After what seems an age where polling in Wales has seen an almost static result Professor Roger Awan-Scully has crunched the figures of the latest Welsh Political Barometer poll and we may be seeing a shift in Welsh voters allegiances.
Professor Awan-Scully writes
First, Westminster. Sampling for the new Barometer poll took place during a period of considerable instability in British politics, with both Labour and Conservative MPs defecting from their parties. Has all the instability, and uncertainty around Brexit, had any impact on party preferences – which have generally been strikingly stable since the general election? Here is what YouGov found (with changes form the previous Barometer poll, published in early December, in brackets):Labour: 35% (-8)Conservative: 29% (-2)Plaid Cymru: 14% (+1)Liberal Democrats: 8% (+2)UKIP: 6% (+3)Others: 8% (+4)Clearly, the long period of near-stagnation in the Welsh polls seems to be over. These figures show a large fall in Labour’s support. Specifically, this poll gives the lowest levels of Labour support for Westminster since early May 2017 (the second 2017 campaign poll). Although their support is only down a couple of points, the poll also gives the lowest level of Conservative Westminster support in Wales % since January 2017. And although their support has only edged up by a single point, the Plaid Cymru figure represents their best Westminster showing since July 2016.Using our customary method for projecting electoral results from poll figures – uniform national swings since the last general election – the figures from this new poll suggest that five seats would change hands at a general election. Given Labour’s current domination of Welsh parliamentary representation, and the large fall in their support suggested by this poll, it is no surprise that the five projected changes are all Labour losses: with Cardiff North, Gower, Vale of Clwyd and Wrexham all projected to be gained by the Conservatives, and Ynys Mon by Plaid Cymru. That would give the following overall outcome in terms of seats:Labour: 23 seatsConservatives: 12 seatsPlaid Cymru: 5 seats
Though Ynys Mon has a history of sticking with its sitting MP and the seat changing hands when the incumbent steps down and the news that Brecon and Radnorn Tory MP Christopher Davies has been charged over allegations he falsified two invoices in support of Parliamentary expenses claims may see a resurgence of the Liberal Democrats in the Westminster seat taking into account they currently hold the Assembly seat
What about voting intentions for the National Assembly? YouGov .
The Professor tells us that
...once again asked about voting intentions for both the constituency and the regional list ballots in a devolved election. Here are their findings for the constituency ballot (with changes from the December Barometer poll once again in brackets)Labour: 32% (-8)Conservatives: 26% (+1)Plaid Cymru: 23% (+3)Liberal Democrats: 8% (+1)UKIP: 7% (+2)Others: 5% (+2)Here again we see a substantial fall in Labour support: to their lowest level for this ballot in any poll since April 2017. Conservative support remains solid, while Plaid Cymru edge up – once more to their highest level in any Barometer poll since July 2016.Once more using the assumption of uniform national swings since the last election, this poll would project seven constituencies to change hands. As with Westminster, all the projected changes are seats currently held by Labour: the Conservatives are projected to gain Gower, the Vale of Clwyd, Vale of Glamorgan, and Wrexham. Plaid Cymru are projected to pick up Blaenau Gwent, Cardiff West and Llanelli. Labour’s projected twenty constituency seats would be by far their worst performance at a National Assembly election.Though I suspect with different candidates Plaid would struggle in Blaneau Gwent and Cardiff West but could be compensated with an extra regional seat
..For the regional list vote for the National Assembly, YouGov generated the following results (with changes from December’s Barometer poll once again in brackets):Labour: 29% (-7)Conservatives: 24% (no change)Plaid Cymru: 23% (+3)Liberal Democrats: 6% (+2)UKIP: 6% (+2)Greens: 4% (no change)Abolish the Assembly: 4% (-1)Others: 4% (+2)These results appear to confirm the sharp fall in Labour support, and a more modest uptick in Plaid Cymru’s ratings. YouGov do not find as high a level of support for the Abolish the Assembly party as the Sky Data poll did in December. Our new poll does, though, suggest that Liberal Democrat and UKIP support may have edged up a little.Allowing for the constituency results already projected, and once more assuming uniform national swings since 2016, our new poll projects the following overall results for the Assembly’s regional list seats:North Wales: 2 Plaid, 1 Labour, 1 UKIPMid & West Wales: 2 Labour, 1 Plaid, 1 ConservativeSouth Wales West: 2 Conservative, 2 PlaidSouth Wales Central: 2 Conservative, 1 Plaid, 1 Lib-DemSouth Wales East: 2 Conservative, 1 Plaid, 1 UKIPThese figures therefore generate the following overall result for the National Assembly:Labour: 23 seats (20 constituency, 3 regional)Conservatives: 17 seats (10, 7 regional)Plaid Cymru: 16 seats (9 constituency, 7 regional)Liberal Democrats: 2 seats (1 constituency, 1 regional)UKIP: 2 seats (2 regional)
Prehaps the problem for Plaid in this event would oddly be the hardest they could
Prop up a minority Labour Government on a supply and demand basis
Form a coalition with Labour in which they would demand a fair number of senior cabinet posts , which Labour will be reluctant to do.
Form a coalition with the Tories the First Minister to be from either the largest of the two (in this case the Tories) or to be rotate over the Assemblies term.
Such a move would be highly unpopular among both Plaid supporters and many of their voters.
Of course we may not see anything like this predicted turn out , but for Plaid in particular any surge in support , because of the structure of Assembly election even if they were the largest Party.
Indeed it would be remarkable if they could avoid this by emulating the SNP and being a majority party or finding non-unionist partners.
But in reality that is what they need to aim for , anything else could lead to disastrous coalitions.