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Referendum Voting Intentions in Wales: the latest evidence

6 July 2015

Among the other matters covered in the latest Welsh Political Barometer poll, we have continued to ask people about voting intentions in two referendums that Wales may well be facing in the next few years: on partial income tax devolution to the National Assembly, and on British membership of the European Union.

In our final pre-election poll, both of these questions had produced unusually large leads (for, respectively, those opposing income tax devolution and those in favour of Britain remaining within the EU). What did our new poll find?

On income tax, we once again asked the question “If there was a referendum tomorrow on giving the National Assembly for Wales powers to raise or to lower the levels of income tax in Wales, how would you vote?”

We found that 34% of Welsh Political Barometer respondents indicated that they would vote in favour of the National Assembly gaining some powers over income tax in Wales, while 42% of the sample indicated that they would vote against. Some 5% suggested that they would not vote, while fully 20% chose the Don’t Know option.

The table below shows the full run of all published polls on an income tax referendum (at least all those with which I am familiar; if you know of any others, please do inform me). As can be seen, the ‘No’ side has led in every poll bar one since February 2014, while the slight decline in the No lead since our last poll is probably just a reversion towards the mean after an unusually large lead last time. An income tax referendum would clearly be a difficult one to win – which may well be one reason why it is unlikely to occur.


Poll % Yes % No % DK/ NR % ‘No’ Lead
ITV-Wales/YouGov, February 2013 39 34 27 -5
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, December 2013 35 38 26 3
Western Mail/Beaufort, December 2013 32 30 38 -2
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, Feb 2014 31 42 28 11
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, May 2014 33 39 28 6
Walesonline/YouGov, June 2014 34 41 25 7
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, June-July 2014 32 42 26 10
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, September 2014 38 39 24 1
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, December 2014 37 38 25 1
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, January 2015 37 39 24 2
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, early-March 2015 37 36 27 -1
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, late-March 2015 37 40 22 3
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, May 2015 31 43 26 12
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, June 2015 34 42 25 8


Looking in more detail at the party breakdowns of the responses, it is interesting that Conservative supporters are the most hostile to the idea of income tax devolution. This is interesting not least because a number of leading Welsh Tories have expressed support for the idea. Clearly this would be an important factor in any such referendum, if it occurred: could Conservative party leaders in Wales persuade their own voters to back something that they are currently highly cautious about?

What about the European Union? Here we again asked our standard question “If there was a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, how would you vote?” Of our sample, some 44% indicated that they would vote for Britain to remain in the EU, while 37% stated that they would vote to leave. Some 3% said that they would not vote and 16% chose the Don’t Know answer.

The table below again shows the complete run of all such referendum questions in Wales of which I am aware. We can see that, as with income tax, there has been a drop in the lead since the last poll. But, once more, this appears to be simply a reversion to the mean after an unusually large lead last time. The typical pattern has been of a small lead for ‘remain’. Though the size of this lead suggests that it is by no means impossible that Wales might vote to leave the EU as and when we actually have the referendum, at present the balance of opinion appears to be somewhat in the other direction.


Poll % Remain % Leave % DK/ NV % ‘remain’ Lead
ITV-Wales/YouGov, February 2013 42 35 22 7
Western Mail/Beaufort, June 2013 29 37 35 -8
WGC/YouGov, July 2013 39 40 21 -1
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, December 2013 38 40 22 -2
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, Feb 2014 44 33 23 11
Walesonline/YouGov, June 2014 41 38 22 3
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, June-July 2014 41 36 24 5
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, September 2014 43 37 20 6
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, December 2014 42 39 19 3
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, January 2015 44 36 20 8
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, early-March 2015 43 36 22 7
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, late-March 2015 44 38 18 6
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, May 2015 47 33 21 14
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, May 2015 44 37 19 7



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