The Labour party have lost one-third of their electoral support in Wales in just over two years.
That is the stand-out finding from the latest poll conducted by the Welsh Political Barometer – a unique polling collaboration between ITV Cymru Wales, the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University, and the leading polling agency YouGov. Our latest poll once again provides the definitive measure of the standing of the parties in Wales, as we move ever closer to next May’s general election. We have also continued to measure the parties’ levelsof support for the next National Assembly election, which is due in May 2016.
First, what about the general election? We found the following state-of-play for the General Election (with changes from our most recent Barometer poll, in September, in brackets).
- Labour 36% (-2%)
- Conservative 23% (no change)
- UKIP 18% (+1%)
- Plaid Cymru 11% (no change)
- Liberal Democrats 5% (-1%)
- Greens 5% (no change)
- Others 2% (+1)
If the changes since the last general election implied by these figures were repeated uniformly across Wales, this would produce the following outcome in terms of seats:
- Labour: 28 seats (+2)
- Conservatives: 8 seats (no change)
- Plaid Cymru: 3 seats (no change)
- Liberal Democrats: 1 seat (-2)
The seats to change hands would be: Cardiff North and Cardiff Central, both won by Labour, and Brecon & Radnor, which the Conservatives would narrowly gain from the Liberal Democrats.
Labour are clearly still well ahead of the other parties in electoral support, and also in projected seat wins. But the drop in their support from our previous poll, while small in itself, adds to a steady trend since 2012. In a YouGov poll in July 2012 Labour were on 54% in General Election voting intention. The loss of fully one-third of that support between then and now has potentially serious consequences in what is expected to be a very close General Election across the UK.
Labour’s electoral support in Wales is now no higher than it was in the May 2010 election. Two years ago, Ed Miliband could have counted on Wales to give him several seat gains; now the prospects for a Labour advance here look much more limited.
But while Labour may have seen its support decline, no other party has made spectacular progress. The Conservatives’ support in Wales seems solid, and probably enough for them to hold most of their current Welsh seats next May. But they are not making significant further ground. UKIP have now established a significant base of support among the Welsh public. But this poll suggests that their forward momentum may, at least for now, have been checked; UKIP also have the problem of translating their broad support into concentrations in particular seats. Nor are Plaid Cymru moving forwards. So our poll suggests that we may be on course for a general election in which few seats actually change hands between the parties.
What about the National Assembly? For the constituency vote, the resultsof our new poll were (with changes from our September poll again in brackets):
- Labour 35% (-1%)
- Conservative 22% (+1%)
- Plaid Cymru 19% (no change)
- UKIP 12% (no change)
- Liberal Democrats 6% (no change)
- Greens 5% (+1%)
- Others 1% (no change)
On these figures, and again assuming uniform national swings acrossWales, only two constituency seats would change hands from the results in the last Assembly election in May 2011: the Liberal Democrats would regain Cardiff Central from Labour, while Labour would also lose Llanelli to Plaid Cymru.
For the regional list vote, we saw the following results (with changes from our December poll again indicated):
- Labour 31% (no change)
- Conservative 20% (-1%)
- Plaid Cymru 19% (+3%)
- UKIP 15% (-2%)
- Greens 7% (no change)
- Liberal Democrats 6% (+1%)
- Others 2% (-1%)
Taking into account both the constituency and list results, this produces the following projected seat outcome for a National Assembly election (with aggregate changes from 2011 indicated in brackets):
- Labour: 28 (-2): 26 constituency AMs, 2 list AMs
- Conservative: 12 (-2); 6 constituency AMs, 6 list AMs
- Plaid Cymru: 10 (-1); 6 constituency AMs, 4 list AMs
- UKIP: 7 (+7): all list AMs
- Liberal Democrats: 2 (-3); 2 constituency AMs
- Greens 1 (+1): a list AM (in Mid and West Wales)
Although changes on the last Barometer poll are very small, we again see Labour support slipping slightly on the constituency ballot. On both votes, Labour support is now running well below the levels the party secured in the May 2011 National Assembly election. It is also interesting that we see UKIP support actually slipping back slightly on the list ballot, for the first time in some while. But the change is small, and may well simply represent random,‘margin of error’ movements. Plaid Cymru will be pleased to see their list vote move upwards, after a period in which they have performed rather poorly on this ballot. Meanwhile, for the first time ever a Welsh Political Barometer poll projects the Greens to win a seat in the Assembly.
Overall, these findings from this poll show a Labour party in Wales that is looking much more vulnerable than it has for several years. Labour’s saving grace, though, may be that – in stark contrast to Scotland, where it faces the SNP – there is no single, strong opponent to Labour that has yet proved convincing to the Welsh public.
More detailed analysis of the poll will be providedin several posts over the next couple of weeks on my blog, Elections in Wales (http://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/electionsinwales/).
Professor Roger Scully is Professor of Political Science at the WalesGovernance Centre at Cardiff University. The poll for ITV and the Wales Governance Centre had a sample of 1,131Welsh adults and was carried out by YouGov on 2-3 December 2014.