The Mail gives Miliband a boost

The Mail gives Miliband a boost

One recent change has been a notable upswing in Ed Miliband’s approval ratings. He does still trail David Cameron by a significant margin but his net rating has climbed from -31% last time to -24% now. This after a week in which the Daily Mail attacked Miliband’s wife Justine and mocked the kitchen arrangements of their home.

One should never ascribe poll movements to specific events (ordinary voters don’t pay nearly as much attention to politics as enthusiasts like ourselves) but the improvement in his approval rating appears due in large part to Labour voters rallying around their leader. His net rating among Labour voters rising from +34% to +50% in a week. Attacks from a familiar foe such as the Mail may do more for Mr Miliband than any policy announcement.

Looking more generally at party leaders, we conducted a bit of an experiment this week with how voters see each of the party leaders. To assemble a list of adjectives we asked voters to simply type in the three positive things and three negative things about each of David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage. Taking the answers people gave there we produced two lists, one of positive adjectives and one of negatives and asked voters which applied to each leader.

Given the way politics is viewed generally these days it is perhaps unsurprising that the most popular answers all tended to be negative. For David Cameron it was “Out of touch” (38%), “Smug” (36%) and “Arrogant” (36%) before “Confident” (33%). For Ed Miliband it was “Weak” (32%), “Boring” (31%), “Clueless” (26%) with 22% calling him “Intelligent”.

Nick Clegg was described as “Untrustworthy” by 23% of voters while 32% called Nigel Farage “Racist”. Again, not to ascribe poll results to particular events but fieldwork for this survey encompassed the UKIP leader’s pledge to repeal laws against racial discrimination.

What’s interesting is that the four main party leaders (with apologies to Nicola Sturgeon and Natalie Bennett) appear to fit into two distinct categories.

For David Cameron and Nigel Farage the most popular positive words are to do with confidence and strength while the negative words are to do with smugness and arrogance, the natural downsides of each of those adjectives.

For Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, voters think they’re intelligent and caring and fair but also weak with 23% calling Clegg in particular “a follower”.

It all sounds a bit like a John Hughes film with the jocks (here meaning the US term for athletes rather than the derogatory term for Scots) on one side and the nerds on the other. Neither particularly appealing and neither able to combine the positive elements of both groups. But then I suppose if anyone was then the polls wouldn’t be as close as they are.