Uncategorized

The April Welsh Political Barometer Poll

In these difficult times there is not a great deal of good news around for many people. However, Welsh Conservatives will surely be cheered by the findings of our new Welsh Political Barometer poll. Recent Britain-wide polls have shown support for the Conservative government increasing, with the Tories’ already strong position apparently being boosted by a ‘rally to the flag’ effect similar to what polls in many other countries have found in the current crisis. Our new Barometer poll indicates something similar happening in Wales; already challenging their best ever polling ratings, the Welsh Conservatives have received a further boost.

As per usual, our poll examined voter support for both a general and a devolved election. First, Westminster. After the strong Conservative performance in December; the post-election ‘honeymoon’ they had in subsequent polls conducted across Britain; and then a further apparent boost during the current crisis period, it is no surprise to see the Welsh Tories doing well in our latest poll. The level to which Tory support has risen is, nonetheless, striking. Here are the numbers (with changes from our last pre-election Barometer poll, conducted in January, in brackets):

Conservatives: 46% (+5)

Labour: 34% (-2)

Plaid Cymru: 11% (-2)

Liberal Democrats: 4% (-1)

Brexit Party: 3% (no change)

Greens: 2% (no change)

Others: 0 (-1)

Our previous Barometer poll had produced what I described at the time as “historically good figures for the Conservatives in Wales”.  The Conservatives have now added a further five points onto that figure, putting them at clearly their highest level of support in Wales in any poll published in this century – indeed, in any opinion poll ever conducted in Wales of which I am aware. The twelve-point Conservative lead in Wales is also, to the best of my knowledge, the largest ever recorded – exceeding the ten point lead the Tories briefly had at the start of the 2017 general election campaign. The Conservatives gains appear to have come from all of their main competitors, with support for Labour, Plaid Cymru, and the Liberal Democrats all edging downwards since our last poll.

What might this mean in terms of parliamentary seats for the different parties? Using the standard method, of projecting swings since the last general election uniformly across Wales, we generate the following outcome in terms of seats (with projected changes from the December 2019 election result in brackets):

Conservatives: 25 (+11)

Labour: 12 (-10)

Plaid Cymru: 3 (-1)

In short, this poll projects the Welsh Conservatives to retain all the seats that they won in December’s general election (which was itself the joint-best Conservative performance in terms of seats since the war), and then gain a further eleven seats on top of that! The seats projected to be Conservative gains are: Alyn and Deeside, Cardiff North, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Gower, Llanelli, Islwyn, Neath, Newport East, Newport West, Pontypridd and Torfaen. All but Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (currently held by Jonathan Edwards for Plaid Cymru) would be gained by the Conservatives directly from Labour.

But it is not only historic changes at Westminster that are suggested by our new poll. Our new poll also asked about voting intentions on both the constituency and the regional ballots for a devolved election. (Unfortunately, we were not able to repeat this time around the inclusion in our January poll of some 16 and 17 year olds; their inclusion last time lowered the final figure for Conservative support by a single point, and raised Labour’s total by the same amount.) Here are the figures for the Assembly constituency ballot (with changes in support since our January Barometer poll among voters aged 18 and above once again in brackets):

Conservatives: 38% (+2)

Labour: 32% (no change)

Plaid Cymru: 19% (-1)

Liberal Democrats: 4% (-1)

Brexit Party: 4% (no change)

Greens: 3% (no change)

Others: 1% (no change)

These results emphasise that the current buoyancy in Welsh Conservative fortunes is not just about Westminster. Although we see a smaller rise in Tory support in the devolved context, and one that is within the standard ‘margin of error’, 38 percent for the Conservatives on the constituency vote is another all-time high. 

Once again assuming uniform national swings since the last relevant election, this new Barometer poll projects the Tories to capture nine constituency seats from Labour: these are Cardiff North, Cardiff West, Clwyd South, Delyn, Gower, Newport West, the Vale of Clwyd, the Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham. Labour would still, on the figures, win more constituency seats than the Conservatives: 18 to the Tories’ 15, with Plaid retaining six and Kirsty Williams holding on for the Lib-Dems in Brecon and Radnor. But among the projected Labour losses would be First Minister Mark Drakeford.

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

Conservatives: 37% (+4)

Labour: 29% (-2)

Plaid Cymru: 18% (-1)

Liberal Democrats: 4% (-1)

Brexit Party: 4% (no change)

Greens: 3% (no change)

Abolish the Assembly: 3% (no change)

Others: 2% (no change)

These regional vote figures once again put the Welsh Conservatives on their best-ever showing. And as with the Westminster vote, Conservative gains appear to come at the expense of all of the other traditional main parties in Wales. Allowing for the constituency results already projected, and once again assuming uniform national swings since 2016, our new poll projects the following overall results for the Assembly’s regional list seats:

North Wales: 3 Labour, 1 Plaid

Mid and West Wales: 3 Conservative, 1 Labour

South Wales West: 3 Conservative, 1 Plaid

South Wales Central: 2 Conservative, 1 Plaid, 1 Labour

South Wales East: 3 Conservative, 1 Plaid

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

Conservatives: 26 seats (15 constituency, 11 regional)

Labour: 23 seats (18 constituency, 5 regional)

Plaid Cymru: 10 seats (6 constituency, 4 regional)

Liberal Democrats: 1 seat (1 constituency)

Such an outcome would of course, be the first time that an election to the National Assembly for Wales had ever produced any party other than Labour winning the largest number of seats.

It has been widely noted that many countries have seen the ‘rally around the flag’ effect during the Covid-19 crisis. But which flag should voters rally towards? Recent evidence from Scotland has suggested strong support for the SNP, apparently reflecting positive public reactions to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership in recent weeks, with little sign of a boost in Conservative fortunes. In Wales, just as in Scotland, health is a devolved issue. But as we know, Wales is a very different place politically from Scotland. And although it is a Labour government which is leading the battle against the coronavirus in Wales, it appears to be the Conservatives who are getting most political credit with the Welsh public. The influence of UK level politics on Welsh political preferences remains strong.

While the results in this poll are genuinely historic for the Conservatives in Wales, there are at least two reasons why they should be cautious. The first is that while voters have been supportive of their handling of Covid-19 thus far, we do not know if that will continue. If people begin to get frustrated at the restrictions on their lifestyles, or if significant numbers of them start to question the effectiveness of the UK government’s handling of the issue, then any political gains made by the Conservatives could very rapidly move into reverse. The second reason for caution is that much of the sampling for this poll was conducted before Sir Keir Starmer was confirmed as the new Labour party leader. An impressive start by the new Labour leader and his new team could also see the electoral landscape alter very rapidly.

The poll, for ITV-Cymru Wales and Cardiff University, had a sample of 1,008 Welsh adults aged 18+  and was carried out online by YouGov from 3 to 7 April 2020.

Comments

  • dave taylor

    A great result for conservatives, Still means the worst of all results in the assembly a Lab /Plaid coalition

  • Jac Pro-Biotic

    If any Welsh Conservatives really do take heart from these figures they are deceiving themselves.

    The figures that REALLY matter at the moment are the numbers of dead from the COVID-19 crisis.

    If one listens to experts (not that that is a strong trait amongst the current generation of Tories), there is room to fear that not only will the death rate in the ‘United Kingdom’ be worse than that for comparable countries, but that Wales will suffer even more. If the Cons are getting the benefit of the ‘rally to the flag’ effect at the moment, they will also reap the whirlwind if it is seen that the London Government’s response was misguided at the start (remember ‘herd instinct’ and ‘take it on the chin’), and continued to be slow to respond (at least in Wales the rugby match v Scotland was cancelled, while the tens of thousands of race-goers in Cheltenham merrily swapped germs), with some very, very dubious decisions which directly impacted upon Wales (yes, I’m thinking of London stepping in to prevent Wales from getting those 5,000 tests per day). Not to mention the DELIBERATE policy not to engage and co-operate with friendly European countries on ideological grounds.

    Of course, given the utter weakness of the Welsh media, who knows how much of these truths will reach the Welsh electorate? But it’s possible that enough of these details will get through to make the Welsh voters question the wisdom of voting for a party which has so comprehensively failed to make the right decisions.

  • Jacques Protic

    Good news for the Conservatives, still thriving on BoJo dividend, but not good news for Wales. In recent GE Conservative Central Office didn’t plan for the landslide.

    In many constituencies, they felt were out of reach they fronted some divvies (using the slang definition) and have ended up with some unworthy characters as MP’s.

    Having said this, the current bunch of serving Tory AM’s is not much better and far from inspiring, including their leader. As I understand it, there is considerable internal squabble within the Tory ranks in the Assembly where the Y Fro Gymraeg mob is trying to sideline/remove the patriots.

    In short, Welsh Conservatives are no better than the Welsh ‘Labour’, when it comes to prioritising Welsh language and the obscene privileges the Welsh-speaking minority has gained under Labour governance.

    The only chances for people of Wales to have any hope of restoring democracy is to support the two parties who will be fronting Abolish The Welsh Assembly manifesto.

    On the obscene privileges for the minority, see: https://www.glasnost.org.uk/2020/03/welsh-devolution-has-failed-80-of-us-where-next/

  • Raul Lopez

    Hi

    When will the tables be publicly available??

    Thanks!!

  • John Ellis

    I can’t say I’m surprised at the results of this polling: quite a lot of people are frightened by the sudden onset of something which does very much resemble the ‘plagues’ of antiquity. Nothing like this has occurred in the lifetime of any of us, and the reaction’s natural; folk rally round the leaders in the hope – justified or otherwise! – that their leadership will somehow provide deliverance.

    I think Jac Pro-Biotic makes some sound points. But this isn’t the psychological moment for the advocates of an independent Wales to be pushing their agenda forward. When people are afraid, their instinct is to look to the leadership for deliverance, and – like it or not – the devolved Welsh government has too insufficient a stature to provide the leadership which frightened folk crave. Wales – much more than Scotland – still instinctively looks to Westminster rather than to Cardiff Bay to come up with solutions. Perhaps oddly, the rather drab and tentative Welsh Labour government has, I think, made a positive call – in terms of making a case for more Welsh autonomy – in opting to anticipate the inevitable, UK-wide, decision to extend the ‘lock-down’. Because that’s what most folk clearly expect and want.

    In the face of the current crisis, the arguments for and against Welsh independence are surely matters for another day. And that applies no less to the arguments adduced by ‘Jacques Protic’ than to those presented by Plaid Cymru, the WNP or ‘Gwlad, Gwlad’..

  • Jac Pro-Biotic

    A very balanced response by John – calm and considered whereas I must admit that my first post displayed rather too much rage. Of course, you are absolutely right – any talk of promoting Welsh independence now would be just pie-in-the sky. The focus for the next several weeks has to be on staying alive, and if we succeed in that it will be DESPITE the schemes of the London government and BECAUSE of the dedication, courage and commitment of key workers, and above all the doctors and nurses.

    Readers may have noticed that there was a typo in my initial post – I wrote ‘herd instinct’ instead of ‘herd immunity’. There is also a typo in Jacques Protic’s post (and how dare he choose a name which is similar to my own) – he wrote ‘the patriots’ when he should have written ‘the Anglo-supremacist bigots’.

    • John Ellis

      I agree with you entirely. For the avoidance of all doubt – as the saying goes – I’m entirely supportive of exploring the vision of an independent Wales because by now I’ve reached the conclusion that the ‘Union’ is pretty much what the Yanks call ‘a busted flush’. What the Tories – and, for that matter, pretty much what Labour and the hollowed-out vestiges of the Lib Dems too – offer is an essentially nostalgic vision of Britain as it was prior to World War One.

      The inconvenient truth is that the world’s changed hugely over the last century, and more particularly during the past sixty-odd years, and by now the UK is a respectably middle-ranking world power rather than the global colossus which she was in the 19th century. If Brits and their politicians showed a readiness to accept that reality, the Union might perhaps still have some future and some point. But the last few years – primarily in the context of Brexit – have demonstrated that they don’t, and I don’t see any constructive future for a nation apparently determined to nail its colours to an anachronistic and nostalgic la-la land which has no anchor in reality.

      I don’t pretend that Welsh independence would initiate some sort of ‘promised land’ ideal society, because I’m sure that it wouldn’t; Irish independence initiated a full fifty years of economic stringency and threadbare public services before Ireland made it economically in the end. Resentment against English dominance rendered that a price which most ordinary Irish folk seemed willing to pay, given that no significant Irish political faction ever arose which campaigned to reverse the ideology of independence.from Britain.

      Mere months after a general election in which very considerable numbers of Welsh electors lent their votes to the most old-fashioned ‘imperial’ Tory government that there’s been in my – now considerable! – lifetime, I don’t think the moment’s right to be banging on about independence. Not, at any rate, if you’re indulging in serious rather than mere gesture politics and you’re hoping to carry the Welsh electorate with you. And more than ever when an awful lot of folk are sh1t-scared about a plague, the likes of which none of us has experienced in our lifetime – even though there are numerous precedents for it in more distant antiquity.- and their default instinct seems to be to look to ‘them in charge’ to come up with solutions.

      And whether you or I like it or not – and since I don’t trust them, I unambiguously don’t like it – most folk in Wales right now seem to be looking to the UK government rather than Mr Drakeford’s to come up with the answers. Should Bunter’s lot fail that test. things might of course change. But as of now we are where we are. ‘Softly, softly, catchee monkey’ comes to mind. But maybe that just reveals my age and generation.

  • Ronald Olden

    This poll in Wales is underwritten by a very similar upsurge in support for the Tories in the UK as a whole.

    As of April 19th the Tories have leads of 26% in the most recent two separate OPINIUM Polls for the Observer, 23% in another OPINIUM, 24% in YOUGOV and 22% in IPSOS MORI. The lead is unchanging over the weeks, and in each case more than double the General Election lead. Drilling down into some of the data there were even indications they were ahead in London!!

    Wales unlike Scotland, tends to closely follow UK wide swings but with an underlying trend of faster movement in favour of the Tories and for the Welsh Assembly elections there’s extreme dissatisfaction with the Welsh Labour Government to add into the equation and a growing swell of opposition to having in the Assembly at all, which could easily benefit the Tories or some other Party in the Regional List.

    ‘Anti Assembly’ could easily be the 2021 equivalent of the 2016 UKIP list vote. It’s a solid sizeable minority cause waiting to be tapped and in terms of the Regional list can only disadvantage Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems, especially if the anti Assembly folk get their tactical voting act together.

    YOUGOV’s weekly UK polling is also showing huge support for the UK Government’s handling of Coronavirus, and in comparison with other countries’ electorates in Europe, the UK Government is top ranked amongst people’s willingness to follow their advice. They’re also able to show that they’ve been closely following scientific and NHS advice so if anything had gone wrong they’d avoid most of the blame.

    The only noticeable recent difference in Wales was the unmitigated disaster of NHS Wales sending 13,000 letters which were supposed to advise the most vulnerable people to quarantine and offer them support at home to do so, to the wrong addresses. And that’s the easiest sort of thing to pin on the politicians concerned. In this case Welsh Labour and the Lib Dem.

    But Plaid Cymru can’t benefit because they have this now out of date political agenda and Adam Price has such a bad reputation for being so negative and politicising everything.

    UK wide the Tories might however be playing a canny game. UK coronavirus deaths per Million are miles behind Spain Italy and Belgium comfortably behind France, and won’t catch up. Republic of Ireland deaths are higher than Northern Ireland. The IMF reports also show that although UK will be badly affected economically, we’re less badly affected that France and Germany, and MUCH less badly affected than other EU countries. Which rightly or wrongly will underpin the decision to leave the EU.

    On the other hand there’s not much evidence that anything ANY Government does can affect the outcomes of coronavirus, save to make sure that the NHS doesn’t get overwhelmed at any given time. Which is what the Government has successfully achieved. As of April 19th vacant Critical Care beds in the UK are at record highs and rising, and there’s now zero chance we’ll run out of ventilators.

    It might well be that the Government’s just doing what it knows the public wants by listening to what focus groups say.

  • Christian Schmidt

    A week is a long time in politics – and I would wonder how things would look today, only 12 days later. For that poll was taken was a fortnight after the lock-down had started, and when Covid19 death increases dropped below 20% for the first time and new infection increases to 10% – i.e. exactly the dates when the rally round the flag effect would have been strongest.

    Now that the UK government has been strongly criticised, with the news all about lack of PPE, could it be different already? And while predictions are difficult (esp. involving the future), if Britain really ends up with the highest death rate of the 5 big western European countries, then I wouldn’t be surprised if this Conservative opinion poll lead in Wales will unwind just as the last one did…

  • Christian Schmidt

    Also, on ‘rally to the flag’ effects, I just had a look at German states polls (www.wahlrecht.de), and all the recent ones show gains for Merkel’s party whether they run the state government, are the junior party in the coalition or are in opposition. Social Democrat and Green regional polls also mirror federal ones – it is weird…

  • John Elis

    You make some salient points – especially in the second paragraph of your initial post.

  • David L Evans

    It will be interesting to see what polling effect there is in view of the divergence between what people are allowed to do in England (decided by Conservative Government) and Wales (decided by Labour led Senedd). This may be particularly pronounced if the next easing of restrictions is significant in England but very minor in Wales. Presumably there will be another poll in the next couple of months. Anecdotal evidence I have from talking to lots of people in different parts of Wales is that support for Mark Drakeford’s policies is strongest in areas with very few Coronavirus cases and no Labour MP or AM (Ceredigion and Conwy) which I find surprising.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *