With the window for taking part in Labour leadership election closing and ballot papers going out there were several polls over the weekend asking about the leadership candidates, though no fresh polling of people voting in the actual contest. ComRes, Opinium and Survation all had polls asking about the general public’s perception of the candidates. While the polls weren’t presented that way, I’ve seen various people writing about them as evidence of which candidate would actually do better as leader. In particular the Survation poll had Jeremy Corbyn ahead among the public after they were shown video clips, so was taken as a sign that he may not be as damaging electorally as the commentariat widely assume.

Questions about how well different leadership candidates would do in a general election are always popular and sought after, but extremely difficult if not impossible to make meaningful. Asking the general public who they think would do better or worse is perfectly reasonable, but is a different question. Who people think would do better is not the same as who would do better, it’s just asking the public to answer the question for you and a poll is not a Magic 8 Ball. Asking the general public who they prefer doesn’t answer the question either, it contains the views of lots of committed Labour and Conservative voters who aren’t going to change their vote anyway, and preferring is not necessarily the same as changing your vote.

If you ask how people would vote with x, y or z as leader, or if people would be more or less likely to vote Labour with each candidate as leader then you are getting a little closer, but the problem is still that people are expected to answer a question about how they would vote with the candidates as leader when the general public know hardly anything about them. A fair old chunk won’t even know the candidates names or what they look like, the majority will have little real idea what policies they will put forward. None of us really know how they will work out as leader, what the public, press and political reaction will be, how they will really operate. How can respondents really judge how they would vote in a hypothetical situation with so little information? They can’t.

Some polls try to get round that by giving respondents a little more information about each candidate: a run down of their main policy positions perhaps, or in the case of the Survation poll a little video clip of each respondent so people could see what they looked and sounded like. This is better, but it’s still a long way from reality. It’s like the famous market research failure of New Coke – in market research tests people liked the taste, but release it out into the real world and people wanted their old Coke back. A video clip or a list of policies won’t factor in the way the media react, the way the new leader is reported, how they actually handle leading, the way their party and their opponents react. There is no really good way of answering the question because you’re asking respondents something they don’t actually know yet.

Is there anything polls can really tell us about how the leadership contenders would do? Well, firstly I think we can be reasonably confident in saying the polls don’t suggest any of the four candidates is any sort of electoral panacea, the most positive net rating in the ComRes poll is Andy Burnham and just 19% think he would improve Labour’s chances, 14% that he’d damage them (Corbyn gets more people saying he’d have a positive effect (21%) but much more saying he’d have a negative effect (31%). None of them have obvious election-winning magic like, say, Blair did in 1994.

They can also tell us some things about people’s first impressions of the candidates, something that shouldn’t be underestimated (people probably made their minds up pretty quickly that Ed Miliband didn’t look Prime Ministerial, for example, or that there was “something of the night” about Michael Howard. Those early impressions are hard to shift.). On that front the Survation poll is pretty positive about Jeremy Corbyn with people saying he came across as more trustworthy and in touch than his rivals (though such polls are always a bit tricky because of the choice of clips – Survation tried to iron out any potential biasing effect by having clips from each candidate being interviewed on the Marr show, so they were all interviews, all the same setting and same interviewer… but even then you ended up with two candidates defending their position on the welfare bill, one talking about the EU referendum and one talking about rail nationalisation. It’s almost impossible to do such things and have a truly level ground).

The argument against Corbyn isn’t about his personal image and manner though, it’s that he’d put the Labour party in a ideological and policy position that wouldn’t win votes, that the Labour party itself would risk ripping itself apart under a leader with little support among the Parliamentary party and a long history of rebellion. On individual policies I’ve seen Corbyn supporters taking succour from polls showing, for example, that a majority of the public support rail nationalisation or much higher taxes on the rich and drawing the conclusion that there is a public appetite for much more left wing policies. Be careful – look at this YouGov poll which shows a majority of people would support renationalisation of the utilities, increasing the minimum wage to £10 and the top rate of tax to 60%… but also a total ban on immigration and benefits for anyone who turns down a job, making life mean life with no parole in prison sentences and stopping all international aid. There are some policies to the left of mainstream public debate that are popular and some to the right that are popular, it no more means that the public are aching for a far-left political party than for a far-right one. Essentially you can pick a list of appealing sounding policies from almost any ideological stance, from far-left to far-right, and find the public agree with them. In reality though policies require trade-offs, they need to be paid for, they are attacked by opponents and the press. They are judged as a package. In terms of how well the Labour party would hang together under Jeremy Corbyn, polling of the public can’t really tell us – a poll of Labour MPs perhaps!

Bottom line? There is no way of doing a simple poll that will give you a ready packaged answer as to how well or badly a potential party leader will do, and the things that Jeremy Corbyn’s detractors worry about are not things that are easily tested in a poll anyway. My own guess is that those who think Jeremy Corbyn would struggle electorally are correct, though it does depend on whether the Conservatives also pull themselves to shreds after the EU referendum. I am a little wary about arguments about parties not winning because they are too left or too right. While putting yourself broadly where most voters are is sensible enough, those voters themselves don’t necessarily see things as ideologically left and right and specific policies aren’t really that important in driving votes. However, broad perceptions of a party, its perceived competence and the public’s views on how suitable its leader is to be Prime Minister are incredibly important. It will be an extremely hard task for Labour to succeed if it is seem as taking up a risky and radical route, if it’s trying to rebuild a lack of public confidence by selling an approach that is radically different from what a normally risk-averse public are used to, if it is seen as being riven by internal dissent and splits, if their leadership patently doesn’t have the support of its own MPs. Maybe he’ll surprise us, but I wouldn’t count on it.

On other matters, the ComRes poll also had voting intention, their first online VI figures since the election (rather to my surprise. Their online polls for the Independent on Sunday dried up during the election campaign itself and I’d wrongly assumed they’d come to halt as part of ComRes moving their phone contract from the Independent to the Daily Mail. I’m pleased to see I was wrong, and the ComRes/Indy on Sunday relationship continues!). Topline figures are CON 40%, LAB 29%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%, and ComRes have adopted the same socio-economic based turnout model for their online polls that they have started using in their telephone polls.


922 Responses to “Can polls tell us how well Corbyn would do in a general election?”

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  1. I am not very interested in Labour politics, but the thing about Corbyn, as you encounter him on TV and radio, is that he obviously is a man of principle and says what he believes, believes what he says.

    Maybe after years of spin from all parties, this is what voters want?

    I am reminded of Enoch Powell, Tony Benn, Michael Foot etc., each of whom were extremely popular with their own supporters, but were attacked by the media over long periods which ruined their chances.

    Will this happen to Corbyn, of can he and his supporters counteract the criticism?

    We will have to wait and see.

  2. Yes, I think t this point questions (doubts) work better than answers (taken out of the thin air) – this is why it’s so easy to take apart anyone’s assertions at this stage.

  3. It seems impossible at this stage for Labour to fall under 28%.

    No matter how bad Corby is, I can never see them getting less than this.

  4. I think at this point Labour’s best prospect for winning in 2020 is for all Labour members to follow the Jezuits’ recommendation and join the Tories.

    There are 300,000 Labour members and only 150,000 Tories. We could do a hostile takeover and deselect all their MPs.

  5. The Survation poll also had a general voting intention question. It was asked at the start of the survey, presumably so they analyse by current VI and weighted in their normal manner with 0.3 reallocation to how people voted in May. The final figures are:

    Con 38%

    Lab 33%

    Lib Dem 6%

    UKIP 15%

    SNP 5%

    PC 1%

    Green 3%

    I’ve not quoted changes as this seems to be the first GB poll since the one done immediately after the election (8-9 May).

    There was also an EU Referendum tracker as well (Yes 46%, No 37%, DK 18%).

    The ComRes polls done for the Mail from March onwards were their telephone ones and the relationship has continued. The online one for the Sindy and the Sunday Mirror seems just to have resumed after a three month break. I suspect it’s a regular monthly omnibus that they are piggy-backing on – they didn’t ask them for more regular ones during the election as the Mail did.

  6. It is quite easy to imagine a subset of the British population voting enthusiastically for Corbyn. That subset may well represent a majority of those who will vote in the leadership contest but whether it extends much beyond that relatively small group is the important question.

    Of course there are a large number of people who will vote Labour because they always have done and they don’t take much notice of the actual candidate, or indeed the policies. This number is gradually reducing, however, and as the SNP have shown, most of these people can in extremis, be persuaded to vote otherwise. It’s not just the Conservatives who would gain from a Corbyn victory. UKIP must be rubbing their hands.

  7. @ RMJ1,

    UKIP must be rubbing their hands.

    They are, although I’m not sure they ought to be. Corbyn is no more pro-immigration than the right of the party, and he has an anti-establishment sheen they cannot possibly replicate. If he wins we’ll find out whether Kippers hate Westminster technocrats or immigrants more. I suspect the answer varies and his victory would be a mixed blessing for them.

    The only person who poses a serious threat to them by fighting on both fronts is Burnham, and so far he seems to be losing the battle to appear anti-establishment.

  8. RMJ1

    “Of course there are a large number of people who will vote Labour because they always have done and they don’t take much notice of the actual candidate, or indeed the policies. This number is gradually reducing, however, and as the SNP have shown, most of these people can in extremis, be persuaded to vote otherwise”

    How people think of themselves in relation to political parties matters in terms of how people might vote. I posted the following on the last thread, but I think it is relevant to your comment.

    “ComRes ask the useful question (this far out from another Westminster GE) – “Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, UKIP, SNP, Plaid Cymru or another party”.

    VI can change for all sorts of reasons but, as with YG, Party ID may be more valuable at this stage in understanding mood and potential support.

    England – Con 32% : Lab 32% : UKIP 10% : LD 9% : Grn 3% : Unsure 15%
    Scotland – SNP 45% : Con 17% : Lab 19% : UKIP 2% : LD 5% : Grn 4% : Other 2% :Unsure 6%”

    With regard to your idea that those in Scotland voted other than Labour “in extremis”, you should note the Scottish figures. Despite the small sample size, the ComRes figures do seem to be in line with other data.

    Corbyn does seem to be taking a politically astute line in regard to Scotland. Say nothing which contradicts any previous statement that he is a confirmed unionist, and thus gain the leadership votes of the more leftist Scottish Unionist voters (but accept that their is little hope of a Labour resurgence in Scotland for years to come, and happily work with the SNP MP bloc, if he becomes PM).

  9. @ AW,

    The fact that fake Neil Kinnock came up with my plan first is admittedly a compelling argument against it.

  10. I cannot wait until Jeremy Corbyn is Labour leader.
    So he can’t win an election? Well at least he will give
    the people a real choice and be a real opposition
    rather than Tory in disguise.

    Another thing… anyone know who the last PM
    with a beard was?

  11. Good evening all from an extraordinary sunny Giffnock.

    “They can also tell us some things about people’s first impressions of the candidates, something that shouldn’t be underestimated (people probably made their minds up pretty quickly that Ed Miliband didn’t look Prime Ministerial, for example, or that there was “something of the night” about Michael Howard”
    ______________

    The problems EM had were not only that he didn’t look Prime Ministerial but he didn’t sound Prime Ministeriall and there was something of the night about Michael Howard, he looked like Dracula.

    However with Jeremy Corbyn I think the public will take to him as an opposition leader because he stands out from the norm with his radical ideas but will he run an effective opposition should he win the leadership? that depends on Labour unity of course.

    Jeremy Corbyn will be 91 in 2020 and some may ask if he will be past it like they did with Ming from the Lib/Dems then there will be the inevitable hostile salvos opening up from the right wing media targeting Corbyn in the lead up to the election which may lead to some rather nasty exchanges between the media and Age Concern.

    In summery…..If the polls can tell us how well Corbyn will do in a GE then I expect it will be disappointment for Labour
    Corbynmania is a phenomenon for the far left but for the rest of us it’s little more than a political giggle.

  12. @ OLDNAT

    New converts are always the most enthusiastic. The fact is though that if you asked these people two or three years ago they would have said they were Labour without even thinking. They have indeed moved “in extremis” because they have been persuaded that the Labour party is a party of the English.

    @SPEARMINT

    I think it will take some considerable time for UKIP converts to accept that the Labour party, under any leadership, is anti establishment. It will take less time to persuade potential converts that it is pro immigration. In the interim, the 2020 election may well arrive.

  13. @Allan

    Corbyn will be 91??

    He looks good for it.

  14. @ RMJ,

    It will take less time to persuade potential converts that it is pro immigration

    I doubt they need much persuasion. And although Jeremy cannot expect much help from the media, they will make it very, very clear that he stands far outside the political mainstream.

    …the fondness for anti-semites may be a selling point too, with a certain kind of voter.

  15. CATMANJEFF

    Well spotted, I hit the 9 instead of the 7.

  16. RMJ

    “because they have been persuaded that the Labour party is a party of the English”
    ______

    That’s wrong. When people in Scotland are asked why they left labour the most common answer is.. “the Labour party left me” Ask Brian Cox. a lifetime Labour supporter..

  17. RMJ1

    “They have indeed moved “in extremis” because they have been persuaded that the Labour party is a party of the English.”

    I don’t know how many former SLab members/voters that are now SNP members/voters (like me) you have met. I know lots, and they (and I) would take great exception to your characterisation of their (and my) motivation.

    However, doubtless you have been persuaded by the London based commentariat that Scots are anti-English, so I can only pity your willingness to be so gullible.

  18. Corbyn will of course be 91 in 2040 when Even Newer Labour may well be favourites to win.

  19. I think the “broad perception” is much more important that specific policies. I remember well Ed M thinking how popular his stance was on Leveson, Utility price fixes, rent caps (and how unpopular the Tory policies on lowering the Top Rate of tax, selling off social housing, and non-dom status were).

    But when it came to competence on the economy and Best PM he always trailed – it was why I always said the polls would move towards the Cons. When they didn’t I thought I was wrong … but it was the polls that were wrong.

  20. @OLDNAT, ALLAN CHRISTIE

    having spent almost all of my life living just the other side of the border I certainly don’t take much notice of the London based commentariat on these issues. I am inclined to listen to my friends in the Scottish borders however, mostly Unionist I admit. While they mostly remain disappointed that the Conservatives couldn’t take advantage, they are adamant that the collapse in the Labour vote was because they were seen as speaking for England rather than Scotland. The Scottish Conservatives have been fighting the same charge since about1979. My friends and family(admittedly a renegade branch) in Aberdeen are also inclined to that point of view. I don’t interpret this as anti English, simply as an appraisal of the relevance of the party from a Scots point of view.

  21. Way way WAY too early to be thinking about this stuff really but is there a possibility that Corbyn’s age might in fact be a good thing?
    The media will obviously use it against him and claim he’s a senile old fool who’s policies suggest he’s suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s and thus he should be in a retirement home not running for PM etc etc Will this offend the elderly (and more Tory inclined populace) who might as a result be a bit more sympathetic to him? Not enough to reverse Tory dominance amongst over 65’s but at least put a dent in their lead?

    Probably not I’m just voicing my own internal musings.

  22. Whilst I am only too well aware that ‘the plural of anecdote is not data’ (not sure who first said that) – what I’m seeing in BTL land all over the internet at the moment – I do a lot of lurking – is Greens and even Kippers declaring that they’ll go back to Labour if Corbyn wins. And people who haven’t voted for years saying they’ll vote for Corbyn. These sorts of declarations are hugely outweighing people saying that they’ll desert the Labour party if Corbyn wins. He’s even getting some love on Daily Mail and Telegraph articles, and that’s something. Plus people saying – now get this – ‘I’m a Tory voter, but I’m disgusted with the way the media are treating Jeremy Corbyn’.

    Now it might be that the anti-Corbyn types are ‘shy’, and maybe the silent majority out there will turn away from Labour if Corbyn becomes leader, but just comparing the positive hubbub over Corbyn with Labour supporters reaction to Ed Miliband – it’s a total, utter contrast. So many people on the left just couldn’t find it in them to vote for Miliband.

    There is absolutely no doubt about Corbyn’s star quality as far as the left are concerned, and he has the potential to get disaffected non-voters to vote again. The question comes down to just how much of the centre ground Corbyn will drive away – and where it goes.

    If he wins, the VI polls afterwards are going to be very interesting to watch – one way or another. That is if Liz Kendall’s band of Blairite guerillas give him a chance to get his feet under the desk!

  23. My piece of anecdata for the day: a friend is considering switching her 1st preference from Burnham to Corbyn because “Jeremy’s website looks more professional”.

  24. I’d add – I’ve even seen on a Green party discussion forum – a proposal for the Greens and Labour to merge if Corbyn wins.

    And a proposal to invite him to run for head of the Green party if he loses. They have a leadership election every 2 years, so the next would be 2016 I think.

  25. Rivers10 Yes I think the Daily Mail will not be attacking him on his age.
    The Livingstone attack of antisemitism will be one of their choices.
    Which is ironic given their past support.

  26. @LurkinGGerkin

    Why hasn’t this Corbyn charisma manifested itself before now? When he stood for shadow cabinet and came bottom of the poll? Why did Corbyn need at least 10 MPs with no intention of voting for him to sign his nomination papers?

    My anecdotal evidence is: as far as Scottish independence supporters on Social Media are concerned, the Corbyn. bubble has burst. They had been broadly supportive but since his visit North they have turned against.

  27. RMJ1

    Thanks for the explanation. So who persuaded your Borders Tory friends that the Labour Party were speaking for England?

  28. @couper2802:

    I don’t think charisma has a great deal to do with it. I certainly wouldn’t describe Corbyn as charismatic.

    In fact, I think at least a fair chunk of the electorate are maybe looking for something other than charisma. If there’s any lesson they’ve learned from recent years, it’s not to place your trust in it.

  29. RMJ

    Having been born just to the West of London I too don’t pay much attention to the ‘London-centric media and living in Scotland it’s now in my DNA to ignore it however I have a burning question for you.

    If the Labour party in Scotland are seen to be speaking for the English (taking into account they held 41 seats for 10 years and even more before the boundary changes for decades) then why has it taken the Scots so long to wake up and suddenly say “Labour speak for the English”?

    You could be right but it’s something I’ve not heard and the Scottish borders are probably the worse area in Scotland to draw parallels with how Scotland actually thinks politically.

  30. RMJ1
    Corbyn will of course be 91 in 2040 when Even Newer Labour may well be favourites to win
    _______

    Sorry I don’t share your optimism . ;-)

  31. ALLAN CHRISTIE
    I think you make a very good point. The Labour party left me in 1945.
    Trouble is, I was born in 1946.

  32. @ Cooper2802

    If you think that all SNP voters are pro independence, you may want to look at the referendum results.

    Of course, a lot of water has run under the water since then.

  33. Why all these debates ignore Roger Mexico’s reasoned presentation of the data?

  34. I’d add – I’ve even seen on a Green party discussion forum – a proposal for the Greens and Labour to merge if Corbyn wins.

    And a proposal to invite him to run for head of the Green party if he loses. They have a leadership election every 2 years, so the next would be 2016 I think.

    I’m a Green, and don’t think there is any chance of this happening.

    In 2016, there will be a leadership election, where Natalie will stand down and Caroline Lucas will stand again (and win).

    The GP forums are full of guff mostly, as are forums of all parties.

  35. Lazlo

    “Of course, a lot of water has run under the water since then.”

    These bloody people who pee in the swimming pool!

  36. @catmanjeff

    Fair point. I don’t think there is any likelihood of JC winning in a head-to-head with Caroline Lucas (unless the Greens throw their leadership contest open to the public in the way Labour has…….). And I do not take forum banter too seriously. I mention it mainly to emphasise the excitement he’s generating outside, as well as within, the Labour party.

    Our local Green councillor and recent parliamentary candidate is extremely enthusiastic about JC. He sees him as someone who could lead Labour (or a section of Labour, if there is a split) into an alliance with the Greens. Again, it could just be so much hot air. If nothing else it’s got us all having a lively debate about it!

  37. Trying to catch up with Corbynmania but struggling somewhat to get it. I think he stands out in the field as being the ‘none of the above’ candidate, and given the lack of principled platforms amongst the other three, when it comes to the general mood music, Corbyn takes the lead within Labour ranks.

    I find his manifesto thin and poorly explained. Touchstone issues with no real meaning. ‘No more illegal wars’ sounds ace, but we haven’t had any illegal wars, technically. That’s why no one is in prison. But it sounds good.

    Things like nationalising the railways and energy supply sound nice, but for what purpose? I haven’t heard anything remotely close to an analysis of what is wrong with those industries, and how nationalising them would solve it. Is is to protect jobs, improve safety, reduce prices, guarantee capacity, improve service? I don’t know, and I suspect neither does Jeremy – nationalisation just sounds good to Labour folk. It might be the right option, but only if you know what the problem is and think that nationalising will solve that.

    I’m not fixated on who controls the means of production – just that the system works. Corbyn has picked two touchstone industries where he thinks ‘nationalisation’ won’t be seen as a dirty word, but where is the thinking, the strategy or the real meaning?

    For me, Corbyn has the honesty factor, which is a good thing, and he has the outsider mantle, which equally could be a good thing. He has no credibility, and no real clue as to why his policies are needed. It reads more as a crib sheet of leftist wet dreams, rather than a serious attempt to redefine politics in this post crash era.

    Increasingly, economic observers seem to think markets have topped out and the global economy is running out of steam, with eery echoes of the delayed reaction to the 1929 crash as the emergency measures peter out.

    The old (1980’s) economic system is broken, and desperately needs fixing, but I see little real innovation from Corbyn. That Labour has no one able to trounce him on the policy issues says a good deal about the other three, so my conclusion is that Labour has a real problem on it’s hands.

  38. Alec – without wanting to go into an analysis of Corbyn’s or anyone else’s policies, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head as regards his challengers in the race. Whether one regards him as the right man with the right plan or a flimsy chancer, none of the other three seem even close to winning people over, comparatively. At the very worst, he’s the best of what’s on offer as far as leadership contention goes.

  39. Perhaps that was going too far – ‘best in terms of leadership’ – I mean he seems to be streets ahead if what Labour want to do is win the public over. Many might feel he can’t do that with the wider electorate – but if he can’t, what chance have his challengers, for whom we’ve seen nothing like equivalent enthusiasm?

  40. Spearmint

    My piece of anecdata for the day: a friend is considering switching her 1st preference from Burnham to Corbyn because “Jeremy’s website looks more professional”.

    Well I suppose it’s a step up from voting for Burnham because of his eyelashes. But the point is that it is and aren’t we all surprised at the fact? And yet we’ve been getting these ‘surprises’ constantly.

    If there has been any theme that has been recurring over the last few years, it’s the sheer amateurishness of today’s ‘professional’ politicians. They’re usually despised for being slick, bland, self-interested, out of touch, uncaring, obsessed with all the wrong things. But despite living in the world of politics since late youth, they’re most notable for being no good at even the nuts and bolts of their job. They can’t do an interview without looking shifty, justify or attack a policy using the most basic research, sell themselves or a policy to the public. Or indeed know anyone who can design a good website because they don’t know what such a thing is.

    The fact that Jeremy Corbyn, a man who was regarded as faintly anachronistic in 1980s Islington[1] should be able to outflank them so easily is pretty damning. Especially as it’s not just in the traditional virtues of campaigning but the up to date world of the online media.

    [1] I know, I was there. All those Marxism Today seminars and GLC gigs. I even had a donkey jacket.

  41. @Lurking Gherkin (or anyone else who can explain)

    “…what I’m seeing in BTL land all over the internet at the moment…”

    What’s BTL? I know BLT (Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwich)

  42. @AU

    “Surely the Agent Smith would be IDS? I’ve often that The Matrix was what informed his welfare policy.”

    ————-

    Lol, IDS as Agent Smith, talking to a claimant?

    “Oh I’m not so baaad!! Once ya gets ta know me…”

  43. @Pete B: Assuming your enquiry is a serious one…. BTL = Below The Line.

    They say you should never look at the bottom half of the Internet, but I never was good at taking advice.

  44. @Pete B

    It’s “Below The Line”

    I.e. us commenters, commenting below the original post (OP).

    Unless there are other uses…

    Buy the Lego?
    Break the Lintel
    etc.

  45. @ Pete B: In fact, I suppose, technically, we are having this discussion ‘BTL’.

    But somehow it seems nicer here than elsewhere.

  46. Impossible, really, to measure the electability of any of the leadership candidates, as Anthony Wells observes. Perhaps this is partly why the other candidates’ refrain that “Jeremy would keep the Tories in power” is not gaining any traction with Labour party members.

  47. Lurkin and Carfrew

    Thanks for the explanation. Unexplained TCAs really p–s me off.

  48. “The fact that fake Neil Kinnock came up with my plan first is admittedly a compelling argument against it.”

    ————-

    Well, you can be a fake Kinnock too if you want, don’t let that hold you back…

  49. LurkingGherkin

    I don’t think charisma has a great deal to do with it. I certainly wouldn’t describe Corbyn as charismatic.

    In fact, I think at least a fair chunk of the electorate are maybe looking for something other than charisma. If there’s any lesson they’ve learned from recent years, it’s not to place your trust in it.

    We do actually have polling evidence for that from this very Survation poll. Asked to Rank these characteristics in terms of how important you think they are in a political leader, from most important to least important

    Trustworthy 42% / 75%

    In touch with ordinary people 28% / 55%

    Intelligent 20% / 43%

    Normal 4% / 10%

    Tough 4% / 11%

    Charismatic 1% / 6%

    (fist figure top choice only, second based on top two choices)

    which ties in very nicely with what you said. Of course it’s only the qualities that people say they want in a leader not necessarily those qualities they actually vote for. But it’s interesting none the less.

    As I said on the previous thread, I’m not terribly convinced that the characteristics questions have much influence simply because if you look at how the four candidates did on each one[1]:

    http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/candidates-characteristics.png

    they all score pretty much the same as each other on each quality, possibly reflecting more what people feel about the Party rather than the individuals. Not enough people know enough about them yet

    Even where there is some variation, it tends to be against expectation. For example Kendall’s supporters have been praising her ‘toughness’ in terms that Baron Sacher-Masoch[2] would think a bit over the top. But she actually scores far worse on “tough” that the other three. Contrariwise she just tops the poll on ‘normal’. Have you seen that video?[3]

    [1] The graphics all show Corbyn’s figure in bright red while the other three are in various shades of bluey-green (lightest Burnham, darkest Kendall). I assume this in homage to Barbara Castle who, on viewing the set at a Blair-era Party Conference, remarked with some disdain “The people’s flag is pale turquoise”.

    [2] Marianne Faithfull’s great-great-uncle apparently. Though I don’t remember him featuring much in her episode of “Who do you think you are”.

    [3] In this case ‘normal’ probably just translates as “the one we know least about”.

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