Thursday, 23 December 2010

Can the LibDems avoid a Welsh wipeout?

It doesn't make much sense to pay too much attention to the opinion polls, six months after a General Election, and with the next General Election now fixed for May 2015 (provisionally, at least!).

Except in Scotland and Wales, where there will be national elections in just over four months.

Anthony Wells reports the last YouGov/ITV Wales poll of 2010.

Constituency: CON 23%(+2), LAB 44%(nc), LDEM 6%(-3), Plaid 21%(nc)
Regional: CON 22%(+2), LAB 42%(+1), LDEM 5%(-4), Plaid 21%(+1)

Those are the poll changes in a month. One big question is whether the damage done to LibDem standing in Wales is a blip, or something that it will be difficult to reverse in the next four months. If the damage is sustained then the results would make grim reading for the Welsh Liberal Democrats

The LibDems would aim to hold onto at least half and up to five of its six seats - but Wells projects that, if this polling were projected to a May 2011 result, they could be reduced to two seats in the Assembly.

On a uniform swing (and making the fairly safe assumption that Labour will reclaim Blaenau Gwent) this would give Labour 30 seats in the Welsh Assembly, the Conservatives 15, Plaid 13 and the Liberal Democrats 2. The Lib Dems, incidentally, would no longer pick up any top-up seats, once you get down to 5% or so support the maths just doesn’t stack up.

Labour won 26 seats last time, the Conservatives 12, Plaid 15 and the LibDems 6.

The big changes since the 2007 elections are to Labour standing - up 12-13 points in the constituency and regional section - and to the LibDems, firmly in a distant 4th place, polling just 40% of the constituency vote of 2007, and 43% of their regional vote, and just over a quarter of their general election vote six months ago.

The May 2010 General Election share in Wales for the four largest Welsh parties was:

Labour 36.2%
Con 26.1%
LibDem 20.1%
Plaid 11.3%

But Welsh elections follow the general rule of British politics that the LibDems always tend to poll considerably fewer votes when fighting in PR elections.

The 2007 result was

Labour 32.2%/29.6%
Cons 22.4%/21.4%
Plaid 22.4%/21.0%
LibDem 14.8%/11.7%

List shares:
BNP 4.3%
Green 3.5%
Others 4.5%

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