Welsh Political Barometer polls shows slip in Labour support

Prof Roger Scully reckons Labour would be four seats short of a majority in the Senedd Credit: ITV Wales

The new Welsh Political Barometer poll provides the last measure of public support for the political parties in 2015. After a roller-coaster political year, where have things ended up?

Our previous Barometer poll, conducted only a short period after his landslide election as Labour Leader, showed an apparent ‘Corbyn bounce’ in Labour’s support. The period since then has been rather difficult for both Mr Corbyn and his party.

Britain-wide polls have suggested that this has started to have a negative impact on Labour support. Our new Barometer poll indicates that this is also now true in Wales – any honeymoon period for the new leader looks to be quite definitely over.

We can see this both for Westminster and the National Assembly. When we asked about general election voting intention, our new poll found these levels of support for the parties:

Our September poll had shown Labour rising five percentage points higher but now they are back exactly where they started. Given that new major party leaders normally provide an electoral boost for their parties that lasts for several months, this must be of some concern to Labour. Their decline since our last poll is to the benefit of all three of their main rivals in Wales, who all edge up by a percentage point or two.

The only main party to see no benefit from Labour’s slippage in support is the Liberal Democrats – almost unbelievably, our poll shows the Lib-Dems doing significantly worse even than they did in May’s disastrous general election.If we apply the changes since the general election implied by this poll uniformly across Wales, then only one seat would be projected to change hands since the general election: Labour would narrowly retake Gower from the Conservatives.

With less than five months to go until the National Assembly election, however, it is on this that attention will increasingly be focused. Once again our poll asked people how they would vote on both the constituency and regional lost ballot for the devolved election. Here are the figures for the constituency vote:

Credit: ITV Wales

So here, as with Westminster, we see Labour losing all the gains it made in our previous poll and going back to where it was at in June. On the assumption of uniform national swing since the last Assembly election, this poll projects three constituency seats to change hands: the Conservatives would gain Cardiff North, Plaid Cymru would gain Llanelli, and the Liberal Democrats would gain Cardiff Central. All three gains would be at the expense of Labour.

The figures for the regional list vote were like this:

Credit: ITV Wales

Again assuming uniform swings from 2011 across Wales, and after taking into account the distribution of constituency seats when allocating the list seats, this gives us the following projected overall outcome for the National Assembly:

Credit: ITV Wales

Labour thus remain some way ahead of the field. But as for Westminster we see their support for the devolved election slipping notably since September.

The main thing to jump out from these findings, however, is that UKIP are currently projected to win nine list seats in the Assembly: two in every region of Wales except for South Wales West.

We should note that these list seat calculations are subject to change on quite small variations in support: with only small changes in public preferences UKIP might be projected to win several fewer seats.

But at the moment, the party are on course to enter the Assembly for the first time in May in substantial numbers –within one seat less than Plaid Cymru and three less than the Conservatives.

  • 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 Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre.

  • The poll for ITV and the Wales Governance Centre had a sample of 1005 Welsh adults and was carried out by YouGov from 30 November to 4 December 2015.