Ipsos Political Monitor August 2009

Ipsos's August 2009 Political Monitor, conducted 21-23 August, has the Conservatives up three points to 43% since July, and the Labour Party share up by two points to 24%, among those certain to vote.

The Economy

Ipsos's August Political Monitor shows that despite the current state of the economy, two in five (43%) think it will improve over the next 12 months. This is the second highest figure ever recorded by Ipsos, the highest being 44% in June 1987, albeit under very different economic circumstances during the middle of the "Lawson Boom". This month's rating has more than doubled since the start of the year when only 20% predicted improvement over the next 12 months. A quarter (27%), however, still feel the economic condition of the country will get worse.

The Economic Optimism Index, or EOI, (those who think it will get better minus those who think it will get worse) is therefore +16, a 22 point increase from last month's EOI rating of -6 and the highest economic optimism index rating since September 1997.

It is also clear that there is a great deal more optimism amongst the higher social grades (ABs are on +30 and C1s on +22) and those living in the South (+22) and London (+36) - perhaps because these individuals have seen some of the signs of economic recovery such as a slight increase in house prices. Those living in the North (+15) and Midlands (+12), and especially those of lower social grades (C1s are on +15 and DEs on -6) are far less optimistic.

However, despite public feeling that the economy will eventually recover, our monthly Issues Index also indicates that public concern about unemployment is beginning to rise again. It has remained fairly low over the past six years, but as the actual unemployment figures continue to rise steeply, public concern is now following suit, as shown in the chart below.

The Politics

The aforementioned improvement in public optimism about the economy does not seem to be providing a boost for the Labour Party however. As the chart below shows, while economic optimism has continued to rise since 2008, Labour's share of the vote continues to fall.

This is a worrying trend for Gordon Brown and the Labour Party, who would normally hope to capitalise on any resurgence in public optimism about the economic situation.

Our monthly Political Monitor shows that among those absolutely certain to vote, the Conservative Party currently leads the Labour Party by 17 points. The Conservatives are on 43% (up from 40% last month), Labour is on 26% (up two points) and the Liberal Democrats are on 17% (down one).

One in four (23%) are satisfied with the way the Government is running the country and seven in ten are dissatisfied (71%, vs. 75% last month). Taking the `net' rating (the percentage satisfied minus the percentage dissatisfied) puts the Government on -48, which is an eight point improvement from last month's figure, and a fourteen point improvement from June's record low.

Almost three in ten (28%) are satisfied with the way Gordon Brown is doing his job as Prime Minister and two in three (65%) are dissatisfied, giving a net score of -37, a five point improvement from last month.

David Cameron's ratings closely match last month's - 47% are satisfied and 38% dissatisfied with his performance.

Over two in five (42%) are satisfied with Nick Clegg, and 26% are dissatisfied with his performance, giving him a net satisfaction score of +16, the same as last month. The remaining third (32%) say they `don't know'.

Technical Note

For the Political Monitor, Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,013 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain by160telephone 21-23 August 2009. For the Issues Index, we interviewed a representative sample of 978 adults aged 18+ at 206 sampling points across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted160face-to-face on 13-18 August 2009. Data for both are weighted to match the known profile of the population.

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