CON 35 (-2); LAB 30 (-2); LIB DEM 21 (+2)
Key Findings from our March Political Monitor:
The gap between Labour and the Conservatives stabilises, though evidence still points to a hung parliament. Our March Political Monitor shows that, among those who are absolutely certain to vote, 35% say they would vote Conservative, 30% Labour and 21% Liberal Democrat. The gap between the two parties (five points) has not changed since February, and would result in a hung parliament assuming uniform swing across the country. Satisfaction with Brown, Cameron and the Government has decreased since last month. Nick Clegg remains the most popular of the party leaders, although three in ten (30%) have no opinion on him. Economic optimism remains positive, and is in line with February. The economic optimism index (those optimistic minus those pessimistic) stands at +7, compared with +6 last month.
Management of the economy remains the most important issue in helping people decide for whom to vote at the General Election. A third (32%) say the economy will be important in helping them decide how to vote. When asked which outcome is most likely at the election, over half are expecting a hung parliament (59%). One in four people (24%) expect a Conservative majority compared to one in ten (10%) who expect a Labour majority. More believe that a majority government would be best for the UK economy than a hung parliament (48% versus 37% respectively). Three quarters (76%) agree that Britain needs a fresh team of leaders, and two-fifths believe that a Conservative government would get better value for public money. Nevertheless, a significant minority (37%) think that the Conservatives do not have the knowledge needed to run the economy properly. More are dissatisfied (51%) than are satisfied (36%) with Alastair Darling as chancellor. A third (34%) believe that George Osborne would make the more capable chancellor out of the two, and three in ten (30%) prefer Darling. However, when Vince Cable is included in the question, he becomes the favourite - a third (32%) see him as the most capable, followed by Darling (23%) and then Osborne (21%). All the parties have to deal with a sceptical public when it comes to cuts. A majority still think that efficiencies in public services will save enough to pay off the national debt (64%). Indeed, the public remain unconvinced of the need for cuts to public spending: 49% agree that there is a `real need to cut spending on public services' while 45% disagree, although acceptance of the need for cuts has risen slightly since June (when 40% agreed).
Click here for our March Political Monitor briefing.