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“But that’s not logical, Captain”

John Rentoul

Spock 211x300 But thats not logical, CaptainThe posh phrase is cognitive dissonance, but it means people believe incompatible things, and today’s ComRes poll for The Independent has a striking example.

After the next election, which of the two main political parties do you think is most likely to…

Make your family better off?
Conservative 31%
Labour 41%

Keep the economy growing?
Conservative 42%
Labour 33%

Without running the cross-breaks, I suppose it is possible that most of the eight per cent of the population who believe that Labour would make their family better off but would not keep the economy growing responded “don’t know” to the question on the economy (25 per cent said “don’t know” and they presumably include those who think that it makes no difference which of the two parties wins the election).

Equally, it is possible that the 11 per cent who think that the Conservatives would keep the economy growing but that this would not make their families better off may believe that the benefits of growth would be appropriated by wicked capitalists or George Osborne’s friends and drinking partners, but it looks like a curious finding on the face of it.

This poll would seem to be a triumph for Ed Miliband’s attempt to dissociate the performance of the GDP figures from the “cost of living crisis” which afflicts so many target voters.

I can see why people might think their families would be better off if energy prices were lower:

Keep energy prices low?
Conservative 21%
Labour 48%

And I can see why people might not associate fiscal responsibility with their own finances:

Keep public spending under control?
Conservative 47%
Labour 28%

But it is peculiar that there appears to be a chunk of the electorate for whom their families’ prosperity is best served by the economy as a whole going to hell in a handcart.

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  • greggf

    How do these and other polling results fit on your excellent Electoral Calculus JR?

  • newfriendofed

    As J. R. has unwittingly strayed onto my own disciplinary turf, I write with more confidence that usual. Cognitive dissonance is not the fact that people believe two incompatible things. It is when people are aware of an incompatibility in two things, both of which they believe and therefore feel uncomfortable. As such it is more what J. R. is experiencing here and trying to resolve than what people happen to believe. I mean J. R. finds these two beliefs dissonant and he therefore experiences the (unpleasant) feeling of cognitive dissonance.

  • reformist lickspittle

    This sort of thing isn’t new at all – one only has to look at the US last year.

    In the run up to their election, Romney had a clear lead on “handling the economy” and this led many pundits to predict that he would win. Overlooking the fact that the *very same polls* had Obama well ahead on “looking after people like me”.

    We know the result.

  • greggf

    Oh yeah….?
    I can see why you are a newfriendofed…..!

  • newfriendofed

    I am guessing you mean because I share a discipline with his esteemed Dad.

  • greggf

    Not really new; I didn’t know that.
    More perhaps because of the verbosity…..

  • newfriendofed

    To me that is more Neil K. than Ed M. but I will try to be more succinct.

  • Hill244

    98% believe that the police are trustworthy. Odd how one only meets the other 2%!

  • JohnJustice

    On a point of logic JR how do you equate a majority believing they would be better off under Labour but that the Conservatives are more likely to keep the economy growing with “there appearing to be a chunk of the electorate for whom their families’ prosperity is best served by the economy as a whole going to hell in a handcart.” A no growth society is far from being a hell. Indeed some say it could help to save our planet from going to a real hell in a handcart by curbing all that carbon based material consumption which is producing the global warming that his been in the news recently.


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