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The May Welsh Political Barometer Poll: Westminster and the National Assembly

21 May 2019

The latest Welsh Political Barometer poll has generated plenty of interest for its findings on voting intentions for the European Parliament election. But those results were far from the only extraordinary things to come out of the latest poll.

As per usual, the Barometer poll also carried questions about voting intentions for Westminster and the National Assembly. First the Westminster results. Here is what YouGov found when they asked people how they would vote in a general election (with changes from last month’s Barometer poll in brackets):

Labour: 25% (-8)
Brexit Party: 23% (+19)
Conservative: 17% (-9)
Plaid Cymru: 13% (-2)
Liberal Democrats: 12% (+5)
Greens: 5% (+3)
Change UK: 2% (-7)
UKIP: 1% (-2)
Others: 2% (+1)

These are truly amazing results. They show the combined Labour and Conservative vote share, which was as high as 82.5 percent in the June 2017 general election, now down to just 42 percent. This shows that the rapid decline in dominance of the two traditional major parties is not just confined to the European Parliament election. Two-party politics seems to be melting away before our very eyes. Just over eighteen months ago Labour alone were at fifty percent support in Wales; now they are just half that level. For both parties, such poll ratings are so bad as to almost defy belief.

In recent months, Labour and Conservative support has been leaking in various directions. This time around, the clear main beneficiaries are the Brexit Party, who leap into a strong second place. Much of this support comes from disgruntled Conservatives: of those in our sample who voted Tory in 2017, almost as many (40 percent) now back the Brexit Party as are sticking with the Conservatives (49 percent). However, the Liberal Democrats and Greens have also seen – much more modest – lifts in their support, coming overwhelmingly from pro-Remain voters. Meanwhile, the bad new for Change Uk continues unabated.

Using our normal method for projecting electoral results from poll figures – uniform national swings since the last general election – this new poll suggests that five seats would change hands in a general election. The pattern would be a rather complex one: the Conservatives gaining both Wrexham and the Vale of Clwyd from Labour; the Conservatives then losing Brecon and Radnor to the Liberal Democrats, who would also gain Ceredigion from Plaid Cymru; but Plaid in turn gaining Ynys Mon from Labour. The overall outcome in terms of seats would then be:

Labour: 25
Conservatives: 9
Plaid Cymru: 4
Liberal Democrats: 2

What about voting intentions for the National Assembly? YouGov as per usual asked about voting intentions for both the constituency and the regional ballots. Here are their findings for the constituency ballot (with changes from the April Barometer poll once again in brackets):

Labour: 25% (-6)
Plaid Cymru: 24% (no change)
Conservatives: 17% (-6)
Brexit Party: 17% (+17)
Liberal Democrats: 9% (+3)
Greens: 5% (+4)
Change UK: 1% (-3)
UKIP: 1% (-6)
Others: 1% (-4)

These are more extraordinary, indeed scarcely believable, numbers. There is further substantial decline for Labour and the Conservatives, and Plaid Cymru are within a single percentage point of Labour for the lead: the latter is again a statement that would have defied credulity just six months ago.

Once again deploying the uniform national swing assumption (since the last National Assembly election of May 2016), this poll would project nine constituencies to change hands. The main beneficiaries would be Plaid Cymru: they are projected to gain Llanelli, Blaenau Gwent, Cardiff West, Caerphilly and Neath from Labour, and Aberconwy from the Conservatives. Labour are also projected to lose the Vale of Glamorgan and Vale of Clwyd to the Tories, and Cardiff Central to the Liberal Democrats. That would mean the Assembly constituency seats distributed as follows:

Labour: 19
Plaid: 12
Conservatives: 7
Liberal Democrats: 2

Such would be by far Labour’s worst-ever performance in the constituency contests at a National Assembly election.

Now for the Assembly regional list vote. YouGov produced the following results (with changes from April’s Barometer poll once again in brackets):

Brexit Party: 23% (+17)
Plaid Cymru: 22% (no change)
Labour: 21% (-7)
Conservatives: 12% (-8)
Greens: 8% (+5)
Liberal Democrats: 7% (+2)
Abolish the Assembly: 3% (no change)
Change UK: 2% (-3)
UKIP: 1% (-4)
Others: 1% (-1)

Even as I type these figures, it is difficult to believe what I am typing. Labour is – albeit very narrowly – in third place on this vote, while the Brexit party has come in a matter of weeks from nowhere to leading the poll. And the woes off the Conservatives continue.

Allowing for the constituency results already projected, and once more assuming uniform national swings since 2016, our new poll projects the following overall results for the Assembly’s regional list seats:

North Wales: 3 Brexit Party, 1 Green
Mid and West Wales: 2 Brexit Party, 1 Labour, 1 Green
South Wales West: 2 Brexit Party, 1 Plaid Cymru, 1 Green
South Wales Central: 3 Brexit Party, 1 Green
South Wales East: 3 Brexit Party, 1 Green

These figures therefore generate the following overall result for the National Assembly:

Labour: 20 seats (19 constituency, 1 regional)
Plaid Cymru: 13 seats (12 constituency, 1 regional)
Brexit Party: 13 seats (13 regional)
Conservatives: 7 seats (7 constituency)
Greens: 5 seats (5 regional)
Liberal Democrats: 2 seat (2 constituency)

It is difficult to know how to describe these results: this would be not so much an electoral earthquake but, in the words of the late and great Anthony King, “An asteroid hitting the planet and destroying practically all life on earth”. Whatever else we might say about politics at the moment, it is not dull.


  1. Harry Hayfield

    If you are looking for a suitable metaphor, might I suggest SL9 which landed 14 massive chunks of comet into Jupiter in 1994

  2. Rhun

    Diolch Roger. The percentages are startling, but also the way that Labour, even with those results, would still dominate in the Assembly. Three parties are fairly close to one another at the top (taking into account the constituency and regional results) but Labour would still be far ahead in the number of seats. According to UNS would Labour be close to losing other constituencies with these results?

  3. Lloyd Warburton

    Wow. Absolute annihilation of Tories and Labour, Brexit party storm and SIX constituency gains for Plaid in the assembly. Brexit party’ll be gone by 2021 but still, truly remarkable results.

  4. Christian Schmidt

    I think the seats would fall very different – but have no idea how. Uniform national swing is a useful assumption for limited swings. This is because all that normally matters is the relative changes in a limited number of marginal (and semi-marginal) constituencies. Any differential swings (by type of voters, by region) tends to equal itself out – like the regional differential in the UK in 2017. For any results like these polls, it could well be the case that any differential swing leads to very different results. For example in Scotland in 2015 the SNP won much more additional votes where it was weak, thus amplifying the number of seats it gained.

  5. Dorothy E. Wilson

    As a green, this makes me feel very hopeful but Am trying to remember – it’s only a poll and a lot can change in 2 years, or however long it is before the Senedd elections… (sorry, I really should know!)

  6. Robert Price

    The difference in where PC appear in the voting intention polls between Westminster and Cardiff Bay is confounding; weak performance in Westminster vs fairly strong in Cardiff Bay. Why would people asked their voting attentions differ so greatly between the two?

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