The Sky Data Welsh Poll: Party Leader Ratings28 December 2018
Among other questions asked in the recent Sky Data Welsh poll was one on the ratings of party leaders. This question followed the now-standard format of asking people to rate a set of politicians on a 0-10 scale, where 0 means ‘strongly dislike’ and 10 means ‘strongly like’, with a Don’t Know option also available.
In the Sky poll, this question was asked about ten individuals: leaders of the four largest GB-wide parties; leaders of the four parties in the National Assembly, plus the Welsh Liberal Democrats; and the then very recently-departed First Minister, Carwyn Jones.
A first useful thing to examine in the findings is the proportion of people who answer Don’t Know for each leader. As I have commented on previously on the blog, while some can choose this response because they are genuinely undecided – and some others might bluff an answer for a leader about whom they know nothing – in the aggregate the percentage of people who say Don’t Know for a particular leader is a good, rough-and-ready measure of their public visibility. More high-profile UK-wide leaders nearly always attract low proportions of survey respondents saying Don’t Know about them; with more anonymous figures we often find a majority of respondents choosing this option.
Here is what the Sky Data poll found in this regard:
Leader % Don’t Know
Theresa May 7
Jeremy Corbyn 7
Vince Cable 29
Gerard Batten 56
Mark Drakeford 44
Adam Price 54
Paul Davies 56
Gareth Bennett 58
Jane Dodds 56
Carwyn Jones 20
The relative positions of the different leaders is entirely in keeping with the patterns that other polls have found. The Prime Minister and Opposition Leader are a long way ahead of all other politicians in visibility; meanwhile, Carwyn Jones is far more well-known than any of the more recently-installed party leaders in Wales.
What about he answers given by those respondents with a view? Here are average ratings of those who did offer an opinion about each of the leaders:
Leader Average /10
Theresa May 3.8
Jeremy Corbyn 3.6
Vince Cable 2.9
Gerard Batten 1.7
Mark Drakeford 3.6
Adam Price 3.3
Paul Davies 2.3
Gareth Bennett 1.9
Jane Dodds 2.4
Carwyn Jones 4.3
A first thing to notice is that, even as we approached the festive season, no politician came even close to averaging five out of ten. Seasonal goodwill to all did not, it appears, extend as far as politicians.
A second, and very important, point is that Jeremy Corbyn once again finds his rating below that of Theresa May. This was a common pattern after Mrs May became Prime Minister, until about half-way through the 2017 general election campaign. Now, the steady erosion in the popularity of the Leader of the Opposition that has occurred for much of the last year or so sees him once more slipping slightly below Theresa May in average ratings amongst the Welsh public.
Elsewhere, we see the two UKIP leaders are clearly bottom of the pile, while Vince Cable is making little positive impression on the people of Wales. Amongst Welsh-level politicians, Carwyn Jones is still clearly some way ahead of all those others about whom we asked in the poll. The results here demonstrate that he will be a hard act to follow, in terms of public appeal, for Mark Drakeford. Still, the new First Minister is actually doing a little better than the rest of the pack in Wales. Adam Price has not yet achieved substantial cut-through with the Welsh public: most either do not yet know who he is, or have not thus far formed a very positive impression of him. As with Welsh Labour, Plaid Cymru’s new leader currently lags some way behind the levels of both public recognition and popularity enjoyed by his predecessor. Paul Davies of the Welsh Conservatives is also currently struggling to make any significant impact on the public – although in this instance this is very similar to the situation under his predecessor.
The overall message from the Sky Data poll about party leaders is a rather glum one. Most of the politicians we asked about have made little impression on the Welsh public – and the impression that they have made is generally a negative one. Carwyn Jones heads into life as a backbench AM in the same position in which he spent pretty much his entire period as First Minister – as one of the most popular (or perhaps that should be least unpopular) politicians in Wales. But much less good for the Labour party in Wales is the decline in public evaluations of Jeremy Corbyn. This must surely be of some concern to Labour – and particularly given the political uncertainty over Brexit that makes a 2019 general election far from unthinkable.
Non-partisan thoughts on elections, voting and political representation from Roger Awan-Scully of Cardiff University.