Polling on cuts
Every so often I look at the state of public opinion on the cuts using YouGov data as they regularly poll with the same questions and publish the results.
In summary the gradual shift in public opinion back towards the goverment has gone into reverse, and they appear to have lost the slight – though probably significant – gains they had made. The budget has had a big impact on voting intention figures – this appears to be reflected in the attitude questions that I’ve been tracking.
Whether that’s a permanent shift or a sustained blip, we cannot yet know. My guess would be somewhere between the two -opinion may flow back towards the government in some areas, but there has been a permanent shift for some people. The most recent poll in this series was on April 1st. The government has continued to have poor headlines since then.
The first chart tracks those saying the cuts will have an impact on their lives less those who say they are not. All the charts in this post are net measures (those on one side of the argument less those on the other). This provides one number that best captures movement in public opinion.
The next chart (which also dates back to the last election) tracks those saying the cuts are good for the economy. Here we can see a shift to the government towards the end of last year, but a significant shift away back to the ratings of last summer. While this chart provides comfort for those of us who disagree with the government, polls that probe whether cuts are good in the long term are more positive for ministers.
The next chart tracks net support for the argument that cuts are necessary. YouGov only started asking this question (and those that follow) in February 2011 (after the major shift away from the government during 2010 shown by the previous graph). This chart shows the government clearly winning on this question, but again with a significant shift in recent weeks.
But it is possible to believe that while some cuts are necessary, the government is doing them too quickly, too deeply and unfairly.
The final three charts suggest quite a lot of people are in that camp. The first shows a consistent majority saying the cuts are too deep, but with a move towards the government throughout last year, but which appears to have been reversed recently.
a chart tracking ‘net too quick’ shows a similar pattern.
Finally the government has comprehensively lost the ‘all in it together’ fairness argument. This has always been their weakest argument. This chart goes right back to the general election and reveals doubts even immediatly after the election result. A mild movement towards the government’s position in the last few months of 2012 has now been reversed. This is perhaps not surprising given the unpopularity of the cut in the 50p tax rate. Presenting this as a net figure perhaps does not bring out just bad the government are doing on fairness. The last YouGov poll on this was on April 1st and showed 64 per cent saying the cuts were “being done unfairly” to just 23 per cent saying “fairly”.