Why Yvette is the smart bet
For obvious reasons there isnâ€™t a lot of polling out there at the moment. This makes following the true state of the Labour leadership contest quite tricky. Fortunately, we had a poll yesterday from Ipsos Mori that looked at the Labour leadership among the general public and Labour voters. The tables are here.
Letâ€™s get the caveats out of the way first. Labour â€˜votersâ€™ are not necessarily representative of the membership that will actually vote in this contest. In fact, this will be a very difficult audience to accurately poll because we cannot be sure what the final electorate will look like. The poll below has just taken the Labour cross-break from the national voting intention question to gauge what Labour supporters think. Furthermore, even if we took these numbers at face value, the absence of second, third and fourth preferences mean we cannot be sure who would actually win on these figures. Also, if it matters, the fieldwork was conducted before this weekâ€™s televised hustings.
So what does this poll tell us?
The important numbers are the Labour voter figures as these are the closest this poll gets to gauging what Labour members think.Â Andy Burnham leads the race (as expected) but interestingly Yvette Cooper is a close second. I suspect this poll will encourage Cooperâ€™s supporters most of all. She is not far behind and would be confident of taking the bulk of second preferences from Liz Kendall too, although Burnhamâ€™s supporters might say the same about Jeremy Corbynâ€™s second preferences. The sample size is not huge (n=275) but Liz Kendall is quite far behind. In fact, Jeremy Corbyn is very much within margin of error. Her supporters will hope that this poll is a one-off.
Ipsos Mori poll (June 2015)
*A fun thing that Ipsos Mori do from time to time is ask about â€˜Stewart Lewisâ€™ â€“ a fictional candidate. Clearly if Mr Lewis is out there he should consider running for Labour leader, all to widen the debate of course!
In the table above, I have also pulled figures for the total sample â€˜allâ€™ and â€˜votersâ€™. A pet hate of mine is when pollsters use the whole sample to talk about â€˜votersâ€™ when the reality is that the whole sample actually includes non-voters too. However, in this case the story is the same for both. When looking at the wider population, Burnham and Cooper still lead but Kendall is closer to them. Her supporters will argue that this shows how she can speak to the whole country. However, with 52% saying that they either â€˜donâ€™t knowâ€™ who they prefer or â€˜none of theseâ€™ it is fair to say that it is early days yet.
There are some interesting cross-breaks in this poll that are worth exploring, although sample sizes are small so we should be cautious about reading too much into them.Â Nevertheless, Yvette Cooper narrowly leads among women and interestingly also leads Burnham among private sector workers. Andy Burnham has a strong 6 point lead among public sector workers.
Looking at regions, Burnham leads in the North (as expected) but is significantly behind both Kendall and Cooper in London (where a large number of Labour members actually live). It will be interesting to see if these are lasting trends in other polls or if they are just sampling noise.
Another question in the poll asked respondents which past Labour leader the new leader should most resemble in order to encourage them to vote Labour.Â Tony Blair won this race on 19%, as much as the next four leaders (Smith, Wilson, Brown and Miliband) put together. It is telling that Blair convincingly beats Brown and Miliband, even among Labour voters. This reflects a wider problem Labour has with its relationship with Blair. The next leader needs to learn from what made him successful without alienating people by associating with some of his more unpopular policies. Much like the Tories with Thatcher, the ghost of Blair lingers over the Labour Party and perhaps always will until they return to power.
Returning to the Labour leadership contest, it is clear that Burnham remains the front runner but that there is reason to think Yvette Cooper is a smart bet. Given the importance of second preferences, the key element to this race is who comes second and how close they get to Burnham. It is just one poll but Kendall has work to do to catch-up based on this poll. However, with 25% of Labour voters in this poll saying â€˜donâ€™t knowâ€™ the race is still wide open.
Keiran Pedley is an Associate Director at GfK NOP and tweets about polling and politics at @keiranpedley