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…)

My Conservative Conference Diary – Tuesday

By Lord Ashcroft

An honour to welcome the Prime Minister to the annual ConHome party with the 1922 Committee, which has become a regular feature on the conference agenda. It was especially good of her to turn up on her birthday (what better way to celebrate the occasion?) She was on tub-thumping form, and took the opportunity of reminding the audience that the implementation phase of Brexit (not a “transition period”) would last no more than two years. As well as a rousing cheer she was met with an uplifting chorus of ‘Happy Birthday To You’, boldly led (I can exclusively reveal) by Nigel Evans. The event was generously sponsored by The City UK and Heathrow Airport, whose boss, John Holland-Kaye, she had met only recently: “When Philip and I were flying off on our summer holidays, the chief executive of Heathrow came and told us all about their future expansion. I suppose that’s what being Prime Minister is all about,” she said ruefully (more…)

My Conservative Conference Diary – Monday

By Lord Ashcroft

For a party organisation, a snap general election is a bit like an unannounced Ofsted inspection, as Paul Goodman sagely observed at yesterday’s ConHome fringe meeting on party reform. Quite a revealing one, in the most recent case. Many of the conclusions of the party’s election review focus on narrowing the gap between day-to-day operations and a war footing, and this makes sense – “a snap election should be snap for them and not for us,” as someone close to the process likes to put it. The plans for long-term engagement with younger and ethnic minority voters are also welcome, and yet… familiar. The sense of déjà vu comes from 2005, when I distinctly remember arguing that rather than burn through money on expensive and certainly pointless poster campaigns, proper investment should be made in enduring projects like this that would bear real fruit. In politics as in so many things, the seemingly urgent has a way of crowding out the important. Maybe this time it will be different (more…)

My Conservative Conference Diary – Sunday

By Lord Ashcroft

In many years of listening to voters in my political research, the same complaints come up again and again: politicians don’t listen, they always break their promises, that sort of thing. One such theme that used to be a regular but which we have not heard for a while, strangely enough, is “the parties are all the same”. You can certainly argue this is a good thing, in the sense that democracy ought to be about a real choice. On the other hand, it also means we have a principal Opposition party that seems intent on turning London into Caracas. It was heartening to hear Theresa May’s staunch defence of free market capitalism which, for all its imperfections, remains the most effective – indeed, the only – system for raising living standards and bringing a measure of prosperity to billions of people around the world. The surprising thing, considering where British politics was only a few years ago, was that it has to be done at all. As Mrs. Thatcher reflected in her memoirs, “in politics there are no final victories… arguments are never finally won (more…)

The Conservative brand – and how voters compare the Labour and Tory agendas with their own

By Lord Ashcroft

Yesterday I set out my two main observations from the research that went into The Lost Majority, my book on the 2017 election that is published this week. One was that while the Conservative voting coalition in June was bigger than the one that elected David Cameron two years ago, it was also different: older, more working class, more modestly educated, more socially and culturally conservative, and more pro-Brexit. Those who switched away from the party were disproportionately likely to be younger, graduates, professionals, and to be more socially liberal, and to have voted to remain in the EU. While drawing more working class voters to the Tories is a significant achievement, the party will need to be able to reach further beyond these dividing lines to win in the future, especially if 42 per cent of the vote is not enough for an overall majority.

The other was that in the election campaign and its outcome, the Conservative brand has taken a proper battering (more…)