Pollwatch – State of the Leaders: Clegg +14%, Brown -24%, Cameron +9% (Feb. 2010)

by Stephen Tall on March 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 two polling companies – YouGov and Angus RS – this past month asked 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 three polls published in February asking for the public to rate the three major party leaders:

Cameron: 44.0 approve, 40.0 disapprove: net +4%
Brown: 31.0, 60.0, -29%
Clegg: 38.0, 29.0, +9%
(18th Feb, Angus RS: Do you approve or disapprove of X’s performance as Y?)

Cameron: 50.0 well, 38.0 badly, net +12%
Brown: 37.0, 58.0, -21%
Clegg: 44.0, 27.0, +17%
(21st, YouGov: Do you think (name) is doing well or badly as (position)?)

Cameron: 50.0 approve, 39.0 disapprove, net +11%
Brown: 36.0, 58.0, -22%
Clegg: 44.0, 27.0, +17%
(28th, YouGov: Do you think (name) is doing well or badly as (position)?)

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

    Nick Clegg +14% (-1%), Gordon Brown -24% (+7%), David Cameron +9% (-1%)

Nick Clegg maintains his lead, therefore, as the most popular of the three main party leaders, with an average net rating of +14%, with all of this month’s three polls showing Nick ahead of David Cameron. It appears c.70% of the public have formed a view of Nick, and so far they are continuing to break significantly in his favour.

David Cameron’s ratings, which appeared to have stopped sliding in January, have dipped again. Last month, YouGov showed Mr Cameron with net +22% rating; this has now halved in the past four weeks to just +11/12%, according to YouGov’s February polls. It’s a trend which was recently picked up by PoliticsHome.com under the headline Cameron’s personal lead halved in five months. Even the metropolitan media, which has for so long been under Mr Cameron’s spell, appears to have noticed that the Tory leader is now not the asset for his party that he once was.

For Gordon Brown, February saw once again a big uplift in his personal ratings. Perhaps it was that interview with Piers Morgan. Perhaps it is the increasing confidence in the economy. Perhaps it is British sympathy for the underdog. Whatever the reason, the result is marked: just two months ago, in December, Mr Brown’s net average rating was at a dire -38%; today it stands at -24%. Indeed at this rate of increase, he would overtake David Cameron in the popularity stakes by July. Unfortunately for the Prime Minister an election is due by June.