FlyResearch poll: week seven update
London based online market research agency FlyResearch has been issuing weekly polls to its research panel of over 3000 people throughout the coronavirus lockdown in the UK, in order to project how the outbreak and the implementing of social distancing has been impacting the daily life of UK citizens. In conversation with The Parliamentary Review, managing partner Greg Ward discusses the poll findings for the seventh week of polling [commencing May 11], which suggested that despite the unveiling of the government’s lockdown exit strategy, it is yet to arrest the slide in the rate of panellists supportive of its response to the crisis.
Addressing the latest crop of findings, Ward said: “Looking at the wellbeing of our panellists first and foremost, we have seen no change in the 55 per cent of respondents who polled in to say that they had suffered no physical symptoms for a third successive week. A marginal one per cent increase, from 36 per cent to 37 per cent, was seen in the number of panellists telling us that they had been struggling emotionally.
“If we adjust the focus to look at how the friends, family and associates of our panel have been coping, the numbers of those struggling emotionally appears to have stabilised compared to last week. However, we have, unfortunately, seen an increase in the rate of respondents telling us that they know somebody who has passed away as a result of Covid-19.”
That figure stands at 11 per cent in week seven of polling, compared to ten per cent recorded in week five [the week commencing April 27].
However, the gradual increase that had been seen in previous weeks seems to have subsided, which in Ward’s view is a reasonable expectation given official data indicating that the rate of new cases is in decline.
Ward added: “Looking at other figures, we are seeing more positive indications as our panellists have shown a transition from more negative emotions toward more positive ones.
“46 per cent of panel members now describe themselves as ‘concerned’ about the future, with just 16 per cent reporting that they are ‘scared’. In contrast, 38 per cent polled in as feeling ‘hopeful’ of the future, with 19 per cent saying they felt ‘stoic’.”
However, Ward expressed some doubt over the length of time that the uplift in mood may last.
“We have noticed that a lot of the panellists polling in are getting quite fed up. The numbers of people saying that they are ‘bored’ is starting to grow, while general comments coming from respondents have pointed to growing concerns that the lockdown may end too quickly, particularly after Sunday’s statement from the prime minister.”
Focussing more closely on the government and general sentiment toward its response to the crisis, Ward summarised that the rate of critics within the FlyResearch panel was very much on the rise, despite the long-awaited lockdown exit strategy finally being publicised.
Ward said: “We are seeing quite a few comments expressing frustration at the government’s approach, and indeed some confusion for that matter. As is familiar at this point, we measure panel members’ satisfaction with the government’s performance by asking them to score it out of ten, one being tantamount to a ‘disaster’ and ten being ‘very positive’. As has been the case in previous weeks, we have seen an increase in the number of panellists scoring the government a negative response, within the one to three range.
“When we first started polling in the week commencing March 30, a mere 12 per cent scored the government within one and three. Last week [week six], this number had grown to 20 per cent. It has this week grown to a quarter of the panel.
“On the flipside, 29 per cent of respondents marked the government a positive score within the eight to ten range, but that has fallen from 40 per cent since polling began. We can therefore see a distinct trend as the crisis has wore on: fans are down, and critics are very much up.”
It can be argued that the government will inevitably score more poorly in approval terms as the crisis continues, given that more and more people will become more unsatisfied with social restrictions. Yet, Ward raised the key issue of another poll question which FlyResearch first put to its panellists in the fourth week of polling, commencing April 20.
Ward explained: “In week four of our poll, we asked our panel members for the first time to compare the response that the UK government had mustered to how the pandemic was being addressed in other nations.
“When we first introduced this question to the polls, we did not include New Zealand. We have now included Jacinda Ardern’s government in the reckoning for the first time this week, and they have surpassed Germany with the most positive score. A massive 84 per cent of respondents said that the New Zealand government, in their view, had done a better job addressing the outbreak than ours, with just two per cent saying that they had fared worse.
“In Germany’s case, 80 per cent of respondents felt that they had responded better to the crisis than in the UK, with three per cent feeling that it was worse. Australia’s response against the UK’s polled in similarly, with 76 per cent feeling that they had fared better than the UK, with three per cent again saying that their response was not as effective.”
Interestingly, panel members also felt the same, albeit more marginally, about the responses of the Chinese, French, Spanish and Italian governments. 48 per cent of respondents graded China’s response better than the UK’s, with 27 per cent scoring it worse. In the case of France, the numbers were 44 per cent versus six percent; in Spain 34 per cent to 18 per cent; and in Italy 33 per cent to 19 per cent.
Only in the case of three countries, namely India, Russia, and the US, did the majority of panellists believe that their respective governments had fared worse than the UK. A mere four per cent of panellists felt that the Trump administration had come up with a better Covid-19 response than Boris Johnson’s cabinet, with an overwhelming majority of 80 per cent saying that the US had handled the crisis in an inferior manner.