On Wednesday David Cameron will have been Prime Minister for 100 days. On behalf of the Sun newspaper, we asked the public how they thought the government had done so far. 43% think the Coalition Government has performed better than the last government, 26% worse. David Cameron's own net approval rating stands at +20, George Osborne +7 and Nick Clegg +5. These are significantly more positive than that of the Government as a whole, whose net approval rating only just sneaks into positive territory on +1.
The majority of the public has confidence in the Government’s ability to run the economy (55%) and there is widespread confidence in its ability to cut the deficit (62%). However, the public are generally pessimistic about its ability to deliver in other areas – less than half have confidence in its ability to improve the NHS (32%)and schools (32%), cut crime (33%) or immigration (39%) and to protect the country against terrorism (42%).
Asked about some of the specific policies the Government has introduced or announced during its time in office, the most popular were aiming to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by 2015 (80%), limiting housing benefit (72%), cutting the number of MPs (77%) and protecting NHS spending (79%). The least popular were the increase in VAT (supported by only 22%) and the free schools policy (supported by 37%).
Opinions on the Lib Dems are rather mixed. 55% think they have moderated the Government and made it more centrist, and 60% think going into the Coalition was the responsible thing for the Lib Dems to do given the economic crisis. However, 59% think it involved selling out their principles, and 62% agree with the statement that it is no longer clear what the Liberal Democrats stand for (including 38% of their own supporters). 34% of people think that the government would have been worse had the Conservatives been in power alone, compared to 23% who think it would have been better.
The public still don’t expect the Coalition to last the distance. Only 14% expect it to last more than four years, 47% expect it to last less than two years. Asked what they expect the result of the next election to be, 40% expect the Conservatives to retain power (27% outright and 13% in a coalition), compared to 28% who think Labour will win (21% outright, and 7% in coalition).
One of things that may put pressure on the coalition in the months ahead is the AV referendum. In the same poll we asked our regular question on how people would vote in the referendum – 37% would vote yes, 38% would vote no. This question has bounced about a bit from poll to poll, but it is the first time we have recorded the NO camp in the lead and suggests there is a downwards trend in support for AV. Labour voters, who our polls initially showed supporting AV, now back First Past the Post by 46% to 34%.