Welsh Labour is on course to lose five seats in this May’s Senedd election, according to a new poll carried out exclusively by respected pollsters YouGov for WalesOnline.
The findings of our St David’s Day poll suggest Welsh Labour would remain the largest party but with no overall control after the Senedd elections in May this year.
Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford would face difficult negotiations with other parties if he is to be able to govern. As the Liberal Democrats are not likely to have enough seats to be viable partners, his only option may be a deal with Plaid Cymru.
Both Plaid Cymru and the Tories are both projected to gain seats and Abolish the Assembly Party is set to send five representatives to Cardiff Bay.
What would the Senedd look like if this poll is correct?
This graphic below shows what the Senedd would look like under this poll, for which YouGov quizzed 1,004 people between February 19 and 22:
The overall seat numbers are:
Labour 24 (down five from 2016): 21 constituency seats, three regional
Conservative 16 (up five from 2016): 10 constituency, six regional
Plaid Cymru: 14 seats (up two from what they won in 2016), eight constituency, six regional
Abolish the Assembly: five seats, five regional (1 per region)
Liberal Democrats: One seat.
This would be the best ever performance by the Conservatives in Wales – beating their 14 seats in 2011.
No party has ever got within ten seats of Labour at a Senedd election – the closest was Plaid in both 1999 and 2007, when it got within 11 seats. So these projected results would make this the closest Senedd election.
For Welsh Labour, it would be the party’s worst performance in a Welsh election, having won 28 seats in 1999, 30 seats in 2003, 26 seats in 2007, 30 seats in 2011 and 29 seats in 2016.
The party has been in formal coalitions previously with the Lib Dems from 2001 to 2003 and with Plaid Cymru from 2007 to 2011 – and in the last term has invited Lib Dem MS Kirsty Williams and Independent MS Dafydd Elis Thomas into the cabinet to allow it to govern.
However winning just 24 seats would put Welsh Labour in the weakest position it has ever been – and with its only realistic coalition partner being Plaid Cymru, leader Adam Price would have a powerful bargaining position.
Political scientist at Cardiff University Professor Roger Awan-Scully assessed the results of the poll for WalesOnline.
He said: “As we head towards the strangest election campaign that Wales will have seen for a very long time, we look set for a close-fought, three-way contest for control of the Senedd. With only five points separating the top three parties on the regional list vote, everything is up for grabs.
“Perhaps the most striking feature of the poll, though, is an all-time high score for the Abolish the Assembly party. Despite their lack of organisation and profile, the attractiveness of their name to a section of the Welsh electorate seems likely to propel Abolish the Assembly into the very institution they are dedicated to getting rid of.”
What constituencies are projected to change hands based on a uniform national swing?
Llanelli – Plaid gain from Labour
Llanelli has been a close fought constituency at repeated Welsh elections and has been won twice previously by Plaid’s Helen Mary Jones.
Professor Awan-Scully said that local factors meant that any prediction based on a uniform national swing for this seat should be taken with caution.
Sitting MS Lee Waters has a majority of just 342.
Blaenau Gwent – Plaid gain from Labour
Welsh Labour’s Alun Davies has a majority of just 650 in a seat that has never previously been won by Plaid Cymru at a Welsh election.
The Party of Wales was the closest challenger in 2016 however has a new candidate at this election. Again, Professor Awan-Scully said local factors meant any prediction based on a uniform national swing here should be treated with caution.
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Vale of Glamorgan – Conservative gain from Labour
Labour’s Jane Hutt has a majority of 777 over the Conservatives in this seat, which she has held since the first Welsh election in 1999.
However the Conservatives have won the seat at the last four General Elections.
Vale of Clwyd – Conservative gain from Labour
Labour’s Ann Jones currently has a majority of 768. She is standing down at this election. The Conservatives, who were the closest challenger in 2016 and hold the seat at Westminster, also have a new candidate, 32-year-old local councillor Gareth Davies.
Gower – Conservative gain from Labour
Labour’s Rebecca Evans has a 1,829 majority in this seat. The Conservative Party was the closest challenger in 2016 and has a new candidate in Myles Langstone this time. Labour holds the seat at Westminster.
Wrexham – Conservatives gain from Labour
Labour’s Lesley Griffiths has held Wrexham since the Welsh election in 2007 and currently has a majority of 1,325 votes over the Conservative Party. Previously the seat had only been held by John Marek, first as a Labour candidate and then as an independent after he was deselected by Labour.
The Tories have a new candidate in Jeremy Kent, 34, who would need to repeat the unprecedented success of now Conservative MP Sarah Atherton who overturned more than 80 years of Labour history in this seat by winning it last year.
How voting intentions vary by age and gender
There were significant differences in the ages of people signalling intent to vote for a particular party.
Plaid, Labour and the Greens all saw most of their support in the youngest age groups. This will be interesting as 16 and 17 year olds will be able to vote in this election for the first time.
There are also significant differences in voting for men and women.
Voters who said they were voting Conservative were five percentage points higher in men than women. By contrast for Labour 16 percentage points higher for women in terms of constituency voting intention. Plaid had an almost exactly equal split.
How accurate are the projections for seats?
All the seats were estimated via the standard “uniform national swing” method.
This uniform swing has the Liberal Democrats holding Brecon & Radnor. However given how well the Tories won it at the general election, and the fact long serving MS Kirsty Williams is standing down, Professor Awan-Scully suggested this may not play out as forcast by the poll.
He also suggested that due to local situations the sucess for Plaid in Llanelli and BG is less sure that the polls suggest.
Our St David’s Day poll from YouGov covers issues including Brexit, this year’s Senedd elections, independence for Wales and coroanvirus.
Our political writers have also analysed some of the poll findings.