The Corbyn Bounce?

Roger Scully outlines the results from the first political barometer poll since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader.

In the brief period since he became party leader, people have been wondering whether Jeremy Corbyn might produce a boost to Labour’s support. The few Britain-wide polls conducted have so far shown little signs of this. But our new Welsh Political Barometer poll provides the first evidence, in Wales at least, suggesting a ‘Corbyn-bounce’ for Labour.

We see this both for Westminster and for the National Assembly. When we asked about general election voting intention, we saw the following levels of support for the parties (with changes on our last poll, in June, in brackets):

Labour: 42% (+5)

Conservative: 26% (-2)

UKIP: 16% (+1)

Plaid Cymru: 10% (-2)

Liberal Democrats: 5% (+1)

Others: 2% (-2)

This is a significant rise in support for Labour, putting them well above the 36.9% of the vote they secured in May’s election. If we take the changes since the general election implied by this poll, and apply them uniformly across Wales, then Labour would be projected to make three gains from their result in May – capturing Cardiff North, Gower and the Vale of Clwyd, all from the Conservatives. That would reduce the Conservatives in Wales once more to eight seats (the same number they had before the election), and increase Labour’s total to 28.

What about the National Assembly? We might expect that any ‘Corbyn effect’ would be less strong at the devolved level – after all, Jeremy Corbyn leads his party from Westminster and will not be standing in Wales next year. However, here too we see Labour’s support boosted significantly since our previous poll. Here are the figures for the constituency vote (with changes on our last poll, in June, again in brackets):

Labour: 39% (+4)

Conservatives: 23% (no change)

Plaid Cymru: 18% (-2)

UKIP: 13% (-1)

Liberal Democrats: 6% (+1)

Others: 2% (-1)

On the assumption of uniform national swing since the last Assembly election, this poll projects only one constituency seat to change hands: Plaid Cymru gaining Llanelli from Labour.

The figures for the regional list vote were as follows (with changes from the previous Barometer poll again indicated):

Labour: 34% (+2)

Conservatives: 24% (+2)

Plaid Cymru: 18% (-2)

UKIP: 14% (no change)

Liberal Democrats: 5% (no change)

Greens: 4% (no change)

Others: 2% (-1)

Again assuming uniform swings from 2011 across Wales, and after taking into account the distribution of constituency seats when allocating the list seats, this gives us the following projected overall outcome for the National Assembly:


Labour: 29 seats (27 constituency seats + 2 list seats)

Conservatives: 12 seats (6 constituency seats + 6 list seats)

Plaid Cymru: 10 seats (6 constituency seats + 4 list seats)

UKIP: 8 seats (8 list seats)

Liberal Democrats: 1 seats (1 constituency seat)

With little more than seven months to go until the National Assembly election in May, Labour thus remain well ahead of the field. And after having had a disappointing general election, the boost we see in their support in this new Barometer poll must be heartening for them. The details of the poll point to Labour doing particularly well amongst some of those who voted for Plaid Cymru and the Lib-Dems in May’s general election: nearly a quarter of those in our sample who voted for Plaid Cymru, and almost a third of Lib-Dem voters, now say they would vote Labour in a general election. At the same time, we must remember that it is only one poll; and also that if there has been a ‘Corbyn bounce’ for Labour, the party will need to sustain that all the way to the Assembly election next year for it to produce tangible results.

For the Conservatives, this poll will also surely be encouraging. Although their support for Westminster has slipped slightly since our poll in May, for the Assembly their numbers remain impressively robust. This poll has them in a very clear second place on both ballots for the devolved election, a position on which they can look to build during the campaign. In contrast, for Plaid Cymru this poll must be a disappointment, with their vote slipping by two points across the board. That may simply be random sampling variation from one poll to the next, but this poll suggests that far from challenging the Tories for second place in the Assembly election, UKIP may even put them in danger of coming fourth in the popular vote. For UKIP, this poll is yet further evidence that their strong election performance in May was no one-off, and that next year’s devolved election is replete with potential for the party. For the Liberal Democrats, about the best thing you can say is that this poll suggests that things may have stopped getting worse.

I’ll be back with more later.


And for the real hard-core Elections in Wales followers out there, here are the Ratio Swing projections from the poll.

For Westminster, Ratio Swing produces exactly the same projected result as UNS – Labour gaining Cardiff North, Gower and Vale of Clwyd. No other seats are projected to change hands.

For the Assembly, Ratio Swing projects two constituencies to change hands (rather than the one projected under UNS): Llanelli (being won by Plaid Cymru from Labour) and Brecon & Radnor (being won by the Conservatives from the Liberal Democrats). Once the regional list seats are computed, we get the following projected outcome:

Labour: 29 seats (27 constituency seats + 2 list seats)

Conservatives: 13 seats (7 constituency seats + 6 list seats)

Plaid Cymru: 10 seats (6 constituency seats + 4 list seats)

UKIP: 7 seats (7 list seats)

Liberal Democrats: 1 seats (1 list seat)

Roger Scully is a Professor of Political Science in the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University. This piece has been published on Roger's blog 'Elections in Wales' (

15 thoughts on “The Corbyn Bounce?

  1. Jeremy Corbyn’s policies are much closer to the mainstream in Wales – there’s no existential angst involved and no Imperial Establishment to appease (in theory at least) – so its not a major suprise (pace dinosaurs) but again our national polity becomes a proxy for the Westminster fight. Labour ain’t gonna change its spots anytime soon – whoever leads them.

  2. Now that the IWA has become an openly Labour supporting organization (by Lee Walters offering to live among the people of Llanelli if they support him) are we only to get good news for Welsh Labour stories?

  3. Those UKIP figures are much much higher than those found in recent UK polling where as before, here, they’ve either been slightly below the English figures or pretty much tracked them.

    The election of Corbyn also makes Plaid’s anti austerity USP look rather weak

  4. Should anyone be surprised by this? Wales is a traditionally left leaning country, so it would be expected that labour support might increase following Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership victory.

  5. Roger when you project your polling results to predict election outcomes do you make any allowance for different turnouts. With far higher turnouts in general elections than in Assembly elections are the two electoral populations sufficiently similar to reach general conclusions?

  6. Projections are not predictions, Jon!

    I haven’t made any allowance here for turnout; we didn’t have any sort of likelihood to turnout question here by which to gauge that. Accounting for turnout would probably take a small amount off the Labour figure, and maybe a tiny bit of UKIP as well.

  7. Thank you Roger but I wonder if it might be more complicated than your answer suggests. What if the section of the electorate that are insufficiently motivated to vote in Assembly elections but do vote in general elections behave differently?
    Of course there are different powers to decide. Interesting to note that Labour’s analysis of why the last election was lost(which the current Leadership ignore) was that their message on austerity, welfare and immigration was out of step with a large part of their potential vote. Since the Assembly have no power over any of these three issues perhaps we should expect a different result.

  8. Well, we have looked at precisely this issue for past Assembly elections, Jon. For both 1999 and 2003, turnout effects seemed to make far less difference than you would expect. In 1999, for instance, Rod Richards’ excuse for the Tories’ poor performance was that some of their supporters who opposed devolution systematically boycotted the election. Well, we couldn’t find any evidence to back that up at all.

    Of course, things could well be different next time. Notably with the rise of UKIP – how motivated will their supporters be for a Welsh Assembly election? As we move closer to the Assembly election, we’ll be trying to probe deeper into turnout, and what impact it might possibly have.

  9. Thank you again Roger. I accept that evidence is key and whatever my theory is, it stands to be refuted by your results.In case your interested I was thinking of a very different factor to that cited by Rod Richards. A boycott , though negative, is a very political action. My theory is that there is a sizeable proportion of the electorate which pay very scant interest to the political process. Some never participate at all but others vote only when they perceive a real threat or perhaps opportunity to their own or family’s interests.A general election posses more threats/opportunities than an Assembly election. I find it surprising that their involvement or noninvolvement in an election makes no difference to the distribution of party support.

  10. JOJ. A general election poses more threats than an Assembly election, you say. Is that obvious when the things people care about – health and education are devolved functions? I fear the reason for differential turnout is different. There is much more razzmatazz about a general election in the British press and on the TV where most people get such information as they care to absorb. You could read the Sun for a year and not know Carwyn Jones existed.

  11. “You could read the Sun for a year and not know Carwyn Jones existed.”…..or you could live in Wales for a year and just wish that he didn’t exist.

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