London – 24 March – Whilst the latest TNS voting intentions poll has UKIP in third place with support at 17%, there is evidence that the tide is turning against UKIP and that their support may fall away ahead of the election. In particular, the importance of immigration as a public priority has been falling over the last six months and the public’s rating of Nigel Farage is becoming less positive. The new poll by TNS UK also reveals that support for UKIP is softer than for Labour and Conservatives, with fewer of their supporters saying they will definitely vote for them.

The number one policy priority for the British public is healthcare, which has been the case since October 2014. Generating economic growth and reducing unemployment are the second and third policy priorities.

The latest research also shows that immigration is reducing in importance to the general public. Immigration is ranked fourth on the TNS Public Policy Priority Index far behind the top three issues, having peaked in importance at the end of 2014. As recently as November last year, immigration was joint second with economic growth and reducing unemployment and only just behind investing more in healthcare. However, since then its importance has decreased markedly and it is now almost level with education.

Policy priorities do however change for different demographic groups. UKIP supporters rank their top three policy areas as immigration, healthcare and renegotiating the EU. In contrast, Conservative voters place generating economic growth first, followed by reducing the national debt and increased investment in healthcare. Meanwhile Labour supporters say healthcare is the most important policy area, with reducing income inequality second and generating economic growth third.

The poll also shows that the Conservatives are the most trusted party on generating economic growth (41% trust them the most on this issue). Commenting, Jamie Willard, Director at TNS UK said, “During the Budget statement the Chancellor was clearly reinforcing the idea that the conservatives are the trusted custodians of the economy. This latest TNS poll shows that UKIP support may be soft and some of George Osborne’s announcements about pensions and savings will appeal to those traditional Conservative voters who have moved to UKIP.”

The poll also asked respondents about the performance of the main party leaders and all three main party leaders have low or negative scores: David Cameron (net score of 0, with 43% rating him positively and 43% rating him negatively), Ed Milliband (-30%), Nick Clegg (-32%). Nigel Farage is the only party leader with a positive approval rating with a net score of +5%. However, Farage’s approval is on a downward trajectory, back in June 2014 he had a positive rating of +29%, but since then the proportion rating his performance as UKIP leader positively has fallen by 12 percentage points and the proportion rating his performance negatively has increased by 10 percentage points.

As well as immigration becoming a less salient issue and Nigel Farage’s popularity decreasing, UKIP support appears to be relatively soft indicating that their performance in the election may be worse than polls currently suggest. Whilst 73% of Conservative supporters tell us that they are certain to vote for the Conservatives and 72% of Labour supporters are certain to vote for Labour, this is only 59% for UKIP.

Notes to editors

Detailed tables for this survey can be found here.

TNS Omnibus interviewed a representative sample of 1,188 adults in Great Britain between the 13th March and 16th March 2015. All interviews were conducted as online self-completion.

The TNS Omnibus uses the Lightspeed Research access panel as its sample.

The data was weighted to match population totals for age, sex, working status, presence of children, 2010 General Election voting patterns and region.

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