Tory voters love May whereas Labour voters are lukewarm towards Corbyn and that’s bad news for Labour explains Keiran Pedley
On this week’s PB / Polling Matters podcast we unveiled some new data courtesy of Opinium. Respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with 6 statements related to Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. By subtracting the number that disagreed with each statement from the number that agreed we could create a ‘net agree’ score for analysis purposes. The results made grim reading for Labour. May trounced Corbyn overall on a range of measures from strength, capability and electability and also being likeable and ‘in touch’ with people’s concerns too.
The above chart summarises these findings at an overall level and has been doing the rounds on social media this week. The sea of red for Corbyn is obviously not good. However, the really worrying numbers for Labour come when we look at the scores cut by Conservative and Labour voters. These are below.
Some of Theresa May’s numbers are astonishingly strong. The +86 score for ‘is a capable Prime Minister’ means that 88% of Conservative voters agree with this statement and just 2% disagree. In fact, when we look across the range of statements asked, the largest number of Conservatives you can get to disagree with one of these statements about May is the 5% that disagree that she ‘understands the concerns of people like me’.
In contrast, Corbyn’s numbers among Labour voters are much more varied. They generally like him, understand what he stands for and think he is in-touch (though not to the extent that Conservatives think these things of May). However, real doubts persist over his strength as a leader, capability as a Prime Minister and whether he can win a General Election. On the latter point, 32% agree and 35% disagree that Corbyn ‘has a good chance of leading Labour to victory at the next General Election’.
Labour is on the brink, so what happens now?
The upshot of these numbers is that whilst Conservatives are fully behind Theresa May, Labour voters lack confidence in Jeremy Corbyn. This is startling when we consider that Labour is languishing in the upper 20s in the polls and obviously needs to increase its support to avoid annihilation at the next election whenever it comes. It seems obvious, if it wasn’t already, that a change of leadership is needed. Whilst a new leader would not solve some of Labour’s more fundamental problems, it would at least give them a chance to solve them.
Could a change happen? It doesn’t seem likely any time soon. The PLP won’t risk challenging Corbyn again in a hurry. However, it is interesting that many on the left seem to be losing faith in Corbyn and drifting away from him. In private, many on the left support Clive Lewis taking over. In practice, manufacturing the circumstances where that happens is difficult. Corbyn’s opponents are better off waiting it out. Against my better judgement my hunch is Corbyn won’t lead Labour into the 2020 General Election but it will have to be his choice and that makes the timing of any change hard to predict.
Keiran Pedley tweets about politics and polling at @Keiranpedley. Listen to the latest PB/Polling Matters podcast on the upcoming election in Northern Ireland, impact of Brexit on the province and the above poll below.