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The New Welsh Political Barometer poll

22 May 2017

Support for the Labour party in Wales has surged in the last two weeks, while the Conservative momentum in Wales appears to have gone into reverse. These are the key messages to come out of the new Welsh Political Barometer poll, the very latest measure of where the parties stand in the general election battle.

The first two polls of this campaign showed clear Conservative party leads in Wales, and indicated that the Tories were on course for an historic electoral breakthrough. Our new poll once again asked people how they would vote in the forthcoming general election. These are the voting intention figures that our poll produced (with changes on the last Barometer poll, conducted earlier this month, indicated in brackets):

Labour: 44% (+9)
Conservatives: 34% (-7)
Plaid Cymru: 9% (-2)
Liberal Democrats: 6% (-1)
UKIP: 5% (+1)
Others: 3% (+1)

The most important change from our previous poll is clearly the resurgence in Labour support. This is broadly in line with the Britain-wide polls, which have generally been showing a narrowing of the gap between the Conservatives and Labour in recent days. But the extent of the Labour rise, and Conservative fall, are rather greater in Wales, and are sufficient to put Labour back into a significant lead in Wales. Meanwhile, as was seen in our previous poll, the smaller parties continue to be squeezed: Plaid Cymru are down two more points, and the Liberal Democrats a further one, on our last poll two weeks ago.

If we project these results onto Wales using the standard method of computing uniform national swings since the 2015 general election, then our latest poll implies the following overall result. (Projected seat changes from the 2015 result are in brackets):

Labour: 26 seats (+1)
Conservatives: 10 seats (-1)
Plaid Cymru: 3 seats (no change)
Liberal Democrats: 1 seat (no change)

Our two previous polls had suggested the Conservatives to be on course to win a whole slew of seats from Labour. Things now look very different on these latest figures. Only a single seat is now projected to change from the 2015 result – with Gower reverting to Labour, after being very narrowly gained by the Conservatives two years ago. As with both our previous polls, Plaid and the Liberal Democrats are apparently on course to hold the seats they currently have, but to make no gains beyond these.

So what can we make of these latest findings? While Labour have been making some progress in the Britain-wide polls, it is not on the scale of what we see here in Wales – where the party are fully fourteen points higher than they were in the first poll of the campaign. We must always allow for the possibility that some polls produce ‘outlier’ estimates of the support for particular parties. But assuming that the findings in our new Welsh poll are correct, they may have been at least partially influenced by the timing of the poll – the fieldwork for which was conducted in the immediate aftermath of the death of Rhodri Morgan. It is possible that there may have been some short-term ‘sympathy’ boost for Labour.

Our new poll was also conducted in the aftermath of the ITV Welsh Leaders’ debate, while much of the fieldwork also occurred in the period after Thursday’s Britain-wide five-party televised debate. Leanne Wood represented Plaid Cymru in these two events, while the Liberal Democrats and UKIP were also present in both. That the smaller parties continue to make no ground in the campaign will be very disappointing for them, and particularly in the aftermath of the television debates. Thus far, at least, these debates and the public platform they have provided, do not appear to have given any sort of ‘bounce’ to the smaller parties.

While short-term factors may account for some of what we see in this latest Barometer poll, it does appear that after the extraordinary success of the Conservative party at the beginning of the election campaign, they are losing some ground to Labour. At least for the moment, Labour seem to be winning the campaign, if not the election as a whole. That is particularly true in Wales. The recent local elections showed the resilience of the Welsh Labour party. A party does not dominate the politics of a nation for nearly a century, as Labour have done in Wales, simply by accident. Challenged strongly by the Conservatives in this election, Labour seem to be fighting back strongly. There are more than two weeks of campaigning to go, and all to play for. And Labour are still very much in the game.

The poll, for ITV-Cymru Wales and Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre, had a sample of 1025 Welsh adults and was carried out by YouGov from 18-21 May 2017.


  1. mark Evans

    Sounds like a boring election night in Wales but how many respondents know that the social care policy is for England only and could there be a small sympathy vote for Labour following death of popular first minister

  2. Welshie

    Surely if Labour are picking up Gower they must be extremely close in Vale of Clwyd too?

  3. Tomos

    Are the weighting and sampling methods the same as the last two polls? Have you got any cross tabs compared to how people actually voted in the local elections?

    I find Labours rise of 14% since the start of the campaign to be quite miraculous given they’re only up by 5-7% with uk polls.

    I’m starting to worry about these polls. How big is the active panel in Wales? How many people are taking part in multiple batometers?

  4. Allan

    Listening to number of people locally they are still unsure on what policies effect Wales or are England only. This may have an effect.

  5. Graham Hathaway

    It’s a nut cracker job
    A brutal fight between the 2 heavy weight political parties leaving the smaller ones squeezed. All washed over with the same dish water from the Tories.

  6. Haydn Hughes

    How do you reconcile this poll with the Daily Post poll published today? That poll was of 2000 people in North Wales and showed a marked increase in Plaid support, putting them ahead in Ynys Môn.

  7. JohnT

    On the face of it everything seems to have returned to something like “normality” in Wales. Given the fratricidal savagery of campaigning over the border however I can’t help but feel that this and the previous poll are opposite ends of a swinging pendulum that is still in motion. This is not, in a UK sense at least, anything like a normal election. While this poll is probably nearer what we might expect to see on the 8th June much may yet depend on the quality or otherwise of candidates locally and their visibility. So we may yet have election headlines from Wales on the 9th June but possibly not quite the ones we expected.

  8. trampie

    Mr Scully
    I take it this poll is not constituency polling ?

  9. J.Jones

    Still it reinforces one’s faith in Welsh humanity. The country would have died of shame if the Tories won a majority of seats. Poor old Natalie is being crushed by circumstances beyond her control; nevertheless all hands to Ynys Mon might still see a triumph.

  10. Haydn Hughes

    How do you reconcile this poll with the poll published in the Daily Post today (unreported on this site)? that poll showed a labour increase but also a Plaid surge, putting it ahead in Ynys Môn with Labour trailing in 3rd place. A poll of 2000 North Walians!

  11. john matthews

    i have not voted labour in thirty years however I will be supporting labour this time I am doing this knowing that labour in wales is hardly red in tooth and claw. As the thought of another five years of this rabid right wing bunch is a prospect that horrifies me. We also need a reformed electoral system that truly represents the views of all the people not this 19th century skewed voting system that gives a government a working majority on just 24% support of eligible voters

  12. Ian Williams

    Polling is as much about opinion forming as opinion gathering.

  13. Richard H

    To misquote a dangerous devolutionist, elections are processes, not events, at least until the final count. So maybe “commentators” should go easy on the rent a quote Sturm und Drang, even though it bigs up their career.

  14. Matthew Ford

    Very concerned by the role Wales Governance Centre is playing in these elections and the significant exposure these ‘projections’ are getting. You are clearly influencing voting behaviour now. Seems much more likely that there have been rogue polls or WGC mistakes, rather than Labour surging by 16 points in a handful of days. Credibility is easy to lose and will be very hard to win back again.

  15. K. Vivian

    Wales has consistently voted Labour for the last century during which time it has remained one of the most poverty stricken countries in western Europe. The polls show that nothing has changed – Wales will be taken for granted for generations to come.

  16. J.Jones

    Beware of Voodoo Polls:-

    “The non-weighted poll was conducted by Google Surveys, from randomly selected Daily Post website readers.

    Similar surveys carried out during the Mayor elections predicted a close run race in the West Midlands and Cambridgeshire. Although it should be noted that ultimately the findings proved incorrect.”

  17. J.Jones

    The Labour voting intention figures for North Wales go from 29% to 33% to 42% over the three recent Barometer polls.

    For Plaid they go 11% to 9% to 11%. Plaid does seem to be holding up in North Wales and falling back elsewhere and this is credible; where Plaid has no chance of winning in a seat people may well migrate to Labour. It is equally possible that where Plaid holds a seat comfortably the Plaid vote would not leap up.

  18. T. Hickman (Christchurch, New Zealand)

    Correct me if I am wrong (which I may very well be) but if Labour holds or makes small gains in Wales then thats not a big deal they were expected to do that, but if the Tories gain a bunch of seats then that is a huge deal as they were not expected to do that. Hence there is very little upside for labour (if I have done the maths right even if the Tories lose all of their Welsh seats they still have a one or two seat majority in the commons (I know though if they get wiped out in Wales they also can’t be doing very well in England but this is a hypothetical)).

  19. K. Vivian

    The Welsh vote never influences the colour of the Westminster government. Responsibility for the household income in Wales being the lowest of UK nations must be borne by come what may reliance of Labour voting sheep on the good will of shepherds operating elsewhere. practices

  20. Martin Rolph

    My guess is that the Labour vote will be softer than ever, particularly in terms of habitual Labour voters not voting at all in certain key seats and those who flirted with UKIP not returning in full to Labour.

    The Tory levels of support in earlier polls were always soft, and began to ease back as soon as Mrs May began to reveal her true colours, ie as unsteady and confused (in her case on the dementia tax on her core vote, including her insulting suggestion that she had not done a U-turn) as current Labour leaders were on the presentation and affordability of their economic policy and spending plans, not least the Police.

    Individual matters relating to marginal seats will make a difference, with 4 NE Labour seats particularly vulnerable to the Tories. Over a third of NE Wales voters were born outside Wales, and they and many NE Wales born voters have much closer economic and social links to Cheshire, Shropshire, Merseyside and Manchester than to the rest of Wales.

    As a resident here, I never believed Cardiff West was a serious prospect for the Tories. 1983 (when a Tory, Stefan Terlezki, won – of whom some local Tories said, “If we thought he was going to win we would have chosen a different candidate” was a very different time. The retiring MP was the Speaker. Ironically, that Labour loss eased the great Rhodri Morgan’s way into national politics when he retook the seat for Labour as a new candidate in 1987.

    Newport West (with well established and reputed MP), and even East (with lower profile MP) may well go Tory – more pro-Brexit than Cardiff, and the Tory Severn Bridge tolls abolition pledge may buy them a few votes.

  21. Ian Williams

    Unfortunately in Wales we continue to vote for a party that as consistently let us down.
    The adage is: if you continue to do the same thing, don’t expect different outcomes!

  22. J.Jones

    I can see the Welsh Assembly figures in the YouGov data sets but where are the increasingly publicised figures for the Cymdeithas Yr Iaith questions which point to a surge in support for independence from the usual 6% to 29%? Any chance of some analysis?

      • Ian Williams

        In fact there as been a downturn in those who want independence because Leanne Wood does not resonate with the public!

        • Ian Williams

          Leanne Wood is seen has a nasty piece of work and even members are saying that a change of leadership is needed.
          Plaid crying out for change and then propping up a labour government does not go well with people.

  23. J.Jones

    It seems likely that the independence figures are resurrected from an old poll for Yes Cymru. Cymdeithas have tagged at least one question onto the latest Barometer but YouGov haven’t published the data set.
    I haven’t seen the I word given prominence by Plaid.

  24. J.Jones

    There is a piece in the Western Mail on this question about independence. It was from Yes Cymru and does indeed show a 29 pc support for independence but that is not the same as saying that you would vote for independence. A question asked in a different form gets a different answer.

  25. Thomas Hollick

    Very interesting, but I think this only draws further attention to the fact that only YouGov are prepared to carry out polls in Wales. Over the last few weeks we have seen ever greater divergence between polling methods, with some 12 points difference in support for the two main parties across different polling companies. As YouGov tend to consistently have Labour polling higher than other parties, a second opinion would certainly be useful to see if Wales is truly following the trends across the UK.

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