The new poll will give Labour cheer, but the Tories and Plaid shouldn’t throw in the towel just yet
Ifan Morgan Jones
The coming Senedd election is probably the most unpredictable in history, and the polls aren’t really helping us forecast the result.
So far, we’ve had ICM on St. David’s Day and today an Opinium poll predicting stonking big wins for Labour that would take them very close to a majority of seats in the Senedd.
On the other, we’ve had two YouGov polls in March and April showing Labour on course for their worst results since the dawn of devolution.
So who do we believe? Well, my gut says that the YouGov polls would be slightly closer to the mark. They have polled Wales consistently for multiple electoral cycles and have always been close to the final result.
In comparison, this seems to be Opinium’s first stab at a Senedd election poll as far back as I can discover.
Despite the very large sample size of 2,005 there are some odd methodological choices here, such as not offering Abolish the Assembly as a named option despite YouGov showing them on track for seven seats.
Opinium instead asks about UKIP and gives them a regional seat. I will eat my hat if that happens.
As a result, I don’t think Labour should get too far ahead of themselves based on this result and I don’t think the Conservatives or Plaid Cymru should be throwing in the towel either.
There are a few things here that would worry Plaid Cymru however, most notably that this is a very good poll for independence but they don’t seem to be getting any uplift from that.
35% would vote ‘yes’ to independence, with don’t knows removed, the poll projects. But much of that support goes to Labour with 46% saying they would vote for independence.
For Plaid Cymru, there is no sign here they’re peeling those indy voters away.
Overall, the difficulty of course is that both this and the YouGov polls are entirely credible, because the polls are in such flux at the moment due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The central questions is whether it’s the UK or Welsh Government that will get the vaccine and the unlocking bounce and the two sets of divergent polls offer entirely different answers to that question.
My hunch is that the final result will be somewhere in the middle with Labour losing some ground and ending up on 25 seats or so.
But at the moment I think I’ll wait for the next YouGov poll to confirm whether the last one was an outlier before coming to any firm conclusions about the way this election is heading as we approach May 6.