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New Welsh Political Barometer Poll

16 September 2014


This week sees publication of the latest poll conducted by the Welsh Political Barometer – a unique collaboration between ITV Cymru Wales, the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University, and the leading polling agency YouGov.

The poll provides us with a valuable opportunity to assess the state of the parties: as the political season resumes after the summer break, the main parties all approach their autumn conferences, and we look forward to a general election next May.

The poll asked our usual questions about voting intentions for next May’s general election, as well for both votes in the National Assembly election. So, what were the findings for Westminster? We got the following results for general election vote intention (with changes from the July Barometer poll in brackets):

  • Labour 38% (-3)
  • Conservative 23% (-2)
  • Plaid Cymru 11% (no change)
  • UKIP 17% (+3)
  • Liberal Democrats 6% (+1)
  • Others 6% (+1)

Although Labour remains some way in the lead, this is yet another poll that shows its support continuing to ebb. This 38% score is Labour’s lowest in any published Welsh poll since the 2010 general election.

The Conservatives’ modest decline sees them revert to the level of support they have typically enjoyed in Welsh polls over the last few years, after an unusually high score in July’s Barometer. They remain only a few percentage points short of their performance in the 2010 general election. The contrast with their coalition partners continues to be stark: although they have actually improved a notch since last time, at 6%, Lib-Dem support is more than 14 points below their vote share in 2010. Plaid Cymru continue to hold steady, at a support level pretty much identical with how they did in 2010: although not terrible news, they will probably be disappointed with a lack of progress here. Meanwhile – perhaps boosted by the news of Douglas Carswell’s defection, which came shortly before the fieldwork for this poll was conducted – UKIP continue to advance in their support levels for Westminster.

If the changes since the 2010 general election implied by these figures were repeated uniformly across Wales, this would produce the following outcome in terms of seats (with changes from the 2010 election outcome indicated in brackets):

  • Labour: 28 seats (+2)
  • Conservatives: 8 seats (no change)
  • Plaid Cymru: 3 seats (no change)
  • Liberal Democrats: 1 seat (-2)

Only three seats are projected by this poll to change hands: Labour would capture Cardiff Central from the Liberal Democrats and Cardiff North from the Conservatives, while the Conservatives would take Brecon & Radnor from the Liberal Democrats.

What about the National Assembly? For the constituency vote, the results of our new poll were (with changes from May’s Barometer poll in brackets):

  • Labour 36% (-1)
  • Conservative 21% (no change)
  • Plaid Cymru 19% (-1)
  • Liberal Democrats 6% (+1)
  • UKIP 12% (-1)
  • Others 6% (+2)

Here too, we see Labour’s support continuing to edge downwards. Although the change since last time is well within the sampling ‘margin of error’, 36% is their lowest support level with YouGov for the Assembly constituency vote since May 2010. The change since July is tiny, but it continues a series of polls that have seen Labour’s support slip considerably over the last 18 months or so. The Conservatives and Plaid Cymru are holding steady; so also are the Lib-Dems though at a much lower level of support. The surprise, perhaps is that UKIP’s rise in support for Westminster is not mirrored here by any advance in their support base for the National Assembly; if anything, they have slipped back.

Applying the changes since the 2011 Assembly election implied by these figures uniformly across Wales, only one constituency seat projected to change hands from 2011 on the figures from this poll: that is Llanelli, being won by Plaid Cymru from Labour.

For the regional list vote, we saw the following results (with changes from the May Barometer poll again indicated):

  • Labour 31% (-3)
  • Conservative 21% (no change)
  • UKIP 17% (+1)
  • Plaid Cymru 16% (-2)
  • Greens 7% (+3)
  • Liberal Democrats 5% (no change)
  • Others 3% (no change)

Once again we see Labour’s support level continuing to erode, as it has consistently over recent polls. Most of the other parties hold more or less steady, within the margin of error – although these figures will again surely be rather disappointing to Plaid Cymru. Perhaps the most interesting feature of these findings is the rise in support for the Greens, who have now moved ahead of the Liberal Democrats on the list vote, relegating the latter to a somewhat ignominious sixth place.

Taking into account both the constituency and list results, 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: 11 (-3); 6 constituency AMs, 5 list AMs
  • Plaid Cymru: 10 (-1); 6 constituency AMs, 4 list AMs
  • UKIP 9 (+9); all 9 would be list AMs
  • Liberal Democrats: 1 (-4); 1 constituency AM

These projections indicate the possibility, on the results implied by the current poll, of UKIP becoming a significant force within the National Assembly, and largely doing so at the expense of the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. As with the last Barometer poll in July, our new poll projects Kirsty Williams in Brecon & Radnor to be the only remaining Lib Dem AM.

Overall, this poll confirms the continuation of the trend, observable over the last year or more, of Labour support declining. Labour’s support for the Assembly, on both the constituency and list votes, is now not only well below the levels they won in 2011; it is also below the levels won in 1999 and 2003. The saving grace for Labour, however, is that there is no single strong challenger to them emerging. Labour continue to be on the slide, but none of the other parties is yet taking full advantage of this.

I’ll be back later on this week – or, more likely given events in Scotland, next week – with further analysis of some of the details in this poll.


  1. Harry Hayfield

    If there is one thing that this poll proves it’s that UKIP have officially made Britain’s electoral method of First Past the Post break beyond repair. Using a combination of national uniform swing and ratio calculation on UK-Elect (a computer programme that has served we well since Election 1997) the map of Wales would see 28 Labour MP’s (+2), 8 Conservative MP’s (no change), 3 Plaid Cymru MP’s (no change), 1 UKIP MP (+1) and no Liberal Democrats (-3). The gains being: Brecon and Radnorshire (Con GAIN from Lib Dem), Cardiff North (Lab GAIN from Con), Cardiff Central (Lab GAIN from Lib Dem) all of which were highly likely and then you have UKIP GAIN Ceredigion from Lib Dem (which even with all the best will in the world seems a little unlikely) therefore whatever the result of the next election I think the incoming government will have to look seriously at the question of electoral reform again (but this time not AV, which poses the question what else is there that keeps constituencies?)

    • Roger Scully

      You’d think so, Matthew. But actually they fell just short in several regions. The regional system really doesn’t favour smaller parties: on these percentages they would certainly get seats on some sort of national list.

  2. Christian Schmidt

    Are we really sure that the opinion polls for Assembly elections have cracked the issue that Welsh politics is barely mentioned in the mainstream media compared to UK politics and that therefore people answer even the Assembly elections to a degree with a UK frame of mind?

    I note that there is some difference between Westminster and Assembly voting intentions, esp. for Plaid, but I do wonder if the polls will continue to underestimate their support until the last months before the election.

    As to the Greens, I think a better model is needed. Clearly the result will not follow uniform swing, but there will be some random variation around this. This means that a party that on average falls just short in a number of places is more likely than not to get above the threshold in one (while falling substantially short in others).

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