Theresa May is Britain's most popular politician

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
August 15, 2016, 12:52 PM GMT+0

New survey shows Conservative leader is viewed more favourably than any other senior politician in the country

As revealed this morning on PoliticalBetting, a new YouGov favourability survey has shown that Theresa May is the UK’s most popular politician and the only one to be viewed favourably overall. With 48% of people having a favourable view of the Prime Minister, against 36% who view her unfavourably, she holds an overall net favourability rating of +12%.

She is seen favourably by 84% of those who voted Conservative in 2015, and despite campaigning for Remain during the EU referendum is seen more favourably by Leave voters than Remain voters at 63% vs 40% respectively.

May significantly outperforms rival Jeremy Corbyn, who has a net favourability score of -25%, being seen favourably by just 29% of people, compared to the 54% who see him unfavourably. Corbyn is viewed favourably by just 49% of those who voted Labour in 2015.

In terms of just those with favourable opinions, Theresa May is fourteen points more popular than her party – vital for any politician who seeks to appeal beyond their party’s usual support base. In fact, Theresa May is seen far more favourably among C2DE voters – the Labour party’s traditional support base – than Jeremy Corbyn is, at 44% vs 27%. She is also much more popular than him in every region of the UK except Scotland. Whilst Corbyn is very popular among the youngest voters, being viewed favourably by 41% those aged 18-24 (who are notoriously hard to get to turn out on election day), May edges him by four points amongst 25-49 year olds, beating him 37% to 33%.

Our tracker finds that the Conservatives are the most popular party, with 34% of voters viewing them favourably, as well as 79% of those for voted for the party in 2015. They are still, however, seen unfavourably by 53% of people, giving an overall net favourability rating of -19%. The Labour party are significantly less popular, with 28% of voters viewing them favourably, a net favourability rating of -28% and the support of 65% of those who voted Labour in 2015.

MPs in general are viewed particularly badly, with a -54% net score overall. The mood improves when people think of their own MP, with a net score of -2% and a third of people having favourable opinions of their local MP. Conservative voters in 2015 are significantly more likely to approve of their local MP than voters from other parties – presumably because they are more likely to be represented by the MP they wanted.

Looking at global politicians, Barack Obama is still wildly popular in the United Kingdom, with a massive net favourable score of +46%. In terms of his potential replacement, it is clear that British voters would much prefer a Hillary Clinton presidency than a Donald Trump one, with Clinton seen favourably by 42% of people vs Trump’s meagre 8%. Clinton does seem to struggling as much on likeability in the UK as she is in the US though, with 38% of people viewing her unfavourably and performing poorly among 18-24 year olds, men, C2DEs and Leave/UKIP voters.

German chancellor Angela Merkel is seen negatively overall, with a net rating of -10%. Her attempts to help David Cameron keep the UK in the EU have clearly been recognised, as she is popular with Remain voters (56%) as well as Lib Dems (64%), and particularly disliked by Leave (65%) and UKIP (72%) voters.

The other European leader listed – Vladimir Putin, is seen poorly across the board, with a rating nearly as bad as Donald Trump’s on -64%. He is, however, significantly more popular among 2015 UKIP voters than voters for other parties, with 21% of ‘kippers seeing him positively, compared to 9% of Conservatives, 6% of Labour voters and just 1% of Lib Dems.

Photo: PA

See the full results here