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Party Leadership Questions from the new Barometer poll

Our latest Welsh Political Barometer pol included two sets of questions about party leadership. Both produce some interesting results.

First, we included our now usual question that asks respondents to the poll to rate leaders on a 0-10 scale. We asked this question for all the main Welsh party leaders, plus the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition. Here are the average ratings out of 10 for each leader, along with the change since the question was asked in our last poll. For Theresa May, the ‘change’ represents how her rating now compares with that for David Cameron in the July Welsh Political Barometer poll.

 

Leader Average /10 Change Since July
Theresa May 4.7 +1.1
Jeremy Corbyn 4.0 -0.1
Carwyn Jones 4.5 -0.3
Leanne Wood 4.5 -0.4
Andrew RT Davies 3.4 -0.2
Mark Williams 3.6 -0.5
Alice Hooker-Stroud 3.3 -0.5
Neil Hamilton 2.0 -0.1

 

There are several notable aspects to these results. First, and perhaps most obvious, Theresa May appears to be currently doing very well with the Welsh public. In this poll she was the most popular of all the leaders that we asked about. This helps explain the significant Conservative advance in vote share that the Barometer poll has also found. We don’t know how long it will last, but the Prime Minister currently appears to be experiencing something of a honeymoon period with the Welsh public.

Another notable aspect of these results is that all of the Welsh leaders have seen their ratings decline to some degree – and Neil Hamilton’s to the scarcely-believable level of averaging only 2.0 out of 10! As public memories of the Assembly election campaign fade, and with the focus of political attention in recent weeks having been much more on Westminster and dealing with Brexit, the Welsh public appear to have become less inclined to give the Welsh leaders the benefit of the doubt. But we will have to wait for subsequent polls to see whether this pattern persists.

In addition to this set of questions, however, the Barometer poll also asked about the two candidates for the Labour leadership. First, we asked “If you had a vote in the Labour leadership election, who would you vote for?”

The results were as follows:

 

Jeremy Corbyn: 32%

Owen Smith: 27%

Don’t Know: 41%

 

These results hardly suggest a great mood of public confidence behind either leadership contender! But it must be disappointing for the Owen Smith campaign that, even in his Welsh political base, he is unable to lead Jeremy Corbyn. If we look at the details of the results, moreover, we find that Corbyn is much further ahead among Labour voters. The only group with whom Smith leads Corbyn clearly are current Conservative supporters. Of course, Smith supporters might well contend that current Labour supporters are the people who have stuck with the party under the Corbyn leadership, while current Conservative supporters include many people that Labour have to win over to achieve an election victory.

In addition to this question, we asked our sample whether victory for either candidate would “make you more likely or less likely to vote for Labour, or will it make no difference?” As is usual with this type of question, lots of people say that it would make no difference – they would either vote Labour anyway, or they would not vote Labour anyway. And others choose the Don’t Know option. But the balance of those choosing ‘more’ and ‘less’ likely can still, I think, tell us something about how the two contenders are going down with the Welsh public. Here are the figures:

 

Owen Smith Whole Sample Labour Westminster Supporters
% More Likely to vote Labour

if he wins

12% 13%
% Less likely to vote Labour

if he wins

18% 40%
 

Jeremy Corbyn

% More Likely to vote Labour

if he wins

17% 44%
% Less likely to vote Labour

if he wins

16% 10%

 

These results again show Corbyn doing much better than Smith with Labour supporters. We don’t quite know how the population of Labour supporters relates to the Labour party membership. Nonetheless, it is difficult to see that these findings can be seen as at all encouraging for Owen Smith’s apparently slim chances of victory in the leadership race.

When we look at the results for the whole sample, we again find that a substantial proportion of people in Wales seem to be distinctly unimpressed by both candidates. Fully 41% of the sample said that the result made no difference – that they would not vote Labour anyway. Perhaps the biggest message to be taken from these results is a negative one for Owen Smith. Whatever is the answer to the Labour party’s problems, he has not yet convinced much of the public – even in his own Welsh base – that it is him.

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