May vs Corbyn: ComRes August ‘16

May vs Corbyn: ComRes August ‘16

In this, the first in our leader match-up series, we look at the latest poll from ComRes on behalf of the Sunday Mirror and the Independent.

It was never a surprise that Theresa May would experience a honeymoon.  From John Major’s 11-point lead soon after he took office to Not Flash, Just Gordon Brown’s brief period as father of the nation, newly-minted Prime Ministers who move into Downing Street mid-term always find themselves in the nation’s good books.  This time, though, was a perfect storm.  The combination of the fresh-face effect, the desire to regain stability following the Brexit vote, and the short-lived Tory selection process in which even Labour voters yearned to see May elected leader, all meant that when she finally took the crown, there was a collective sigh of relief.  Keen to be characterised by the pundits as a strong, stable, if somewhat stolid leader, she pointed to her atypically disaster-less record at the Home Office – traditionally the grave yard of political careers – and to her promise that ‘Brexit means Brexit’.  Given the electoral strength of Angela ‘Mutti’ Merkel’s mature persona, Theresa May can’t be blamed for wanting to take some of that for herself.  But what do the people of the country think of her?  And, more importantly, how does she compare to the Labour leader?


Theresa May’s net favourability rating amongst men is +12, and amongst women is +24.  This, too, is expected; her frequent references to compassionate politics, combined with her gender, makes her well-suited to gaining popularity with women.  Jeremy Corbyn, however, is seen unfavourably by both men and women – and by greater degrees than Theresa May, as well.  His net popularity with men is -32 and with women is -23.


In this latest ComRes poll, the only way Corbyn beats May is if voters are diced up by age.  Here’s the breakdown:

Voter age group



Who wins?

18 to 24



Corbyn - 4

25 to 34



Corbyn - 3

35 to 44



May - 28

45 to 54



May - 44

55 to 64



May - 69

65 and older



May - 109


Corbyn chalks up two wins here: in the 18 to 24 age group as well as the 25 to 34 age group.  But these are surprisingly small victories.  Traditionally, the Labour leader does a lot better among the young than the Tory leader – especially a Tory Prime Minister.  But the size of his wins – the difference between the net favourability of May and himself – is small in both cases.  What is also surprising is the fact that Corbyn doesn’t, in fact, manage a net positive rating among these voters.  For a leader who promises to bring back the young, disenfranchised voter, this ought to be a cause for concern, especially when these voters need to be extra-enthusiastic to go out and vote on election day.

And though the Labour leader manages to win the under-35 age groups, he losses in older voters can only be described as a blow-out.  With the Prime Minister’s double-digit favourability ratings and his double-digit un-favourability ratings, the head-to-head match-ups are astonishing.  In the 35 to 44 age group match-up, May wins by 28 points, and the size of the wins grow quickly.  By the 65-and-older age group, Theresa May’s win is by 109 points.  What we could be seeing here is a juggernaut coalition of voters who are both heavily in favour of the Conservative leader and are, statistically, more likely to vote come election day.

Social Class

This is where things get really bad for the Labour leader.  Because although Theresa May’s victories in the AB and C1 categories (+30 and +20, respectively, compared to Corbyn’s -27 and -29) tell us relatively little as they are often Tory strong-holds, her wins against Corbyn in the C2 (skilled manual occupations) and DE (the rest) are perhaps the most damning indictment a leader of a working-class-oriented party could receive.  While the Tory leader’s net ratings in C2 and DE groups are +16 and +5, respectively, Jeremy Corbyn’s are -27 and -26.  In fact, quite astonishingly, he is roughly just as unpopular with the rich as with the poor.

Social class



Who wins?




May - 57




May - 49




May - 43




May - 31


By region




Who wins?




May - 49




May - 14




May - 42




May - 57




May - 50


Again, when voters are split by broad regions, Theresa May comes out the winner.  In all the regions of England in the table above, the differences in the two party leaders’ net favourability ratings are in the double-digits. 

But Scotland still looks like a problem area for both Labour and the Tories, with both leaders being statistically unpopular there.  What might happen in the next few years may be dramatic, but in the meantime it looks like the only way for a party to win power in Westminster is to bag a convincing win in England.

Compared to their own parties

Just as a little side note, it’s worth comparing the leaders’ ratings to their parties’ ratings.  Theresa May, with her net rating of +18 is considerably more popular than the Tory party which has a rating of -11.  On the other hand, Jeremy Corbyn, with his -28, is actually even less popular than his own party, which has a net rating of -20.

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