Marks out of ten for the coalition?

The Guardian is running the latest ICM poll today.

The overall story is good for the Lib Dems – up three points to 19% (both Labour and the Tories are slightly down against the last ICM poll), and the Coalition remains stubbornly popular, still in the 55-60% range.

But this is just one poll (and there are others both significantly better and worse for the party), so let’s not worry too much about the headline figures.

More interesting is the line the Guardian takes and the “marks out of ten” for the Coalition Government.

First the line taken in the article. If you’ve an opinion poll where only one party is up, and up significantly too, especially if the big polling story in recent weeks has been claims of a “meltdown” in that party’s support, you might think it significant.

The Guardian, perhaps still upset that the Lib Dems actually kept their word in the election campaign and didn’t prop up Labour after polling day, try to portray both Labour and the Tories dropping a point as “Labour closing the gap on Tories”. This method of analysis will be familiar to those who remember the Mirror’s ingenious interpretation of polls during the election campaign.

The photo is of Clegg looking somewhere between pensive and glum, and the Guardian’s careful not to even mention the Lib Dems until the fourth paragraph of the story.  (To ensure balance, I should point out that an editorial in today’s Guardian takes a different line).

The presentation of “marks out of 10” for the Coalition Government is interesting too. The Guardian throws out a bunch of figures that may or may not mean very much, but what do the marks out of ten actually mean?

The answer is that we can’t possibly say until there’s a good series of data to look at. Apparently the Government gets 5.1 out of 10 overall. Is that good? Bad? Middling? I’ve no idea.

That 5.1 out of 10 isn’t so different to the 57% of people supporting the Lib Dems or Conservatives, but – as with standard opinion polls – it doesn’t mean much until we can compare it and look at trends over time.  As far as I can tell, this isn’t a standard questions that’s been asked by ICM in the past (someone please correct me if I’m mistaken) so for now it’s just a number without context.

One other statistic caught my eye – nearly 60% of people think the planned cuts are either about right or not harsh enough: almost exactly the same as the proportion supporting the Lib Dems or Conservatives.

At present, it looks like Labour’s call on the evil of all cuts has minority appeal. Whether that’s still true as the principle of cuts solidifies further into hard reality remains to be seen, though the figure of 91% who say they’ll hurt might give the Coalition some confidence that the public is accepting that reality.

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15 Comments

  • A week IS a long in politics & if our Poll rating is going to head south at any stage & prefer it now & a steady ship & build up after that.
    Looking ahead a year – an AV ‘win’ could well be a game changer – just as an AV ‘lose’ – could well help as keep the blue water between us & Tories at the next Gen. Election.
    Looking ahead 3 years – economic recovery, green jobs & growth, a fairer society —– who knows?????

  • Iain, you seem to take a negative view of the Guardian in this opinion piece. Have you read it recently? It is definitively in the Tory/LD camp now – going as far as to claim, and I quote, that Dave is the best PM for a generation. After 8 weeks (at the time).

    Your opinion is neither fair nor balanced in the interpretation of the results. You’ve missed the point in the poll in your need to spin it positively. The YouGov one last week summarises it well. The Coalition approval rating in11 weeks, has dropped to 6 points. It took Blair 3 years to get that low.

    With this level of denial, the LDs continue to put Labour to shame in the “Hear no evil; See no evil; Speak no evil” charts.

  • vince thurnell 27th Jul '10 - 3:56pm

    and in a comres poll released in the telegraph 42% of lib dem voters would of not voted lib dem if they knew that were going to get into bed with the Tories, but as that doesn’t fit your agenda just ignore it eh.

  • Ruth Bright 27th Jul '10 - 4:25pm

    Who could put it better than Lorely Burt on today’s “Daily Politics” – apparently the coalition is like Hovis ‘best of both’, white and brown bread combined together to make something even more palatable than the component parts. A touching and evocative political metaphor I’m sure you’ll all agree.

  • vince thurnell 27th Jul '10 - 5:26pm

    Dear god Rosalind, so you’re happy in your little cocoon despite 42% of your voters stating they would not of voted lib dem if they knew they would team up with the Tory party. I really think some of you people need a wake up call before the next election. It doesnt matter what you and others on this site think about the coalition , what matters is what the voters think and according to them theres a lot not happy but hey don’t worry its only 42% of them.

  • Rob Sheffield 27th Jul '10 - 5:52pm

    @Greenfield especially

    As well as the daily YG polls (LD = 13- 15%) and yesterdays ICM, today we have the monthly MORI poll: I’ll quote the allegedly LD Mike Smithson:

    ““Today I’m hoping that we’ll see the latest MORI poll.

    POLLING UPDATE:
    MORI Just out
    CON 40
    LAB 38
    LD 14

    So seriously good news for the reds and bad news for the yellows. ”

    On the best performing predictor site from the GE 2010 (electoral calculus) that projects

    Lab 313 (+55)
    Con 296 (- 11 net 24 gains and 35 losses = ALL the Tory gains are from Lib Dems….)
    Lib Dem 16 (-41)
    OTH 7 (-2)
    GRN 0 (-1)

    The key movement of the last two and a half months is the collapse of the Lib Dems. You are crazy if you think vastly declining polling numbers at this stage of the political-business cycle are a good thing. Totally burying your head in the sand- you need to exert pressure on the orangemen leadership (but then you are probably one if you are happy with the coalition) and QUICK. Otherwise the meltdown will be writ large in the local and devolved elections quod erat demonstrandum.

    It is never too soon to start the row back but it can be too late…

    The LD collapse has occurred at the time of the government honeymoon before the ideological spending eviscerations impact upon quality of service provision, threaten a double dip and end up in mass sackings in both public and private sectors. These realities will eat into the Conservative 38-42 range as long as the post new labour leadership sets out a detailed programme rather than adopting the Cameron opposition strategy of vagueness and niceness. But undoubtedly the key (and astonishing) phenomenon of the moment is this lib dem meltdown.

    As Steve Richards in the Independent argues:

    “The most important division in the coming months or years is not between Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, nor between Cameron and the right of his party, but between Clegg’s deeply-held convictions and those, also sincerely believed, held by a growing element in his own party. “

  • Rob Sheffield 27th Jul '10 - 6:23pm

    And here is the Spectator blog just now:

    ” Ipsos-MORI’s July political poll will make uncomfortable reading for the coalition as the summer break looms. It has the Tories on 40 percent, Labour on 38 percent and the Lib Dems on 14 percent . It is just one poll – the Tory lead is usually around 7 points – but the Lib Dems’ crisis is real enough. George Eaton’s spot on when he says that Labour’s resurgence is ‘impressive’. The worry is that cuts have not yet been felt, and that the Lib Dem position can only get worse.

    The coalition has all sorts of possible plans to protect the Lib Dems. With growth as it is, Osborne could be persuaded to limit cuts. The parties are seeking a closer political union by attacking Labour’s position on the deficit. However, an electoral union will likely be the last resort. ”

  • David Allen 27th Jul '10 - 6:44pm

    George Kendall,

    “I’ll make a prediction. …. When real cuts bite, and every voter knows someone who has been personally affected, the poll rating for the coalition, the Lib Dems and the Tories will fall further, probably quite a bit further. …. As the economy picks up … the poll ratings will pick up.”

    I’m absolutely sure you are right. The polls always rise and fall along with the economy, irrespective of whether the government of the day actually deserve praise or blame for their performance. A briliant government will be pilloried in a world recession. A lousy government will bask in public adulation when a rising tide lifts all ships. It would be much the same if a Labour government had won the election.

    What isn’t so reasuring is the specific fall in Lib Dem support (not Tory), and the reason for it. Far too many people now believe we are a party which has abandoned its principles. That is a reputational disaster that is not specifically connected to recession. So it won’t just naturally be reversed when eventually the economy gets better (as economies generally do.)

  • @ David Allen

    Absolutely agree with you, and I think there is a worrying level of hubris and indifference about this. While I agree we shouldn’t be slitting our throats, we do need to take an active stand on repairing our image. The narrative is out there, the Lib Dems sold out for a seat at the table. No one is accusing the Tories of betraying their principles, so if we don’t do something to change this, even if the coalition is a success, the Lib Dems could be out in the cold, and the foundations of its big church seriously shaken. Someone, somewhere needs to take this seriously.

  • Rob Sheffield:

    “The key movement of the last two and a half months is the collapse of the Lib Dems.”

    Really? In real elections where real people vote? Only in your imagination, methinks.

    If you want people to take you seriously, stop talking rot.

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