Should this poll result worry us?

Today’s BBC Daily Politics / ComRes poll asking which of the three major parties’ leadership teams is more trusted to steer the economy through the current downturn has caused a bit of a stir – it shows Labour’s duumvirate of Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling out ahead of the Tories, an about-turn on three months ago.

Here are the results:

    Putting your party allegiance aside, who do you trust most to steer Britain’s economy through the current downturn?
    Gordon Brown & Alistair Darling 33% (+7% on Dec 2009)
    David Cameron & George Osborne 27% (-6%)
    Nick Clegg & Vince Cable 13% (-6%)
    Don’t know 27% (+5%)

While it’s the Labour-Tory reversal of fortunes which is grabbing the attention, there is a noticeable drop in the proprtion of voters naming the Lib Dems’ team of Clegg and Cable as the pair most trusted on the economy. My guess is this has much more to do with a bounce in Labour’s perceived competence than it does in a sudden dip in confidence in the Lib Dems. This is, after all, in line with Labour’s climb above 30% in most of the opinion polls.

Vince Cable remains the choice of most voters as their dream Chancellor, according to two polls this week: one for PoliticsHome, the other for the Mirror. This is a quite remarkable accolade for a Lib Dem MP … but it doesn’t seem to translate into confidence in the Lib Dem leadership.

Some might argue that the logical conclusion is Nick Clegg is a drag on the leadership ticket. I don’t believe that’s the case, and the fact that polls consistently rate him the most popular of the three party leaders backs up that view.

But today’s poll does highlight, as Helen Duffett noted on LDV earlier this week, the challenge for Lib Dem campaigners in translating the popularity of St Vince into bankable votes.

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11 Comments

  • The polls are all over the place, as you stated as singles Nick, and Vince are top, so why should they be bottom as a pair.?

    I do not know what other people are finding when they knock on doors, but most by far are saying I will vote for any body except Brown?

    I expect those polls will change again after Darling said “the cuts will be deeper than those in the 80s”, Brown was not happy when question on it today, and would not answer the question.

    I said on here a few weeks back that the question is why is the Lib/Dems not higher than 16/18% in the polls?
    I wonder if it is seen as the Lib/Dem party are looked at as a good party to vote for in local elections, but because of its number of seats at Westminster is seen to vote Lib/Dem in a general election is a wasted vote.?

  • Liberal Neil 26th Mar '10 - 10:03pm

    It is a lot about credibility.

    There are a lot more wards than constituencies where we are seen as having a credible chance of winning – so we get more votes.

    In the 100 or so constituencies where we are perceived to be credible enough to win we will get 35-50% of the vote. In the other 550 we will likely get a lot less.

    THis is partly because it is a lot easier to do enough campaigning to build credibility in one local government ward, and to then identify enough votes to win, on a local election turnout, than it is across a parliamentary constituency on a general election turnout.

  • The poll asked voters to name a team. Brown and Darling, despite differences, act as a team. Likewise Cameron and Osborne. Clegg and Cable act as two separate individuals. They don’t sound similar, they don’t echo each other’s scripts. Cable goes for erudite, Clegg goes for populist. They need to, as the saying goes, get their act together.

  • We always poll badly on the economy. Absolutely nothing to worry about. It is to do with assumptions about us winning a majority.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 26th Mar '10 - 11:39pm

    I doubt this poll shows any more than that people realise that Clegg and Cable aren’t going to be in charge whatever happens.

    The thing to be worried about is that the polls are now indicating a high probability that there will be a hung parliament, which means that the question the media will be most interested in asking the Lib Dems is “What would you do in a hung parliament?”

    I haven’t heard a really good answer to that question yet. Maybe there isn’t a really good answer, but I think it would certainly help if the Lib Dems ruled out a formal coalition with either party.

  • On http://www.politicalbetting.com this morning they have a new poll out (I tried to copy it on here, but it will not read it)
    This poll (as I said above the polls are over the place) shows Brown and labour bottom.
    Angus Reid
    But the pollster diverges with ComRes on who is most trusted
    There’ve been two polls on reactions to the budget – one earlier from ComRes and the latest, where fieldwork continued into Friday, from Angus Reid. The panel above has two of the findings.

    I expect if it was for the Daily Mirror it would show Brown 1st !!!!

    These findings are in sharp contrast to a poll earlier from ComRes. When asked who voters trusted most to “steer Britain’s economy through the current downturn” it had 33% saying Brown-Darling, 27% Cameron-Osborne and 13% Clegg-Cable.

  • Liberal Eye 27th Mar '10 - 6:08pm

    The polls may be volatile but to be so far behind a team of proven loosers is deeply worrying.

    There are two possible explanations (which not mutually exclusive) for the poor performance of the team as opposed to Clegg and Cable separately. The first is that it’s a function of a biased media and unfair voting system which kicks in when people think about the possibility of a Lib Dem government. The second is that when voters think of the Lib Dems as a national party they see it as less than the sum of its parts, less than the sum of the individuals they like separately.

    There is undoubtedly some truth in the first but to blame ALL difficulties on external factors is a dangerously complacent and rose-tinted view of the world. The second would also explain why we so consistently poll better in local elections than in national elections. It implies that the public believe that we just haven’t got our act together at national level, in effect that Cowley Street subtracts value from activists’ efforts rather than adding value.

    Unfortunately there is ample evidence for this view. After 20+ years since the merger the Lib Dems still have not articulated a credible liberal narrative, mostly what we offer is an alternative set of managers to implement policies hewn from the same block as the other parties. There is no coherent view on housing (as Tim Leunig recently observed in a comment on another post), EU policy is in unacknowledged tatters (critical posts about it get no meaningful push-back from supporters of the official line – thank heavens we weren’t in the Euro), and the promise of ‘green jobs’ lacks credibility.

    So I disagree with Helen Duffett that it’s down to activists to translate Vince’s popularity into votes. It’s Cowley Street that needs to provide activists with better amunition. We’ve known this election was coming for years; how can it be that we have no coherent housing policy etc? This is a failure of leadership.

  • A new poll on the best chancellor puts Cable ahead of both Darling and Osborne and ahead of the lib Dem national ratings

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1261250/Tories-14-point-lead-women-A-thumbs-Darlings-election-budget.html

    The sensible conclusion is that Clegg is a drag on the party.

    Secondly, voters who want Cable to be chancellor often express the view they wish he was Lib Dem leader, not that Clegg was PM so that Cable would be chancellor.

    I think the party should be worried that when the other parties are so inept, the lib dems cannot gain traction.
    Most polls asking who has the best economic policies or similar questions have not even put the Lib Dems in double figures, showing that even Lib Dem voters don’t rate the party on the economy.

  • I agree with AAS – “I doubt this poll shows any more than that people realise that Clegg and Cable aren’t going to be in charge”. When asked a different question and given a rather better opportunity (by Angus Reid) to indicate how unpalatable and unconvincing they find the choice between BD and CO between 44% and 50% do so.

    Angus Reid question and percentages
    Which of these two leaders do you trust more to handle each of the following economic issues?
    Party Leader: Gordon Brown David Cameron Neither Not sure
    Boosting the economy 23% 33% 29% 15%
    Minimising the deficit 20% 34% 31% 15%
    Creating jobs 22% 28% 34% 16%
    Dealing with taxes 22% 32% 31% 15%

    Interpretation: There is an unrivalled opportunity for the Liberal Democrats. Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have, as David Allen puts it, to make sure they get it together and keep it together.

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