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The Party Leaders, 1

Our new Welsh Political Barometer poll contains substantial information about attitudes towards the party leaders – and, indeed, potential party leaders. Such is the amount of information contained in the poll that I’m going to break it up into three different posts. Later ones will discuss the challengers for the Conservative leadership, and potential candidates for the leadership of the Labour party, across the UK.

This first post will concentrate on the party leaders in Wales. We once again asked respondents to our poll to score each of the Welsh leaders on a 0 to 10 scale, where 0 means ‘strongly dislike’ and 10 means ‘strongly like’; respondents could also choose Don’t Know if they so wished. For the first time, this new poll asked about Mark Williams, the new Welsh Liberal Democrats leader.

In the table below, I present three sets of figures for each leader:

  • In the first column, we have the percentage who chose Don’t Know. As I have observed several times previously, while some people can choose this option because they are genuinely undecided, in the aggregate the percentage of Don’t Knows is a reasonably proxy measure of the relative public visibility/anonymity of a leader.
  • In the second column, I list the average score out of 10 on the 0-10 scale, for each leader, for those respondents who did have a view about them.
  • And in the third column, I show the change in this average rating since our last poll (conducted in late May/early June). NB. For Mark Williams, the change score listed here will be the difference between his average rating and that obtained by Kirsty Williams in our previous poll.

 

Leader % Don’t Know Average /10 Change
Carwyn Jones 26 4.8 +0.1
Leanne Wood 30 4.9 +0.1
Andrew RT Davies 43 3.6 no change
Neil Hamilton 34 2.1 no change
Mark Williams 69 4.1 -0.3
Alice Hooker-Stroud 69 3.8 +0.4

 

On visibility, the findings are very much what one would expect. The long-standing First Minister, Carwyn Jones, scores the highest; Plaid’s Leanne Wood is marginally behind in second place. Neil Hamilton is in a strong third place – although this may be at least partially for reasons other than his activities thus far as UKIP’s Assembly group leader. Andrew RT Davies remains apparently unknown to much of the Welsh public; unsurprisingly, the majority felt unable to offer a view either on the Greens’ Welsh leader or on the new leader of the Welsh Lib-Dems.

We also see pretty much what one would expect to see in terms of the relative popularity of the leaders among those who offered on each of them. Leanne Wood remains marginally the most popular of them – indeed, the evidence of the rest of the poll indicates that she is the most popular politician in Wales. (Or at least until Gareth Bale decides to enter politics…). However, Carwyn Jones is only very marginally behind her on average ratings (with the small difference between the two falling well within any polling ‘margin of error’).

With Kirsty Williams having stood down as Welsh Lib-Dem leader, Wood and Jones are now a substantial distance ahead of all the other leaders in popularity. Given that Kirsty always scored quite well in such poll questions, you would not expect Mark Williams to be able to match her yet. Andrew RT Davies’ personal ratings with the Welsh public continue to be mediocre, as they have been throughout his leadership. There is a notable jump in Alice Hooker-Stroud’s ratings, but still only to a moderate level. And Neil Hamilton’s ratings remain very low – indicating that his exceptionally poor performance in our last poll was no fluke.

Overall, there is little unexpected here. The main message, I think, is that our poll further supports the general picture of pretty much all other evidence in recent times: that Carwyn Jones and Leanne Wood are now the dominant figures in Welsh politics. They lead all other Welsh politicians in visibility, and are well ahead of all other political leaders in the UK in terms of popularity with the Welsh public.

There are a few more surprises, perhaps, in the evidence on the Conservatives and Labour. I’ll get to that soon.

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