MaltaToday survey | Swing between Labour and PN down from 9 to 6 points
23% think the PN is the most honest party in the campaign, while 39% opt for Labour
11 February 2013, 12:00am
The latest MaltaToday survey shows the net swing from the PN to the PL has been reduced from 9.1 points to 6.4 points.
But while the PN has seen the swing to Labour reduced, it now faces a 3-point swing to the Greens which is the highest registered in the past year of MaltaToday surveys.
The survey was held among 650 respondents between Monday and Wednesday.
The survey suggests that ongoing controversy over party financing and Muscat's "no comment" on claims by former Labour deputy leader Anglu Farrugia that Labour is too close to major construction developers, has slightly dented support for Labour.
The survey was carried out before the publication of Labour's electoral manifesto and the publication of an edited telephone conversation in which GWU secretary-general Tony Zarb is heard speaking to a business operator, in which he alludes to favouring companies whose employees are unionised, both for government tenders and in the union press.
The survey indicates that the parties have returned to the same level of support they enjoyed before the beginning of the electoral campaign, suggesting that the PN has not made any inroads; while Labour has lost some of the momentum it had at the start of the campaign.
Up to the third week of the campaign, Labour's lead over the PN widened from 11 points at the start of January to 14 points, an increase that came in the wake of allegations of kickbacks paid for the supply of oil to Enemalta whose repercussions continued to be felt after transport minister Austin Gatt was called in for questioning by the police
But over the fourth week, the gap was cut from 14 to 12 points, which has been the normal gap between the two parties over the past year except for December, when the PN had managed to close the gap to 9 points.
The fifth week of the campaign has now seen the gap cut to 10 points, which is one of the lowest gaps recorded in the past year.
And at 1.8% the Greens reconfirm last week's percentage, but are benefiting from a larger swing from the PN.
The survey also shows that only 23% think the PN is the most honest party in the campaign, while 39% opt for Labour and 4% opt for the Greens.
Other findings show:
PN cuts haemorrhage to Labour
The survey shows the PN losing 8.8% of its 2008 voters to Labour - down from 10.6% in the latest survey. The percentage of Labour voters in 2008 now shifting to the PN has increased from 1.5% to 2.4%.
The swing from Labour to the PN is the highest one registered in the past months. This means the net swing between the two major parties is down from 9.1 points last week, to 6.4 points, which is the lowest ever in the past year of surveys.
But the survey now sees the PN facing a new front, losing 2.8% of its 2008 voters to AD, which over the past month has gained greater visibility in the media. The shift from the PN to AD has trebled from the first week of the campaign. Labour only loses 0.4% to the Greens.
The survey sees the PN retaining 72% of its voters and the PL retaining 92% of its voters from the 2008 elections. AD only retains 29% of its 2008 voters, losing 14% of its support to Labour, with the rest being still undecided.
But the party compensates for these losses by attracting a significant amount of ex-PN voters, thus increasing its vote share over 2008. If AD manages to retain its past voters - most of which are now undecided - it would be at 2.5%.
Significantly, the PN is not compensating its losses to Labour by making gains among new voters, as was clearly the case before the 2008 election. In fact, among this category of first-time voters, the PL enjoys a 5-point lead over the PN. But among this category, the PN has managed to close the gap from 11 points last week to 5 points.
The PN is also trailing Labour by 31 points among another pivotal category: those who did not vote in the 2008 general election.
The 2008 election had seen the lowest turnout since 1971, with the number of non-voters increasing by 9,000 over 2003 levels. This survey indicates that 44% of non-voters in 2008 will be voting in March, and the overwhelming majority of these will be voting for Labour.
New voters, which were pivotal to the PN's victory in 2008, are also shifting towards Labour, albeit at a lower rate than two weeks ago. This category has been quite volatile in its voting intentions, with the PN leading Labour over most of the past year. Labour, however, has gained an edge over the past weeks.
Significantly, the survey shows the PN still trailing by 6 points (down from 8 points last week) if it manages to recover all of its 2008 voters, who are still undecided or who do not intend to vote. This suggests that new voters are pivotal to the party's electoral strategy.
PN consolidates itself among younger voters
In this survey, the PN has seen its support increase among 18- to 34-year-olds increasing by 7 points, its support among 35- to 54-year-olds decreasing by 4 points and its support among over 55-year-old increasing by 1.5 points.
On the other hand, Labour has lost 4 points among the youngest age group and has remained stable in the other two age groups.
The number of undecided have increased among middle aged voters, where the PN registered its greatest losses.
The survey now shows the PN at level with the PL among 18- to 34-year-olds, though it's still trailing by 14 to 15 points among older respondents.
AD has registered a slight increase in support among over-55-year-olds, and has retained the same support among the 35 to 54 age group, experiencing, however, a slight decrease among younger voters. This suggests that over the past weeks, the Greens have become a more attractive prospect for more older voters.
PL seen as the most honest party
In this survey, respondents were also asked which of the three parties contesting the election is most honest. The PL comes across as the most honest, with 39% of respondents opting for this party. Only 23% think the PN is being the most honest while 4% think the Greens are being the most honest.
The large gap between the two major parties is mainly attributable to the higher conviction of PL voters in their party's honesty.
While more than 25% of current PN voters could not say which party is most honest, less than 8% of the PL voters replied likewise. In fact, while 92% of PL voters think their party is the most honest, only 78% of PN voters think the same about their party.
This could suggest that Labour voters have stronger conviction in their party's honesty. It also suggests that PN voters are less likely to have blind trust in their party.
Interestingly, 42% of those who regard AD is the most honest party are either undecided or intent on not voting. This suggests that the Greens still have space for further growth within the undecided category. In fact, the survey shows that AD enjoys a higher credibility than the other two parties among undecided voters and non-voters.
Muscat retains trust lead
In the trust barometer, Joseph Muscat enjoys a 12-point lead, up from 11 points last month. Both leaders are more popular than their respective parties.
While Muscat's trust rating is 5 points higher than support for his party, Gonzi is 3 points more popular than his party.
Gonzi registers his second highest trust rating in the past year during the year but trails Muscat by a staggering 12 points. The survey suggests that Gonzi has still not overcome his greatest hurdle for re-election: Muscat's higher trust rating. This is a reversal of the situation in 2008, when Gonzi was more trusted than Alfred Sant.
But not all those who trust Muscat would vote for his party. In fact 1% of those who trust Muscat most would vote AD, 0.6% would vote PN and 7% are still undecided.
9% of those who prefer Gonzi are still undecided but none would be voting for another party.
But nearly half of these "undecided" voters who trust Gonzi more than Muscat, consider AD to be the most honest party in the campaign.
The survey was held between Monday 4 February and Wednesday 6 February. A total of 901 respondents were randomly chosen from telephone directories and contacted by telephone. Of these 650 accepted to be interviewed. Results were weighed to reflect the age and sex balance of population. The survey has a margin of error of +/-4.1%.
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...
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