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…)

State of the Nation: my new polling on the political landscape and the battle lines for the next election

By Lord Ashcroft

The Conservative Party conference that opens today takes place at a more volatile and unpredictable time than any previous gathering I can remember. My new research, including an 8,000-sample poll, helps to make sense of what is going on by showing what the voters themselves make of the unfolding drama.

 

The Brexit Saga, part 94

When asked what they would most like to happen with Brexit, nearly eight in ten Conservative Leave voters choose Boris Johnson’s position of leaving the EU on 31 October with or without a deal. However, only 32% of them think this is the most likely outcome. One in five of them think we will leave after the current deadline, and nearly a quarter believe we will end up remaining in the EU. Overall, 36% back the PM’s policy, including six in ten 2017 Conservatives, nearly seven in ten Leave voters overall, and more than half of Labour Leavers. A further 15% said they would prefer to leave with a good deal even if this meant waiting beyond October, and nearly four in ten – including three quarters of remainers and just over half of Tory remainers – said they would like to see the UK remain in the EU (more…)

The public’s verdict on our political class? They waver between fury and contempt

By Lord Ashcroft

This article was first published in the Mail on SundayThe full report and data tables are below.

On the face of it, the government is in real trouble. The Supreme Court ruling against the Prime Minister follows a succession of parliamentary defeats, defections, expulsions and daily headlines about turmoil and chaos. But it is a good rule of thumb in politics that the noisier it gets, the more it pays to take a step back, a deep breath, and a good look at the bigger picture.

My latest research, published today, looks at the fundamentals: how voters have reacted to the drama not just of the last few weeks but the years since the referendum, and how this week’s events fit into the longer story. For many people, and not just among those who backed Leave in the increasingly distant 2016 referendum, that story is one of frustration and failure – or, worse, deliberate actions to delay Brexit for as long as possible or stop it altogether. That is the context in which many see the Supreme Court’s decision. Many of the Brexit supporters we spoke to were not so much angered as bemused by the ruling: “they seem to have made up a law and found Boris guilty of breaking it (more…)

My Northern Ireland survey finds the Union on a knife-edge

By Lord Ashcroft

Last month my polling in Scotland found a small lead for independence. My latest research, a survey in Northern Ireland, brings equally gloomy news for unionists: a slender lead for Irish unification in the event of a referendum on whether or not Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom.

In my poll, 45% said they would vote to stay in the UK, and 46% said they would choose to leave and join the Republic of Ireland – a lead of 51% to 49% for unification when we exclude don’t knows and those who say they would not vote. This is in fact a statistical tie and well within the margin of error. Such a result might also reflect the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding Brexit, the Irish border and its potential effect on life in the province, which could recede when the outcome is settled. Be that as it may, the result underlines what could be at stake in the quest for a workable Brexit solution on the island of Ireland (more…)