Is this the day that will decide the next election?

Is this the day that will decide the next election?

Will Osborne’s big gamble succeed?

Well we are here at least – what will almost certainly be the defining day of the coalition government. If Osborne & co have got this right then the this will be seen in an improving economy as we get nearer to 2015 which could produce a second victory for a Cameron-led government, with or without the Liberal Democrats.

If the Osborne medicine is wrong then the political consequences for the coalition partners could be dire and Ed Miliband might be the next prime minister.

The critical things are not the specific measures but whether the overall government is judged to be competent. People will accept pain if they have confidence that those who are inflicting it know what they are doing and that in the medium to long term these are the right decisions.

There’ll be a mass of polling in the next few days and the most useful indicators are voting intention and the responses to questions that have been asked in the same standardised way over the months and years. So leader and government approval ratings and the more generalised “best party on the economy” are the ones to be looking for.

It’s also perhaps best to wait a bit. No doubt a number of firms are ready to get instant reaction and we’ll get some numbers tonight. Be a bit cautious about these. We’ve seen on many occasions with budget statements how the instant polling has come up with a very different view compared with those surveys carried out a day or so later.

I also have a strong preference for phone surveys over internet ones and these, inevitably, might take a little longer.

Mike Smithson

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