What could happen at the Assembly Elections?

Roger Scully assesses the latest Wales Political Barometer Poll.

With sampling for our last Welsh Political Barometer poll being completed on the day before the general election, it was understandable that all immediate attention focussed on the implications of the poll for that election. However, as with other Barometer polls, we also included questions on a number of other matters. In this and a following post, I’ll discuss those other results.

I’ll start here with the polling numbers for the National Assembly. Please bear in mind: these numbers come from the same poll that, as I discussed in another recent blog post slightly over-stated Labour electoral support for the general election and under-stated Conservative support. These errors will probably lead to YouGov revising their sampling and weighting procedures in Wales in future, in a manner that makes their polls produce results that are a little less favourable to Labour and a little kinder to the Tories. But that hasn’t been done yet. So I am simply reporting here the figures that YouGov supplied to us last week. They have not been adjusted in any way. You may, therefore, want to mentally revise downwards the Labour vote share figures a small amount, and revise upwards the Conservative ones a bit. Of course, any such changes could potentially have implications for the allocation of seats in the National Assembly.

For the constituency vote, these were the figures (with changes from the most recent previous YouGov poll in Wales indicated in brackets)

Labour: 35% (-2)

Conservatives: 22% (-1)

Plaid Cymru: 21% (+1)

UKIP: 12% (+1)

Liberal Democrats: 6% (no change)

Greens: 2% (-1)

Others: 1% (+1)

On the standard assumption of uniform national swing, this poll would project only two constituency seats to change hands from the last Assembly election in 2011: the Liberal Democrats would narrowly regain Cardiff Central from Labour, while Labour would also lose Llanelli to Plaid Cymru. On Ratio Swing assumptions, we also find that only two constituency seats would change hands – but they are not the same two! Plaid would still capture Llanelli from Labour, but the other seat to change hands would be Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, which would be gained by Plaid from the Conservatives.

The figures for the regional list vote were as follows (with changes from the previous Barometer poll again indicated):

Labour: 32% (-2)

Conservatives: 22% (-1)

Plaid Cymru: 20% (no change)

UKIP: 13% (+2)

Liberal Democrats: 6% (no change)

Greens: 4% (-1)

Others: 3% (+1)

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:

Labour: 28 seats (26 constituency seats + 2 list seats)

Conservatives: 12 seats (6 constituency seats + 6 list seats)

Plaid Cymru: 11 seats (6 constituency seats + 5 list seats)

UKIP: 7 seats (7 list seats)

Liberal Democrats: 2 seats (2 constituency seats)

If we model the poll numbers according to Ratio Swing, then the final seat allocations come out like this:

Labour: 29 seats (27 constituency seats + 2 list seats)

Conservatives: 12 seats (5 constituency seats + 7 list seats)

Plaid Cymru: 11 seats (7 constituency seats + 4 list seats)

UKIP: 7 seats (7 list seats)

Liberal Democrats: 1 seats (1 constituency seat)

Once again, the Barometer poll has produced a projected result (under either modelling method) that gives us five parties with representation in the National Assembly. The good news for Labour is that, under either UNS or RS, they are currently projected to win well over twice the number of seats won by the next-largest party. The much less good news for Labour is that this poll put them, on both votes, within one percentage point of their lowest vote share for Assembly voting intentions in any Welsh poll conducted since May 2010. And that in a poll that was probably, for the reasons outlined above, slightly over-stating Labour support. Perhaps the best news for Labour here is that the poll hardly offers unambiguous good news to anyone else either.

Roger Scully is a Professor of Political Science in the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University. This piece has been published on Roger's blog 'Elections in Wales' (http://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/electionsinwales/author/sesrms/)

8 thoughts on “What could happen at the Assembly Elections?

  1. After this election polling ‘shambles’, if I were a political party leader I would ban the reading or commissioning of all polls by party strategists from now and up to the Assembly elections. Better to concentrate on policy presentation and ‘vision’ rather than trying to read/anticipate the electorate’s fickle mind. I would probably also sack all the aforementioned ‘strategists’ as well.
    Who knows what the next year will bring. There has been a fractal change in the political zeitgeist. Enjoy the ride.

  2. If UKIP stands as very DEVO sceptic and promises to open up the books on where OUR money is going they could sweep the board,except in the really ‘welsh’ areas.We live in the most ‘over governed’ and ‘least scrutinised’ areas in UK and need outsiders to sort out the cosy mess ASAP.It seems to me that people are reticent in telling people what they REALLY think/want done and this is very evident in Wales.Virtually every poll in Wales seems to indicate that a vast majority are really keen on a)more powers,b),more taxes,c)more separation from England,whereas the reality is completely opposite,except for nationalists who are romantic dreamers.

  3. Very informative article indeed. I enjoyed this objective peer into the future after the recent series of CoW party broadcasts and lobbyist musings, some of it, naturally, hurriedly assembled and bits of it of a worryingly low standard. There is a sameyness about all this stuff, moreover. Where is your creativity instinct, IWA? You should be leading, not following.

    It seems apparent from the excellent Roger Scully that Llafur will retain power in the 2016 Assembly elections, possibly with a miniscule majority and more probably with a minority govt or in coalition. Nothing much changes in Wales. The rest of the UK is changing pretty fast (England formerly Blairite is now more Tory and more English, Scotland becomes unrecognisably nationalist with Labour summarily routed, Lib Dems are crushed in the South West, UKIP makes serious headway in England {and to be fair in Wales} and only London stays doughtily Labour…..unless it is a mayoral election; oh and three leaders fall on their swords but one was only a stage fall) and devolved Wales….. heads serenely onward to its fifth consecutive Llafur administration. This is quite remarkable, in all senses, in both UK and European terms. 21 unbroken years of old political power in the New Wales surrounded by turbulence elsewhere in the UK polity. 21 is equivalent to all the combined UK govts of Wilson, Blair and Brown (they spanned 46 years). There’s a year to go, it must be added, but Roger Scully won’t be eating any hats, unless he likes chocolate.

    I sense the dull ‘impact’ of a seeping civil society inertia and the hollowing out of a country whose Fourth Estate is but a vacuum. But I never despair. We just get the political class we all helped to construct. And, really, most of life and business goes on merrily in spite of any modern government, Deo Gratias.

  4. if Roger’s predictions prove correct, then Labour will lead a minority government that will require the support of another party to get its budgets and legislative programmes through. Will we see the return of the Lab-Plaid coalition or a confidence and supply arrangement? Most intriguing of all will be what UKIP will make of being in the National Assembly. It’s hard to think of any distinct policies that they have regarding Wales. In their ‘Believe in Wales’ manifesto, there is no mention of powers for the National Assembly. There are in fact only two mentions of that august body: one is in reference to addressing the shortcomings in NHS Wales; and the other is to improve the provision of social care. Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t these already Government policy here and have been for quite a few years now. The devil, no doubt, is in the detail and all will no doubt be revealed in the Assembly election manifesto. But with the exception of wanting Wales to withdraw from the European Union, is there anything that will make them distinctive in the eyes of the public? Or are they simply Labour voters waiting to be re-harvested?

  5. Daran is right to raise ukip’s projected performance – indeed in terms of welsh politics it would seem that the ukip elephant isnt on our ‘doorstep’ – it’s gots its feet up and is sitting comfortably on our living room sofa!
    But as a veteran of the 1997 and 2011 devolution campaigns what im most interested to know right now is where does the recent general election results – and the projections for next years poll – leave the future of welsh devolution?

  6. We have a complete reverdsal of party roles on devolution. Labour doesn’t want much more and doesn’t want any more tax powers, certainly not income tax. The Tories want Wales to have income tax powers, supposedly for the “responsibility” it would force on the Assembly but in reality so they could propose to cut taxes in Wales. That would give them an electoral story to run against Labour to try and break out of the heavily anglicised areas that are their stronghold and appeal across Wales. So now Tories force the pace on devolution while Labour are reluctant, the opposite of the early years of the century. Notice on the numbers above just changing a couple of seats would give the rainbow coalition of Tories, Plaid and rump Lib Dems more seats than Labour. The moral is clear. If you want more devolution vote for one of those three parties. If you don’t, vote Labour.. If you don’t know, vote UKIP. They don’t know either.

  7. Another thought if ARTD emulates David Cameron and in the Welsh context links Lab with PC highlighting destructive nature of Labour & PC nationalism (Plenty of ammunition for ARTD – NHS; Education; Invisible Elephant & so on) we may get a Tory majority!!??

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