Pollwatch – State of the Leaders: Clegg +15%, Brown -31%, Cameron +10% (Jan. 2010)

by Stephen Tall on February 7, 2010

Yesterday, Pollwatch looked at the state of the parties in January; today it’s the turn of the party leaders. As with all polls, what follows comes with caveats. Only three polling companies – YouGov, Mori and Angus RS – regularly ask questions specifically to find out the public’s views of the three main party leaders. And each asks variants on the basic question – do you think Clegg/Brown/Cameron are doing a good job – to come up with their figures, so comparison ain’t easy. But, still, we don’t indulge in polls often, so here goes …

Here, in chronological order, are the results of the four polls published in January asking for the public to rate the three major party leaders:

    Cameron: 46.0 approve, 39.0 disapprove: net +7%
    Brown: 30.0, 61.0, -31%
    Clegg: 39.0, 28.0, +11%
    (11th Jan, Angus RS: Do you approve or disapprove of X’s performance as Y?)

    Cameron: 56.0 well, 34.0 badly, net +22%
    Brown: 32.0, 64.0, -32%
    Clegg: 47.0, 26.0, +21%
    (17th, YouGov: Do you think (name) is doing well or badly as (position)?)

    Cameron: 46.0 approve, 40.0 disapprove, net +6%
    Brown: 29.0, 63.0, -34%
    Clegg: 39.0, 29.0, +10%
    (29th, Angus RS: Do you approve or disapprove of X’s performance as Y?)

    Cameron: 43.0 satisfied, 40.0 dissatisfied, net +3%
    Brown: 33.0, 59.0, -26%
    Clegg: 42.0, 26.0, +16%
    (30th, MORI: Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way X is doing his job as Y?)

Which gives us an average net popularity – and, yes, I know how unscientific such averages are – compared with December’s as follows:

  • Nick Clegg +15% (+2%), Gordon Brown -31% (+7%), David Cameron +10% (+1%)

Nick maintains his lead, therefore, as the most popular of the three main party leaders, with an average net rating of +15%. Of the four polls, only YouGov had Nick behind David Cameron – and even then by within the margin of error. It appears c.70% of the public have formed a view of Nick, and so far they are breaking significantly in his favour.

David Cameron’s slipping ratings appear to have stopped their slide, at least for now. As recently as September 2009, his average net popularity was +20%. But the last two months have seen a plummet which must surely lead Tory campaign HQ to wonder if it really is such a good idea to centre the party’s campaign around Dave. It’s true, as Anthony Wells’ UK Polling Report blog notes, that Mr Cameron is still seen to be more likeable than his party – but not by much.

For Gordon Brown, January saw a pretty substantial increase, albeit from the lowest of bases. Whether it was public sympathy for the failed coup attempt, or some credit that the recession is finally drawing to a close, or perhaps the improved media he’s had (helped by some less dour performances at Prime Minister’s Questions) – or a combination of all those and more – he will be relieved to see his ratings improve. Indeed, he’s more popular (or less unpopular) than Tony Blair was this time two years ago, when he was polling -41%. So take comfort, comrades, it could be worse for Labour.