Saturday, 9 October 2010

The conference season

So, now that it's all over for another year and the dust has settled, just what effect did the three big party conferences have?

Okay, let's look at the opinion polls conducted the conference season. As Dr Wells shows at UK Polling Report, there were small changes during each party's conference week, producing a modest boost to their "voting intention" figures; but at the end of it all everything seems to be back more or less as it was before the conference season started.

The graph in Dr Wells' post shows these boosts during each conference (note the background colour for the dates of each event) and then the slow fall-back to how they had been before. If the same had happened outside of the conference season it is all just about within normal sample variations anyway - it really wasn't that significant.

However, it is by looking at other aspects of the opinion polls, which include a number of varied questions, that a different message emerges. There it seems that the Conservatives did best in regard to how the public view their approach to public spending reductions (or at least an initial slowing, to bring it under control). The shifts (both pro-Tory and anti-Labour) have resulted in the best results for the Blues in this area for something like four months.

Overall, then, it has been a bit like watching some of the traffic on a three-lane road switch lanes for a while and then going back to their original lanes; but with the main policy issues telling a different story. It also has to be said that the Tory conference was by far the best this year, and really came alive on several occasions which the other two rarely came even close to doing.

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