MORI Political Monitor - Analysis

MORI's latest Political Monitor finds, for the fourth successive month, very little difference between Labour and the Conservatives. Labour has regained a slight lead, but the general picture is one of stability. By a two to one margin, the public remain critical of the way Tony Blair is doing his job. This has not translated into higher levels of satisfaction with Michael Howard; his satisfaction rating now stands at -2, the lowest this year.

MORI's latest Political Monitor finds, for the fourth successive month, very little difference between Labour and the Conservatives. Labour has regained a slight lead, but the general picture is one of stability. By a two to one margin, the public remain critical of the way Tony Blair is doing his job. This has not translated into higher levels of satisfaction with Michael Howard; his satisfaction rating now stands at -2, the lowest this year.

Defence/terrorism remains the most important issue for the British public for the second month in a row.

The key messages are:

1. Voting Intentions: Labour regains small lead over Conservatives

Among the 52% of the electorate who say they are certain to vote in an immediate general election, Labour regains a slight lead of 2 points over the Conservatives (36% to 34%). The Liberal Democrat rating of 22% is very much line with levels recorded during the first quarter of the year.

However, despite the apparent closeness of the parties in the polls, new analysis by MORI chairman Bob Worcester shows that the current and historically unusual Labour lead among women, who are slightly more likely to vote than men, means that on these figures, Labour would still win a general election comfortably. For more details see A Majority Of Over 100 With The Women's Vote? Or, No Overall Majority?

Q) How would you vote if there were a General Election tomorrow?

  January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004
  % % % %
Conservatives 35 35 35 34
Labour 37 36 35 36
Liberal Democrats 21 21 23 22
Other 7 8 7 8

Base: All absolutely certain to vote (c. 1,000 GB adults, 18+)

2. Satisfaction with Prime Minister and Government remains static, but low

Interviews took place before Tuesday's formal announcement that there will be a referendum on an EU constitution, so it is too early to judge its long term impact on the Prime Minister's ratings. The public remain dissatisfied with Tony Blair's performance by a margin of roughly two to one. Thirty-one percent say they are satisfied with the way he is doing his job, and 61% dissatisfied. Satisfaction with the Government also remains unchanged, with two-thirds (65%) dissatisfied with the way the Government is running the country. (64% were dissatisfied in March).

The MORI Economic Optimism Index stands at -18%, showing little difference on March (-22%).

Q) Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way Mr Blair/Mr Howard/Mr Kennedy is doing his job as Prime Minister/leader of the Conservative Party/leader of the Liberal Democrats?

  Blair (Mar) Blair (Apr) Howard (Mar) Howard (Apr) Kennedy (Mar) Kennedy (Apr)
  % % % % % %
Satisfied 32 31 31 28 40 38
Dissatisfied 60 61 28 30 21 25
Don't know 8 8 41 42 40 37
Net satisfied -28 -30 +3 -2 +19 +13

Base: c. 1,000 GB adults, 18+

3. Satisfaction with Howard falling further

Satisfaction with Michael Howard's performance as leader of the Conservative party has moved into the red. Just under three in ten members of the general public (28%) say that they are satisfied, down 3% on March. In contrast, 30% say they are dissatisfied, up 2 points on March.

Forty-two percent of the general public, however, still express no opinion on his performance as leader of the Conservative party. This compares with 46% six months into Iain Duncan Smith's tenure.

Q) Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way Mr Howard is doing his job as leader of the Conservative Party?

  January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004
  % % % %
Satisfied 30 29 31 28
Dissatisfied 22 27 28 30
Don't know 48 43 41 42
Net satisfied +8 +2 +3 -2

Base: c.1,000 GB adults, 18+

Satisfaction with Michael Howard's performance is also down among Tory Supporters. Just over half (55%) are satisfied with his performance, down 7% from 62% last month. Dissatisfaction is little changed, however.

Q) Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way Mr Howard is doing his job as leader of the Conservative Party? (Conservative supporters only)

  January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004
  % % % %
Satisfied 58 59 62 55
Dissatisfied 12 7 15 16
Don't know 30 33 23 30
Net satisfied +46 +52 +47 +39

Base: All Conservative supporters

4. Issues Facing the Country

In the wake of the Madrid terrorist attacks in March and several recent security alerts, Defence and terrorism remains the top issue facing the country for the second month running. Asked unprompted to name the most important issues facing Britain today, 47% of the public mention defence and terrorism - up 6% on March. Race relations and Immigration (36%) has overtaken the NHS (34%) as the second most important issue facing the country. This 36% level is the second highest yet recorded by MORI. It is slightly lower than the 39% recorded in May 2002.

The following table shows the top 5 issues facing the country during April in both 1984 and 1994 and in March and April 2004.

Q) What would you say is the most important issue facing Britain today? What do you see as the other important issues facing Britain today?

April 1984 April 1994 March 2004 April 2004
Unemployment (76%) Unemployment (60%) Defence/terrorism (41%) Defence/terrorism (47%)
Nuclear Weapons (30%) NHS (38%) NHS (35%) Race/Immigration (36%)
Prices/Inflation (16%) Law & Order (33%) Race/Immigration (31%) NHS (34%)
Strikes/Trade Unions (15%) Economy (24%) Education (27%) Education (29%)
NHS and Law & Order (=12%) Education (24%) Law & Order (22%) Law & Order (19%)

Base: c. 1,000 GB adults, 18+

Notes

* Tory supporters are defined as those who say they will vote Conservative at the next General Election

Topline Results

  • MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 1,947 adults aged 18+ at 196 sampling points across Britain.
  • Fieldwork was conducted face-to-face on 15-19 April 2004.
  • Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.
  • Voting figures based on all exclude those who say they would not vote (14%), are undecided (11%) or refuse to name a party (1%).

Q1 How would you vote if there were a General Election tomorrow?IF UNDECIDED OR REFUSED AT Q1Q2 Which party are you most inclined to support?

Base: 1,947 British adults 18+

  %
Conservative 31
Labour 40
Liberal Democrats (Lib Dem) 21
Scottish/Welsh Nationalist 3
Green Party 2
UK Independence Party 1
Other 2
 
Lab lead (177%) +9
 
Would not vote 14
Undecided 11
Refused 1

Q1 How would you vote if there were a General Election tomorrow?IF UNDECIDED OR REFUSED AT Q1Q2 Which party are you most inclined to support?

Base: All absolutely certain to vote (1,045)

  %
Conservative 34
Labour 36
Liberal Democrats (Lib Dem) 22
Scottish/Welsh Nationalist 3
Green Party 2
UK Independence Party 1
Other 2
 
Lab lead (177%) +2
 
Would not vote *
Undecided 8
Refused 1
The headline figures are based on all respondents absolutely certain to vote.

Q3-6 Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way the Government / Mr Blair / Mr Howard / Mr Kennedy are doing their job?

Base: 1,004 British adults 18+

  Satisfied Dissatisfied Don't know Index
  % % % 177%
Government 26 65 9 -39
Blair 31 61 8 -30
Howard 28 30 42 -2
Kennedy 38 25 37 +13

Q7 What would you say is the most important issue facing Britain today?Q8 What do you see as other important issues facing Britain today?

Base: 1,004 British adults 18+

  Q7 Q7/8
  % %
Defence/foreign affairs/international terrorism 30 47
Race relations/immigration/immigrants 20 36
National Health Service/Hospitals 9 34
Education/schools 6 29
Crime/law & order/violence/vandalism 6 19
Pensions/social security 1 10
Economy/economic situation 4 9
Common Market/EU/Europe/Single European Currency 3 9
Housing 1 8
Taxation 2 7
Unemployment/factory closure/lack of industry 2 7
Poverty/inequality 1 6
Transport/public transport * 5
Nuclear weapons/nuclear war/disarmament 2 4
Morality/individual behaviour 1 4
Public services in general 1 3
Drug abuse * 3
Inflation/prices * 2
Local government/council tax * 2
Low pay/minimum wage/fair wages * 2
Pollution/environment 0 2
AIDS * 1
Countryside/rural life * 1
Petrol prices/fuel 0 1
Foot and mouth outbreak/farming crisis * *
Northern Ireland * *
Pound/exchange rate/value of pound * *
Scottish/Welsh Assembly/Devolution Constitutional reform * *
Animal welfare 0 *
GM/GM (Genetically Modified) foods 0 *
Privatisation 0 *
Trade unions/strikes 0 *
Beef/BSE/Mad Cow Disease 0 0
 
Other 4 13
Don't know 4 3

Q9 Do you think that the general economic condition of the country will improve, stay the same, or get worse over the next 12 months?

Base: 1,004 British adults 18+

  %
Improve 15
Stay the same 47
Get worse 33
Don't know 5
 
MORI Economic Optimism Index [EOI] -18

Q10 And how likely would you be to vote in an immediate General Election, on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 means you would be absolutely certain to vote, and 1 means that you would be absolutely certain not to vote?

Base: 1,947 British adults 18+

  %
10 - absolutely certain to vote 53
9 5
8 7
7 4
6 4
5 8
4 1
3 2
2 2
1 - absolutely certain not to vote 12
Don't know 2
Refused *

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