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Could Things Be Even Worse For Labour?

12 January 2017

The answer is that things could nearly always be worse. In this specific instance, what prompts the question is something that Matt Singh, of Number Cruncher Politics, noticed in the cross-breaks for our latest Welsh Political Barometer poll. Put simply, the point is that, at least for Westminster voting intention, Labour is doing particularly well among those respondents who apparently did not vote in the June EU referendum – and rather badly among many of those who did vote. If we take out non-voters in the referendum, Labour has pretty much no lead at all on general election voting intention.

I went back and checked the September Barometer poll, and something of the same pattern appears, although to a less strong extent. Plaid Cymru, we should notice, also do relatively well among those who did not vote in the referendum. And as Matt speculates, “While 2016 taught us to be cautious when it comes to making assumptions about turnout, it’s nevertheless still reasonable to think that people that didn’t vote in a referendum with a 72 per cent turnout probably aren’t the likeliest of voters in a general election. The risk for Labour is that their lead is soft because they’re relying in part on this type of (non-) voter and the Tories aren’t.”

You can find Matt’s discussion here. It’s worth a read.


  1. James

    Plugging those numbers into a well-known online swingometer gives Conservative gains in Alyn and Deeside, Delyn, Bridgend, and Newport West.

    But the reason I’d be cautious is that the way the Leave vote was structured geographically in the South was pretty much the inverse of which areas are traditionally good for the Conservative Party — it wouldn’t change the winner if the Conservative share of the vote doubled in many of the most Leave-friendly constituencies. (All of which is one of those lovely contradictions of living in Wales…)

  2. Angharad Hafod

    Or possibly, those people didn’t vote because they perceived the EU referendum as an irrelevant right-wing spat?

    A bad perception of course, but it seems to me that’s a possibility.

  3. J.Jones

    Very interesting. Those who didn’t vote in the EU referendum were also most likely to be “Don’t knows” as well.

    It does raise a question for YouGov that has always concerned me (all online polling). YouGov panels are self selecting and, by definition those panellists value their own opinion and see themselves as having power albeit as a tiny part of a group of like-minded people.
    The most obvious reason why we should be wary of online polling is the declarations of voting probability. YouGov panellists have the political and social awareness that makes them more likely to vote. They at least believe themselves to be well informed.
    Does it matter that online polling misses people who are unlikely to vote? Mostly no. They don’t vote and therefore they don’t count as a predictor of election outcomes at any one time. Nevertheless those who don’t apply to be on survey panels still have opinions and characteristics. It may even be that they have characteristics in common and opinions in common and any survey that asks wider questions about opinion in Wales really needs to be aware of this polling blind spot.

  4. Jonathon Harrington

    Theturnout figures always fascinate me; much higher in the General Elections than the Welsh ones which indicates that most Welsh voters still regard Westminster as the point of governance. Labour are not really in the running whilst messrs Corbyn and Co are in position.

  5. J.Jones

    “Or possibly, those people didn’t vote because they perceived the EU referendum as an irrelevant right-wing spat?”

    Hmmm, “turnout for irrelevant right wing spat” 71.7%

    Turnout for the election of the Welsh government in 2016 45.3%.

    The logical answer is compulsory voting.

  6. Lucy Grey

    Really interesting.
    But, I’m not entirely convinced it’s that clear-cut (it never is, as you always remind us!).

    It seems odd that the most left leaning parties have the strongest support amongst those who didn’t vote on the EU referendum (Labour, Plaid, and to a lesser degree Libs – Greens don’t figure for some reason).

    There will always be a percentage of the electorate that don’t bother to vote. In General Elections it’s safe to assume that it’s the same people.

    But in this instance could it be that the Referendum gave an incentive to many who would not normally vote in a GE to come out and vote for a plebiscite, and that they will fall back to their usual non-voting habits come GE?
    Many on the left were torn with the Referendum – they didn’t like the EU but neither did the like Vote Leave and UKIP.

    What would be interesting would be to see the marked electoral registers and compare the voting patterns to see if it’s generally the same non-voters. I guess we’ll have to depend on one of the political parties to release that information.

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