By Prof Roger Awan-Scully
Although much political attention in Wales at the moment appears to be focusing on elections within parties, the WelshPolitical Barometer poll has also continued to ask the public about levels of electoral support for the parties.
With the troubles of Brexit looking ever larger, and internal difficulties facing all of our main political parties, what impact has any of this had on how people would vote?
First, let’s look at voting intentions for a general election. This is what our new poll suggests are the latest levels of public support (with changes on the last such Barometer poll, in March, in brackets):
Labour: 44% (-2)
Conservatives: 31% (-2)
Plaid Cymru: 13% (+2)
Liberal Democrats: 5% (+1)
UKIP: 3% (-1)
Others: 3% (no change)
Clearly, these numbers show only small changes from our previous poll. Indeed, all of the changes are within the normal polling ‘margin of error’. For all the turmoil in current UK politics, very little of this is currently feeding through into transformed levels of party support.
Nonetheless, while the changes shown here are small, Plaid Cymru will be relatively pleased to see their support levels well above the eight percent we recorded in September. Meanwhile, Labour continue sits slow drift down in support since a post general election high point last year.
Using the standard method of projecting electoral results from poll figures, by computing uniform national swings since the last general election, these figures suggest that absolutely no seats would change hands at a general election. All of them would be retained by the party that won them at the general election.
That would give a general election the following overall outcome:
Labour: 28 seats
Conservatives: 8 seats
Plaid: 4 seats
What about voting intentions for the National Assembly? YouGov found the following support levels for each party on the constituency ballot (with changes since the last Barometer poll again indicated in brackets):
Labour: 38% (-1)
Conservatives: 28% (no change)
Plaid Cymru: 21% (-1)
Liberal Democrats: 6% (+2)
UKIP: 4% (-1)
Others: 3% (+1)
As with Westminster, for the National Assembly we see limited changes since our last poll. Labour support is now five points lower than it was in the autumn – indicating that the similar decline we have seen in its Westminster voting intention since the general election is a broad, though modest, decline in support. Nonetheless, Labour retains a substantial lead, and at a higher level of support than it won in the last Assembly election in 2016. The Liberal Democrats may be cheered to see some evidence of a small increase in their vote – but it is a small improvement, and from a very low base.
Once again using the uniform national swing method to project changes since the 2016 Assembly election suggested by this poll suggests that two constituencies would change hands: the Conservatives would gain both the Vale of Clwyd and Vale of Glamorgan from Labour.
What about the regional vote? YouGov got these results (with changes on the March Barometer poll again in brackets):
Labour: 37% (+1)
Conservatives: 25% (-2)
Plaid Cymru: 22% (+1)
Liberal Democrats: 5% (+1)
UKIP: 5% (-1)
Others: 7% (no change)
Making allowance for the constituency results already projected, and using once more the assumption of uniform national swings since 2016, these poll findings generate the following projected results for the regional list seats:
North Wales: 2 Plaid, 1 Conservative, 1 Labour
Mid & West Wales: 2 Labour, 1 Conservative, 1 Plaid
South Wales West: 2 Conservative, 2 Plaid
South Wales Central: 2 Conservative, 2 Plaid
South Wales East: 2 Plaid, 1 Conservative, 1 UKIP
This, in turn, projects the following overall result for the National Assembly:
Labour 28 seats (25 constituency, 3 regional)
Conservative 15 seats (8 constituency, 7 regional)
Plaid Cymru 15 seats (6 constituency, 9 regional)
UKIP 1 seat (1 regional)
Liberal Democrats 1 seat (1 constituency)
Overall, this poll is very much in line with that shown in recent Britain-wide polling, which suggests broad stability in support levels for the main parties. Labour’s position has slipped a little since the Corbyn surge in last year’s general election. But in Wales Labour remain well ahead.
Support for both the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru is holding steady in Wales. This can be seen in one of two ways: either that they are stagnant, or that whatever internal difficulties their Assembly parties have had in recent times, their support shows impressive resilience. In truth, it is probably best to see things as a mixture of both.
There is little joy for any other parties in the poll. UKIP are now looking at near or actual wipe-out in the next Assembly election. And while there are modest suggestions of an uptick in Liberal Democrat support in this poll, the party has a very long way to go before mounting a serious comeback.
The poll, for ITV Cymru Wales and Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre, had a sample of 1031 Welsh adults and was carried out by YouGov from 28 June-2 July 2018.