Where the parties stand – and more on that second EU referendum…

By Lord Ashcroft

Earlier this week I published the findings of my latest focus groups to explore how voters around the country saw things seven eventful months on from the general election. My new poll underlines that despite what has felt like the frenetic pace of politics for those who follow its twists and turns, surprisingly little has changed. There is little in the numbers to comfort either party.

In my post-election research for The Lost Majority I found only 28 per cent saying they thought the country was on the right track. This week that number is unchanged, with nearly half – including seven in ten of those who voted to remain in the EU – saying things are heading in the wrong direction (more…)

“Our cup has overflowed with political stuff. There’s only so much we want to take in”: my latest focus groups

By Lord Ashcroft

Of the 31 weeks since the general election – an experience most Conservatives would rather forget – how many have been good ones for the government? Much has happened in politics since June, and little of it could be said to have lifted the spirits. Yet the opposition has failed to open up the clear lead they might have expected over what has often seemed a hapless governing party, and surveys show the Tory rating to be all but unchanged since polling day. To help shed light on this curious state of affairs I held focus groups last week in three constituencies as politics once again got underway: Battersea, which the Conservatives lost last year to Labour; Walsall North, which they gained; and Wakefield, which they hoped they would gain but didn’t, despite seeing their vote share in the seat rise by eleven points (more…)

“We have to acknowledge that Trump could be re-elected”: my interview with Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook

By Lord Ashcroft

As Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook has seen the forces at work in American politics more closely than most. I interviewed him last week (you can listen to our full conversation here) at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where he is working on a project to protect democratic systems from cyber attacks and defend the integrity of elections, an issue that is close to his heart after the experience of 2016. Did he think the Russians had swung things for Donald Trump?

“I don’t think it matters whether it was a deciding factor in the election or not. The fact of the matter is, some people out there got information the Russians deliberately put into the bloodstream that was misleading, and it was done in an effort to help Donald Trump win (more…)

Ashcroft In America podcast: my interview with Robby Mook

By Lord Ashcroft

Robby Mook was Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager, securing more votes than for any other candidate in presidential election history other than Barack Obama. I caught up with him at his new perch at Harvard University to talk about Russian interference, fake news, what Hillary was like as a candidate, the prospects for a second Trump term and what Democrats need to do to prevent it.

 

The People and President Trump: One year on

By Lord Ashcroft

Last week I wrote about how American voters – particularly the ones who supported Donald Trump last November – thought he was doing a year after they elected him to the White House. (You can hear them in their own words in the latest Ashcroft In America podcast). My new polling on how Americans see their President and some of the controversies that surround him completes the picture.

Despite the perpetual furore that surrounds President Trump, the vast majority of those who voted for him remain happy with their decision. Those who chose him positively, rather than as the lesser of two evils, are especially sure they made the right choice. On the other side of the equation, so are those who voted for Hillary Clinton. Not surprisingly, then, the country remains sharply divided as to the merits of its leader – a division that could hardly be missed when we asked our 13,500 respondents what word or phrase first came to mind when they thought of him (more…)

Brexit poll: Voters think EU aims to punish Britain

By Lord Ashcroft

Voters are losing confidence that the government will be able to secure a good Brexit deal for Britain, according to my latest survey. The poll, conducted this week, also finds that most think the EU’s objective is to punish Britain and stop other countries leaving, and that Remain and Leave voters have different priorities for the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with EU countries.

With talks once again underway in Brussels, my research shows that both Remain and Leave voters are less sure about the prospect of a good outcome than they were before the general election. In March, before the election was called, I asked voters to say how confident they were that Theresa May and her team would be able to negotiate a good deal on a scale from zero (no confidence at all) to 100 (total confidence). The average answer then was 52, but this has fallen to 42 in my new survey, conducted this week (more…)

One year after Trump’s election, his voters still see him as a hero

By Lord Ashcroft

This article was first published at TIME.com

 

“I think he’s doing good. I think he’s what we needed to shake things up in this country.” “The stock market’s liking it. He’s doing well for my 401K.” “He’s trying. Nothing’s going to happen overnight, but he’s sure as hell trying.” The experts and commentators will have plenty to say about the year since Donald Trump was elected, but these remarks from voters who backed the president last November may well say a lot more about where he stands politically than the headline numbers, some of which put his approval ratings at a record low.

Last year my research team spent seven weeks in the US listening to Americans as they weighed their decision (observing, among other things, the striking parallels between Trump and Brexit). Returning last week to Wisconsin and Nevada, we found robust support for the President among those who had put him in office. He remains their guy, doing his best to change the way things are done in Washington and to put ordinary Americans at the heart of the political agenda, to the evident horror and dismay of those who have long profited from the status quo (more…)

Ashcroft In America podcast – election anniversary edition

By Lord Ashcroft

A year on from Donald Trump’s election, the Ashcroft In America team returned to find out how real voters think the President is doing so far.

Theresa May’s speech: no “retreat in the face of difficulty”

By Lord Ashcroft

At the beginning of the week I wrote that most people would be paying even less attention to the party conferences this year than they usually do: with very few exceptions, memorable conference moments are the ones leaders wish had never happened.

Unfortunately for the Prime Minister, we have just witnessed one of those moments. The security implications aside, the so-called comedian interrupting Theresa May with a P45 at the supposed behest of Boris Johnson was a sideshow. But it was agonising to watch as she struggled to regain her voice; the Tory faithful in the hall and the most cynical reporters were at one in willing her to recover (more…)

My Conservative Conference Diary – Wednesday

By Lord Ashcroft

As if the conference were not already beset with rivalry and intrigue, we now have the Battle of the Lanyards. Most attendees wear their passes on bright blue cords sponsored by Tate & Lyle, but a rearguard action has been launched by British Sugar, keen to promote their home-grown product with a lanyard of their own, featuring the Union flag. Tate & Lyle are no strangers to the hazards of politics. Gerald Mason, the company’s senior vice president, once promised Liam Fox a lifetime supply of sugar if he could successfully conclude a free trade deal with Cuba, and on returning to the company’s HQ received a stern lecture about the Bribery Act. “I got a bit overexcited,” he explains (more…)