Voting Intentions for the National Assembly: the Latest Evidence28 April 2017
Given the snap general election called last week, attention on the findings from our latest Welsh Political Barometer poll has understandably focussed on the – rather sensational – results about general election voting intention that the poll produced. However, the Barometer has continued to enquire about voting intentions at the devolved level, and this post will explore those findings.
As a reminder – our previous Barometer poll, in January, was by all past standards a poor one for Labour. The usual Uniform National Swing seat projection suggested Labour winning only 22 seats; as I observed at the time, “[a]ny such outcome would be Labour’s worst-ever National Assembly election result by a considerable margin”.
So what did we find this time, and how did it compare with January’s figures? I’ll begin as usual with the constituency vote. Here are the findings from our latest poll (with changes from the last Barometer poll again indicated in brackets):
Conservative 30% (+5)
Labour 29% (-2)
Plaid Cymru 22% (+1)
UKIP 8% (-4)
Liberal Democrats 8% (no change)
Others 3% (no change)
At least two things are striking about these findings. The first is that, as with our poll on Westminster voting intentions, the Conservatives are in the lead. The second is that their lead is so much smaller than it is for the general election, as has been the upwards movement in their support since January. Make no mistake, the Conservatives are doing very well in this poll: this is the first poll in Wales for which I can ever find them in the lead (albeit by only one point) for the National Assembly constituency vote. (YouGov’s first-ever Welsh poll in July 2009 had them level with Labour on 26 percent for this ballot; otherwise the Tories have always trailed Labour). However, Tory support in the devolved context is some ten points lower than for Westminster – showing how different political preferences appear to be when the choice becomes one between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn as the next Prime Minister.
In my write up of January’s poll I also spoke of Labour support declining to the ‘tipping point’ where they might begin to suffer significant seat losses for the National Assembly. The uniform national swing projection of that poll had Labour falling from the 27 constituency seat wins they clocked up in May last year to 19. The same form of projection on our new poll generates three further losses for Labour, meaning that they would lose eleven of the constituency seats won in May last year:
- The Conservatives would gain Cardiff North, Clwyd South, Gower, the Vale of Clwyd, the Vale of Glamorgan, and Wrexham;
- Plaid Cymru would gain Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Cardiff West, and Llanelli;
- The Liberal Democrats would gain Cardiff Central.
The findings for the Assembly regional vote show a rather similar picture to those for the constituency ballot:
Conservative 28% (+6)
Labour 27% (-1)
Plaid Cymru 20% (no change)
UKIP 9% (-5)
Liberal Democrats 6% (-1)
Greens 5% (+3)
Others 5% (no change)
Applying once more the assumption of uniform national swing, and also taking into account the projected constituency results just mentioned, our poll provides the following projected outcome for the regional list seats:
North Wales: 2 Labour, 1 Plaid, 1 UKIP
Mid & West Wales: 2 Labour, 1 Conservative, 1 UKIP
South Wales West: 2 Plaid, 1 Conservative, 1 UKIP
South Wales Central: 2 Conservative, 1 Plaid, 1 Labour
South Wales East: 2 Conservative, 2 UKIP
This, in turn, gives us the following overall projected outcome:
Labour 21 seats (16 constituency, 5 regional)
Conservative 18 seats (12 constituency, 6 regional)
Plaid Cymru 14 seats (10 constituency, 4 regional)
UKIP 5 seats (5 regional)
Liberal Democrats 2 seats (2 constituency)
It is an indication of quite how well dug-in are Labour in many of their constituencies, and how our semi-proportional electoral system for the National Assembly favours them, that they could trail on both ballots in this new poll yet still be projected to come out with a three-seat advantage. Nonetheless, the direction of travel in the opinion polls of late is clear. Labour in Wales are currently in retreat, and that is true for the National Assembly as well as for Westminster.
Non-partisan thoughts on elections, voting and political representation from Roger Awan-Scully of Cardiff University.