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Better Late Than Never

Apologies for being a bit slow on this, but I was away for part of this week (supposedly visiting Dublin; in reality, spending much of my time in Dublin Airport). Anyway, as many of you will have noticed, this week Lord Ashcroft released another big chunk of polling data. This time it concerned a large sample poll he conducted in November last year that was primarily devoted to exploring attitudes towards the NHS.

The poll was based on a very large sample – approximately 20,000 respondents. (Unlike with his constituency polls, this one from Lord Ashcroft was conducted online.) This means that, although there was no over-sampling for Wales, we still have about 1000 respondents in the Welsh sub-sample. Results reported for Wales, and all the other nations/regions, appear to have been weighted for socio-demographic representativeness within those territories (although I haven’t yet been able to trace the exact details of how this has been done).

One of the questions was voting intention for the general election: as is typical with Lord Ashcroft’s polls, a number of different figures are reported. However, what seems to be the main ‘headline’ figure is one that adjusts for likelihood to vote. The Welsh figures here were:

Labour: 37%
Conservatives: 25%
Liberal Democrats: 3%
Plaid Cymru: 12%
UKIP: 17%
Greens: 4%
Others: 1%

Although these figures are now a couple of months out of date, it is still nice to have another measure of public attitudes from a different source. The poll also asked about how people had voted in the 2010 general election. This may give us some guide as to how representative the sample was in party terms. However, we must remember vote recall over such a long time period can be faulty: in particular, if a party has slipped in popularity then some people (either deliberately or not) seem to ‘forget’ having voted for them in the past. So if vote recall figures don’t match the last election this may be because the sample is skewed between the parties, or it may mean that some people are misremembering. Anyway, this is what the vote recall measure for 2010 gave (with differences from the actual 2010 result in Wales in brackets):

Labour: 38% (+1.8%)
Conservatives: 31% (+4.9%)
Liberal Democrats: 18% (-2.1%)
Plaid Cymru: 10% (-1.3%)
UKIP: 3% (+0.6%)

In short, the Ashcroft sample seems to have Labour 2010 support slightly over-stated, and even more so for the Tories, but is looking a little light on Liberal Democrats and Plaid supporters. We should perhaps bear that in mind when looking at the vote intention figures. In particular that may help explain the truly horrendous figure for the Lib-Dems, the worst they have recorded in any poll of which I am aware this century. But there may be elements of misremembering, as well as un-representativeness of the sample, at play here.

What would these vote intention figures mean in terms of seats? On the standard uniform national swing assumption, the poll projects the following seat outcomes:

Labour: 28 seats (gaining Cardiff North and Cardiff Central)
Conservatives: 8 seats (losing Cardiff North but gaining Brecon & Radnor)
Liberal Democrats: 1 seat (losing Cardiff Central and Brecon & Radnor)
Plaid Cymru: 3 seats (no change)

On the Ratio Swing assumption I have mentioned on this blog previously, the results are only slightly different:

Labour: 28 seats (gaining Cardiff North and Cardiff Central)
Conservatives: 8 seats (losing Cardiff North but gaining Brecon & Radnor)
Liberal Democrats: 0 seats (losing Cardiff Central, Brecon & Radnor and Ceredigion)
Plaid Cymru: 4 seats (gaining Ceredigion)

Finally, as this poll was conducted in 2014, even if not reported then, it seems only fair to up-date the polling averages 2014 that I discussed recently in my review of the electoral year. The following is based on eleven polls conducted during 2014, three by phone and eight on-line:

Labour: 40.5% (varying from a high of 47% in the year’s first Barometer poll to a low of 36% in the year’s final Barometer poll)
Conservatives: 23.5% (remaining between 22% and 25% in all polls)
Liberal Democrats: 6.1% (never reaching double figures in any poll)
Plaid Cymru: 12.0% (varying between 11% and 15% in all polls)
UKIP: 13.4% (varying from a low of 7% early in the year to 18% by the end)
Others: 4.7%

I’ll be back soon with some discussion of the other findings in this poll. There should also be two new Welsh polls to discuss at some time in the next week or so. Life just doesn’t get much better than this…

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