Latest poll: expert analysis

Labour are on 40% for the first time in nearly a year Credit: YouGov/ITV/Cardiff University Jan 24-27, Sample: 1,189

The latest Welsh Political Barometer findings on how people are intending to vote in May’s general election show the Labour party to be still well on course to win a clear majority of Welsh seats. When asked by YouGov how they would vote in a general election, our respondents gave the following responses (with changes on our last poll, earlier this month, displayed in brackets):

  • Labour: 40% (+1)

  • Conservatives: 25% (no change)

  • UKIP: 14% (no change)

  • Plaid Cymru: 11% (+1)

  • Greens: 5% (-1)

  • Liberal Democrats: 5% (no change)

  • Others: 1% (no change)

If we apply the swings implied by this poll from the May 2010 general election result uniformly across Wales, this produces the following outcome in terms of parliamentary seats:

Labour: 28 seats (keeping the 26 they won in 2010, and gaining both Cardiff Central from the Liberal Democrats and Cardiff North from the Conservatives);Conservatives: 8 seats (losing Cardiff North to Labour, but gaining Brecon & Radnor from the Liberal Democrats);Plaid Cymru: 3 seats (no change);Liberal Democrats: 1 seat (losing both Cardiff Central and Brecon & Radnor, and holding on only to Ceredigion).

Clearly, very little has changed since our last poll: this one represents, perhaps, the ‘calm before the storm’ of the full-scale campaign that gets under way this week. Nonetheless, I think even in a poll like this which shows very little change, there are still several features worthy of note.

Having seen their vote share decline steadily in the Welsh opinion polls throughout 2013 and 2014, this is the third Barometer poll of 2015 to show that Labour have halted that decline and even reversed it to a slight extent. This places the party in a strong position to make at least some gains in the general election. The Conservatives’ poll rating also remains robust at a level very close to that which they won in the 2010 election, while Plaid Cymru will be encouraged to be edging up marginally in support, again to more-or-less the level they won in the last election. However, Plaid remain in fourth place – behind UKIP, whose decline in our previous two Barometer polls appears to have levelled out for now.

While the Liberal Democrats poll rating also remains steady, they will surely be less encouraged by stability than many of their opponents. The Lib-Dems continue to poll at only one-quarter of their 2010 vote share, and have made no ground at all since the previous Barometer poll. About the best thing that can be said for their performance here is that at least they are no longer in sixth place – the slight fall in support for the Greens places both of those parties in a joint, but rather distant, fifth.

As we have done in all the Barometer polls this year, and as we will continue to do right through to election day, our new poll also asked about how likely people were to actually vote in the election. Respondents to the poll were asked to rate their likelihood of voting on a 0 to 10 scale, where 0 means ‘Definitely will not vote’ and 10 means ‘Definitely will vote’. Some 67 percent of respondents placed themselves at 10 out of 10 on this scale.

Particularly interesting are the differences between the parties in how certain each of their supporters are to vote. And here there is further bad news for the Welsh Liberal Democrats. Fully 18 percent of all those who indicated that they would vote Lib-Dem in the general election actually placed themselves between 0 and 3 on the scale of how likely they were to vote; no other party had more than 4 percent of its supporters claiming to be so unlikely to take part in the election. So not only do the Liberal Democrats have relatively few supporters remaining in Wales; even those that remain seem much less motivated than the supporters of the other parties. YouGov do not weight respondents by likelihood to vote when reporting polling numbers; had they done so, the Liberal Democrats’ position in Wales would have looked even worse than it already does.

More detailed analysis of the poll will be provided in 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 Wales Governance Centre and Director of Research, Politics of Cardiff University. The poll for ITV and the Wales Governance Centre had a sample of 1189 Welsh adults and was carried out by YouGov on 24-27 March 2015.