On this week’s Polling Matters, Keiran and I were joined by Harry Carr, who run’s Sky’s polling. We talked about an interesting YouGov poll on ‘fake news’, which suggested that people in the UK are relatively unlikely to believe made-up stories about immigrants and benefit scroungers. We also discussed the new Polling Matters/Opinium poll on immigration, which found public opinion to be more nuanced than it might seem.
This week’s episode discussed the latest Opinium/Polling Matters data, which looked at how past Prime Ministers are seen. We also talked about the chances of a possible Labour leadership challenge and whether there’ll be a vote of no confidence in the speaker.
The first part of the show covered German politics, where the SPD’s new leader has given the party a rapid boost in the polls.
Polling Matters is running weekly polls with Opinium. This week we talked about new data showing that Corbyn trails May on a series of characteristics that people might want in a leader – strength, caring about people like me, and capable as/of being Prime Minister. The Opinium data is here.
The first half of the show discusses Northern Ireland in the context of its forthcoming election and the complications of Brexit.
Posted in Historical polls, Politics, Polling Matters on October 27th, 2016 by Leo – Comments Off on How low can Labour’s support go? What past elections & European politics suggest – Polling Matters
On Polling Matters this week I talked about what might happen to Labour’s support over the rest of the Parliament.
Regular readers of this site might remember that I’ve previously compared how oppositions have stood in the polls 18 months after elections with how they then did at the subsequent election (using Mark Pack’s brilliant collection of historical polling data).
For this week’s episode I updated this analysis with the 2015 election (which was an outlier, as Labour underperformed how they’d be expected to do – largely because of the polling miss). The analysis suggests that, between this point in a parliament and the subsequent election, polling leads typically roughly halve.
This happens regardless of whether it’s the government or the opposition that’s leading in the polls at this point.
I found this surprising and it seemed like it can’t be right. I had thought that this was typically a low point for governments, and that they usually recover support by the time an election comes. But the evidence doesn’t really seem to bear that out – and it appears the opposition did gain ground ahead of the 2001 and 2005 elections.
Obviously this is a crude model. It doesn’t take into account many things. But for what it’s worth it suggests that Labour – currently about 12pts down – is on course for a 6pt election defeat, which is less than I’d expected.
But here’s another view on the question of Labour’s polling floor.
If we look at other centre-left European parties that, like Labour, were scoring between 35-45% in the late ’90s and early ’00s, we don’t see much evidence that Labour is currently at the lowest point it can get. All of those parties have scored lower than Labour in national parliamentary elections. Most of the others have gone below 25%.
Clearly different electoral systems – and national politics – are an enormous factor. What happens in one country isn’t inevitably replicated in another. But this alone suggests that Labour has no assurance it can call on the support of 30% of the public at a general election. Other major centre-left parties have found that the ground can indeed fall away beneath them.
I talked about this, along with Ukip and Theresa May’s in-tray, with Keiran and Asa Bennett of the Telegraph.
Posted in Labour leadership, Polling Matters, U.S. on September 30th, 2016 by Leo – Comments Off on Why Corbyn now can’t be beaten until he loses a General Election: Polling Matters
On Polling Matters this week I argued that the Labour leadership challenge has made Corbyn far stronger than he was before:
His overall victory wasn’t much bigger than last time, 62% compared with just under 60%. But there was a significant increase in his win among the members, from about 50% to close to 60%. This was partly about people who voted for Burnham last year, but is mostly about a change in the membership. Smith won nearly two-thirds of people who had joined Labour before the last general election, while Corbyn is utterly dominant among more recent members. The party membership has changed and is much more pro-Corbyn – although this had little to do with the leadership challenge.
But the membership challenge itself will also make things even harder for those who want rid of Corbyn, for two reasons:
1. He won 70% of registered supporters, who paid £25 to vote. It has to be expected that Momentum will try to register those people as full party members, which will mean the membership will become even more sympathetic to Corbyn.
2. As I’ve argued before, around a quarter of people who voted Corbyn last year were shakeable in their faith. They would prefer a leader who could win an election to one who they agree with about everything. The size of his victory among members suggests to me that he’s won many if not most of those people (my view in May was, they needed Corbyn to be given longer before they were persuaded he had to go). Having made the decision to vote for Corbyn this time, they’re now pyschologically committed to him and it’s going to be harder to shake their support in future than it would have been if there hadn’t been a challenge.
This and discussion of how Labour can win the public, and the US election, on podcast and video:
On this week’s Polling Matters I argued that the shape of politics at the moment is a great opportunity for the Lib Dems. They’re the party that, by miles, is seen as politically closest to most voters:
On a 7-point left-right scale, 70% of people who have an opinion put themselves in the middle 3 positions
78% put the Lib Dems in those positions
The Tories are the next-most placed in those positions, and still only 40% put them there.
This may be beginning to show: the Lib Dems have been winning local council by-elections in the last few months, when every other major party has had a net loss.
But their voting intent score is still as bad as it was a year ago and only 22% say they’d even consider voting Lib Dem. The party has to resolve this contradiction, somehow persuading far more voters that they’re in the same place.
I see two huge barriers to resolving this:
1. Hardly anyone outside politics hears about the Lib Dems any more. It’s much easier to get people’s attention as a small party if you make radical protest noises: Iraq, tuition fees. It’s much harder to do that if the space you want to occupy is, essentially, Blairite. They’ve tried this with the EU, and Farron has made his appeal to ’97 Labour voters explicit, but this doesn’t seem to have made much difference yet. It’s much more difficult to come up with dramatic announcements that will allow people to understand what you stand for if you want to present yourself as responsible modernisers.
2. They may not have the members and MPs for this. I don’t claim to be an expert on the membership of the party, but after 13 years of positioning itself as a left-liberal alternative to New Labour, I’m not sure how much appetitie there is for a reversal. That said, 5 years in coalition may have shaken up the membership on that front. But even if Farron wanted to become the new Clegg (and his instincts are clearly to the left of Blair’s) I’m not sure how much people in the party yearn to be a boring party of the centre.
I talked about this and the US election with Keiran and Matt Shaddick from Ladbrokes. Podcast and video below.