Ipsos/Evening Standard Political Monitor March 2012

Our latest Political Monitor shows Labour's lead over the Conservatives has been reduced. Ed Miliband's party are not making any significant headway despite scepticism surrounding the government's economic policies.

Half of the public expect the rich to benefit most from the Budget

George Osborne and Ed Balls are neck and neck

Most people think the worst is yet to come on the economy although economic optimism is at highest level since 2010

Voting intention: CON 36 (+1); LAB 37 (-4); LIB DEM 11 (-1)

Ipsos’s pre-Budget Political Monitor for the Evening Standard shows that half (50%) of the British public think people on high incomes will benefit the most from the measures the Chancellor will announce in Wednesday’s Budget. Only 17% expect those on low incomes to benefit the most, and 18% say those on middle incomes.

The public are split on whether George Osborne or Ed Balls would make the most capable Chancellor, 36% say Mr Osborne and 35% say Mr Balls. Neither the Chancellor nor the Shadow Chancellor have made any significant shifts in public opinion in a year, in March 2011 they were also neck-neck.

Confidence that the government’s policies will, in the long term, improve Britain’s economy has fallen dramatically since the Coalition took office. The public is now split evenly, with 46% agreeing that the government’s policies will improve the economy while 47% disagree. Despite this fall (61% agreed in June 2010, 29% disagreed), confidence in the government’s policies is still higher than throughout much of the previous Labour government’s second and third terms.

Despite the fact that just over half (56%) of British adults believe that the economic crisis has not yet peaked and the worst is still to come, economic optimism has been increasing in the last three months and is now at its highest point since December 2010. Three in ten (29%) adults believe the economy will improve in the next 12 months while 43% think it will get worse. 

The poll shows some improvement in satisfaction levels with the government and party leaders, except for David Cameron whose ratings have remained steady.

        Four in ten are satisfied with the way David Cameron is doing his job as Prime Minister, while half are dissatisfied (41% and 52% respectively). His net satisfaction rating of -11, exactly the same as in February

        A third (32%) are satisfied with the government while almost two thirds are dissatisfied (64%). This net approval of -28 is an improvement of 6 points since February

Nick Clegg’s satisfaction net satisfaction rating has improved by 5 points to -27, with 32% satisfied and 59% dissatisfied.

        Ed Miliband’s approval rating has improved by 7 points this month with 34% satisfied and 52% dissatisfied.

However, among their own supporters, David Cameron is performing significantly better than Ed Miliband: 81% of Conservatives are satisfied with Cameron, but only 46% of Labour voters are satisfied with Miliband.

Managing Director of Ipsos, Bobby Duffy, said:

“There are clear danger signs in the poll for the government – particularly the continued decline in the public’s belief that the government’s policies will be good for the economy in the long-term.   But Labour should be more worried:  they are not making any significant headway – even with the cuts biting, economic growth sluggish and ahead of a budget that the public overwhelmingly expect to benefit the rich.”

    Technical note

    Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,014 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 17-19 March 2012.  Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

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