The social media bubble behind the rise of Jeremy Corbyn

New analysis by YouGov highlights the extraordinary political gulf between Jeremy Corbyn's supporters and the general public.

According to their research, Corbynites are overwhelmingly more left-wing and radical than the average British voter on a whole range of issues.

They found that Corbyn backers are almost three times more likely to support the nationalisation of utilities, free university education and the abolition of the monarchy than the average voter.

Eighty-six per cent of Corbynites said they strongly backed wholesale nationalisation, compared to just 31% of the general public. Sixty-one per cent backed abolition of the monarchy, as opposed to just 22% of the public. Overall, three quarters of Corbyn supporters described themselves as 'left-wing' compared to just 14% of the general population.

So how can we explain this huge divide between the modern Labour party and the people they hope to represent? And if Labour are drifting so far apart from the public, why do their membership apparently not seem to care?

In recent weeks Corbyn's opponents have watched in wonder as a relentless series of press attacks against him have bounced off. No matter how many times he is denounced by the press and senior figures in the party, his support among his growing army of Corbynistas actually seems to grow.

So what is it about Corbyn's supporters that makes them so immune to the attacks against him?

The answer to that question lies in one other extraordinary finding released by YouGov today. According to their analysis, almost 60% of Corbyn supporters use social media as a "main source of news". This compares to around 40% for supporters of Corbyn's rivals and just 32% among the general public.

This is revealing because it suggests just how detached from wider public opinion Corbyn's supporters are. Rather than seeking to represent the public, a huge part of the British left has become wrapped in a self-contained social-media bubble where only views they already hold are heard.

Unlike Corbyn's many critics, I actually agree largely with his politics. Like Corbyn I support the nationalisation of the railways and the abolition of the monarchy. Like Corbyn, I am strongly in favour of immigration and deeply sceptical of Britain's involvement in foreign wars. Like Corbyn, I feel that Labour policy under Tony Blair was both too conservative and too authoritarian.

But unlike Corbyn, I understand that even where the public agrees with me on some of those issues, they do not feel anywhere nearly as passionately about them as I do. Unlike many of Corbyn's supporters I also understand that the views expressed by me and those I follow on Twitter are not in any way representative of the wider population.

The rise of social media has transformed British politics. It has created new types of online political movement which have allowed a political outsider like Corbyn to do what until recently seemed almost impossible. But it has also allowed people to communicate almost exclusively with people whose views only closely mirror their own. Just as in the US where the vocal but insular Tea Party movement has totally transformed the Republican party, the insular British left is seeing a similar transformation at the hands of its growing army of online Corbynites.

And in these closed social media environments, facts are not always treated as essential.

A good example of this can be found on Corbyn's campaign Facebook page which yesterday posted what they described as a "superb" letter from one of his supporters.

"I can vote for Corbyn with enthusiasm and enjoy the sight of others flocking to support him," they wrote.

"Then I'm told he couldn't win an election because he couldn't win over Tories. I am not against convincing Tories to vote Labour, though why they would do so if Labour stands on policies barely distinguishable from the Tories at times escapes me. But anyway, only 24% of those on the electoral roll voted for this government, so basic arithmetic tells me that it is not essential to win over a single Tory vote to win an election."

This 'basic arithmetic' is of course nonsense. There are 650 seats in the House of Commons and 330 of them were won by the Tories in May. Even if you added up all the seats of the left-leaning parties and assumed they somehow all went to Labour instead, the party would still be well short of a majority.

Yet this belief in a progressive anti-Tory majority persists despite Labour's recent heavy defeat. It is central to perpetuating the idea that Corbyn can somehow become prime minister despite all the evidence. Under this view of the world there is an army of left-leaning voters and non-voters who are just waiting to be rallied to the new cause, with Corbyn being the person best placed to do it.

Unfortunately this belief is backed up neither by electoral mathematics nor opinion polling. Despite what Corbyn's campaign appear to believe, it will not be possible for Labour to win a general election without 'winning over a single Tory vote'. Of course Labour must excite its core supporters. The reason Corbyn has won this race is because he understands the views and beliefs of his own party far better than any of his distinctly lacklustre rivals. But in order to win over the country Corbyn needs to reach well beyond the tiny percentage of the public who put Corbyn Twibbons on their Twitter accounts.

There is nothing easier than convincing yourselves. The hard bit is convincing everybody else. Today's YouGov's analysis suggests that Corbyn and his supporters still have a long way to go.