2014 End of Year Review: A Postscript

It has been helpfully pointed out to me that, as well as the national polls which I discussed in my previous post, we have also had four individual constituency polls in Wales from Lord Ashcroft during 2014. I was aware of that, of course, and commented on each of the four polls at the time. (See here, here, here and here).

But, while we are in a retrospective mood on the blog, it is perhaps worth putting the four results together. So, please see the table below: this presents the figures from all four constituency polls for the constituency-specific question used by Lord Ashcroft. Changes from last the 2010 general election result are in brackets.

Constituency (month of fieldwork) Labour Cons LibDems Plaid UKIP
Cardiff North (April) 40 (+3) 33 (-5) 10 (-8) 7 (+4) 8 (+6)
Cardiff Central (September) 36 (+7) 17 (-5) 24 (-17) 9 (+6) 9 (+7)
Brecon & Radnor (November) 15 (+5) 27 (-9) 31 (-15) 8 (+6) 17 (+15)
Carmarthen West & South Pembs (December) 29 (-4) 33 (-8) 4 (-12) 16 +6) 14 (+11)

We probably shouldn’t expect to see too many similar patterns across these four polls – after all, we are hearing much in the media about the very different patterns that are expected to occur across different constituencies. And the four constituencies polled by Lord Ashcroft in Wales are very different: one ultra-marginal urban Conservative-Labour seat; one Liberal Democrat-held urban seat where they are under strong pressure from Labour; a Liberal Democrat-held rural seat where they face a potential threat from the Conservatives; and a mainly rural Conservative-held seat that Labour need to regain if they are to be on course for an overall majority.

So, do we see any obvious or interesting patterns in the results here? Let’s review things party-by-party:

Labour’s vote share is up, though not by an enormous extent, in three of the four seats. However, their improvement in Brecon and Radnor is of little conceivable use to them in a seat they are most unlikely to win; it must be of some concern that the most recent poll shows them actually losing ground on 2010 in Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire.

The Conservatives do somewhat worse than we might expect: their performance in all four polls is down several points on 2010. This is despite national opinion polls that have consistently shown them performing robustly at a support level only a little way behind the vote share won in 2010. This must be a matter of some concern to the Welsh Tories.

The Liberal Democrats continue to perform weakly across both local and national polls. The poll in Cardiff Central put them on course to lose by a fair margin in a seat they have held since 2005. However, that in Brecon and Radnor did suggest that they have at least a chance of holding onto the seat there – a rare piece of good news for the party these days.

Unsurprisingly, the four polls all showed UKIP advancing: this was wholly to be expected given their strong showing in the national polls during 2014. But there are no signs, at least in any of these seats, of them making a sufficiently major breakthrough as to render them likely to actually win a seat.

The most puzzling aspect of these four polls, to my mind at least, is the performance of Plaid Cymru. None of the four constituencies polled is remotely a Plaid target seat for 2015 (although one might imagine that Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire will be a target for Plaid in the 2016 National Assembly election.) It is very difficult to believe that Plaid can have been pushing significant resources at any of these seats. Yet we see Plaid’s support levels up by several points in all four seats – both on the constituency-specific question shown here, and on the ‘standard’ voting intention question which was also asked in all four polls. This is puzzling because, unlike UKIP, Plaid was making at best only very limited progress in the national polls at the time that all these constituency polls were being conducted. I’ll return in a later Blog post to try to work out why we might be seeing such puzzling results for Plaid.


  • Meurig

    It’s also interesting how the Ashcroft polls challenge conventional wisdom about the Lib Dems perhaps holding up better where they have sitting MPs. In these polls, their vote is falling further in Brecon and Radnor and Cardiff Central than it is in CWaSP and Cardiff North. They’re only projected to hold B&R because the Tory share is down too (presumably partly due to ukip).
    Looking at the English constituency polls gives a similar varied picture. There are plenty of seats with LD MPs where their vote is projected to fall very significantly, and that in polls specifically designed to take account of incumbency effects.
    So it would be unwise to make any assumptions about sitting LD MPs, and of course your previous post about Ratio Swing is well worth a read in this context.

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