Have Welsh voters made up their minds?

YouGov for ITV Wales and Cardiff University, 13-15 April. Sample: 1,143 Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Today’s new Welsh Political Barometer poll gives us the very latest guide to how the people of Wales are intending to vote in May’s general election. Crucially, it is the first poll to be conducted in Wales since the ITV Leaders Debate of 2nd April. How has that debate, and the campaign so far, impacted on each of the parties?

This is what our poll, conducted by YouGov, found in terms of voting intentions for the general election. (Changes on YouGov’s previous Welsh poll, carried out for The Sun newspaper in late-March and the very start of April, are displayed in brackets):

  • Labour: 40% (no change)

  • Conservatives: 26% (-1)

  • UKIP: 13% (no change)

  • Plaid Cymru: 12% (+3)

  • Liberal Democrats: 6% (no change)

  • Greens: 4% (-1)

  • Others: 0% (-1)

Thus, we see in the main only quite small changes since the last Welsh poll, with most of those changes being well within the margin of error. The only remotely substantial shift is the increase in Plaid Cymru support, which is up by a third since the last YouGov poll; however, that poll had shown Plaid support at an unusually low level, and may thus simply have been an outlier

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 seats they won in 2010, and gaining both Cardiff Central from the Liberal Democrats andCardiff 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).

This new poll adds to the evidence that the decline in electoral support experienced by the Labour party during 2013 and 2014 has stopped, and even been partially reversed. As the election has come closer, Labour support has firmed up from the levels we saw at the end of 2014. Now polling at a level almost four percentage points higher than the vote share that they won in 2010, Labour look in good shape to continue to win the clear majority of Welsh parliamentary seats int his year’s election.

The poll also confirms that Conservative support in Wales remains robust, and at a level that should ensure that the Tories retain the vast majority of the seats that they won in Wales in 2010. The contrast with the fortunes of their coalitionpartners continues to be stark. Liberal Democrat support remains at below one-third of the level that they won five year ago. The Lib Dems hope is that their vote will prove much more robust in their existing seats than across Wales as a whole. It will have to do so for the party to hold all those seats.

The poll adds further to the evidence that the surges in support experienced by UKIP and, to a slightly lesser extent the Greens, in the last twelve months have now ebbed somewhat. Both parties are now polling several points below their peak ratings of a few months ago, and neither would appear to have realistic hopes of winning a parliamentary seat in Wales in 2015.

The one party clearly moving forward in this poll is Plaid Cymru. Their support has risen by a full third on that in YouGov’s previous Welsh poll. While that last poll may have given the party an unusually low rating, at 12% the current poll equals Plaid’s highest rating in a YouGov poll since the 2010 general election. This improvement in Plaid’s position may reflect Leanne Wood’s presence in the first televised Leaders’ Debate; if so, it is possible that her presence in this week’s second debate may also help her party. Still, Plaid remains in fourth place in Wales, and on uniform swings would be struggling to add to its existing three seats in Wales.

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 1143 Welsh adults and was carried out by YouGov on 13-15 April 2015.