Support for the main parties in Wales has changed little since May’s general election. Meanwhile, Wales is currently on course to have a National Assembly with a significant UKIP presence. These appear to be the key messages emerging from today’s new Welsh Political Barometer poll, the first definitive measure of political attitudes in Wales since the general election.
Our Barometer poll asked people about voting intentions for Westminster. Yes, the next general election is almost five years away. But asking this question provides us with the first assessment of whether support for the parties in Wales has changed since May 7th. We found the following levels of support for the parties (with changes on the general election indicated in brackets):
Labour: 37% (no change)
Conservative: 28% (+1)
UKIP: 15% (+1)
Plaid Cymru: 12% (no change)
Liberal Democrats: 4% (-2.5)
Greens: 3% (no change)
Others: 1% (no change)
In short, very little has changed in the seven weeks since the general election. This will probably strike most people as unsurprising; but it may be worth bearing in mind that this picture of continuity is in sharp contrast to what we saw five years ago. Then, support in Wales for the Liberal Democrats halved within weeks of the coalition agreement being signed, while Labour rapidly recovered in popularity. There has been no such dramatic turnaround in party fortunes this year.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, if we apply the changes implied by this poll since the general election uniformly across Wales, then no seats at all are projected to change hands between the parties.
Over the next year, though, increasing attention will focus on the parties’ prospects for next May’s election to the National Assembly. So where do the parties stand here? As has typically been the case in the past, our new Barometer poll shows some parties getting rather different levels of support for an Assembly election than for Westminster. In particular, Plaid Cymru do notably better when voters are thinking about a devolved election.
For the constituency vote for the Assembly, these were the levels of support indicated for each of the parties (with changes from the most recent previous YouGov poll in Wales, which was conducted immediately prior to the general election, again indicated in brackets):
Labour: 35% (no change)
Conservatives: 23% (+1)
Plaid Cymru: 20% (-1)
UKIP: 14% (+2)
Liberal Democrats: 5% (-1)
Greens: 3% (1)
Others: 0% (-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.
The figures for the regional list vote were as follows (with changes from the previous Barometer poll again indicated):
Labour: 32% (no change)
Conservatives: 22% (no change)
Plaid Cymru: 20% (no change)
UKIP: 14% (+1)
Liberal Democrats: 5% (-1)
Greens: 4% (no change)
Others: 3% (no change)
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)
Clearly this poll suggests that the picture of public support has remained hardly changed since early May. None of the parties have seen changes in their support levels that are at all dramatic, and those minor changes seen could well be little more than random fluctuations within the ‘margin of error’. But the poll also indicates that Labour remains tantalisingly close to a majority of seats in the National Assembly, while many of the list seats are currently projected to be won by only tiny margins. With more than ten months to go until the Assembly election, everything is still very much up for grabs.
Postscript: And for the real hard-core cognoscenti out there, here are the Ratio Swing projections from the poll.
For Westminster, 39 of the 40 seats produce the same outcome on Ratio Swing as with UNS. The only seat that generates a different outcome is our old friend Ceredigion – there, the decline in Lib-Dem support since the general election (according to this one poll) leads Ratio Swing to project Plaid Cymru to gain Ceredigion. However, I would caution people that ratio swing was regularly projecting Plaid to gain Ceredigion prior to the general election, and we know how it actually turned out.
For the Assembly, Ratio Swing, as with UNS, projects only two constituency seats to change hands, but they are not the same two seats. Both project Plaid to gain Llanelii from Labour. But while UNS projects the Lib-Dems to gain cardiff central from Labour, under Ratio Swing it is the Lib-Dems who lose a constituency seat – their only remaining one in Brecon & Radnor.
After taking into account these constituency projections in calculating the list seats, we get the following overall projected outcome for the national Assembly under Ratio Swing:
Labour: 29 seats (27 constituency seats + 2 list seats)
Conservatives: 13 seats (7 constituency seats + 6 list seats)