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The Final Welsh Political Barometer Poll of the 2019 General Election

9 December 2019

We could be on the verge of a genuinely historic general election outcome in Wales. That is the key message to emerge from the final Welsh Political Barometer poll of the 2019 election.

Our latest poll was conducted over the final weekend of the campaign. It once again asked people across Wales, how they would vote in the general election. As in our last poll, we have adjusted the standard voting intention question to take into account of the fact that not all parties are standing in all seats. Therefore, respondents were asked: “There will be a UK general election on 12 December 2019. The following candidates and parties will stand in your constituency. How do you intend to vote in the upcoming election?”

Here are the voting intention figures that the poll produced (with changes on our last Barometer poll, conducted in late November, in brackets):

Labour: 40% (+2)

Conservatives: 37% (+5)

Plaid Cymru: 10% (-1)

Liberal Democrats: 6% (-3)

Brexit Party: 5% (-3)

Greens: 1% (no change)

Others: 1 (no change)

These figures would enable the Labour party to continue their long run – unbroken since 1922 – of winning the most votes in Wales at every one of the last twenty-six general elections. But rarely if ever has the Tory challenge to Labour dominance been that strong. If our poll was reproduced on election day itself, this would be an historic result for the Conservatives in Wales. This would be their highest Welsh vote share since 1900 – thus, their highest ever in the era of universal (male) suffrage.

The squeeze on the smaller parties seen in our previous two Welsh polls continues, with the ‘big two’ now winning nearly eighty percent of all electoral support. The contrast with May, when between them the Conservative and Labour parties won little more than twenty percent of the vote in the European Parliament election, is staggering.

What might such support levels for the parties mean in terms of parliamentary seats? Using the standard method, of projecting the swings since the last general election indicated by this poll uniformly across Wales, gives us the following outcome in terms of seats (with projected changes from the 2017 result in brackets):

Labour: 20 (-8)

Conservatives: 16 (+8)

Plaid Cymru: 3 (-1)

Liberal Democrats: 1 (+1)

The seats to change hands would be as follows:

Conservative Gains from Labour: Alyn and Deeside, Bridgend, Cardiff North, Clwyd South, Delyn, Gower, Vale of Clwyd, Wrexham

Conservative Gain from Liberal Democrats: Brecon and Radnor (recapturing the seat the party won in 2017, but lost in the August by-election; the projection here is assuming uniform swings since June 2017)

Liberal Democrat Gain from Plaid Cymru: Ceredigion

Thus, our poll suggests that as well as winning the most votes, Labour would still come out ahead in Wales on seats. But twenty seats would equal Labour’s worst performance in Wales since the war, while it would be the best for the Conservatives in that era – even outdoing their showing in Margaret Thatcher’s 1983 landslide victory. The Welsh Conservatives would have made a very substantial contribution to delivering a parliamentary majority for Boris Johnson.

A major reason why Labour’s fightback in Wales appears to have stalled is that, unlike in 2017, Jeremy Corbyn has not been able to continue improving his personal ratings with the public. The improvement seen in our last poll has flattened out, and although the gap is smaller than it was at the start of the election, he continues to trail Boris Johnson on our ‘best Prime Minister’ question (with Johnson on 40 percent, up two points on our late November poll, compared to Corbyn being chosen by 33 percent, with the remainder of the sample choosing Don’t Know).

With just days to go now, things remain very much in the balance. It is well within the ‘margin of error’ in polls for Labour to retain many of the seats that our poll currently projects them to lose. But sampling errors work both ways: the picture could be even bleaker for Labour than is suggested here. Our new poll suggests that it is, for instance, far from inconceivable that the Labour party could be wiped out throughout north Wales in terms of parliamentary representation. And despite a less than flawless Welsh campaign, significant Conservative gains in Wales appear to be ever more likely.

The poll, for ITV-Cymru Wales and Cardiff University, had a sample of 1,020 Welsh adults and was carried out by YouGov from 6 to 9 December 2019.


  1. Jac Pro-biotic

    There are some things happening now that it is difficult to believe. Reports of the Lib Dems surging to threaten Raab in Esher & Walton and Gove in Surrey Heath; of Labour in Uxbridge achieving a decapitation of the Conservative leader. And then you go and bring us this. It’s like the reverse of that brilliant line from the film Clockwise, uttered by John Cleese – he says “I can stand the despair. It’s the hope!” – this prediction kills the hope and brings about despair.

    However, the volatility of the electorate this time around is so marked that any attempt to make firm predictions is very dangerous. But here’s one that should hold firm – places with a well-educated electorate are not going to vote Tory, when they have a very good idea of the havoc and destruction that a Hard Brexit will wreak. A well-educated electorate can work out how to do tactical voting, so expect to see the Plaid / Green / LibDems vote get squeezed hard in Cardiff North, so that seat remains [pun intended] Labour. I have dreams that the electorate of the Vale of Glamorgan will be similarly enlightened so – tough luck to the Greens there – Cairns gets to jog on. But I don’t think this logic will hold for the north east Wales seats.

    So perhaps despair it is, then.

  2. Jon Coles

    I can’t see Alun Cairns clinging on in the Vale and fancy Ben Lake to hold Ceredigion.
    Tactical local voting might influence the outcome in one or two other seats, but that’s a guess based on personal observation.
    I’d have thought Wrexham and the Gower are certain to change hands.
    The bellwether, however, will be what happens to the Labour vote share and the turnout in constituencies it holds in areas like Llanelli: there’s a lot of hacked off leave voters out there and a fair few Labour voters among them.

  3. Dewi

    Forgive me but how does this poll show Lib Dem’s gaining Ceredigion?

  4. Oscar Fox

    “places with a well-educated electorate are not going to vote Tory” On the contrary Jac, anyone well-educated will not vote anything BUT Tory. You pompous ass.

  5. chris_sh

    Just out of curiosity, if you were modifying the candidate selection on a per seat basis, wouldn’t it have been possible to do individual seat predictions (similar to YouGov MRP) rather than using a uniform swing?

  6. Derek

    “Places with a well-educated electorate are not going to vote Tory”…Really? I would have thought that “University towns with a large number of students who have been spending their teens and early twenties being thoroughly indoctrinated by a left wing teaching establishment won’t be voting Tory” would be more accurate.

  7. Owain

    In 2017, Labour were promising to honour the result of the referendum. Wales voted decisively to leave, and reaffirmed that strongly in the EU elections earlier this year. Labour reneged on their previous manifesto commitment, and are now offering to frustrate Brexit. That is not winning over the Welsh voters, however much the remainers insist otherwise. Add in the anti-semitism and absurdly childish economic policies, and a Labour have never looked less electable.

  8. William Roy

    As an outsider (living in Cumbria and not Wales) I am fascinated by this polling. Since the 1970’s Wales has always been considered ‘Labour’, so for this to change it seems that either the electorate must have changed significantly or that Labour must have changed. As there is little evidence of the former and much evidence of the latter it would seem that it is the change in the Labour Party that has brought about this seismic alteration in the politics of Wales.

    It is amazing to think that there is could be even the possibility that Wales alone will bring in 8 of the 9 seats that the Conservatives need to gain in this election to get a majority.

    Also of note of course is the seeming failure of the electoral mini-pact between the LibDems, Plaid Cymru, and the Greens to achieve anything according to this poll of note in this General Election.

  9. Ellen ap Gwynn

    I doubt very much that the Lib Dems will stage a comeback in Ceredigion. Plaid will keep the Torys out here.

  10. Mike Pemberton

    Alun Cairns will win an increased majority in the Vale. I’ll suggest circa 4,500. It would be very odd for a Tory surge to see the Vale turn red (and the Ross England story hasn’t resonated with most voters)! This election is a disaster for Plaid (made little progress in 30 years and sold the Vale for £35k) and the Lib Dems. Labour are paying the price for Brexit betrayal and 20 years of being the governing party.

  11. Gareth

    I find it odd that anyone that votes Labour ‘because we always have’ does not realise that this present Labour party is not Labour at all, it is the Marxist party hiding in Labours clothes?

  12. Gareth

    Labour’s problem is that it is no longer the real Labour party.

  13. James

    “Well educated” – a 2:2 in psychology from Treforest working in a call centre or as a mental health support worker, with £30k in debt
    “Poorly educated” – a plumber on £50k saving for a house.

  14. John Ellis

    @ Oscar Fox:

    ‘On the contrary Jac, anyone well-educated will not vote anything BUT Tory.’

    Doesn’t quite work – I’ve a first degree and two further post-graduate university qualifications. I’m not yet decided as to where my vote will finally go, but as the contemporary Conservative party (a far cry from the party in the days have my distant youth) now seems to me to pitch its appeal to ghouls and fools, I know that it won’t go to them.

    But then maybe I need a PhD to count as truly ‘well-educated’?

  15. howell morgan

    As a humble voter who lives in village in V o G which is marginal seat there seems be ‘intertia’ at its best by two main parties,one of whom is bound to win the seat.In talking to friends who come from similar working class backgrounds,but whom have done either a)pretty well,or b)very well and still alive in th would clear upeir 70’s its clear that the Corbyn factor is weighing heavily on their minds,particularly if they have children/grandchildren working in private sector.With a common sense leader who accepts the world as it is,and supports us having a sound defence policy,together with law and order the Labour Party would clear up in Wales,however when you add in Brexit and the appallingly complex policy,and thought of further referendum its enough to make you turn to BJ as your saviour!!

  16. Roger Tanner

    Last time you overestimated the Conservative and UKIP vote and underestimated the Labour and Plaid Cymru share.
    Just saying….

  17. Adrian Lang

    I consider myself well educated and well read. I do not only on British news networks but if an event happens in (say) Indonesia, I always find local news network for the detail.
    The often badly behaved mob that shout down any decent opinions not concurring with their own prove that Corbyn is weak minded and merely baths in their adoration. He is an unelectable leader that has lost many many labour moderates. Labour may have a large membership but one suspects many will melt away.
    Why would any party want to provide free WiFi when it more important to have free water!! They are sadly economically pretty illiterate who do not understand that attacking the so called rich means that you will have 50% of nothing. Even in China the top rate of tax is 45%.
    I rest my case.

    I will really pleased to be supporting Boris Johnson and hope a decent Labour Party returns in the future.
    A happy voter

  18. angela davies

    This paints a very interesting picture, pressure mounts and maybe for the first time ever, the landscape in Wales will be changing to a shade of blue. Conservation / environmental standards seem to also have been added to the brexit narative – which was not supposed to be the reason for the election.

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