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New Welsh Political Barometer Findings!

30 March 2015

The latest Welsh Political Barometer findings on how people are intending to vote in May’s general election show the Labour party to be still well on course to win a clear majority of Welsh seats.

When asked by YouGov how they would vote in a general election, our respondents gave the following responses (with changes on our last poll, earlier this month, displayed in brackets):

Labour: 40% (+1)

Conservatives: 25% (no change)

UKIP: 14% (no change)

Plaid Cymru: 11% (+1)

Greens: 5% (-1)

Liberal Democrats: 5% (no change)

Others: 1% (no change)


If we apply the swings implied by this poll from the May 2010 general election result uniformly across Wales, this produces the following outcome in terms of parliamentary seats:

Labour: 28 seats (keeping the 26 they won in 2010, and gaining both Cardiff Central from the Liberal Democrats and Cardiff North from the Conservatives);

Conservatives: 8 seats (losing Cardiff North to Labour, but gaining Brecon & Radnor from the Liberal Democrats);

Plaid Cymru: 3 seats (no change);

Liberal Democrats: 1 seat (losing both Cardiff Central and Brecon & Radnor, and holding on only to Ceredigion).


Clearly, very little has changed since our last poll: this one represents, perhaps, the ‘calm before the storm’ of the full-scale campaign that gets under way this week. Nonetheless, I think even in a poll like this which shows very little change, there are still several features worthy of note.

Having seen their vote share decline steadily in the Welsh opinion polls throughout 2013 and 2014, this is the third Barometer poll of 2015 to show that Labour have halted that decline, and even reversed it to a slight extent. This places the party in a strong position to make at least some gains in the general election. The Conservatives’ poll rating also remains robust at a level very close to that which they won in the 2010 election, while Plaid Cymru will be encouraged to be edging up very marginally in support, again to more-or-less the level they won in the last election. However, Plaid remain in fourth place – behind UKIP, whose decline in our previous two Barometer polls appears to have levelled out for now.

While the Liberal Democrats’ poll rating also remains steady, they will surely be less encouraged by stability than many of their opponents. The Lib-Dems continue to poll at only one-quarter of their 2010 vote share, and have made no ground at all since the previous Barometer poll. About the best thing that can be said for their performance here is that at least they are no longer in sixth place – the slight fall in support for the Greens places both of those parties in a joint, but rather distant, fifth.

As we have done in all the Barometer polls this year, and as we will continue to do right through to election day, our new poll also asked about how likely people were to actually vote in the election. Respondents to the poll were asked to rate their likelihood of voting on a 0 to 10 scale, where 0 means ‘Definitely will not vote’ and 10 means ‘Definitely will vote’. Some 67 percent of respondents placed themselves at 10 out of 10 on this scale.

Particularly interesting are the differences between the parties in how certain each of their supporters are to vote. And here there is further bad news for the Welsh Liberal Democrats. Fully 18 percent of all those who indicated that they would vote Lib-Dem in the general election actually placed themselves between 0 and 3 on the scale of how likely they were to vote; no other party had more than 4 percent of its supporters claiming to be so unlikely to take part in the election. So not only do the Liberal Democrats have relatively few supporters remaining in Wales; even those that remain seem much less motivated than the supporters of the other parties. YouGov do not weight respondents by likelihood to vote when reporting polling numbers; had they done so, the Liberal Democrats’ position in Wales would have looked even worse than it already does.


Up-Date (01/04/15; and this is not an April Fools’ joke…): Apologies for being rather slow on the analysis this week, but I was away at a conference on Monday and Tuesday. Anyway, as has become customary, I have also computed Ratio Swing seat projections for the latest Barometer poll. These are:

Labour: 28 seats (keeping the 26 they won in 2010, and gaining both Cardiff Central from the Liberal Democrats and Cardiff North from the Conservatives);

Conservatives: 8 seats (losing Cardiff North to Labour, but gaining Brecon & Radnor from the Liberal Democrats);

Plaid Cymru: 4 seats (keeping all three seats that they currently hold, and gaining Ceredigion from the Liberal Democrats);

Liberal Democrats: 0 seats (losing Cardiff Central, Brecon & Radnor, and Ceredigion).

As I’ve explained previously, Ratio Swing tends to produce numbers that are particularly unfavourable  to a party that has lost a significant proportion of support since the last election – just the position that the Lib-Dems are in.


I’ll be back later in the week with further results from and analysis of the poll.

(The poll for ITV and the Wales Governance Centre had a sample of 1189 Welsh adults and was carried out by YouGov on 24-27 March 2015.)


  1. Christian Schmidt

    I think UNS is not very helpful for Welsh polls. Ashcroft’s Brecon poll for example has shown the LibDems ahead, and I would not be surprised if there are also local swings in Ceredigion, Anglesey (both towards Plaid) and Preseli Pembrokeshire (towards the Tories)

    • Roger Scully

      Well, as I’ve said before several times on the blog, Christian, I don’t see it as perfect by any means. What I think it does provide us with is a decent ‘baseline’ measure, against which we can assess local variations. But I’m certainly not expecting all the seats in Wales to follow some form of uniform swing, and it would indeed be silly to do so.

  2. William Rees

    UNS has a relevance but of more interest would be local polls in Yns Mon, Brecon, Cardiff North and Central and Ceredigion

    • Roger Scully

      Well, there have been Ashcroft polls in Brecon & Radnor, plus the two Cardiff seats, of course – I don’t know if we’ll get any more of them.

  3. Ray Vison

    Plaid are miles behind the SNP in appeal – why? Not radical enough? Not enough Welsh people left in Wales? They just have not made a case to be better than Labour and Tory and yet those two parties are so discredited and do nothing for Wales except pliantly govern on behalf of Westminster.

    • Trampie

      Its scaremongering by the Labour party and their supporters in the South Wales valleys Ray Vison, the scaremongering goes back to before the 2ndWW and continues to this day, you need to know where Labour was politically in their early days and where Plaid was when they were created, what type and class of people were Plaid supporters and what area they tended to come from and what type and class of people Labour supporters were and where they came from.
      Its all ironic to be honest, Plaid these days and for many decades are a solid left of centre party, Labour these days many would say are centre to centre right alongside the other main Westminster parties, yet some Labour supporters in the Valley’s will still say ‘scratch below the surface of Plaid supporter and you get a Tory’ which is laughable, Plaid adopted “community socialism” as a constitutional aim in 1981 and have Ms Wood as leader, Labour produced their last socialist manifesto in 1983 and had Tony Blair as they leader until fairly recently.
      They will describe often describe Plaid as ‘nationalists’ with all the connotations that go with that, when the irony is the main unionist Westminster parties could be described as ‘Brit Nats’ who’s policies on immigration and supporting wars overseas in one sense makes them all far more of a ‘nationalist’ party than Plaid with their policies.

      I have no party political agenda for giving you my thoughts ‘Ray Vison’ and i’m sure Mr Scully would not want petty points scoring on his site, but it is a question that gets asked over and over in Welsh politics and as somebody born and bred in the valleys and now living in a Plaid heartland I thought I would give you what I think is the reason.

      Going forward things will only change as regards Plaids appeal when the miners generation die out, perhaps they still think they are voting for a left of centre party ?, what could be interesting in the short term is if Plaid increase their seats in this General Election [and the SNP dominate Scotland] and then in the Assembly elections next year Ms Wood stands and wins Rhondda, then perhaps after that we might see the Labour vote diminish at a much greater speed in Wales than has been steadily happening over recent years and perhaps finally Plaid could make inroads in South Wales which is something commentators have been wondering about for a long time.

      • Ddirpytnop

        Trampie – I don’t think there are too many voters in the Valleys who consider Plaid to be Welsh Tories. There are of course Labour activists who might argue this for obvious political reasons, but I don’t think the idea has much if any traction and hasn’t done so for perhaps 40 years or so. Certainly, I’ve never met anyone who either votes or doesn’t vote for Plaid on the basis that they think they are a right wing party. Plaid’s difficulties stem from other factors including its close identification with the language (which is a concern for some English monoglots), the lack of a properly established national news media in Wales which means that Plaid’s message often goes unheard, and perhaps most importantly of all, the relatively underdeveloped sense of Welsh identity, and confidence in that identity, amongst many Welsh people. Scotland is a very different country in these respects which makes the task of the SNP in converting people to their cause very much easier than Plaid’s. That said, Plaid have made inroads into Labour’s Valley strongholds on a number of occasions over the years, most notably in the first Assembly elections. Their problem has been that they have never been able to hold on to the ground that they have won.

  4. Trampie

    Ddirpytnop – There are probably a lot of people in the South Wales valleys that don’t know where Plaid would be plotted on a political graph [perhaps a poll should be conducted to see what percentage of people know what the various parties stand for ?], there has been a great dislike of Plaid by Labour in the valleys from the beginning with negative politics prevalent decades ago and that was my answer to the question posed by Ray Vison.

    I agree with your points about English monoglots fears [whipped up by others for political gain perhaps ? or justified even ?] and the Welsh media/lack of a Welsh media as factors in hurting Plaid, but I don’t agree with you referring to a lack of Welsh identity, sport is tribal and sport is very popular in South Wales with lots of people supporting Welsh national teams with passion and patriotism, Welsh used to be widely spoken in some areas in the valleys a century or so ago and now today Welsh medium schools seem to be in vogue.
    In the devolution referendum every unitary authority that included every South Wales valley seat voted ‘Yes’ for devolution, Neath-Port Talbot [including Afan valley, Neath valley, Dulais valley and part of the Swansea valley] returned the biggest ‘Yes’ vote in Wales I believe, bigger than any Plaid heartland authority returned.

    As much as Labour have waged a propaganda war against Plaid in the valleys for decades I also think Plaid have failed to get their message across, from Plaids point of view they would be advised to tell voters where they are on the political landscape and where their opponents are,
    South Wales has been a hotbed of left leaning radicalism in the past, Arthur Horner and Annie Powell being prominent communists from the area not all that many years ago yet Plaid have only had limited success in an area that they need and could expect to do well in if they are going to break out from their heartlands and be a major leading force in Welsh politics.

    It is one of the big questions in Welsh politics, why Plaid don’t do better in the South Wales valleys, particularly with Labour moving rightward in recent decades which has left a huge void on the left that Plaid could fill.

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