UKIP still on the up.

Roger Scully breaks down the results of the latest Wales Barometer Poll.

This week sees publication of the fourth poll conducted by the Welsh Political Barometer – a unique collaboration between ITV Cymru Wales, the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University, and the leading polling agency YouGov.

The poll provides us with a valuable opportunity to assess the state of the parties, now that the dust has settled after the European elections, and as we head towards the Westminster and National Assembly summer recess. When they depart for the seaside with their buckets and spades, which of our politicians will do so in the best heart?

The poll asked our usual questions about voting intentions for next May’s general election, as well for both votes in the National Assembly election. Before we look at them in detail, however, an important technical note. After the European Parliament election, YouGov have up-dated their weighting scheme for their Welsh polls. (‘Weighting’ refers to the manner in which pollsters adjust the raw numbers in their samples to try to make the sample wholly representative of the population). The small changes they have made will tend to push the Labour and Liberal Democrat figures down a bit, and those for the Conservatives and UKIP up slightly, compared with previous YouGov polls in Wales. The details are discussed on my Blog. We should take this into account when interpreting the figures, in particular when comparing them with May’s Barometer poll.

So, what were the findings for Westminster? We got the following results for general election vote intention (with changes from the May Barometer poll in brackets):

  • Labour 41% (-2)
  • Conservative 25% (+3)
  • Plaid Cymru 11% (no change)
  • UKIP 14% (+1)
  • Liberal Democrats 5% (-2)
  • Others 5% (+1)

Although Labour is still well in the lead, this poll continues the trend that has persisted for the last year or so of its support level slowly declining. Changes since the May Barometer poll can be largely accounted for by YouGov’s altered weightings. Nonetheless, the 41% rating is Labour’s lowest score in any published Welsh poll since the 2010 general election.

Although the Conservatives’ improvement since May is also partly attributable to methodological changes, they will surely be encouraged by this poll. Their 25% rating is the Tories’ highest in Wales since early 2012, and only just short of their performance in the 2010 general election. The contrast with their coalition partners gets ever starker: although again partly accounted for by methodological changes, the Lib-Dems 5% rating is their lowest for two years, and more than 15 points below their vote share in 2010. Plaid Cymru continue to hold steady, at a support level pretty much identical with how they did in 2010. UKIP, too, continue to be resilient at the much higher support levels they have attracted in recent months.

If the changes since the 2010 general election implied by these figures were repeated uniformly across Wales, this would produce the following outcome in terms of seats (with changes from the 2010 election outcome indicated in brackets):

  • Labour: 28 seats (+2)
  • Conservatives: 8 seats (no change)
  • Plaid Cymru: 3 seats (no change)
  • Liberal Democrats: 1 seat (-2)

Only three seats are projected by this poll to change hands: Labour would capture Cardiff Central from the Liberal Democrats and Cardiff North from the Conservatives, while the Conservatives would take Brecon & Radnor from the Liberal Democrats.

What about the National Assembly? For the constituency vote, the results of our new poll were (with changes from May’s Barometer poll in brackets):

  • Labour 37% (-2)
  • Conservative 21% (+1)
  • Plaid Cymru 20% (+1)
  • Liberal Democrats 5% (-3)
  • UKIP 13% (+3)
  • Others 4% (+1)

Again, we must take into account the slightly changes in YouGov’s methodology in interpreting these figures. Nonetheless, once again we see Labour’s support edging downwards: 37% is their lowest support level with YouGov for the Assembly constituency vote again since May 2010. Labour are still clearly the party in the strongest position, but that position has slipped noticeably. The Conservatives and Plaid Cymru are holding steady, while UKIP continue to advance and the Liberal Democrats are again doing poorly.

Applying the changes since the 2011 Assembly election implied by these figures uniformly across Wales, only one constituency seat projected to change hands from 2011 on the figures from this poll: that is Llanelli, being won by Plaid Cymru from Labour.

For the regional list vote, we saw the following results (with changes from the May Barometer poll again indicated):

  • Labour 34% (-1)
  • Conservative 21% (+2)
  • Plaid Cymru 18% (+1)
  • UKIP 16% (+2)
  • Liberal Democrats 5% (-2)
  • Others 7% (-1)

Again, on both votes here the main change overall is Labour losing ground while UKIP advances.

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: 29 (-1); 27 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 8 (+8); all 8 would be list AMs
  • Liberal Democrats: 1 (-4); 1 constituency AM

These projections indicate the possibility, on the results implied by the current poll, of UKIP becoming a significant force within the National Assembly, and largely doing so at the expense of the Liberal Democrats. As with the last Barometer poll in May, our new poll projects Kirsty Williams in Brecon & Radnor to be the only remaining Lib Dem AM.

Overall, this is a good poll for the Conservatives and UKIP, a solid one for Plaid Cymru, and yet more bad news for the Liberal Democrats. As for Wales’ long-dominant party: this poll confirms that Labour’s position in Wales has declined significantly over the last year, but that they still remain well in the lead. While Labour look more vulnerable than they did throughout 2011-13, the other parties must still look very enviously at their ratings.

Professor Roger Scully is Professor of Political Science at the Wales Governance Centre and Director of Research, Politics of Cardiff University. This piece was originally published on Roger's blog, Elections in Wales (