Why the eligibility rules for Labour’s election could help Eagle more than Corbyn

Posted in Labour leadership on July 13th, 2016 by Leo – Be the first to comment

This short post (based on a series of Tweets) was first published on Politicalbetting.com.

Why I think, contrary to the smartest Labour journalists like Stephen Bush, the rules on eligibility for the Labour leadership election help Eagle, not Corbyn:

It’s indisputable that pre-2015 members are much more pro-Eagle (or whoever the anti-Corbyn challenger is) than members who’ve joined since May. Eagle wins easily among older members, as YouGov’s latest poll shows.

Despite that, the poll has Corbyn beating Eagle 50-40 among all members – which is because 46% of the sample were post-2015 joiners (who are much more pro-Corbyn).

If you exclude members who joined 13 Jan onwards – as the rules will – the membership is therefore rebalanced towards people who were members before May 2015. In itself, that helps Eagle.

But maybe those who joined in January to July 2016 are actually more anti-Corbyn, which would mean the rules would help the incumbent.

According to reports, membership rose over that time, particularly with a reported 100,000 increase since 23 June.

Surely this was mostly Corbyn supporters. To dispute that, you’d need to argue that there’s been a surge of opponents of Corbyn joining up January to July, which outnumbers the Momentum people.

Basically, I think, in January to July: Pro-Corbyn joiners > Anti-Corbyn joiners   (you could also put Anti-Corbyn leavers on the first side of the equation although that’s a bit more complicated as they’re not directly affected by the rule change, though many would probably have signed up as supporters).

The other issue is how many the two sides could have recruited if supporters could be signed up. In principle, this could have greatly helped Eagle, but it depended on engaging outsiders.

While it could have been critical, allowing easy access for supporters to sign-up could just have much helped Corbyn. In fact, that seems more likely.

The change in eligibility isn’t as big a difference as a May 2015 cut-off would have been, but overall, it feels like the membership will be quite finely balanced now. Supporters might have been the only lifeline for Eagle if there hadn’t been the eligibility ruling – but with that change, I don’t think they’re essential.

Polling Matters: the omni-edition

Posted in Uncategorized on July 1st, 2016 by Leo – Be the first to comment

I was on Polling Matters (audio only) this week, talking with Keiran Pedley about how the polls did in the referendum (and how we should read them in future), the Tory leadership contest and the Labour coup. Not much to cover, then.


Labour is the most unpopular it’s ever been after nine months of a new leader

Posted in Labour leadership, Politics on June 25th, 2016 by Leo – 7 Comments

26 June update: this has been changed to include today’s Survation poll (Lab:32%), which has slightly improved Labour’s score

Jeremy Corbyn has been leader for nine months so it’s time to update my tracker of his performance compared with that of his predecessors.

After a slight improvement around six months, the proportion supporting Labour has fallen to where it was before Corbyn was elected.

First 12 months - Jun '16 - UPDATE

This means Corbyn’s Labour is now, jointly, the most unpopular the party has ever been after nine months of any post-war new leader. It’s essentially tied with Brown’s Labour, after the financial crisis had hit and he’d bottled the election.

Every previous post-war Labour leader that took over the party in opposition with a voting intention below 45% increased its score by several points and retained most of those gains until at least the end of their first year.

Corbyn, who took over the party with it polling around 31%, its second-lowest for any new leader, has not sustained any improvement in the proportion that would vote Labour. In mid-March Labour had four consecutive polls between 34-36%, but that slight boost has since disappeared.

That is despite the government being split on Europe, u-turning on major decisions and having had a senior cabinet minister resign in protest against its policies.

In comparison with other Labour opposition leaders, Corbyn’s Labour is 7pts behind where the next lowest, Kinnock, was after nine months, when Labour was still 13 years away from winning a general election. It is 10pts behind where Miliband’s Labour was at the same point, when the party had just been kicked out after 13 years in power.

Compared with the election-winning leaders, Labour is now 18pts behind Wilson and 24pts behind Blair.

read more »

Polling Matters: should Leave focus on immigration?

Posted in Europe, Politics, Polling Matters on June 5th, 2016 by Leo – 1 Comment

I was on Polling Matters again this week, talking – as usual at the moment – about the referendum. Other than a discussion of whether the polls really have narrowed the main question was whether the Leave campaign should focus on immigration.


Corbyn’s chances of staying leader are better than ever – for now

Posted in Labour leadership, Politics on May 19th, 2016 by Leo – Comments Off on Corbyn’s chances of staying leader are better than ever – for now

A few months ago I argued that Corbyn’s leadership wasn’t as secure as it seemed. Although he had won a comfortable majority and most Labour members said he was doing well, I thought that around a quarter of his voters might doubt his electability and be prepared to switch to a rival. That could be enough for him to be turfed out in a leadership content.

Now, a fresh YouGov/Times poll of Labour members has forced me to change my mind.

According to my theory, a chunk of Corbyn voters should have looked at his recent performance and started signalling their willingness to back an alternative.

This hasn’t happened.

If anything, we see the opposite. A larger proportion of Labour members now say they think Corbyn’s doing well than said the same in November (72% to 66%). Among those who voted for him last year, only 16% think he should be ousted before the next general election.

This has sunk my theory that Corbyn could be overthrown soon. Since the November poll, we’ve seen Corbyn’s weak response to the Budget, his Shadow Chancellor waving around the Little Red Book, the leaking of the naughty/nice list of MPs, revelations about members’ anti-Semitism, and his opposition losing seats in the local elections. Yet, Labour members have seen all this and become more confident in their leader.

If these mini-crises haven’t disillusioned Corbyn’s voters, it’s hard to imagine what, realistically, could do so in the next two years. Corbyn has just survived the biggest electoral test he will face until, arguably, the European elections in 2019 (if we have them).

But that still doesn’t mean he’s sure to be leader in the next election.

We fight em till we can't

Strong though this poll is for Corbyn, it also shows what could be his undoing. Only half of Labour members think the party is on course to win the next election. A quarter of Corbyn’s voters think it’s heading towards defeat. While there’s no sign they think the party would do better under an alternative, those are dangerous numbers for Corbyn.

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Polling Matters: EU referendum & Wales

Posted in Europe, Politics, Polling Matters on May 13th, 2016 by Leo – Comments Off on Polling Matters: EU referendum & Wales

I was on Polling Matters again this week – podcast only – talking about the EU referendum. The online polls are neck-and-neck while the phone polls show Remain comfortably ahead. Which are right? Also a bit of discussion of the TV debates and the Welsh First Minister vote.



Why EU referendum turnout might actually favour Remain

Posted in Europe, Politics on April 22nd, 2016 by Leo – Comments Off on Why EU referendum turnout might actually favour Remain

When pollsters get together and talk about the EU referendum, it doesn’t take long before the conversation gets onto turnout.

The debate’s well explored – 1 in 4 sentences in this BuzzFeed article mentioned turnout – and has mostly concluded that the issue helps Leave. But I think the debate has underestimated something that helps Remain.

YouGov’s Freddie Sayers sets out well here the argument that turnout hurts Leave. As he says, Leave supporters are demographically more like people who vote, while Remain supporters – on average, younger people – look more like people who stay at home.

Polls already take this into account as far as possible. If someone says they’re not certain to vote, pollsters either discount them entirely or weight down their response.

The trouble is, polls before an election usually find that more people say they’re certain to vote than actually turn out. The ones who don’t live up to their word tend to be younger.

So, if this is replicated in the EU referendum, Remain may find that many of their younger supporters don’t actually vote, despite saying they would definitely do so, and so Remain might underperform their polls. Given that online (but not phone) polls currently find the race to be neck-and-neck, that could be crucial.

I don’t dispute this. But there’s another aspect that could be at least as important.

Currently, with two months until the election, around 6370% say they’re certain to vote.

Two months before the Scottish referendum, 7881% said they were certain to vote. In the last polls before the vote, 9495% said they were certain to do so.

Turnout in Scotland was 85%, so slightly more than 10% of those who said they would definitely vote in fact didn’t do so. But more people voted on 18 September 2014 than, two months before, had said they were certain to do so.

If something similar happens with the EU referendum polls, in mid-June we would see something like 75-82% saying they’re going to vote (and turnout would be around 70%).

One reason that could change the balance of the race is that stated turnout of Remain supporters has more scope to increase from where it is now than turnout of Leave supporters does. In ICM and Mori’s latest polls, 67-70% of Remain backers said they were certain to vote, while 74-80% of Leave supporters said the same.

So there are more people who support Remain but don’t currently think they’ll vote than there are who support Leave and don’t plan to vote. If turnout expectation increases, Remain’s support has more room to grow, without having to win over any undecideds or Leave supporters.

What I think this means in real terms is that Leave supporters tend to be more enthusiastic and already say they’re going to vote. Remain supporters are more grudging and haven’t yet decided to vote – but over the next two months a growing proportion of them might think it’s worth the effort.

When people start paying attention

But perhaps the Scottish referendum was so different from this one that we can’t learn much. Is it really likely that turnout expectation will increase for the EU referendum like it did in Scotland? There’s no way to be sure, but I think it’s a reasonable assumption (though I’m not claiming turnout will be quite as high).

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Polling Matters: EU referendum turnout, Trump & spread betting

Posted in Europe, Polling Matters, U.S. on April 13th, 2016 by Leo – Comments Off on Polling Matters: EU referendum turnout, Trump & spread betting

I was on Polling Matters again this week, talking about the significance of turnout in the EU referendum, the state of the US races, and political spread betting. Mike Smithson was in the chair while Keiran’s on holiday.



Polling Matters: Trump vs Hillary, Osborne & Labour

Posted in Politics, Polling Matters, U.S. on March 24th, 2016 by Leo – Comments Off on Polling Matters: Trump vs Hillary, Osborne & Labour

I was on Polling Matters this week, talking about how Trump compares with Hillary in national polls; the impact of the Budget on Osborne’s chances of becoming Prime Minister; and the significance of polls that are putting Labour level with the Tories.



Labour polls six months after Corbyn became leader

Posted in Labour leadership, Politics on March 11th, 2016 by Leo – Comments Off on Labour polls six months after Corbyn became leader

I’ve been tracking Labour’s poll rating under Corbyn and comparing it with how the party did in the first few months of previous leaders.

In the first entry I said that every leader who started below 40% immediately increased Labour’s vote share by at least 5pts.

At three months I found that Labour’s score then was the lowest after three months of any modern leader.

Today’s the end of his first six months and here’s the next update. Labour’s poll score hasn’t fallen any further but is still the lowest at this point under any modern leader:

First 12 months - March '16

Note on methodology: As I said last time, the three-month numbers now include the two weeks after 12 December as well as the two weeks before then (to be consistent with the comparisons), so it has increased by 0.8 from the previous version. The six-month number might similarly change when I do the nine-month update. All data is from Mark Pack’s spreadsheet or UK Polling Report.