MORI Political Monitor Analysis - Howard Making Little Progress Among The Electorate

Tory Leader Michael Howard's worry on seeing the latest MORI/Financial Times Poll findings will be that he has so far failed to take the Tories any closer to an election victory than when he was first elected Leader last November. This is despite the high profile Howard has taken over the past three months and the heightened morale among Tories in the Houses of Parliament since he replaced Iain Duncan Smith.

Tory Leader Michael Howard's worry on seeing the latest MORI/Financial Times Poll findings will be that he has so far failed to take the Tories any closer to an election victory than when he was first elected Leader last November. This is despite the high profile Howard has taken over the past three months and the heightened morale among Tories in the Houses of Parliament since he replaced Iain Duncan Smith.

Last November when asked "Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way Mr Howard is doing his job as Leader of the Conservative Party?", 17 percent of the British public said they were dissatisfied with his performance. Now, 27 percent are dissatisfied - an increase of 10 percentage points. Over the same period, those satisfied with Michael Howard have gone from 26 percent to 29 percent - only up by 3 percentage points. This is a swing of 3.5 percentage points to dissatisfaction since his election. Not much, but the wrong direction.

The swing towards dissatisfaction has been most pronounced among women (6 percent negative swing) and those aged between 35 and 54 years (9 percent). The percentage who said they were undecided about his performance in the first month of his leadership (57 percent) has been drifting towards dissatisfaction and is now 43 percent, ten points to dissatisfied, and only three to satisfied. This is similar to what happened to his two predecessors, William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith.

Doing better among Conservative supporters

Conservative Central Office can take some comfort from improving morale among Conservative supporters however, who had mostly written off Duncan Smith. Of those now intending to vote Conservative, 59 percent say they are satisfied with the job Michael Howard is doing, compared with 7 percent who are dissatisfied. The figures for Iain Duncan Smith in October 2003 were 36 percent satisfied and 45 percent dissatisfied.

Labour now has a single point lead over the Conservatives among those certain to vote, compared to a two point lead in January. In November after Howard's election as Tory Leader, Labour was also one point ahead of the Tories. Now the figures are Labour (36 percent), Conservatives (35 percent) and the Liberal Democrats 21 percent.

Currently 52 percent of the electorate say they are 'absolutely certain' to vote, which compares to the 59 percent turnout at the last election. On the current figures, this projects to an overall majority for Labour of over 80 seats in the House of Commons, cutting their majority in half.

On a higher turnout, Labour would do even better.

Topline Results

  • MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 1,990 adults aged 18+ at 194 sampling points across Britain.
  • Fieldwork was conducted face-to-face on 12-16 February 2004.
  • Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.
  • Voting figures are based on all those who say they are certain to vote in an immediate General Election (currently 52 percent of adults).
  • The figures exclude those who are undecided (6 percent) or refuse to name a party (2 percent).

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: 1,990 British adults 18+

  %
Conservative 32
Labour 39
Liberal Democrats (Lib Dem) 20
Scottish/Welsh Nationalist 3
Green Party 2
UK Independence Party 1
Other 3
 
Lab lead (177%) +7
 
Would not vote 13
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 (1,064)

  %
Conservative 35
Labour 36
Liberal Democrats (Lib Dem) 21
Scottish/Welsh Nationalist 3
Green Party 2
UK Independence Party 1
Other 2
 
Lab lead (177%) +1
 
Would not vote *
Undecided 6
Refused 2
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: 1,029 British adults 18+

  Satisfied Dissatisfied Don't know Index
  % % % %
Government 27 64 9 -37
Blair 31 60 9 -29
Howard 29 27 43 +2
Kennedy 39 23 37 +16

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: 1,029 British adults 18+

  Q7 Q7/8
  % %
National Health Service/Hospitals 12 37
Race relations/immigration/immigrants 20 35
Education/schools 8 33
Defence/foreign affairs/international terrorism 15 28
Crime/law & order/violence/vandalism 9 26
Pensions/social security 3 13
Taxation 3 10
Economy/economic situation 4 9
Unemployment/factory closure/lack of industry 3 8
Common Market/EU/Europe/Single European Currency 3 7
Drug abuse 1 6
Transport/public transport 1 6
Housing 1 5
Morality/individual behaviour 1 5
Poverty/inequality 1 5
Local government/council tax * 4
Nuclear weapons/nuclear war/disarmament 1 3
Pollution/environment 1 3
Public services in general 1 3
Inflation/prices * 2
Low pay/minimum wage/fair wages * 2
Countryside/rural life * 1
Petrol prices/fuel * 1
Pound/exchange rate/value of pound * 1
Privatisation * 1
GM/GM (Genetically Modified) foods 0 1
Scottish/Welsh Assembly/Devolution Constitutional reform 0 1
AIDS * *
Animal welfare * *
Beef/BSE/Mad Cow Disease * *
Foot and mouth outbreak/farming crisis * *
Northern Ireland 0 0
Trade unions/strikes 0 0
 
Other 5 14
Don't know 6 5

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: 1,029 British adults 18+

  %
Improve 17
Stay the same 42
Get worse 35
Don't know 6
 
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: 1,990 British adults 18+Base: 1,990 British adults 18+

  %
10 - absolutely certain to vote 52
9 5
8 6
7 5
6 3
5 8
4 2
3 3
2 2
1 - absolutely certain not to vote 11
Don't know 2
Refused *

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