New Welsh polls

This week there have been two new polls for the Welsh Assembly elections. The first was by Beaufort Research for the Western Mail and conducted between April 16th-23rd. We don’t know much about how Beaufort’s polls are weighted or adjusted other than that the poll is based only on those certain to vote. The full figures are:

Constituency vote: CON 19%, LAB 36%, LDEM 13%, PC 26%
Regional vote: CON 20%, LAB 35%, LDEM 12%, PC 26%

This is Beaufort’s first media poll of the campaign, though Plaid Cymru did release figures from a private poll conducted by Beaufort earlier in the campaign which showed figures of CON 14%, LAB 37%, LDEM 14%, PC 30%. It wasn’t clear whether they were regional or constituency figures, but either way Plaid are now lower than in Beaufort’s previous poll and the Conservatives higher… or, of course, there is a difference in how the polls were weighted or filtered and they aren’t comparable.

The second poll is by NOP for ITV Wales, conducted between April 19th and 23rd. It is not a brand new poll, but a call back to around half the sample who participated in their poll earlier in the campaign. Their voting intention figures are below, with changes from the last poll, and show a big advance for Plaid at the expense of the Conservatives.

Constituency vote: CON 19%(-4), LAB 32%(-4), LDEM 15%(nc), PC 26%(+6)
Regional vote: CON 18%(-6), LAB 34%(-1), LDEM 15%(nc), PC 24%(+4)

The levels of support for the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru are pretty similar in both polls, with Labour doing slightly worse in NOP’s figures and the Lib Dems slightly better. I am somewhat dubious about the NOP poll though. As a callback poll it should be very stable indeed – the basic truth is that people really don’t change their voting intentions that much, most of the change in voting intention polls is just sample error – yet in a matter of three weeks we have party support altering by 6 points. It seems strange.

The long awaited NOP poll on voting intention in the Welsh Assembly elections next month has support in the constituency vote at CON 23%(+3), LAB 36%(-4), LDEM 15%(+1), PC 20%(-1) and in the regional vote CON 24%(+5), LAB 35%(-2), LDEM 15%(+2), PC 20%(nc). Changes are from the shares of the vote at the last election in 2003.

Assuming the poll is correct – and there is no great track record of success in polls for the Welsh assembly – Plaid are not enjoying the same surge in support as the SNP in Scotland and Labour’s decline is not so precipitous. The main beneficary of Labour’s drop in support appears to be the Conservatives, who are now in a relatively clear second place in Wales.

ITV projects that, were the same shares of the vote to be reflected in the election next month, the Welsh Assembly would have 25 Labour AMs (-5), 14 Conservatives (+3), 12 Plaid Cymru (nc), 7 Liberal Democrats (+1) and 2 Independents (+1). Changes are from the number of AMs returned after the last election. This would probably leave Labour unable to continue as a minority administration without coming to an agreement with an opposition party.

UPDATE: Plaid have reacted by publishing some of their private polling, conducted by Beaufort Research. It’s voting intentions amongst those certain to vote are CON 14%, LAB 37%, LDEM 14%, PC 30%. It’s not clear which vote it refers to, but either way it shows a Plaid surge and a Conservative slump. We do not, of course, have any knowledge of how the poll is weighted or conducted (though Beaufort seem to specialise in face-to-face polling), or what the other polls that Beaufort have conducted and Plaid chose not to publish showed…


ITV have apparently commissioned an NOP poll on voting intention for the Welsh Assembly election next month that will be released on Thursday, the first and so-far only pointer we so far have of what might happen in the Welsh elections. There has been a glut of polls on voting intention in Scotland, but till now no one has seemed interested in polling in Wales. Anyway, according to a comment on Mike Smithson’s blog, the Thursday figures will be CON 24%, LAB 35%, LD 11%, PC 24%.

I have no idea of the source of the figures, how reliable they are, or whether they relate to voting intention in the regional or constituency vote. I guess we will find out on Thursday. For the record, in 2003 the constituency shares of the vote were CON 20%, LAB 40%, LDEM 14%, PC 21% and the regional shares were CON 19%, LAB 37%, LDEM 13%, PC 20%.

UPDATE: Alas, the figure are wrong. We will have to wait till Thursday after all.

Sunday Polls

Three polls this Sunday, from ICM, NOP and MORI.

An ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph finds 52% of Scots in favour of independence. This is a similar figure to that found in the first of ICM’s new regular polls for the Scotsman, but contrasts with the figure YouGov found in their poll for the Telegraph in the week, when only 32% of people supported independence with 50% supporting the status quo. I suspect the reason is due to the wording of the question – YouGov asked a detailed question asking respondents to chose between retaining the present Scottish Parliament, and making Scotland an independent state outside the UK but within the European Union. ICM ask a far more straightforward question on whether Scotland should become an independent country.

ICM also asked whether respondents in England would like to see an independent Scotland – 59% would, suggesting that people in England are actually keener for Scotland to leave the UK than Scots themselves are. 48% of English respondents also said they wanted independence from the UK for England. 68% of people in England said they would like an English Parliament with similar powers to the Scottish Parliament, and 62% said Scots MPs should not “be able to vote on English laws when English MPs cannot vote on Scottish laws”.

Asked about the number of Scottish MPs in the cabinet however there was relatively little concern. 76% of English respondents said it didn’t matter, only 21% thought it did. ICM also asked about sporting loyalties. When Scotland were playing a foreign team, 70% of English respondents said they would support Scotland, with 14% supporting their opponents. When the same question was asked about supporting the England team in Scotland, 48% of Scottish respondents said they would support England with only 34% saying they would support England’s opponents. This echoes a poll before the last World Cup which found that Scottish people would support the England team…which no one seemed to believe!

There are voting intention figures in the ICM poll – topline figures are CON 37%, LAB 31%, LDEM 23%, but the article in the Sunday Telegraph suggests they are figures for just England, which is unusual. As it happens they are very similar to the GB voting intention figures from ICM’s poll for the Guardian published on Wednesday, with Labour down slightly and the Lib Dems up slightly in comparison.

Secondly, an NOP poll for ITV’s Sunday Edition asked a series of questions asking people to compare Gordon Brown with David Cameron. Cameron had substantial leads on having fresh ideas (39% to 10%) and on being in touch with modern Britain (33% to 17%). Brown had a very slight lead on protecting teh UK from terrorists (22% to 21%). As ever, the picture these sort of comparison polls creates really depends on the things the people commissioning the poll chose to ask about – we know where the two mens’ strengths lie in the terms of their public perceptions – Brown is seen as competent, reliable, strong, experienced and so on. Cameron is seen as likeable, fresh, modern and in touch. If you ask about the former sort of attributes Brown comes out looking stronger, if you ask about the latter Cameron does. What was interesting was the “Best Prime Minister” question, where Cameron recorded his largest lead over Brown so far (though fo course, this is the first time the question has been asked by NOP) – 29% for Cameron compared to 19% for Brown and 5% for Menzies Campbell.

According to Tim Montgomerie on Conservative Home, the poll also shows that “24% told GfK NOP that they would prefer Charles Kennedy to return as leader and slightly more (7%) preferred LibDem Home Affairs spokesman Nick Clegg to the embattled Sir Menzies (6%)”, though I’m not sure what sort of question or structure this was in response to.

Finally, MORI’s monthly poll is in the Observer. The topline voting intention figures with changes from MORI’s last poll are CON 35% (nc), LAB 33% (-4), LDEM 20% (+2). While figures are not given in the Observer, the poll also apparantly shows a sharp fall in David Cameron’s approval rating.

Latest Polls

There are a grab-bag of little polls in the last few days while I’ve been away, so here’s a brief round up. A new ICM poll for the Sunday Mirror has headline voting intentions (with changes from ICM’s last poll) of CON 36% (nc), LAB 35% (+3) , LDEM 19% (-3). The trend is similar to that in yesterday’s YouGov poll for the Telegraph – Labour have received a substantial boost from their party conference, largely at the expense of the Liberal Democrats.

John Reid’s conference performance seems to have boosted support for him as a potential successor to Blair, while support for Brown has remained static. Brown remains the choice of 46% of those who gave an answer (the Sunday Mirror has excluded don’t knows from its reported figures), while Reid is at 18%, up from 10% a fortnight ago (the fieldwork was carried out between the 28th and 30th of September, so most if not all of it would have been done after Reid’s conference speech).

A separate ICM poll for the BBC found that 53% of people opposed Britain’s military operations in Afghanistan, with only 31% supporting them.

ITV’s Sunday Edition has what is badged as a “Vision Panel” poll. Last week they had a poll by NOP, my guess is that this is an NOP poll as well, since earlier this year NOP won a contract to run “a 5,000-strong ITV Vision panel [that] will gather feedback on ITV programmes within 36 hours of broadcast.” Let’s hope that’s the case, because the results were, rather worryingly, quoted to one decimal place – normally quoting a poll with a margin of error of about 3% to one decimal place is a good warning sign of a dodgy poll! I shall investigate, but for the record the poll found that people though Brown was more trusted to run the economy or to lead the country in the face of a terrorist attack, but Cameron was more trusted on the NHS and the environment.

A Populus poll on Friday for the BBC found that 48% of people did not yet think that Brown had shown himself worthy to be Prime Minister and that 54% of people thought that David Cameron would make a better Prime Minister than Brown. There are some slightly more worrying figures for the Conservative party though: the media seem to have decided that the story of the Conservative party conference should be arguments over tax, and 55% of people told Populus that, if elected, David Cameron should cut taxes. As for their attempts to turn over a new leaf – 35% of people agreed that they no longer associated the party with past leaders like Thatcher and Major.

While most people still associate the Conservative party with Thatcher and Major, people do seem to be looking differently at David Cameron – a Harris Interactive poll in the FT yesterday found that only around 10% of people agreed that only one in 10 voters thought that David Cameron backed everything Baroness Thatcher did, while a majority of respondents (including a majority of both Conservative and Labour supporters) thought that Cameron is “uncomfortable with many of [Baroness Thatcher’s] policies and wants to create a different kind of party”.

Yesterday’s YouGov poll contained some more questions on David Cameron, with 54% of people believing it was “hard to know what the Conservative Party stands for at the moment”, and 60% wondering whether there was any substance behind David Cameron’s words. I’ll deal with this at more length once the rest of the poll is published tomorrow.