Despite the Times’s headline (‘Poll shock as new U-turn looms’), there’s nothing particularly surprising in the toplines of today’s Populus poll. It merely confirms the trends already
exposed by other pollsters: a widening Labour lead (Populus has it at nine points, up from four last month) and increasing
discontent with the coalition (Populus has the government’s net approval rating at minus 24, down from minus 3 in September). Beneath the toplines though, there are some interesting details.
As well as asking respondents how well they think the government’s doing overall, Populus asked how well they think it’s doing on various issues:
So, it seems the public thinks the coalition is doing best at keeping crime down and tackling waste and benefit fraud, but is particularly dismayed at its efforts on economic issues.
The poll also asks for respondents’ ratings of individual politicians. Unlike other pollsters, Populus doesn’t just ask people to choose between ‘well’ and
‘badly’ or ‘approve’ and ‘disapprove’, instead asking them to give each politician a score out of 100. It also includes more than just the three party leaders we
regularly see approval ratings for. Here’s how the ten they asked about this time scored:
Interestingly, the bad headlines for the government over the past few weeks don’t seem to have reduced these ratings. Cameron’s has held steady (it was 44.0 in February) despite his YouGov net approval rating having dropped from minus ten to minus 26 over
almost exactly the same period. Osborne’s has held steady too, while Clegg, Miliband and Balls have all seen theirs rise by around four points.