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MaltaToday Survey | Trust ratings up for Muscat and Busuttil

Latest polls are out on MaltaToday, with both Labour and Nationalist leaders' trust ratings soaring

james
James Debono
7 May 2017, 7:29am
Last updated on 8 May 2017, 8:26am
The first week of the campaign has seen a retrenchment of voters behind the party leaders, both of whom have seen a surge in their trust rating.

When asked which of the two leaders they trust most, 36.3% chose Busuttil while 41% chose Muscat. Compared to last week Busuttil has gained 2.3 points while Muscat has gained 3.5 points. 

But Muscat’s gains are mainly limited to the Labour cohort of 2013 voters. In fact among Labour voters in 2013, Muscat has seen his trust rating increase from 73.7% to 78.8%. 

On the other hand Busuttil’s trust rating has increased by only a point among PN voters in 2013. While gaining less than Muscat, the PN leader now registers his highest ever trust rating since being elected PN leader. He also makes some inroads among Labour voters in 2008, 5% of whom trust him more than Muscat. 

The gains by both party leaders are corresponded by a drop among those who trust neither. The survey shows the Green Party registering only 0.4%, the worst poll result since 2013.

MaltaToday’s latest survey was carried out after the May 1st mass meetings, which saw the Labour leader announce the election date. 

The survey shows the PL leading by 3.2 points, which is slightly less than the margin enjoyed by the PL in surveys held in March and a week before the start of the campaign. Muscat’s trust rating still remains 2 points lower than it was in March.

The survey, in which 650 respondents were contacted by telephone and accepted to participate, was carried out between Tuesday, 2 May and Friday, 5 May.

Although still within the survey’s 3.8-point margin of error, the three-point difference between the two parties has been consistent in the past three MaltaToday surveys. 

As regards voting intentions, the survey shows the PN increasing its support by 1.3 points and Labour by 1 point. The survey shows that the announced fusion of the PN and the PD had a small impact on the survey. While the combined vote of the parties last week amounted to 33.6%, in this survey the PN gets 34.2%, an increase of 0.6%. But the gap between Labour and the PN-led coalition has remained the same. In the survey nearly 4% of PN voters said they would be voting for the PD candidates included in the PN list.

An extrapolation of the survey after eliminating ‘don’t knows’ and non-voters would put the PL at 51.9% and the PN at 47.4%, a gap of 4.6 points. AD would get 0.6%.

5% of PL voters switching to PN

The survey shows the PL leading by 3.2 points, down from 3.6 points last week. The difference is within the +/- 3.8 point margin of error which means that both parties may be in the lead. 

But the survey confirms inroads made by the PN among Labour voters in the last election. But in a sign of retrenchment the survey also shows a decrease in voters switching from one side to another although the swing remains favourable to the PN. 

While 5.3% of PL voters in 2013, only 0.9% of PN voters in 2013 will now vote for the PL. Last week the survey showed 8.2% of PL voters switching to the PN and 4.5% of PN voters switching to the PL. This suggests that the PN has managed to block the haemorrhage of votes to the PL. This may be a positive sign for the PN because previous surveys always showed the PL partly offsetting PN gains by winning a segment of former Nationalist voters. This suggests that recent events have blocked PL inroads among PN voters.

The survey also registers an increase of undecided voters among switchers who voted PN in 2008 and PL in 2013. The percentage of switchers who will be voting Labour drops from 44% last week to 34% now. But only 20% (down from 28% last week) will vote PN. The percentage of undecided switchers has increased from 21% to 33%.

The survey also confirms the existence of a new category of switchers, those who have voted Labour in 2008 and who have now switched to the PN. These amount to 3% of PL voters in the 2008 general election. 

Of strategic importance is the PN’s advantage among non-voters in the 2013 general election. Among this category while 20% will vote PN only 9% will vote PL. On the other hand Labour enjoys a four-point lead among new voters. Significantly 31% of new voters say that they will not be voting. AD gets its best score among new voters (3.7%).

Muscat 4 points more popular than his party

The survey also shows Muscat being 3.6 points more popular than his party. While in the last survey carried out in March Muscat was five points more popular than his party, Busuttil is only one point more popular than his party.

This indicates that Labour once again has the comfort of having more space for future growth among that category of electors who prefer Muscat to Busuttil, but who are not committed with regard to voting intentions. 

But the survey also shows Busuttil making more ground among Labour voters than his own party. This also indicates that the PN has space for further growth. Significantly 5% who voted for Alfred Sant’s Labour Party in 2008 prefer Busuttil to Muscat but only 3% declare that they will be voting PN. Among the whole cohort of Labour voters in 2013, 8% trust Busuttil more than Muscat. Only 2.2% of PN voters in 2013 trust Muscat more than Busuttil, a drop of 3 points over last week. This suggests that corruption allegations have undermined Muscat’s attraction among PN voters while Busuttil continues making inroads among Labour party voters. 

What has really boosted Muscat’s trust rating in this survey are not any significant inroads among PN voters but a surge in trust among Labour voters; from 74% last week to 79% now. In fact among Labour voters Muscat has recovered the same level of trust registered in March. On the other hand Busuttil’s trust rating among PN voters has only increased by a point. Therefore Muscat’s trust boost reflects greater enthusiasm among Labour voters. 

Muscat remains more popular than his party among switchers. Among this category Muscat is nine points more popular than his party. While 34% intend voting Labour 43% trust Muscat more than Busuttil. Busuttil is six points more popular than his party among this category of voters. 

Drop in Labour non-voters

Significantly the survey also shows a remarkable drop of Labour voters who now intend to abstain. Only 3% of PL voters in 2013 are keen on not voting compared to 6% last week. The survey also shows that only 2% of PN voters in 2013 are intent on not voting. The survey shows the overall percentage of non-voters has dropped by three points over last week. But the percentage of undecided Labour voters has continued to grow especially among switchers, 32% of whom are now undecided. It is this category, which may hold the key to the next election. 

Methodology

The survey was held between 2 May and 5 May. The results were weighted to reflect the age and gender balance of the population. The survey was stopped when a quota sample of 650 completed questionnaires. The survey has a margin of error of +/-3.8 points.

james
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...