Smith vs Corbyn: Survation

Smith vs Corbyn: Survation

Earlier, we published some analysis of the latest personality ratings from Survation.  In it, we compared Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn’s net favourability ratings, and the sheer scale Labour leader’s challenge became obvious.  Even during the Prime Minister’s honeymoon period, it ought to be deeply disconcerting that the Labour leader’s personality ratings are as poor as they are.  You can read our article here.

Though, of course, leaders’ net favourability ratings are greatly important as barometers of popular opinion, the popularity of Jeremy Corbyn has become even more important in the context of the Labour leadership election.  Challenger Owen Smith and his backers have been at pains to emphasise – as part of their pitch to the Labour selectorate – that Jeremy Corbyn’s basic political position is the same as Smith’s.  Their argument is that Corbyn’s personal attributes make him unfit to lead the Labour Party; one of those attributes is his personal popularity, of lack thereof.

This is probably a reasonable suggestion.  It is likely true that the Labour leader is one of the most disliked prominent party leaders in the recent decades.  One part of Owen Smith’s pitch to the Labour selectorate, then, seems fair enough.  But what has attracted far less attention in the leadership debate is how Owen Smith compares to Jeremy Corbyn. 

And thanks to the awesome work of the guys at Survation, we’ve got plenty of data points to work with.  So take a look at our 7 top conclusions in our latest Corbyn v. Smith showdown:

1.       Owen Smith is substantially more popular than Jeremy Corbyn.  The evidence for this is overwhelming.  Not only is his lead among the totality of respondents high at 19.7 points, he leads by double digits in almost every single category of voters.  In fact, of the approximately 25 voter categories Survation polled, only one – the 18-34 age group – gives Jeremy Corbyn a lead over his challenger; and his lead there is pretty miniscule at only 0.3.

2.       Though ‘more popular’ should really read ‘less unpopular’.  Owen Smith, to put it bluntly, is quite an unpopular politician.  He is only seen positively by four categories of voters – 18-34-year-olds, 2015 Labour voters, Londoners, and Welsh voters.  As a result, then, his leads over Jeremy Corbyn are not thanks to his popularity, but Corbyn’s great unpopularity amongst voters in the country.  What should be even more troubling for Owen Smith and his supporters is that he is still quite a little-known figure in the country – his ‘don’t know’ rating among respondents was 21.3 whereas Corbyn’s was only 3.4.  It probably ought to be a cause for concern that a politician as relatively unknown as Owen Smith should be seen unfavourably by so many categories of voters, though, of course, being less known means that voters are less entrenched in their perceptions that they otherwise might be, giving Smith an opportunity to mould how he is viewed.

3.       Corbyn’s lead with younger voters barely exists.  Those under the illusion that Jeremy Corbyn is hugely popular with young voters may find it startling that his net favourability rating among the 18-34 age group stands at a quite measly +2.8.  The same data point for Owen Smith is +2.5, giving the Labour leader a small lead of 0.3 points.

4.       The two candidates are roughly tied among those who voted Labour in 2015.  People who voted for Labour at the last general election gave Owen Smith a positive net favourability rating of 9.2, and gave Jeremy Corbyn a net favourability rating of 8.6.  The challenger, therefore, chalks up a small lead of 0.6 points.

5.       Interestingly, Smith’s lead over Corbyn is higher among Leave voters than Remain voters.  Given the staunchly pro-EU nature of his campaign for the Labour leadership, it may be quite surprising that Smith’s lead over Corbyn is larger among those who voted to Leave the European Union – at 27.8 points – than among those who wanted to stay in the EU, where his lead is 10.7 points.  However, the data present quite a nuanced picture here: in fact, Owen Smith is less popular among Leave supporters (-16.5) than he is among Remain supporters (-9.4).  The reason his lead is greater among Leavers than Remainers is simply because Jeremy Corbyn’s differential is so large: the Labour leader’s net favourability rating among Remainers is -20.1, while among Leavers it is -44.3.  This statistic may show the Labour leader’s big problem on the EU issue: while Remain voters might feel he didn’t do enough to keep Britain inside the union, he doesn’t appeal to the conservative, ‘Old Labour’ voter, either.

6.       Of Owen Smith’s three largest leads over Jeremy Corbyn, two are among those who voted Conservative or UKIP last year.  Among those who voted Conservative at the last general election, Smith has a 35.9 point lead over the Labour leader; and among those who voted UKIP, he enjoys a lead of 40.1 points.  Ordinarily, this would be a great bit of polling for a challenger, as it suggests he may be better equipped to bring conservative voters into the Labour fold.  However, given the way this leadership election battle is going, this may well turn out to be a liability for him.

7.       Smith appeals more than Corbyn to those who didn’t vote at the last election.  Smith’s net favourability rating among those who said they didn’t vote in 2015 is -5.8, while Corbyn’s is -15.7.  This might, therefore, raise some doubts about Corbyn’s claim to be enthusing previously disenfranchised voters more than any other politician.  However, caution must be exercised here: people who don’t vote are usually less politically aware than those who do vote.  Owen Smith’s more neutral net popularity rating may therefore be a function of this lack of opinion on either side.

That's it folks - those are our 7 top conclusions from this Survation showdown.  Before we conclude, it ought to be noted that this analysis is done more out of interest than anything else; it remains exceedingly unlikely that Owen Smith will win the Labour leadership in a few weeks’ time, and so his relative popularity in the country-at-large may well remain simply academic.  However, the basic takeaway from this Survation poll is quite clear: Owen Smith is substantially less unpopular than Jeremy Corbyn, though his supporters ought to be extremely worried about his already high unpopularity ratings.

For those on both sides of the Labour divide, this analysis probably didn’t make for the most comfortable of reading.  We do hope, however, that you found it at the very least insightful.  If you like our work, please do give us a retweet on Twitter, share this article, or follow us!

(And by the way, as usual, we urge you to check out the Survation poll here – though you can see a digest in the tables below.)

Jeremy Corbyn

Group

Favourable

Unfavourable

Net

Neither

Total

22.3

53

-30.7

21.3

Male

20.3

59.9

-39.6

17.5

Female

24.3

46.3

-22

24.8

18-34

35.2

32.4

2.8

24.9

35-54

20

53.7

-33.7

23.4

55+

14.7

67.8

-53.1

16.4

CON 2015

11.2

73.6

-62.4

13.9

LAB 2015

41.4

32.8

8.6

23

LIB DEM 2015

14.7

57.6

-42.9

25.6

UKIP 2015

7.6

69.4

-61.8

22.7

OTHER 2015

29.4

53.2

-23.8

16.9

Did not vote in 2015

23.1

38.8

-15.7

25.9

AB

20.4

56.8

-36.4

19.1

C1

23.3

50.1

-26.8

23.7

C2

17.6

59.7

-42.1

19.8

DE

28.2

46

-17.8

21.1

London

28.4

44.2

-15.8

23.6

Midlands

24.1

49.2

-25.1

24.3

North

20.1

53.6

-33.5

21.1

South

23.3

56.6

-33.3

17.2

England

23.4

52

-28.6

20.7

Scotland

16.1

57

-40.9

26.3

Wales

23.6

44.7

-21.1

28.8

NI

11.2

75.9

-64.7

12.8

EURef Leave

16.1

60.4

-44.3

21.8

EURef Remain

29.9

50

-20.1

18.5

Owen Smith

Group

Favourable

Unfavourable

Net

Neither

Total

15.4

26.4

-11

21.3

Male

16.6

31.1

-14.5

17.5

Female

14.1

21.8

-7.7

24.8

18-34

19.3

16.8

2.5

24.9

35-54

16.1

24

-7.9

23.4

55+

11.5

35.9

-24.4

16.4

CON 2015

11.5

38

-26.5

13.9

LAB 2015

23.7

14.5

9.2

23

LIB DEM 2015

18.2

37.8

-19.6

25.6

UKIP 2015

13.1

34.8

-21.7

22.7

OTHER 2015

14.2

28.2

-14

16.9

Did not vote in 2015

11.4

17.2

-5.8

25.9

AB

22.8

26.5

-3.7

19.1

C1

10.7

29.5

-18.8

23.7

C2

13.5

22.3

-8.8

19.8

DE

13.4

22

-8.6

21.1

London

23.5

17.8

5.7

23.6

Midlands

13.6

27.9

-14.3

24.3

North

15.8

27.7

-11.9

21.1

South

13.4

27.6

-14.2

17.2

England

15.6

26.2

-10.6

20.7

Scotland

8.7

35.2

-26.5

26.3

Wales

30.6

20.7

9.9

28.8

NI

6.2

12.8

-6.6

12.8

EURef Leave

13.2

29.7

-16.5

21.8

EURef Remain

17.4

26.8

-9.4

18.5

Brexit: What do we think?

Brexit: What do we think?

May vs Corbyn: Survation

May vs Corbyn: Survation