return more elected members.

That’s responsibility.

If you are not leading by example then you are to blame.

by Oranjepan on October 19, 2008 at 11:26 pm. Reply #

Oranjepan…

And err that answers my questions how? It really doesnt does it…it just avoids the questions and answers them with sanctimonious twaddle….

by Darrell on October 19, 2008 at 11:29 pm. Reply #

Darrell

We know that party membership nationally has been falling quite rapidly (it fell by about 10% during Ming Campbell’s 18 months or so at the helm).

We shall get an indication of whether that trend has continued from the presidential ballot numbers in a couple of weeks.

by Clegg's Candid Friend on October 19, 2008 at 11:54 pm. Reply #

saucer of milk, Darrell?

by Oranjepan on October 20, 2008 at 12:07 am. Reply #

Oranjepan,

Well come on…id actually prefer you to answer the points I made which were concrete and reasonable in my eyes…for the record im not in much of a position to make a startling amount of difference, i just moved and met with a local councillor on Thursday who has promised to put me on the activists email list which if he isnt actually done by mid-week i will chase….

I might actually agree about us being less dependant on tactical support but think this might not be good; for the short term at least…..

by Darrell on October 20, 2008 at 12:43 am. Reply #

Further confirmation of that trend from a YouGov poll in the Daily Mirror today:
CON 42%(-1)
LAB 34%(+1)
LDEM 14%(-)

Changes are since the last YouGov poll, for which the survey ended on 10 October.

As others have commented, this would indicate we are near hung Parliament territory again – or actually in hung Parliament territory, if the Tories take significantly less seats from the Lib Dems than uniform swings would suggest.

And Labour is only a couple of points lower than at the last general election, which to my mind underlines the folly of the Lib Dems diverting resources towards Labour-held target seats.

by Clegg's Candid Friend on October 20, 2008 at 11:25 am. Reply #

CCF,

Here I have to kind of disagree with you; I support a tactical orientation towards the Labour seats because at least until recently it looked as if Labour voters would be the ones ‘in motion’ so to speak.

Now you could argue things have changed and we may have to look again at what is happening; what we may agree is a ‘twin-track’, to defend heavily our most marginal seats against the Tories and set realistic goals with regard to the size of Labours lead in any given seat.

by Darrell on October 20, 2008 at 11:46 am. Reply #

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