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New Welsh Political Barometer Poll: Voting Intention Figures

This week’s new Welsh Political Barometer poll provides the last measure of public support for the political parties in 2015. After a roller-coaster political year, where have things ended up?

Our previous Barometer poll, conducted only a short period after his landslide election as Labour Leader, showed an apparent ‘Corbyn bounce’ in Labour’s support. The period since then has been rather difficult for both Mr Corbyn and his party. Britain-wide polls have suggested that this has started to have a negative impact on Labour support. Our new Barometer poll indicates that this is also now true in Wales – any honeymoon period for the new leader looks to be quite definitely over.

We can see this both for Westminster and the National Assembly. When we asked about general election voting intention, our new poll found these levels of support for the parties (with changes on our last poll, in September, in brackets):

 

Labour: 37% (-5)

Conservative: 27% (+1)

UKIP: 17% (+1)

Plaid Cymru: 12% (+2)

Liberal Democrats: 4% (-1)

Others: 3% (+1)

 

Our September poll had shown Labour rising five percentage points, so they are back exactly where they started. Given that new major party leaders normally provide an electoral boost for their parties that lasts for several months, this must be of some concern to Labour. Their decline since our last poll is to the benefit of all three of their main rivals in Wales, who all edge up by a percentage point or two. The only main party to see no benefit from Labour’s slippage in support is the Liberal Democrats – almost unbelievably, our poll shows the Lib-Dems doing significantly worse even than they did in May’s disastrous general election.

If we apply the changes since the general election implied by this poll uniformly across Wales, then only one seat would be projected to change hands since the general election: Labour would narrowly retake Gower from the Conservatives.

With less than five months to go until the National Assembly election, however, it is on this that attention will increasingly be focussed. Once again our poll asked people how they would vote on both the constituency and regional lost ballot for the devolved election. Here are the figures for the constituency vote (with changes on our last poll, in September, again in brackets):

 

Labour: 35% (-4)

Conservatives: 23% (no change)

Plaid Cymru: 20% (+2)

UKIP: 15% (+2)

Liberal Democrats: 5% (-1)

Others: 3% (+1)

 

So here, as with Westminster, we see Labour losing all the gains it made in our previous poll and going back to where it was at in June. On the assumption of uniform national swing since the last Assembly election, this poll projects three constituency seats to change hands: the Conservatives would gain Cardiff North, Plaid Cymru would gain Llanelli, and the Liberal Democrats would gain Cardiff Central. All three gains would be at the expense of Labour.

The figures for the regional list vote were like this (with changes from the previous Barometer poll again indicated):

 

Labour: 34% (no change)

Conservatives: 23% (-1)

Plaid Cymru: 18% (no change)

UKIP: 16% (+2)

Liberal Democrats: 4% (-1)

Greens: 4% (no change)

Others: 2% (no change)

 

Again assuming uniform swings from 2011 across Wales, and after taking into account the distribution of constituency seats when allocating the list seats, this gives us the following projected overall outcome for the National Assembly:

 

Labour: 27 seats (25 constituency seats + 2 list seats)

Conservatives: 12 seats (7 constituency seats + 5 list seats)

Plaid Cymru: 10 seats (6 constituency seats + 4 list seats)

UKIP: 9 seats (9 list seats)

Liberal Democrats: 2 seats (2 constituency seats)

 

Labour thus remain some way ahead of the field. But as for Westminster we see their support for the devolved election slipping notably since September. The main thing to jump out from these findings, however, is that UKIP are currently projected to win nine list seats in the Assembly: two in every region of Wales except for South Wales West. We should note that these list seat calculations are subject to change on quite small variations in support: with only small changes in public preferences UKIP might be projected to win several fewer seats. But at the moment, the party are on course to enter the Assembly for the first time in May in substantial numbers – within one seat of Plaid Cymru and three of the Conservatives.

As we move closer to the Assembly election, voter turnout will become a question of increasing importance. We know from past experience that turnout tends to be much lower in Assembly elections than in ones for Westminster; despite the increased powers that the National Assembly has received, lower turnout is likely to persist next May to at least some extent. We have therefore added to our Barometer poll a question about how likely people are to vote in the National Assembly election. Respondents were asked to place themselves on a 0-10 scale, where 0 meant that definitely would not vote in next year’s Assembly election and 10 meant that they definitely would vote.

Some 59% of all Barometer respondents claimed that they definitely would vote. When we consider that turnout at the last Assembly election was only 42.2%, our poll would apparently suggest that we’re on course for a big rise in participation at the devolved election. I would be cautious about this: for a number of reasons, internet polls (of which ours is one) tend to significantly over-state voter turnout. Probably of more importance are the differences between the parties in their likelihood to vote, which could make a big difference to the electoral success of the parties next year. I have calculated an average likelihood to turnout score out of ten for supporters of each party on the constituency vote; here are the numbers:

 

Labour: 9.16

Conservatives: 8.78

Plaid Cymru: 9.33

UKIP: 9.33

Lib-Dems: 8.80

 

As can be seen, it is supporters of Plaid Cymru and UKIP that currently appear to be the most motivated to take part in the Assembly election, while motivation appears to be the lowest for Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. The differences are fairly small and, of course, the parties have several months to work on mobilising their support. However, this is something that we’ll be very much keeping an eye on as we get closer to the Assembly election in May.

 

Postscript

As has become customary, for the benefit of the cognoscenti who read this blog, I have also computed Ratio Swing projections from our poll.

For Westminster, Ratio Swing, just like UNS, projects Labour to gain Gower; in addition it projects Plaid Cymru to gain Ceredigion from the Liberal Democrats. All other seats are projected to remain with the parties currently holding them.

For the National Assembly, Ratio Swing, as with UNS, projects two seats to change hands. One of them remains Llanelli, projected to be gained by Plaid Cymru from Labour. The other, however, is not Cardiff Central but in this case Brecon and Radnor, projected to be gained by the Conservatives from the Liberal Democrats.

Overall, a Ratio Swing projection of this poll produces the following outcome for the Assembly election:

 

Labour: 29 seats (27 constituency seats + 2 list seats)

Conservatives: 13 seats (7 constituency seats + 6 list seats)

Plaid Cymru: 10 seats (6 constituency seats + 4 list seats)

UKIP: 8 seats (8 list seats)

 

P.P.S

A few people have asked for the regional breakdowns of the UNS list seat forecasts. So here you are:

North: 2 UKIP, 1 Con, 1 Plaid

Mid&West: 2 Labour, 2 UKIP

South-West: 2 Con, 1 Plaid, 1 UKIP

South-Central: 2 UKIP, 1 Con, 1 Plaid

South-East: 2 UKIP, 1 Con, 1 Plaid


9 thoughts on “New Welsh Political Barometer Poll: Voting Intention Figures

J.Jones

It’s an interesting poll isn’t it. Very influenced by bad press from England I would say and I also believe it shows that opinions in Wales as a whole, not on parties, where there is a strong tribal instinct in some areas of Wales, but on issues, is closer to opinions in England than we like to think.

I still cling to the belief that the support for UKIP is a showing of general dissatisfaction with “consensus” in Welsh politics…a “plague on all their houses” reaction but Labour should tread carefully when they are clearly moving out of step with their voter thinking on issues of the day…like bombing ISIS in Syria and immigration. Voters will not switch from Labour to Tory for historic reasons but, paradoxically, they will vote for a party that enshrines the policies of the “baby eating” wing of the Tory party. Labour voters in Wales it seems to me would support bombing in Syria, firmly restrict immigration, feel no particular benefit from the EU and are fearful of “open borders” across Europe and don’t give a dam about further devolution. Put it all together and you have UKIP. Worse, Labour could lose its right wing voters to UKIP and its Liberal left voters to Plaid.

They seriously need to wake up.


Graham Hathaway

The greater the powers that are granted to the Assembly the greater the likelihood of increased turn out to vote as reflected in meaningful and relevant.


Roger Scully

Roger Scully

Well, you’d hope so, Graham. But we might want to look at the example of the European Parliament – huge increases in powers since the first elections, but generally falling turnout levels.


Graham Hathaway

Thanks. Not sure Westminster elections are things to shout about either . Rather skittish. I do take your point . Nothing straightforward in politics.
Perhaps guilty of looking through rose tinted specs.


Rob Hepworth

This is a thoughtful analysis. The polls seem to be showing neither a major increase nor slump in Labour’s Welsh vote compared with the pre-Corbyn period but it is difficult to tell whether there is a churn effect with anti-Corbyn defectors from Labour cancelled out by left wingers, perhaps including Greens and some Plaid returning to the fold. On seat predictions I would regard any prediction that the LibDems would retake Cardiff Central as being less than credible given the scale of Labour’s victory there at the GE only a few months ago; the alternative Ratio projection suggests Labour will hold it., and indeed only lose 1 seat nationally. As for UKIP, UK-wide polls and by elections, including Oldham, suggest their tide is ebbing. Many would be surprised if they won as many as the 8-9 seats projected next May, unless they get serious traction in the EU referendum campaign.

The previous findings on opinion about the NHS, education and the economy are also revealing once the comparisons with opinion in England are made. The NHS looks as if it will be the battleground in the Assembly election. Labour have ground to make up, but are fighting from a more defensible position than even 12 months ago, now that they have increased the health budget for at least two years running, and may yet be able to show hospitals performing better than England this winter. We shall see.


Welshguy

Agree with Rob regarding Cardiff Central. Its a seat where the Libs Dems former dominance was very much based on students, the very group now most likely to have defected from the Liberals. You’d expect the Liberals performance in such inner cities to be proportionally worse than they do in rural areas where their support is more traditional.

UKIP’s rise is a disaster for Plaid Cymru. Even if the latter’s voting percentage raises significantly they’re unlikely to gain more than one or two list seats.


J. Jones

Another person thinking that “for Wales see England” is increasingly the case when it comes to the thoughts and attitudes of the Welsh electorate:-

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexitvote/2015/12/17/no-more-welsh-effect/


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