In addition to probing voting intentions for the forthcoming general election, our latest Welsh Political Barometer has continued to ask about how people would intend to vote in an election to the National Assembly. Where do the parties stand right now in devolved voting intention?
For the constituency vote, the results of our new poll were (with changes from our previous poll, in January, in brackets):
- Labour 37% (+3%)
- Conservative 22% (+1%)
- Plaid Cymru 20% (+2%)
- UKIP 11% (-2%)
- Liberal Democrats 6% (-1%)
- Greens 4% (-2%)
- Others 1% (no change)
On these figures, and assuming uniform national swings across Wales, only one constituency seat would change hands from the results in the last Assembly election in May 2011: Labour would lose Llanelli to Plaid Cymru.
For the regional list vote, we saw the following results (with changes from our January poll again indicated in brackets):
- Labour 33% (+1%)
- Conservative 22% (+2)
- Plaid Cymru 21% (+6%)
- UKIP 12% (-4%)
- Liberal Democrats 5% (-3%)
- Greens 5% (-3%)
- Others 2% (no change)
Taking into account both the constituency and list results, and assuming uniform national swings across Wales, this produces the following projected seat outcome for a National Assembly election (with aggregate changes from 2011 indicated in brackets):
- Labour: 29 (-1): 27 constituency AMs, 2 list AMs
- Conservative: 13 (-1); 6 constituency AMs, 7 list AMs
- Plaid Cymru: 11 (no change); 6 constituency AMs, 5 list AMs
- UKIP: 5 (+5): all list AMs
- Liberal Democrats: 1 (-4); 1 constituency AM
- Greens: 1 (+1): 1 list AM
So, for the third time in a row, our Barometer poll projects an outcome which would mean six different parties being represented in the National Assembly. As with the previous such poll, though, the allocation of the final list seats between the parties in the regions is often very tight. For this poll, the final lists seat in South Wales West was projected to be won by the Conservatives, ahead of Plaid Cymru, by a margin of approximately 25 votes; with the very smallest of changes in support for those parties, the projection might have placed both on 12 seats.
So what can we make of the respective parties’ showing in this poll?
For Labour, these results reinforce the message of the Westminster results, and our January Barometer poll, that the party appears to have stopped the erosion in its support that was so characteristic of 2013 and 2014. By the end of last year, Welsh Labour’s support level for a devolved election appears to be heading in the direction of, and possibly even below, the vote share the party won in 2007 – its worst-ever devolved election in Wales. The rot seems to have been stopped, and has possibly even begun to be reversed. And while Labour is still some way below the poll ratings it was receiving in 2012, it also remains far ahead of any other party in Wales.
For the Conservatives, these findings are testament to the impressive robustness of its Welsh vote. The poll places the Tories only slightly below their 2011 support level on the constituency ballot, and almost exactly matching it for the regional list vote. The party are not advancing greatly, but not are their opponents succeeding in pushing them backwards.
Plaid Cymru will be pleased by these figures. Their poor showing in the previous poll, particularly on the list vote, may have been an outlier. Nonetheless, to be posting a six-point rise in their list vote share is not something they will turn down. At the same time, while this poll does offer some encouragement for Plaid, they remain far short of matching Leanne Wood’s stated ambitions of challenging Labour’s dominance of the Assembly. This poll shows some significant progress, but there is a long way still to go.
UKIP will surely be somewhat disappointed by the figures in this poll, which shows them slipping in support on both ballot – and falling further on the regional list ballot, which will surely be the more important one to them in 2016. Nonetheless, up until a few months ago this sort of pol rating would probably have delighted UKIP. That is a measure of the extent to which expectations of the party’s performance in Wales changed during 2014. Even on this disappointing poll, they are still projected to win list seats in every region on Wales next year – the only party projected to do so.
For the Liberal Democrats, this is yet another contribution to the apparently ceaseless tide of bad news from the opinion polls. About the best that can be said for this poll is that the party remains in fifth place, rather than sixth, for the constituency ballot – that almost qualifies as good news for the party in Wales these days. Something will need to change if Kirsty Williams is not to be threatened with the prospect of leading a party of one in the Assembly after next year’s election.
The Greens have slipped back a bit in this poll, after their very strong performance in January’s Barometer. Nonetheless, they remain currently on course to win representation in the National Assembly – this poll projects them to win the final list seat in Mid and West Wales.
Postscript (09.30, 11/03/15): And for the real hard-core enthusiasts out there, here are Ratio Swing projections from the same poll for the National Assembly:
- Labour: 29 seats (27 constituency seats; 2 list seats)
- Conservatives: 13 seats (6 constituency seats, 7 list seats)
- Plaid Cymru: 12 seats (6 constituency seats, 6 list seats)
- UKIP: 5 seats (all list seats)
- Liberal Democrats: 1 seat (constituency seat)
The only difference between the UNS and Ratio Swing projections is therefore for Plaid to be winning an extra list seat (in Mid and West Wales) ahead of the Greens.
There’s lots more goodies to come from the latest Barometer poll. I’ll be back soon with more of the findings.