Uncategorized

Welsh Labour’s Sweet Spot

 

The BBC are now publishing findings from their annual political poll (always done around about St David’s Day). The survey was conducted by ICM via telephone; results are being released by the BBC over the next few days.

One interesting feature of the poll is that, for the first time since the last King was a lad (well, I exaggerate slightly), a BBC poll has featured a question on voting intentions. Sadly, only Westminster voting intention was asked about (and not voting intentions for the National Assembly or the forthcoming European elections). Nonetheless, this is still very much better than nothing. It provides an interesting comparison with the other polls on voting intention in Wales; all the other polls on this subject conducted since the last UK general election in May 2010 have been internet-based surveys by YouGov.

Below, I’ve reproduced the results of all Westminster voting intention polls in Wales conducted since YouGov started doing fairly regular Welsh polls in autumn 2009, as well as the May 2010 UK general election result in Wales.

 

Poll

Lab

Con

Lib-Dem

Plaid

UKIP

Others*

IWP-WGC/YouGov, October 2009

34

31

12

15

15

ITV-Wales/YouGov, November 2000

34

31

14

14

16

ITV-Wales/YouGov, January 2010

35

32

13

13

14

ITV-Wales/YouGov, March 2010

37

29

12

14

7

NAW/YouGov, March 2010

39

27

13

13

9

ITV-Wales/YouGov, April 2010

33

23

29

9

6

Western Mail/R&MP, late April 2010

37.5

23.5

21.0

10.8

7.2

ITV-Wales/YouGov, 1-3 May 2010

35

27

23

10

5

ELECTION RESULT, MAY 2010

36.2

26.1

20.1

11.3

 

6.2

ITV-Wales/YouGov, October 2010

48

29

8

11

7

ITV-Wales/YouGov, end-Jan–Feb 2012

50

25

6

11

9

Cardiff Uni/YouGov, mid-April 2012

50

23

7

12

9

ITV-Wales/YouGov, July 2012

54

23

4

10

9

ITV-Wales/YouGov, August 2012

50

23

7

9

12

ITV-Wales/YouGov, February 2013

51

22

9

10

7

2

WGC/YouGov, July 2013

48

23

8

9

8

4

ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, Dec 2013

46

21

8

12

10

4

ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, Feb 2014

47

22

7

11

9

4

BBC Wales/ICM, Feb 2014

42

24

9

14

7

4

Looking at the period since the general election, the most obvious feature is how attitudes changed after May 2010; as is confirmed by results for National Assembly voting intention (which were published for several polls conducted through summer 2010), more-or-less from the moment the ink dried on the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition agreement, Labour’s support levels improved and those for the Lib Dems plummeted.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the new BBC/ICM poll is that Labour’s support levels, though still well ahead of those of all other parties, are notably lower than recorded in all other polls since May 2010. Some of that may well be due to differences in the ways in which ICM and YouGov conduct their polls, weight and report their data. It is also possible that this particular ICM sample was slightly skewed against Labour. (Please note: saying that is not an implied criticism of ICM. Sampling variation is an inevitable part of polling, and some samples lean in one direction, others in the opposite direction). But while the absolute levels of support that ICM and YouGov have reported differ, we should also note that even YouGov have generally been showing a reduced level of Labour support in more recent polls: all those conducted from February 2012 to February 2013 placed Labour at 50% or above; all those conducted since have had Labour below 50%. Labour’s position in the Welsh polls has undoubtedly declined in the last year.

The ICM poll confirms that the Conservatives percentage support remains robust in the low 20s: to be keeping that support level in mid-term is, by the historic standards of the Welsh Tories, not at all bad (particularly as the sampling was done in the wake of their recent ‘local difficulties’).

The electoral outlook continues to be pretty dire for the Welsh LibDems, while in the Westminster context UKIP are making only limited ground. The other party that might take some comfort from this poll is Plaid Cymru. For them to be polling 14% in the context of a Westminster election is not all bad: if they actually achieved this, it would equal their best ever general election performance (of 2001) in terms of vote share. (Plaid’s relatively strong performance on Westminster vote intention somewhat increases the frustration that there was not also space in the poll for National Assembly and European vote intention questions. It would have been fascinating to see whether Plaid’s position was looking fairly strong across the board).

So what would these figures mean in terms of seats? Assuming uniform national swings since the 2010 general election, the voting intention figures from ICM would yield the following results:

Labour: 28 seats (all of those won in 2010, plus capturing Cardiff Central and Cardiff North)
Conservatives: 7 seats (losing Cardiff North, but keeping all the others they won in 2010, though several only very narrowly)
Plaid: 3 seats (Keeping those won in 2010, but failing to make any gains)
Liberal Democrats: 2 seats (Keeping Ceredigion and Brecon & Radnor, but losing Cardiff Central).

As you’ll see, these seat predictions differ significantly from those derived from the recent YouGov poll. Basically, on assumptions of uniform swing there is a ‘sweet spot’ for Labour in the mid to high 40s in terms of percentage support. If they hit that, they start to win (or at least seriously threaten to win) seats like Vale of Glamorgan, Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire, Preseli Pembrokeshire and Aberconwy from the Conservatives, and Carmarthen East & Dinefwr and Arfon from Plaid. Personally, I think these results thus emphasises the importance of local campaigning in the next UK general election: next time there may well be, for Wales, an unusually large number of competitive seats.

Comments

  • David

    Why did the poll ask about immigration into the UK; predominantly England? Why not ask about immigration into Wales?

  • J Jones

    I can’t find the data sets anywhere…..Have you got them? Once again a poll massively out of step with the Silk Commission’s Beaufort poll:-

    “A combined total of 62%
    would like increased powers for the National Assembly for Wales (including 9%
    who wish to see full independence). Of the remainder, maintaining the status quo
    was more likely a preference (24%) than the small number who wished to see
    fewer powers (3%) or abolition of the National Assembly for Wales (9%).”

    We now have:
    In favour of more powers (including independence)…….42%
    Against more powers (content, 28%+Fewer, 3%+ abolition, 23%)…..54%
    No answer/don’t know……5%

    To me this looks like quite a substantial difference; 20% fewer people want More, 14% more people want less.

  • David

    I would like to hear what Welsh people think of the large movement of people from England into Wales. This is a far bigger issue than the movement of people from outside the UK into Wales.

    The BBC Wales web sie states:

    “But 60% of respondents thought immigration to the UK was too high, with only 31% saying the level was “about right”.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-26378274

    There’s a nice pic of you ther too Prof. 🙂

  • J Jones

    Previously, Roger, you said:-

    “ii. I’m none too sure about your statement, Jon, that ‘the majority are changing their minds about the devolutionary journey’ – evidence for this?”

    Is it alright to quote the St Davids day poll as some evidence? After all it is the minority in this poll that wants further devolution. Saying that the largest portion of the sample is for further devolution doesn’t really make sense but I can’t tell how the question was asked without the data sets.

    What is interesting is that the media did not cover the change in opinion of people in Wales. Nor did a single politician comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *