Could Jeremy Corbyn actually win the Labour leadership race? A new poll from The Times/YouGov suggests that he will. The new poll of eligible voters in the leadership contest — party members, registered supporters and affiliated trade unionists — has Corbyn on track to win in the final round of voting with 53 per cent of the vote, with the current bookies' favourite Andy Burnham trailing six points behind on 47 per cent.
The left-wing leadership candidate's lead on first preferences is even more jaw-dropping. YouGov has Corbyn on 43 per cent, compared to Burnham on 26, Yvette Cooper on 20 and Liz Kendall on 11. Based on this, Kendall would be knocked out in the first round and her votes redistributed to other candidates.
YouGov also reports that just 20 per cent or so of eligible voters have yet to make up their minds about which candidate to back. But nearly two thirds of those surveyed said the next leader should be 'in touch with the concerns of ordinary people', compared to 27 per cent who said the next Labour leader should 'understood what is takes to win an election'.
In the deputy leadership race, the poll reports that Tom Watson is set to win with 42 per cent of first preference votes, followed by 21 per cent for Stella Creasy. The Tories once longed for a Burnham-Watson victory, presenting them with the opportunity to remind voters that the party is run by 'Len's boys', a reference to Unite boss Len McCluskey. A Corbyn-Watson victory would be beyond their wildest dreams.
The YouGov survey of 1,054 people was conducted over the weekend. Of course this is a poll and ever since 8 May, we all know how we should approach opinion polls. Plus, internal party contests are also notoriously difficult to poll. But it's worth noting that these findings tally with leaked internal Labour data reported by Stephen Bush of the New Statesman last week. One campaign staffer told Bush that Corbyn is in ‘a commanding position...he is on course to win’. Ballots haven't even gone out to members yet so we have a while to go, but Corbyn is in a position so commanding at present that even he must be feeling rather bewildered.
UPDATE: Following this poll, the bookies have shortened the odds on Corbyn becoming the next Labour leader: he is now second most likely to win at 2/1, with Andy Burnham on 6/5, Yvette Cooper on 5/2 and Liz Kendall on 20/1.