This week sees publication of the first Welsh Political Barometer poll to be conducted since the National Assembly election last month. Although it may seem a long time until the next general or devolved election, we were interested to see where the parties stand – and whether the post-election furore in the Senedd about the election of the First Minister had had any impact on their support levels.
First the Assembly, and we’ll start as per usual with the constituency vote. I’ll list here three sets of figures for each of the parties: their score in our new poll; their score in the previous Barometer poll, which was the one conducted immediately before the Assembly election; and their actual vote share in last month’s election.
|Party||New Poll||Last Poll||Election Result|
Clearly we see Labour holding steady and still some way in the lead. But the big news would appear to be Plaid Cymru’s rating – up five points on the immediate pre-election poll. Some of this may be accounted for by that poll having produced a somewhat Plaid-unfriendly sample. But even so, our new poll has Plaid up 2.5 points on their election result. In short, there is absolutely nothing here to indicate that Plaid Cymru were damaged politically by the arguments following the stand-off over the First Minister vote in the Assembly. Elsewhere we see the Conservatives’ support ebbing, while that for UKIP remains robust.
If the changes from last month’s Assembly election indicated by this poll are projected uniformly across Wales, then that projects three constituency seats to change hands: Plaid are projected to gain Llanelli and Blaenau Gwent from Labour, and Aberconwy from the Conservatives. (Though please see my recent comments on the caution with which uniform swing seat projections should be interpreted).
We see a broadly similar picture for the Assembly regional vote, although the changes since our last Barometer poll are less dramatic here:
|Party||New Poll||Last Poll||Election Result|
Our new poll seems to confirm the ranking of the parties that we saw in the election. And, once again, we see no sign of Plaid Cymru taking a hit over the First Minister controversy – if anything, the reverse would appear to be the case.
Again applying the assumption of uniform national swing, and taking into account the projected constituency results just mentioned, this gives the following projected outcome for the regional list seats:
North Wales: 2 Conservative, 2 UKIP
Mid & West Wales: 3 Labour, 1 UKIP
South Wales West: 2 Plaid, 1 Conservative, 1 UKIP
South Wales Central: 2 Conservative, 1 Plaid, 1 UKIP
South Wales East: 2 UKIP, 1 Conservative, 1 Plaid
This gives us the following overall projected outcome:
Labour 28 seats (25 constituency, 3 regional)
Plaid Cymru 13 seats (9 constituency, 4 regional)
Conservative 11 seats (5 constituency, 6 regional)
UKIP 7 seats (7 regional)
Liberal Democrats 1 seat (1 constituency)
What about for Westminster? Here are the figures from our new poll (with changes from the early May Barometer poll indicated in brackets):
Labour 39% (+3)
Conservative 22% (-3)
UKIP 18% (+1)
Plaid Cymru 14% (+2)
Liberal Democrats 6% (-1)
Others 2% (-1)
This is clearly quite a good poll for Labour, and more bad news for the Welsh Conservatives. And again, we see UKIP’s rating remaining robust, and Plaid Cymru also making a modest move forward. If we apply the changes since the May 2015 general election implied by this poll uniformly across Wales, we get the following projected result (with all seats won by a party at last year’s general election remaining in their hands unless stated otherwise):
Labour: 28 seats (gaining Gower, Vale of Clwyd and Cardiff North)
Conservative: 8 seats (losing Gower, Vale of Clwyd and Cardiff North)
Plaid Cymru: 3 seats (no change)
Liberal Democrats: 1 seat (no change)
Some people may be surprised to see Plaid Cymru moving forward in this poll across the board, despite them having taken plenty of public criticism after the recent First Minister vote. The voting intention figures here would seem to suggest very strongly that the issue did not damage Plaid at all. But to probe further on this, we included in our latest poll the following questions:
“Thinking about the recent debate surrounding the appointment of First Minister and formation of the Welsh government, following the Welsh Assembly elections, which, if any, of the following parties do you think improved its reputation the most?”
“And which, if any, of the following parties do you think damaged its reputation the most?”
The table below shows answers to both questions from our respondents:
|None of them||32%||10%|
This table is, I think, a salutary reminder of how issues that excite close observers of events in Cardiff Bay can fail almost totally to cut through to many people – even when, as in the case of the First Minister vote, those issue are picked up by the UK-wide media. Large numbers of our respondents simply chose the ‘None of them’ or ‘Don’t Know’ options for both questions. But the findings also show us how the views of political commentators are far from an infallible guide to the thought processes of ordinary people. To the extent that people made anything at all of the shenanigans in the Bay, our survey indicates that Plaid emerged as the most positively evaluated party, and Labour as the most damaged. That is not what most commentary would have led anyone to expect.
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