How the Tory collapse moved leaders ratings

12:12 pm - April 17th 2012

by Leo Barasi    

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It’s well established that the Tories’ ‘worst week’ – the granny tax, 50p tax cut, donorgate, pastygate and petrolgate – hit them badly in polls. Labour’s lead has been up to 10pts, with the Tories scratching around in the low 30s.

But the impact on the party leaders’ ratings hasn’t been that straightforward. Surprisingly, Cameron emerged largely unscathed, although the others got a boost.

For this comparison, I’m looking at data from three Populus polls. Each asked respondents to score how ‘positive’ they feel about the leaders, on a score of 0-100.

The first poll comes from December ‘10/January ’11, the second from February ’12 (before the worst week), and the third from March/April ’12 (after the worst week).
The groups I’m looking at are based on vote at the last election, so these should be comparable across the three polls – though they often won’t be current party supporters/voters.

Looking at each of the leaders in turn:


Despite the impact on the Tories’ vote intent score, Cameron himself seems to have been barely hit by the worst week.

But what’s striking is his score had already fallen sharply among his own party’s voters. While he still remains the most popular leader among his own voters, the gap now is much smaller than it was 15 months ago.



As might be expected, Miliband’s scores have gone up among all groups since the worst week, with the largest overall increase.

Like Cameron, he experienced a dip in support among his own voters after the end of ’10, but unlike the Prime Minister, his score has increased again in the last month.

Miliband is now more popular than Cameron among 2010 Lib Dem voters – and is nearly as popular as Clegg among that group.



Like Miliband, Clegg has seen a general – albeit smaller – lift after the worst week. He remains the least popular party leader, although still not by much.

His boost over the last month, particularly among 2010 Lib Dem voters, seems to reflect the effectiveness of the Lib Dem’s pre-Budget leaking. Clegg looks to have taken the credit for the popular side of things and escaped the associated blame for the rest of the goings-on.

It’s also interesting to see that he’s now, finally albeit narrowly, more popular among 2010 Lib Dem voters than he is among 2010 Tory voters!

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About the author
Leo is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He manages communications for a small policy organisation, and writes about polling and info from public opinion surveys at Noise of the Crowd
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Reader comments

1. Man on Clapham Omnibus

I feel much better after having read that.

2. Steven Van der Werf

Time to restate the golden rule:
insist on the ‘gate’ appendation, and I will automatically not read your article.

shame, as this one looked pretty good

3. Shatterface

I’m losing track – was Donargate the one where Cameron claimed he had a kebab in Leeds?

I have to say, that the spread of points along the x-axis is totally bogus.

5. Margin4Error

interesting set of data

was the data on those who voted for which party in 2010 collected at the time of the polls or are they fixed groups that the pollsters return to?

I ask because the first method has a very severe weakness. The number of people who voted for a party in the last election that has since become unpopular, falls dramatically in polls. (People basically lie about having voted for them, or even convince themselves through their new found dislike that they prefered some one else).

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