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Voting Intentions for the National Assembly: the Latest Evidence

28 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.


  1. J.Jones

    Even this result changes nothing; at least nothing for the better.
    The only show in town would be a Labour/Plaid coalition.

  2. Harry Hayfield

    The forecast I have come up with is: Constituencies: Lab 14, Con 14, Plaid 10, Lib Dem 2 and the regional forecasts are:

    South Wales Central: Lab, UKIP, Lab, Lab
    Mid and West Wales: Lab, UKIP, Lab, Lib Dem
    Wales North: Lab, Lab, UKIP, Plaid
    Wales South East: UKIP, UKIP, Lab, Lab
    Wales South West: Plaid, UKIP, Con, Plaid

    Totals: Lab 23, Con 15, Plaid 13, UKIP 6, Lib Dem 3 (Lab short by 8, Lab / Plaid coalition)

  3. J.Jones

    This is all very speculative really. By the time that there is an Assembly election the Cons. will have been in power for a very long time and Corbyn will be long gone, replaced by Yvette Cooper and a new credibility.
    The Assembly will be 90 AMs elected by STV and there will have been one more PISA test set showing a modest improvement. The Welsh NHS, whilst not brilliant, will still be state run here in Wales and in England there will be growing disquiet about the number of Health services run, for a profit, by Virgin et al.
    The Welsh economy will not be particularly buoyant but the East and South East will remain prosperous and have absorbed more of the over-spill population from England…that population increase itself driving improved prosperity. The West and north West will remain isolationist and introspective, resisting the population in-migration that it needs to thrive whilst suffering the continued drift of its young and able.
    I just thought that if Roger and Harry can speculate so can I.

    This GE must be good for Carwyn; he can get his ducks in a row. With STV pushed through, knowing that Plaid/Labour voters are likely to have each other as second choice, we can look forward to an elected dictatorship at least for my lifetime.

  4. Syd Morgan

    Fascinating stuff. Most people would agree the Welsh government needs to be refreshed, urgently. A new progressive alliance could do that. Brexit and another Tory government are an existential crisis for our social democratic polity. My question: is there a mechanism to trigger a snap National Assembly election now to put such a new “national government” in place? The next scheduled elections will be too late!

  5. Graham Hathaway

    The drift to the right (farish) of Welsh politics, based on the hawkish Brexit talk from WM, is rhyming to honey proportions in the traditional industrial areas where dormancy is rigourous and petulance is breaking through . There is a strong, leaning towards instant politics.
    Stuff of the neck yank to the right. Slow burner and pedestrian politics is frowned upon.
    This giant of a post industrial vote is flexing its not too little muscle and is intent on making history. Old allegiances are sterile. The culture of oppression and disadvantage through mindless exploitation is in a cold state. It’s not modern or trendy. I see kids walking around with hair styles made from a Vogue mag. With clothes to match. It’s changing as we think. The reason is clear. Poltics has left people defenceless. There has been a retreat into torpidity. Only self matters and the next holiday or fancy car.
    It’s what is portrayed at the highest level so no role model exists in any party. Only nationalism can survive.
    It’s survival politics and growing. Expect more of the same

  6. Anon

    I’m unsure why some assume Labour and Plaid will work together. Labour in many ways are no better than the Tories when it comes to defending Wales. The idea of a ‘progressive alliance’ is dead in the water as Labour is one of the most reactionary parties in Wales. They have done little to progress Wales, and they need to be removed from power. It’s just a shame it’s the Tories who have knock them off their perch.

    Labour isn’t a friend of Wales and the sooner some in Plaid realise this, the sooner they might get somewhere. If not, they’ll just slowly fade in the corner, dreaming of 1999.

    • Graham Hathaway

      Whilst I do have empathy with comments from Anon, there are gradations of other parties, including Labour and their friendship with Wales. At Westminster it’s many degrees negative and even hostile. A bear pit of intransigence and blue/red introspection with self interest and accumulation of power and wealth. It’s already been muted that Wales sits unmoved in order of proirity which ever party is in power.
      The days when Jim Callaghan was premium and the decanting of key Industry to Wales have long gone.
      I don’t think the same level of criticism can be made with as much force towards those parties in the Bay. Other than UKIP.
      It points unreservedly to the benefits of decisions taken as locally as possible. The case for greater powers, federalism, coalition of mind set to see growing pace of independence of all domestic matters must surely be the aim of all parties of a demo social tincture.
      Let’s just do it here in Wales even lose to strong connectivity with other Celtic countries but preferably within an European framework. The first step is always the most difficult but with the stranglehold of Tory rule it will be hard to think it.

  7. J.Jones

    The reason why I assume that Labour and Plaid (and the LibDem) will all cooperate is:-
    (a) Historical precedent.
    (b) Lack of a credible alternative.

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