Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Diane Abbott and polls

One of the first opinion polls on the Labour leadership election has been topped by Diane Abbott prompting Silver Surfer Today (amongst others) to ask Could Diane Abbott be next Labour leader?

It's an interesting idea but it overlooks two key factors. The first is that the opinion poll is of the electorate as a whole, whereas the Labour leader will be elected by a combination of Labour Party and trade union members. Of course they may be swayed by the findings of such opinion polls but I doubt by ones at this stage. For the second key factor is that this leadership election has barely begun and the candidates have got little exposure. So the opinion polls are finding nothing more than name recognition. (See for instance UK Polling Report: New ComRes and ICM polls and, for the equivalent for the Conservatives in 2005, 2005 Tory Leadership.) And it has to be said that Abbott has quite a high level of name recognition, especially compared to the likes of Andy Burnham, who seems to be the Chris Whone of the Labour Party.

The key question about Diane Abbott at the moment is not whether she can win the leadership election but whether or not she can even get successfully nominated. So far according to Labour Party: Candidates Abbott has yet to receive a single formal nomination. Meanwhile both Milibands have crossed the threshold and, like Gordon Brown, are in the process of getting more than they need, presumably so they can try and carve other candidates out of the race altogether. The presence of John McDonnell also seeking nominations from the far left of the party isn't helping Abbott either.

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