September ThinkTank survey:the Olympics, the US elections, and the Cabinet reshuffle
UK opinion formers overwhelmingly think the Olympics and Paralympics were a success and their expectations regarding the legacy have been exceeded. Barack Obama is seen as the most likely candidate to win the US election, and the better candidate for the USA itself and for Britain’s interests. Respondents are critical towards the recent Cabinet reshuffle, with most believing it will does not address the Government’s shortcomings.
YouGovStone interviewed 952 members of its ThinkTank of 4000+ influential Britons between 17/09/2012 and 26/09/2012, with panellists including those drawn from politics, business, media, academia, NGOs, and the public sector.
A week after the dust at the Olympic Park had settled after the Paralympics, YouGovStone surveyed its panel of 4,000 UK opinion formers to examine perceptions of the London 2012 Games. It is perhaps no surprise that respondents are hugely positive about the Games with 96% believing that they have had a positive effect on the image of the UK internationally. They are also very positive about the legacy left by the Games: two thirds believe that they delivered a ‘Sporting inspiration for young Britons’, and also the successful ‘Regeneration of a deprived part of London’.
Just under half also see that ‘a skillset for delivering large-scale infrastructure projects’ has been achieved, though 44% are concerned about the cost of the whole thing, while 39% are expecting a legacy of greater British sporting success for years to come.
These findings are in sharp contrast with the responses to an almost identical question asked of the panel in May 2012. Back then, respondents were pessimistic about the legacy of the Olympics: the top choice was ‘a large bill for British tax payers’ (56%), followed by success regeneration of the area. Expectations regarding legacy was low, indeed 40% selected ‘no tangible benefits outside London’. This picture has now reversed – scores for positive legacy indicators have gone up across the board, whereas negative judgements decreased, as the Games exceeded the opinion formers’ expectations.
Opinion formers also believe the Games were delivered well: 98% think the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games have been run successfully.
Respondents are also very positive about the quality of the coverage of the Games. 89% state that the BBC did a ‘good job’ broadcasting the Olympics; only 3% think it did a ‘poor job’. Figures are also positive, but slightly lower, for Channel 4’s broadcasting of the Paralympics: 68% believe the channel did a good job, with just 9% negative of its coverage despite some early criticism.
Turning now to the US elections, a majority of the influentials predict that Barack Obama will win, either by a narrow victory (78%) or a with a decisive victory (15%). Only 4% believe Mitt Romney will succeed. (However, this was asked before the recent Presidential Debate on the 04th October). The respondents also predominantly see Obama as being the better candidate for the USA over the next four years.
Most respondents also estimate that a second term for Obama would have the greater benefit for British interests (71%); only 10% state this about Mitt Romney. However, in this question there is some differentiation between respondents from the public sector, (79% for Obama) and the private sector (only 69% for Obama).
The Cabinet reshuffle
Opinion leaders were also asked to evaluate the recent Cabinet reshuffle. Overall, they are rather critical of the reshuffle: 77% agree or strongly agree that ‘it has failed to address the Government’s shortcomings’. Respondents working in health are particularly likely to agree, at 83%. Furthermore, nearly two thirds of respondents hold the view that there should have been more women appointed in the Cabinet (63%). A majority of respondents (57%) also do not think the reshuffle will improve the work of the Government overall; only 23% agree that it will.
The reshuffle is not seen to help the Government overall; from a party political perspective, it is also not seen as helping the Conservative party, which saw the greatest number of ministerial changes. Only 15% of respondents think the party’s standing in the country will improve following the reshuffle.
The replacement of Justine Greening with Patrick McLoughlin as Transport Secretary has also sparked debate that the Government is softening its stance on Heathrow, and certainly the ThinkTank believes this. 71% of respondents believe that the reshuffle has made a third runway at Heathrow more likely.
Asked whether George Osborne should stick to his ‘Plan A’ for the recovery, respondents are divided. 37% believe he should continue with the current economic policy, but 54% disagree. The split is even more narrow for respondents working in business, where a plurality (47%) are for the continuation of ‘Plan A’, but 43% are against the current approach.
This opposition to Osborne’s economic policy is reflected in his net approval ratings. Only 20% of respondents now believe he is doing a good job, compared to 59% stating he is doing a poor job, giving Osborne a net score of -39. This is down significantly from his score in May (-23), and may reflect the poor economic performance of the UK over the summer. For respondents in the public sector, his performance is seen even more critically, with a net score of -50.
This effect however has not damaged the Prime Minister, whose rating actually lifted slightly on the May levels, to -7 in September. Nick Clegg’s ratings continue to plummet, with 68% of respondents now claiming he is doing a poor job, and a net score of -57. Following a recent lift, Ed Miliband’s ratings have also dropped again slightly, to a net score of -32.