Archive for the 'Leader approval ratings' Category


LAB might now be back level pegging in voting polls but Corbyn’s leader ratings should be a cause for concern

Friday, April 20th, 2018

His handling of the antisemitism issue might be driving this

The above the data comes from Opinium the only pollster which does at least a monthly survey of leader approval ratings which means that we have sufficient data points to identify trend. The last numbers were from fieldwork last week before Tuesdays antisemitism debate in the Commons which got a lot of very negative coverage ad helped to deflect a little from Mrs. May’s Windrush problem.

What is striking is the very big difference we have with the leader numbers and the trend in voting polls which have very much been stable over the last few months.

The chart of surveys since the election last June shows an initial boost for Mr Corbyn who went into positive territory. Then there was something of a decline followed by these latest numbers which might be down to the ongoing row within the Labour Party on its treatment of antisemitism.

What we do know is that if we’d been following the leader ratings rather than the voter poll movements before the last election the result would have been less of a shock. Corbyn’s were improving and May’s declining in the run up to polling day. It was the same at the 2015 election when although the voting polls were relatively level Ed Miliband trailed badly on the leader ratings.

In fact in all recent elections when the voting polls got it wrong the leader ratings were better pointers.

Mike Smithson


If the Windrush affair has an impact in the polls expect it to be seen most in the leader ratings not voting intention

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Could it reverse TMay’s steady recovery since GE2017?

Above is a chart based on Opinium’s net approval ratings for the PM since GE2017. I choose this pollster because it is one of just two that just about always every month publish the latest leader ratings which gives us enough data points for analysis. I wish other firms would follow this lead.

As can be seen TMay made something of a recovery in the immediate post-election period until October when the Opinium fieldwork took place shortly after her disastrous and highly publicised conference speech.

During 2018 there has been a recovery and in the past two months she has had better net ratings than Corbyn.

This week’s news has been very much about TMay because it was on her watch as Home Secretary between 2010 and 2016 that the changes took place which are now causing so much concern.

Mike Smithson


Why we should focus much more on leader ratings and less on voting intention

Monday, April 9th, 2018

If we’d done that last June the outcome would have been much less of a shock

The publication of two sets of leader ratings by Deltapoll and YouGov over the weekend has put a lot of attention on these regular trackers which the records suggest are a better guide to what will happen in elections than voting intention polls.

    We know that the voting numbers with one exception in GE2017 joined GE2015 and GE1992 in being some way out and gave a wrong view of what would happen. However if we had relied solely in each election on the leader numbers we probably would have predicted it better.

Two tables from YouGov showing the trend in it well/badly ratings for Political leaders in the months ahead of GE2017. As can be seen Mrs May was in a totally dominant position and maintained that lead right through until the final poll when she was showing a 5% negative. This compared with huge leads earlier in the year.

Yesterday the new polling company established by Joe Twyman, formerly of YouGov, and Martin Boon, ex-ICM, produced the first poll for the Observer. Its findings on LAB’s anti-semitism have made the most headlines but I was pleased to see that is highlighting leader ratings and is not focusing everything on voting intention. In fact there are no voting numbers in the poll although the sample was asked what they did at the last general election. That’s good thinking because it will increase the attention that’s given to these findings.

At GE2015 the final polls had it tight but all the different leader ratings had EdM trailing behind Cameron. It was the same at GE1992 when the polls had it neck and next but Major had very clear leads over Kinnock in the ratings.

A big problem with voting intention polling is that unlike almost all other political polling you are not asking respondents for their view on a subject. Rather you are trying to establish whether at a future date they will act in a particular way if at all. So we have to add on all sorts of complicated calculations in relation to whether they will actually do as they say and turn out on the day and vote. Then we can get into more complex analysis of whether particular groups are responding in a different way to the turn out question so their views can be discounted.

Leader ratings ares simpler and I’d argue the record shoes gives you a higher quality of response.

Mike Smithson


Despite 34% voters thinking Jeremy Corbyn personally has anti-Semitic views Boris Johnson’s approval ratings are near identical to Corbyn

Sunday, April 8th, 2018

Further proof that Johnson’s going to pull out of another Tory leadership contest?

I’m a fan of approval ratings as they are a very good pointers to general elections, as Mrs May’s alarming collapse in the closing stages of the 2017 general election confirmed.  So this morning’s debut poll by DeltaPoll caught my eye for this very reason.

For many Tories Boris Johnson is the man to win the Tories a majority in 2022 against Corbyn but if his ratings are on a par with Corbyn then his appeal will wane further. My view is that this polling is reflection of Johnson’s role in Brexit and his tenure as Foreign Secretary where his blundering gave succour to Putin.

If you take away Boris Johnson’s electoral appeal what exactly does he offer apart from buffoonery with the occasional classical history reference?

When Theresa May and Philip Hammond have substantially better ratings than Boris Johnson then Tory MPs and activists will look elsewhere especially Corbyn is now personally getting tainted with anti-Semitism as seen in the tweet above. Do they really want someone who has equivalent ratings to Corbyn?

In 2016 Boris Johnson declined to run for the Tory leadership after seeing his popularity take a hit then I suspect he’ll decline to run again when Mrs May is replaced if his ratings maintain this trajectory, bet accordingly.

You can view the full entrails of the DeltaPoll here.



Jeremy Corbyn is an unconventional politician, the normal rules of politics and polling don’t apply to him

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Some underestimate just how good a campaigner Jeremy Corbyn is and crucially he likes campaigning.

There’s been quite a lot of comment about Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour not polling well enough against the Tories to ensure he becomes Prime Minister after the next general election. But my hypothesis is that the only time we should judge Corbyn is during a general election campaign.

I’ve got this feeling those people are once again underestimating Corbyn because he’s not a conventional politician, he’s someone who enjoys campaigning in the good old fashioned pavement pounding, mass rally way as well mastering social media. Whatever the election and voting system Corbyn does better than expected, he won easily in 2015 despite the Labour party using the alternative vote system which is geared to stop candidates like him winning.

Now there’s a strong argument that there’s no way the Tories can run the next general campaign as poorly as they did in 2017, but if Corbyn wasn’t any good he wouldn’t have overseen an increase in Labour’s share of the vote and seats. It wasn’t solely down to a poor campaign by Mrs May.

Mrs May is crap at campaigning, but even when she is replaced there’s no one who appears to be a stand out campaigner out of her likely replacements. Boris Johnson can argue he fits the bill, having twice won Labour London and the EU referendum, but I think the latter role makes him to divisive to be a net positive during a general election campaign. It isn’t inconceivable that Boris loses his seat at the next election which could damage his ability to campaign effectively during the next election campaign.

There’s only three Tories who I think could match Corbyn on the campaigning front, sadly for the Tory party the time of David Cameron and Sir John Major has come and gone, whilst Ruth Davidson isn’t even an MP.

There’s an arrogance and stupidity from a lot of Tories when it comes to Jeremy Corbyn, as evidenced by the tweets below, the current vice chair for Youth of the Tory Party and the favourite to succeed Theresa May have had to apologise for their incorrect attacks on Mr Corbyn.

So inept was Mr Bradley’s attack that his tweet apologising to Mr Corbyn has become the most retweeted tweet of 2018, even outdoing any of Donald Trump’s tweets of 2018.

This level of ineptness makes it much more difficult to score effective hits on Corbyn in the future. The last general election campaign also coincided when the broadcast media had a legal obligation to be impartial, that undoubtedly helped Corbyn. Hyperbolic press stories such as the Czech spy stuff we’ve seen in recent weeks won’t dominate the airwaves during a general election campaign.

In two of the last three general elections the pollsters have generally underestimated Labour, something that isn’t discussed nearly enough. Recently Keiran Pedley did a twitter thread on the potential of the voting intention polls be underestimating Labour, so Labour’s position is a lot more rosier than people realise if that systemic error is repeated.

If you’re not already mentally prepared for the possibility Jeremy Corbyn you should be, if around 950 voters had voted differently last June or Ruth Davidson hadn’t overseen a Tory revival in Scotland then Jeremy Corbyn would be Prime Minister today. That is some achievement considering Labour were 25% behind the Tories the weekend after Mrs May called the election.

Five weeks before the 2017 general election Labour lost nearly a net 500 councillors, yet that didn’t stop Labour making net gains on June 8th, Jeremy Corbyn knows how to perform during a general election campaign when the pressure is on.

In August 2016 I wrote that no one has become rich by underestimating Mr Corbyn, eighteen months on nothing is making me doubt the veracity of that observation


Hat-tip to AndyJS for the 950 voters figure.


TMay falls further behind Corbyn in latest YouGov favourability ratings

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

And CON voters are moving away from Boris

Mike Smithson


Labour’s Brighton exuberance over Corbyn isn’t supported by his leader ratings

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Things have barely moved since June 8th

Opinium – Leader Approval ratings

Ipsos-MORI – Leader Satisfaction Ratings

The former BBC Political Research chief, David Cowling, has produced the above tables so we can track how leader ratings have moved over the past six months. These are important because historically they have a good record on pointing to electoral outcomes. The GE2015 outcome would have been less of a shock if we’d tracked EdM’s personal numbers rather than the voting intention polls.

The mainstays of leader ratings, the pollsters that do it at least once a month are Opinium and Ipsos-MORI. The two ask a different question but the broad picture is the same on Corbyn. He’s slipped back from his post-general election high.

Meanwhile Mrs. May is making something of a recovery though her position is miles away from the 20% plus net positives that she enjoyed in the weeks after declaring her intention of holding an election.

It used to be that parties got polling boosts in the surveys immediately after their conferences. Whether that will hold good this tie we’ll have to see.

Mike Smithson


The Lord Adonis guide to predicting elections: The best leader wins – nothing else matters

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

The LAB peer and former cabinet minister, Andrew Adonis, has a fascinating essay in the latest edition of Prospect on the best guide to election forecasting. His conclusion is encapsulated in the headline above – the party with the leader perceived to be best wins and nothing else matters.

He opens by recalling a Guardian article by Jonathan Freedland when Brown was PM and when many in the Labour party were demanding a new debate on “the issues”

Freedland cautioned that “people do not believe in ideas: they believe in people who believe in ideas.” The moment I read those words, a penny dropped, and my conviction has become stronger with each passing year I have spent in politics, that the battle of ideas in politics—indeed in life—cannot be comprehended separately from the people who hold and espouse those ideas.

This is a view I have long espoused noting that the leader ratings in the elections where the polls were out on voting intention (1992, and 2015 for instance) were a better guide to the eventual outcomes.

Adonis has produced the above ratings on every UK and US election since 1944. The numbers for each main party leader/presidential are derived not from polling but his personal assessment. He notes:-

“. Instead, “leadership points” are given to the two individual leaders contending for power on a 15-point scale. Up to 10 points are awarded for raw leadership talent, and up to another five for fitting with the times. The “winner” is the candidate with most points.”

His ratings appear broadly about right though, no doubt, many would quibble.

So his overall verdict that only in one of all the US and UK election since 1944 did the person perceived as not the best leader win is derived from his own numbers. That does not make the analysis or the main point wrong.

Elections are about choosing those we wish to lead us and if we are broadly satisfied with someone on that count then we are generally more willing to accept policy positions that we are less happy about. We see this in those polling tests when we can observe changed levels of support for an policy if we link a leader’s name to the proposal. Thus in the run-up to GE2015 the EdM plan to bring in energy price controls attracted greater levels of support when his name was not linked to the plan.

Mike Smithson