Key things we've learned from two new major Welsh political polls as one party sees support jump

Sir Keir Starmer speaks during an event at The Fusilier Museum in Bury on June 3
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

We're about to enter the third week of the general election campaign. Politicians' social media feeds are full of candidates out and about, knocking on doors, boasting of the places they've been and who they've seen where.

In the midst of all that two major new polls have been released showing crucial things about support for the parties, perceptions of individual politicians, and the issues that matter to voters. One poll by YouGov, using a model called MRP (multi-level regression and post-stratification), uses a large sample of data collected from its panel to discover relationships between people’s characteristics and their answers to the voting intention question.

It then combines these relationships/patterns with information about the characteristics of people living in different seats to construct estimates. It gives a breakdown for constituencies across England, Scotland, and Wales being contested by the main British political parties. YouGov MRP models correctly called both the hung parliament in the 2017 UK general election and the Conservative victory in 2019.

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The YouGov poll, published on Monday, follows another at the weekend which projected the Conservatives would lose 11 seats in Wales compared to their 2019 result leaving them with just three this side of Offa's Dyke after the July 4 ballot. This election is being fought on different constituency boundaries with the number of MPs Wales will elect being cut from 40 to 32.

The YouGov poll, detailed on Sky News, projects a Labour majority of 194 seats if there was a general election tomorrow. That is a bigger majority than any time in the last 100 years. Rishi Sunak's Conservative party would have 140 seats and the Lib Dems would see quadruple their seat total to 48. The SNP would see its tally crash to 17 seats while the Green Party would have two.

In Wales Plaid Cymru would also get two. The poll calls Ceredigion Preseli a safe seat for Plaid but puts the Dwyfor Meirionydd seat as "likely" for the party too. It puts the Tories on track for just two seats in Wales with the party expected to return MPs in Montgomery and Glyndwr and Brecon and Radnorshire. All remaining 28 seats would go to Labour.

A second poll has also been released by YouGov for ITV Wales. Thus was of 1,066 adults in Wales who were questioned between May 30 and June 3. In that poll 20mph was asked about as was whether it was important to voters where their candidates lived. That poll found that 57% of people thought Vaughan Gething, less than three months into his role as First Minister, was doing a bad job.

Support for Labour in a general election has gone up

The ITV Wales/YouGov poll shows that since the last equivalent poll in December more people in Wales intend to vote for Labour in a Westminster general election. The number backing Labour in December was 42%. It is now up 3% to 45%. Support for the Conservatives has dropped 2% in the same time period. Voters intending to back Plaid Cymru have also fallen by 3% with support for Reform UK and the Green Party both up slightly by 1% each.

Almost two-thirds of people think Vaughan Gething is doing a bad job

In its first poll since he was elected Welsh Labour leader ITV Wales/YouGov found 57% of people thought the First Minister Vaughan Gething was doing badly in his role. In December, when people were asked the equivalent about Mark Drakeford, the equivalent figure was 49%.

People don't think either Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer care about Wales

Rishi Sunak sitting at a table with some donuts in front of him
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during a visit to Henley-on-Thames on Monday, June 3 -Credit:PA

The ITV Wales pollsters asked people how much they thought a range of politicians cared about Wales. Both leaders of the main parties vying for the keys to 10 Downing Street scored low results. Positive answers – a "great deal" or "a fair amount" – totalled just 9% for Rishi Sunak while for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer 2% said "a great deal" and 17% opted for "a fair amount".

The figures are slightly better for the Welsh leaders. Vaughan Gething secures 53% for people answering either a "great deal" or "fair amount". Andrew RT Davies, who is the Conservative group leader in Wales has, 37% of people saying he does care in either category and 36% that he doesn't care "at all". Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth has the same positive figure as Vaughan Gething (53%) while 17% thought "not at all".

The cost of living is top priority

Asked what should be prioritised by a UK Government the top answer given by voters to ITV Wales was the cost of living crisis/inflation (58%) with health second (41%) and the economy (32%). Welsh independence was bottom of the list with 3%, the ITV Wales poll shows. For the latest politics news in Wales sign up to our newsletter here.

Where election candidates live really matters to people

A hot topic for Labour this week, after it faced criticism for two London-based candidates being selected for safe seats in Cardiff West and Swansea West, is where candidates are from. In response to the question: "How important is it, if at all, that candidates standing for election in your constituency live in your constituency/local area?" a total of 80% of respondents said it was "totally important" in the ITV Wales poll.

The 20mph speed limit is deeply unpopular...still

Two speed limit signs indicating a 20mph limit with trees in the background

The 20mph default speed limit in Wales was brought into force in September 2023. The ITV Wales poll found 70% totally oppose the speed limit with 25% supporting.

Split result over plan for compulsory national service

ITV Wales/YouGov asked: "Would you support or oppose it being made compulsory for all young people to either serve in the military for a year or spend one weekend every month for a year community volunteering?" There was 42% support for the plan and 50% opposition.

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A good night for Labour

If the YouGov MRP poll is to be believed it would be Labour's best night in many, many years. In Wales it would not quite see the Conservatives wiped out, as they were in 1997 and 2001, but it would constitute a rout nonetheless The poll puts Ynys Mon, considered a three-way split between the Conservatives, Plaid, and Labour, as leaning towards Labour with 35.1% ahead of Plaid with 26.4%. Brecon, Radnor, and Cwm Tawe – a newly-redrawn constituency – is a "toss up" between the Conservatives and Lib Dems. Montgomery and Glyndwr, the new version of the former Montgomeryshire seat held by Craig Williams in the last Parliament, is leaning towards the Conservatives (32.5%) with Labour not far behind on 27.4%.