Have you decided yet? Who will win the debate? Will you put up with Boris to get Brexit? Week 2 of my General Election Dashboard

By Lord Ashcroft

In this pre-debate, pre-manifesto stage of the campaign, my latest round of polling finds no signs of a seismic shift in opinion so far. We find a similar picture to last week’s, including a clear lead for Boris Johnson over Jeremy Corbyn as best Prime Minister and, in a forced choice, an overall preference for a Johnson-led Tory government over a Corbyn-led Labour one. Leave voters, however, appear more settled in their voting decisions at this stage than remainers. There are some small changes, but most are well within the margin of error.

When we ask people how likely they are to vote for each party on a 100-point scale, we find the Conservatives’ mean score up slightly since last week from 33 to 36, with the other parties unchanged (more…)

Think this impeachment hearing’s the end of Trump? Don’t bet on it

By Lord Ashcroft

This article was first published in the Mail on Sunday

For now, all eyes are on the extraordinary spectacle of a televised attempt to impeach Donald Trump. Yet only a year from now, the presidential election will be over, the votes counted and the victory speeches made. By whom? Most polls currently suggest it will be a Democrat who finds himself or herself huddled with the a transition team while Mr Trump contemplates a return to his newly-chosen home state of Florida.

My advice is that anyone planning to bet their house on such an outcome had better line up a friendly neighbour with a spare room, just in case (more…)

‘He put the milk in before taking the teabag out!’, ‘He’s a proper nutcase’, ‘Who’s going to pay me for a four-day week?’ My election focus groups in Stoke, Bolton and West Brom

By Lord Ashcroft

Last week my election focus groups took us to three constituencies in which the Liberal Democrats were hoping to corner the market in disgruntled remainers. This week we have visited three Labour-held, Leave-voting seats of the kind the Conservatives are looking to regain in their quest for a majority: Stoke-on-Trent North, Bolton North East, and the seat held until recently by Labour’s deputy leader, West Bromwich East.

 

Oven-ready

Boris Johnson’s opening election broadcast, ostensibly filmed during his tea break at CCHQ, had garnered an unusual degree of attention. “I thought it was for Children in Need;” “I thought it was a joke at first, but some people will like that;” “He put the milk in before taking the teabag out!” “He said, ‘our deal is oven-ready, sling it in the microwave,’ and I thought, you’ve never cooked a thing in your life, mate, have you?” (more…)

Election priorities, best PM, preferred government, trust on the economy, best party on Brexit… introducing my General Election Dashboard

By Lord Ashcroft

Each week until the election I will publish my General Election Dashboard, showing the results of my weekly 4,000-sample surveys tracking the intensity of each party’s support among different kinds of voters, crucial measures like best Prime Minister, preference of government, best party on Brexit and what people have noticed in the news, as well as the reaction to topical questions as they arise. Together with my weekly focus groups of different kinds of seats throughout the country, this will help explain the dynamics of the campaign and the factors that will determine the outcome on 12 December (more…)

‘He’s a bit Trumpy for me’, ‘She seems quite right-wing’, ‘There’ll be riots in the streets!’: my election focus groups in Finchley, Cambridge and Richmond

By Lord Ashcroft

My general election focus group tour has begun with a look at three heavily remain-voting constituencies that the newly confident Liberal Democrats hope to take next month: Cambridge, which they aim to win from Labour, and Finchley & Golders Green and Richmond Park, both of which they hope to take back from the Conservatives.

 

‘A bit tantrummy’

There was not a great deal of excitement about the prospect of going to the polls again, and some doubted it was even necessary: “It’s a kind of vanity election. I think he was so annoyed he threw his toys out of the pram and said ‘right, let’s call their bluff, let’s call an election.’ I think he could have swallowed his pride and pushed that legislation through;” “He wants to know he was voted in by the people. He is quite an egomaniac so he needs to know that;” “It seemed a bit tantrummy.” But most conceded that with parliament as it was – and a PM chosen by his party rather than the wider electorate – an election was the only way to break the deadlock and move forward (more…)

Trump’s final countdown? It’s one year to the next presidential election

By Lord Ashcroft

It’s the first Tuesday in November, which means that 52 weeks from today, Americans will be voting on whether or not to give Donald Trump a second term in the White House. My latest research sheds some light on what voters are thinking with a year to go – and why the outcome is anything but settled. The full findings are set out in my report, Trump’s Final Countdown?, but here are five of the main points.

 

Trump’s 2016 voters approve of his performance – but with wide variations

My 15,000-sample survey found voters disapproving of President Trump’s performance by 56% to 40%. More people said they “strongly disapproved” than the total with a positive view. (more…)

England and the Union

By Lord Ashcroft

In August, my research in Scotland found a slim majority for independence. In September, my poll in Northern Ireland found a tiny margin for leaving the United Kingdom and joining the Republic. This month, to round out the picture, I have surveyed voters in England to see how they feel about the union, especially the parts of it that voted to remain in the EU, and how they see the prospect of one or more of the home nations deciding to go its own way.

 

Who benefits?

Many English voters think Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively benefit more from the union than the rest of the UK. This is particularly the case among those who voted Leave in the EU referendum, and especially among Conservative Leavers – two thirds of whom say Scotland benefits most from being part of the union, compared to one in five who think all parts of the UK benefit equally from its membership (more…)

The trouble with the “true Brexiteers”: final day of my Conservative Conference Diary

By Lord Ashcroft

Twitter wags have complained that the omnipresent message of the week – “Get Brexit done. Invest in our NHS, schools and police” – means that the conference centre is emblazoned with a list of things the Tories have not delivered. This seems unfair – parties need to look forward not back, as that Mr Blair used to say – but as I found in my most recent research, many voters are treating the “invest” part of the proposition with more than a little scepticism, even if they are pinning their hopes on the first.

I can’t help noticing, by the way, that some of those demanding that we “get Brexit done” had the chance to do exactly that three times but voted not to do so on each occasion. What they mean is that we should “get Brexit done” on terms they find acceptable. Fine – but as so often in politics, it depends how we conjugate the verb: I’m defending an important principle, you are being obstructive, he is undermining democracy (more…)

Perhaps Johnson really is the British Trump – and voters like it: my Conservative Conference Diary

By Lord Ashcroft

As the story about Jennifer Arcuri rumbles on, people in quiet corners here in Manchester occasionally ask each other if she will spell real trouble for Boris Johnson. To which the answer seems to be, why this one in particular? The surrounding allegations about the PM’s behaviour towards women – heavily denied, it should be noted – have merged with complaints about his supposedly inflammatory use of language into a narrative about his fitness for office. All this has a familiar ring about it. The sense of déjà vu comes from the early months of the Trump presidency, when his opponents would latch on to each new story about his personal conduct in the hope that surely now his supporters would realise their terrible mistake. Unmoved, Trump voters had long since decided that they could tolerate his foibles as the price of getting things done: “we didn’t elect him to be a saint, we elected him to be a leader,” as one memorably told us during my US research.

I suspect something similar is happening here (more…)

Could Tory MPs be whipped to vote that they have no confidence in their own government? My Conservative Conference Diary

By Lord Ashcroft

In most spheres of life, whether in politics or business or anything else, when trying to predict what will happen in an uncertain situation you usually have some kind of solid foundation from which to project. The thing that makes it so hard to forecast where things will go with parliament and Brexit is that there are no firm assumptions from which to build. The combination of the PM’s determination to hold an election, Labour’s refusal to do so until no deal is off the table combined with the SNP’s newfound resolve to topple Boris Johnson potentially takes this uncertainty to new heights, or depths. Could we see Conservative MPs whipped to vote that they do not have confidence in their government, and the official Opposition whipped to vote that they do?  (more…)