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The New Welsh Political Barometer Poll: Referendum Voting Intentions

1 October 2015

The latest Welsh Political Barometer produced, as we saw earlier in the week, some very interesting findings on voting intention and on the ratings of the party leaders. However, these were not the only findings of the poll. In addition, we have continued to ask questions about the two potential referendums facing Wales in the next few years – on British membership of the EU and on income tax devolution.

A technical note first on the EU referendum question. Hitherto, all Welsh Political Barometer polls since the very first once in December 2013 have asked the following question about the EU referendum:

“If there was a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, how would you vote?”

That same question wording had also been used by YouGov, who conduct the fieldwork for the Barometer polls, in several previous Welsh polls. Survey respondents asked this question were then offered the following response options:

–          I would vote to remain a member of the European Union

–          I would vote to leave the European Union

–          I would not vote

–          Don’t Know


However, since our last Barometer poll, the Electoral Commission has published its views on the question to be used in the EU referendum, including a proposed wording. In anticipation of their wording being the one actually used in the referendum, we decided to modify the wording of our EU question in line with the Electoral Commission’s proposal. The question therefore now reads:

“If there was a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union and this was the question, how would you vote:

Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”


The following answer options were then presented to respondents:


–          Remain a member of the European Union

–          Leave the European Union

–          Would not vote

–          Don’t Know


In practice, I doubt that this wording change will make a great deal of difference; however, we should at least take note of it and thus be cautious about any apparent ‘changes’ from the previous poll to this one. The altered wording means that we are not quite comparing like with like. And as we have seen before on this site, even apparently innocuous wording changes can make a substantial difference to the responses that we get.

Anyway, what did people actually say? Here are the responses (with ‘changes’ from our last Barometer poll in brackets):


Remain: 42% (-2)

Leave: 38% (+1)

Would Note Vote: 4% (+1)

Don’t Know: 17% (+1)


In short, all ‘changes’ since our last poll are small, and well within the ‘margin of error’. However, the trend in GB-wide polls in recent weeks has been for a modest drift in favour of ‘Leave’, and our poll is not inconsistent with those trends. Here is a table of all EU referendum polls in Wales by YouGov since the beginning of 2013:


Poll % Remain % Leave % DK/ NV % ‘remain’ Lead
ITV-Wales/YouGov, February 2013 42 35 22 7
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 201 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
BES/YouGov, May 2015 50 33 18 17
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, June 2015 44 37 19 7
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, September 2015 42 38 21 4


Our poll also asked about the potential referendum on income tax devolution. Here we have no problems with changing question wordings. To remind you, the question asked is:

“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?”

Our poll here showed almost no change since the June Barometer poll, as the following table of all such polls by YouGov since the start of 2013 reveals. Opposition to the devolution of income tax has led, though usually only narrowly, in all but one poll since the start of 2014. Were it ever to be held, such a referendum looks like it would be a difficult one for devolutionists to win.


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
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
ITV-Wales/WGC/YouGov, September 2015 34 41 26 7


It is also interesting to look at the party breakdowns on this question. Supporters of Labour and (to an even greater extent, as one would expect) Plaid Cymru tend to support income tax devolution. Liberal Democrat and UKIP supporters tend to oppose the idea. But those most strongly opposed are Conservative voters. If – as I have heard suggested – the Conservative UK government were to decide to give the National Assembly income tax powers without a referendum, it would appear that they will be doing so against the wishes of their own party’s supporters.



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