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The First Welsh Political Barometer Poll of 2020

As the UK stands on the verge of leaving the European Union, voters are currently rewarding the man who has led them to this point, Prime Minister Boris Johnson. His Conservative Party are at historic levels of support in Wales, and potentially on course for a major breakthrough at the next devolved election. There are the key messages to emerge from the first Welsh Political Barometer poll of 2020, the first since the general election.

Our new poll, as is typically the case, asked about voting intentions for both Westminster and the National Assembly. For the first time, though, and in light of the recent legislation that has given 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in devolved elections in Wales, our sample included a representative number from that age group; they are not included in the vote intention estimates for a general election discussed below, but they are included in the estimates for the Assembly.

First, Westminster. After the strong Conservative performance in December, and the further boost they have had in post-election polls conducted across Britain, it is no surprise to see the Tories doing well in our latest poll. Here are the numbers (with changes on our last pre-election Barometer poll, conducted in early December, in brackets):

Conservatives: 41% (+4)

Labour: 36% (-4)

Plaid Cymru: 13% (+3)

Liberal Democrats: 5% (-1)

Brexit Party: 3% (-2)

Greens: 2% (+1)

Others: 1 (no change)

These are historically good figures for the Conservatives in Wales. Their 41 percent support equals the highest rating they have obtained in general election voting intention this century. Labour, by contrast, see their support slip since the general election. Plaid Cymru will be reasonably pleased with a modest rise in their support; all other parties, however, are at very low levels of support.

What might such support levels for the parties mean in terms of parliamentary seats? Using the standard method, of projecting the swings since the last general election indicated by this poll uniformly across Wales, gives us the following outcome in terms of seats (with projected changes from the December result in brackets):

Labour: 18 (-4)

Conservatives: 18 (+4)

Plaid Cymru: 4 (no change)

In short, this poll projects the Conservative to retain all six seats that they gained from Labour at the general election, and on top of that to gain four more ones: Alyn and Deeside, Gower, Newport East and Newport West. All other seats are projected to be won by the party that was victorious in December.

But it is not only changes at Westminster that are suggested by our new poll. As well as Westminster, we also asked once again about voting intentions for both the constituency and the regional ballots in a devolved election. Here are the figures for the constituency ballot (with shifts in support since our December Barometer poll once again in brackets):

Conservatives: 35% (+4)

Labour: 33% (no change)

Plaid Cymru: 19% (+1)

Liberal Democrats: 5% (-2)

Brexit Party: 4% (-3)

Greens: 3% (no change)

Others: 1% (no change)

These numbers (which include figures for 16 and 17 year old voters, something that marginally reduces the Conservative lead) show that the current post-election boost to Conservative fortunes is not just confined to Westminster. The 35 percent support reported for the Conservatives is actually their highest ever reported vote intention for the constituency vote in an Assembly election. If we again assume uniform national swings since the last National Assembly election our new Barometer poll projects the Tories to gain eight constituency seats from Labour: these are (in order of current marginality) the Vale of Glamorgan, the Vale of Clwyd, Gower, Wrexham, Cardiff North, Clwyd South, Newport West, and Delyn). There are no other projected constituency seat changes.

For the regional list vote, the new Barometer poll produced the following results (with changes since our December poll once again in brackets):

Conservatives: 32% (+4)

Labour: 32% (no change)

Plaid Cymru: 19% (no change)

Liberal Democrats: 5% (-1)

Greens: 3% (-1)

Brexit Party: 3% (-4)

Others: 5% (+1)

These regional vote figures once more have the Welsh Conservatives equalling their best-ever showing, from early May 2017. Allowing for the constituency results already projected, and once more assuming uniform national swings since 2016, our new poll projects the following overall results for the Assembly’s regional list seats:

Regions:

North Wales: 3 Labour, 1 Plaid

Mid and West Wales: 2 Labour, 2 Conservative

South Wales West: 2 Conservative, 2 Plaid

South Wales Central: 2 Conservative, 2 Plaid

South Wales East: 2 Conservative, 2 Plaid

These figures therefore generate the following overall projected result for the National Assembly:

Labour: 24 seats (19 constituency, 5 regional)

Conservatives: 22 seats (14 constituency, 8 regional)

Plaid Cymru: 13 seats (6 constituency, 7 regional)

Liberal Democrats: 1 seat (1 constituency)

Since the inaugural election to the National Assembly in 1999, Labour have always much been the largest party in the chamber. Our new poll indicates that, around fifteen months from the next devolved election in Wales, we are currently on course for a rather different type of politics in what will soon to be known as Senedd Cymru/the Welsh Parliament.

Overall, our latest Welsh Political Barometer poll suggest that these are good times in which to be a Welsh Conservative. Indeed, those times have never been better: on all three vote intention measures, the party is equalling or exceeding the best ratings they have ever scored before. But if nothing else, the last few years in politics should have taught us to take nothing for granted. Last May the Welsh Tories scored only 6.5 percent of the vote in the European elections; now they are buoyant. Within another few months, who knows where things will be?

The poll, for ITV-Cymru Wales and Cardiff University, had a sample of 1,037 Welsh adults (including a small number of respondents aged 16 and 17) and was carried out by YouGov from 20 to 26 January 2020.

Comments

  • Ryland Richards

    ‘Welsh’ Political Barometer is a meaningless misnomer; the measure reflects opinions of the many inside Wales who do not regard themselves to be Welsh. The phrase should be Political Barometer for the Welsh Region unless or until Wales becomes politically autonomous.

  • Ryland Richards

    Many residents exercise the freedom to reject the very thought of regarding themselves as Welsh thus making ‘Welsh’ Political Barometer a quaint but misleading political misnomer. Political Barometer for the Region of Wales is a title that would more aptly describe the aspirations of people in this little corner of the world.

  • John Ellis

    Despite the significant increase in support for the Conservatives which this latest poll suggests, on these figures a Conservative-led government at Cardiff still looks distinctly improbable.

  • Harry Hayfield

    For the first time in a very long time, your forecast calculations and UK-Elect’s calculations match completely. The only question mark I would have is “Would the Vale of Glamorgan be a Conservative gain whilst Ross England is still the declared Conservative candidate?”

  • Kim Howells

    I am not surprised by these results. Under its present leadership, Labour has almost vacated the public arena in Wales. Appearences by Assembly ministers on television occur, on most occasions, as displays of unconvincing, endlessly-repeated apologies for foul-ups and missed targets in the NHS and delays or postponements of public projects. Plaid lives in a fantasy world where Wales is staunchly pro-remain and the poor Lib-Dems seem to have disappeared up their own you-know-whats. A stagnant dreary scene if you aren’t a Conservative.

  • Huw Pritchard

    Welsh Conservatives had a bungling lead in to the GE, with multiple cockups ‘re candidate selection, and last minute parachute drops. Despite this, they did well and might possibly have done even better

    If they can organise themselves into the Senedd election I think they might do better than you predict as I can’t see Welsh Labour improving its position (Even though an attractive new leader in Westminster might help)

    We’ve seen that disillusioned Labour voters in Wales have at last realised that they can jump across to the Tories, so I don’t necessarily see Plaid benefiting from Labour’s poor performance. Tories have an easy campaign- hit Labour, NHS, schools, economy, transport. Bang bang bang

  • Christian Schmidt

    Interesting that Labour comes out on top in terms of seats, while the Tories are top in votes.

    But I believe the figures are somewhat biased. While from the figures it is clear that there is some ticket splitting (mainly to Plaid’s benefit), I believe that many responded try to answer these questions consistently (I said X for Westminster, so I must also say X for the Assembly), when in reality they don’t vote with the same consistency. (On that issue, what is the difference between people that in the poll said they are certain to vote for Westminster compared to the Assembly, compared to the difference in outturn in the last two elections???)

    I also believe that in particular the Assembly projections are biased towards views on Westminster, that is 90% of our political news coverage is from Westminster, so people first thing about which UK party they would vote for even for Assembly elections, when in reality closer to the Assembly election more voters will decide on their views about the Welsh parties.

    I would agree with John Ellis about a Tory-led Assembly government, in fact I cannot see that happening until after there has been a Plaid-led government – so Tory strength in Assembly polls actually makes continuation of a Labour-led Welsh government more likely.

    The party political comments about ‘Welsh’ and how rubbish Welsh Labour is, are in my view quite pathetic. Aren’t there enough blog for trolls?

  • John Ellis

    I suspect that Christian Schmidt’s correct in his guess that quite a lot of survey respondents might well feel a need for consistency, if only because they feared it could look to a tad odd to be pledging their vote to one party at a Westminster election and to an entirely different one for a Senedd election. Most of us have some degree of discomfort at the thought of perhaps being deemed odd! But we know that quite a few voters these days do vote different ways at different elections. Until recently I did so myself.

    And I also agree that a Conservative-led Welsh government would be more likely in the aftermath of a Plaid-led one. I’ve no respect whatever for the neo-Powellite tendency now entirely ascendant in the Conservative party, but Welsh politics seems to me distinctly stagnant these days, and a spell of ‘thesis’ followed by ‘antithesis’ might liven it up!

  • Ryland Richards

    The Assembly has now no other function than provide significant life support for survival of the UK Labour Party (a party that is now in palpable dying throes). Both Assembly and Labour delude people of Wales into thinking that they have need for some measure of control over their own destinies; demise of the Assembly might be no bad thing for democracy.

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