David Cameron’s popularity is at its lowest level since before the 2010 general election, new figures from the National Policy Monitor (NPM) study, based at the University of Essex, have revealed.
The findings show Ed Miliband is the most popular among the three party leaders, and will provide encouragement to Labour as much of England prepares to vote in local elections this week.
Respondents in the monthly survey of around 1000 people, conducted by YouGov for the NPM, are asked to score the leaders along a scale from zero to ten, with a higher score indicating greater popularity.
Just after the May 2010 general election, David Cameron’s score stood at 5.1 out of 10. But by March 2012 it had fallen to 3.5 – a drop of 31 per cent over a 34-month period.
Ed Miliband’s score rose from 3.7 in May 2010 to a high-point of 4.4 in October that year, just after he was elected leader of the Labour Party. But by March 2013 it had fallen by 16 per cent to 3.75.
Nick Clegg, meanwhile, has been consistently the least popular of the three leaders since the Autumn of 2010. His score stood at 5.1 just after the last general election, but fell by 40 per cent to 3.04 by March 2013.
Professor Paul Whiteley, Director of the National Policy Monitor, said the poll showed Ed Miliband’s personal standing would have a more positive effect on the Labour vote than his rivals’ would on their partys’ performances. If the trend continued, this could also affect the outcome of the 2015 general election.
“The popularity of the party leaders plays a key role in influencing how people vote in elections in Britain,” he said. “The leader in front will do best, even though he may not be that popular. So Ed Miliband will do more to increase the Labour vote than David Cameron will the Conservative vote and Nick Clegg the Liberal Democrat vote. This is not because the Labour leader is growing more popular over time, but because he is growing more popular relative to his rivals.”
The chart shows, though, that the differences between the leaders are not that great, and all three have lost ground since 2010.
The National Policy Monitor conducts monthly polling on public experiences of and attitudes to the delivery of policy in national and local government, as well as in selected areas of the private sector. It covers a range of policy areas including health, social policy, income maintenance, education, security, defence, transport, the economy and relationships with the EU.
By carrying out monthly internet poll of around 1,000 people building on findings from earlier studies, the NPM aims to create a weather-vane on how the public is reacting to government initiatives. The samples are selected and weighted to be representative of the electorate in Britain.