A YouGov focus group reveals what floating voters thought of the first election interviews
YouGov convened an online focus group for The Times last night to analyse undecided voters’ reactions to the Sky/Channel 4 interviews with Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband. The panel, consisting of five male and four female voters from across England, spoke to our researchers throughout the 90 minute television special.
Many of the respondents were impressed by the Labour leader – not least those who might be considered to be outside his natural constituency. Sixty-nine year-old Joe, a widower from south London, was Conservative but is leaning towards Ukip this time. He believed Ed Miliband was “quite confident”, “calm” and gave “some good responses to the questions”.
This view was echoed by Keith, a 52 year-old former Lib Dem from Oldham. He thought the Labour leader’s performance was “very relaxed and confident” and he was surprised by what he saw. “I always thought him to be evasive but tonight he is being very clear and direct in his answers.”
Mr Miliband also managed to alter his perception among erring Labour voters. Forty year-old mother-of-three Jennifer voted Labour in 2010 and was a supporter of David Miliband. However, last night’s TV encounter made her reassess her view of his Labour leader brother. During the session she thought Ed Miliband was “coming across extremely well.”
Two of the panel that were leaning Conservative remained slightly hesitant about the Tory pronouncements on the economy. Twenty year-old Alex from outer London thinks of himself as a natural Conservative but says the party’s “‘long-term economic plan’ needs to be spelled out if we buy into it.” He explained that it “has been drummed into my head so much I do like to believe it, however I want to see concrete evidence.”
This view was echoed by Alistair. He has previously backed Labour but is concerned about the future of the economy. While he believes the Prime Minister “has a plan which unfortunately is probably better than Miliband”, he seemed unconvinced by the recovery. “Let’s hope the economy is improving,” he said. “Everyone on TV keeps telling us that it is. So it must be.”
The results of this online focus group were originally published in The Times