The Latest Welsh General Election Poll

Labour is fighting back in Wales – but the Conservatives are still on course for an historic triumph at the general election. These are the key messages to come out of the new Welsh Political Barometer poll, the very latest measure of where the parties stand in the election battle.

Following the shock of our previous poll, which gave the Conservatives an unprecedented ten-point lead in Wales, our new poll once again asked people how they would vote in a general election for the House of Commons. These are the voting intention figures that our poll produced (with changes on the last Barometer poll, conducted in late April, in brackets):

Conservatives: 41% (+1)
Labour: 35% (+5)
Plaid Cymru: 11% (-2)
Liberal Democrats: 7% (-1)
UKIP: 4% (-2)
Others: 2% (-1)

The big change on our previous poll is clearly the recovery in Labour support. After doing exceptionally badly in the last poll, they have now pulled back within two percentage points of their Welsh vote share in the last general election. Yet Labour have not been able to eat into Conservative support at all. Although barely changed since our last poll, the Tories’ 41 percent is a new high for them in any Welsh opinion poll, ever. At this early stage of the general election campaign, the two largest parties seem to be squeezing the smaller ones: Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP have all seen their support edge downwards since two weeks ago.

If we follow standard practice and project these results onto Wales using uniform national swings since the 2015 general election, then our latest poll implies the following overall result. (Projected changes from the 2015 result are in brackets):

Conservatives: 20 seats (+9)
Labour: 16 seats (-9)
Plaid Cymru: 3 seats (no change)
Liberal Democrats: 1 seat (no change)

As with our previous poll, Plaid and the Liberal Democrats are projected to hold the seats they currently have but make no gains. Despite the recovery in Labour support since our previous poll, the Conservatives are still projected to gain nine seats from Labour: Alyn and Deeside, Bridgend, Cardiff West, Clwyd South, Delyn, Newport East, Newport West, Wrexham, and Ynys Mon. Although this projection is one seat better for Labour than our last poll, such a result would nonetheless decisively break Labour’s record of coming first in both votes and seats in Wales at every general election from 1922 onwards.

So what can we make of these latest findings? After they showed considerable resilience in last week’s local elections, this poll provides further evidence that Labour – who have been the dominant party in Wales for nearly a century – are not quite ready to roll over and die. It is possible that our previous poll slightly over-stated the extent of Labour decline, and they clearly remain very much ‘in the game’ in a large number of seats in Wales.

The poll also shows that the early part of the election campaign has done no favour to the smaller parties, who have been squeezed by the media focus on May versus Corbyn. All the smaller parties will need to use effectively the opportunities provided by any Leaders’ Debates to try to make themselves appear relevant in this election contest.

Above all, what this new poll does is confirm that the Conservative challenge to Labour’s long-standing dominance in Wales is very real. I wrote after the last poll that “Wales has been Labour for longer than any voter taking part in these elections can possibly remember. We could be just over six weeks from that near-century of one-party dominance coming to an abrupt end.” The same is still true – except that now there are just over four weeks to go. The clock could be running out on Labour Wales.

 

The poll, for ITV-Cymru Wales and Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre, had a sample of 1018 Welsh adults and was carried out by YouGov from 5-7 May 2017.

Comments

  • Tomos

    Do you have figures for how the panel say they voted in the local elections?

    A cross tab of local election vote against the general election would be very interesting. Are the Tories picking up these votes from non-voters, independent voters or labour voters? I have no doubt that the Tories are up, but if your weightings are wrong then there is a serious risk that the election narative in Wales is being driven in the wrong way.

    Your local election poll was way out on independents and UKIP (and I suspect the tories) and your referendum poll was also way off (a safe remain for Wales).

    It is great to have Welsh polls but if they are unrepresentative samples they can be very damaging.

  • Nigel Marriott

    Tomos,

    According to ITV, the earlier poll showed a large differential between local election vote intentions and Westminster vote intentions. http://www.itv.com/news/wales/2017-05-08/second-opinion-poll-of-westminster-election-due-later/

    Roger’s local election forecast in terms of seats gained/lost was not far off the reality and this forecast was based on the earlier poll. Forecast link is here http://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/electionsinwales/2017/05/01/may-day-and-mays-week/ and the final outcome is here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/3c6a4e42-9efd-4440-89df-647121c87452/wales-local-elections-2017 .

    Given that the earlier poll took place nearly 2 weeks before the local elections whereas the recent poll took place immediately afterwards, I am not surprised that Labour did slightly better than expected and the tories slightly worse than expected. I had been seeing a narrowing in any case with my regional crossbreak analysis.

    My read is that this latest poll and the local election results is bang on with the narrative i.e. the Tories have a clear lead over Labour and the local elections saw different voting patterns which had been flagged in advance.

    Roger, would be very interested to know if my interpretation is correct.

  • Keiron O'Shea

    There seems to be a lack of detail regarding where these people were sampled from.

  • Richard Harris

    “It is possible that our previous poll slightly over-stated the extent of Labour decline…”

    “Hush now, don’t explain” – Billie Holiday. Smiley face.

  • Dave England

    With regards to uniform swing, how does that fit onto Cardiff, especially the west and south constituencies which are marked to go blue.

    Does this really play out when you consider that Cardiff voted remain?

  • Jason

    Unfortunately this blind following of Labour throughout Wales does nothing for the values that Wales could bring to the rest of the UK. Time for them to get into the 21st century and get Welsh projects forward.

  • John T

    I have a feeling (as opposed to data!) that where a third party is viable their vote will strengthen as a curse on the houses of both Conservative and Labour. Where a straight choice between the “big two” is clearly the only game in town people will mainly vote along traditional family lines with a noticeable but declining minority who will “hold their noses” and choose according to the issues (and personalities) of the day. To stick my neck out I see the Conservatives gaining three seats, Plaid gaining one and all else remaining the same.

  • Christian Schmidt

    @John T

    … but only where the third party is noticeable (traditional Plaid problem), or hasn’t got baggage itself (LD & coalition).

    Just imagine a new centrist party being led by someone like Charles Kennedy, what could that achieve?

  • Huw Jones

    Ironic that May’s histrionics, and Corbyn’s perpetual weakness are still attracting votes, while obvious qualities of the smaller parties are ignored. Is this due to perverse press coverage?

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