Labour's Leavers

Labour's Leavers

Yesterday, YouGov released its latest voting intention poll for The Times, and it’s a big one.  While it has all the usual data behind the voting figures, it also features a rather interesting set of questions asked to people who voted Labour in 2015 but who also voted to leave the European Union.  And the conclusions won’t be easy to swallow for readers hoping for a Labour government after the next election – especially those who are fond of the Labour leader.

We should probably disclose at this point that we post our articles at 8 o’clock in the morning.  And given that the Labour leadership election result will be announced at 11:45 tomorrow, it’s possible that a decent chunk of this analysis will be rendered useless within 4 hours.  But given that the bookies have Jeremy Corbyn on 99% for the leadership, we’ll assume that he will be comfortably re-elected.

Anyway, enough of the small talk: here are the 7 top things you need to know from this poll (which, by the way, you can access here).

1.       The Tories’ summer honeymoon is over, but they’re holding steady and still retain a substantial lead.  The figure below shows the Polling Digest poll of polls, featuring Westminster voting intention data since the May 2015 election. 

Looking at the blue line, it’s clear that the Conservatives enjoyed a big boost in the polls in the aftermath of the EU referendum.  A combination of Labour’s collapse – with 80% of its Parliamentary party voting ‘no confidence’ in its leader – and the ‘new shiny Prime Minister’ effect meant that the Tory vote share in our model shot up from 33.5 points on 26th June to 41 points by 8th August.  This had the effect of giving the Tories a lead – at the 8th August peak – of an astonishing 13.75 points.  Polling results for the Conservatives since this point, however, show that this rise halted around mid-August.  And ever since that point the party has hovered around the 40-point mark.  The YouGov poll puts them at 39%, with Labour on 30%.

2.       The age divide among Labour supporters and Tory supporters is large and unchanged – and should worry Labour.  The YouGov data here are entirely unsurprising: they give Labour a large lead among younger voters and the Conservatives a large (larger) lead among older voters.  Here are the numbers:

Age category

Conservatives

Labour

Lead

18-24

23%

50%

Labour +27

25-49

32%

37%

Labour +5

50-64

39%

26%

Conservatives +13

65+

56%

16%

Conservatives +40

At first glance, these data may look like a net-neutral in a comparison of Labour and the Conservatives.  However, there are two important details which show that the Conservatives have a clear advantage when we cut up voters by age.  The first is a basic comparison of the sizes of each parties’ victories: the Labour Party’s arithmetic mean in their leads (among the 18-24s and 25-49s) is 16 points, while the Conservatives hold an average lead among the older age categories of 27 points.  The second detail to note is that there is a general trend in age-category turnout: basically, young people don’t vote and old people do.  That trend is very well supported in this poll.  YouGov asked its respondents to rank from 1-10 how likely they are to vote.  Below are the percentages of voters in each age category who say they are likely to vote – where a ‘likely’ vote is measured as a response of 8 or higher:

Age category

Proportion likely to vote (8-10)

18-24

58%

25-49

67%

50-64

79%

65+

87%

This, then, shows that while 58% of 18-24 year-olds say they are likely to vote, a much higher 87% of the 65+ category say the same.  As a result, while the Conservatives lose in the 24-49 age bracket, they win big in the high turnout age groups.

3.       The SNP have an 29-point lead in Scotland.  The nationalists, from this poll, retain their strong grip on Scottish politics.  YouGov gives them a Westminster voting intention result of 52%, with the Conservatives – now the second largest party by voting intention – a vote share of 23%.  Labour is on 17%, with the Liberal Democrats and UKIP both on 3%.  The Greens chalk up a 3% share of the vote.

4.       Only two-thirds of Labour 2015 voters who voted to Leave currently intend to vote for the party at the next election.  Indeed, 14% of these voters intend to vote Conservative at the next election, while 11% said they’d vote UKIP.  When pushed and asked how they’d vote if there were an election tomorrow, only 48% of Labour 2015 ‘Brexiters’ said they’d vote for the same party again.

5.       But Labour 2015 voters who are also Remainers are much more likely to vote for Labour again.  A very comfortable majority – 82% - of Labour 2015 voters who backed the Remain campaign said they intend to vote Labour again.  Interestingly, the Lib Dems were the next-favourite party for Labour 2015 ‘Remainers’: 7% said they’d vote for them at the next election. 

6.       UKIP is a slightly bigger threat for the Conservatives than for Labour.  The threat, however, is small for both parties: 5% of those who voted Tory at the last election said they intend to vote for UKIP, and 3% of Labour’s 2015 voters responded that they’d vote for the party.  Indeed, it seems to be the case that since the referendum, the two major parties are rather more threatening to UKIP than the other way around: 19% of 2015 UKIP voters now intend to vote for the Conservatives.

7.       Labour 2015 voters who are now not intending to vote Labour at the next election cite Jeremy Corbyn as their biggest reason for turning away from the party.  For a while now within the Labour Party, there’s been strong disagreement about the source of party’s poor polling ratings.  Is it the PLP?  Is it the Blair legacy?  Is it the leader?  Is it just bad luck?  Well, for voters who voted for Labour in 2015, that question has been pretty clearly answered.  Of those 2015 Labour voters who said they now do not intend to vote Labour at the next election, a huge 71% said their turning away from the party is because they feel Jeremy Corbyn would not make a good Prime Minister.  Competence is also a big issue for former Labour voters turned off by the party: 56% of those ‘defectors’ said they feel Labour is not able to form a competent government.  And while 35% of the party’s 2015 voters feel the party has moved too far to the left to have their vote, only 9% have turned away from the party because it isn’t radical enough.

 

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