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MaltaToday Survey | Labour still leads by four points, Muscat trust steady

Latest results remove last week's swing to the PN, and after removing undecided voters and non-voters would give Labour 51.9%, the PN 47.3% and AD 0.8%

james
James Debono
21 May 2017, 7:50am
Last updated on 22 May 2017, 7:41am
MaltaToday’s latest survey has shown few changes over last week’s poll, with Opposition leader Simon Busuttil narrowing Prime Minister’s Joseph Muscat’s trust lead by 0.6 points from 5.3 to 4.7 points, and the PN slightly narrowing the PL’s lead from 3.9 to 3.6 points.

All differences fall within the margin of error of both surveys.

An extrapolation of the survey after removing undecided voters and non-voters would give Labour 51.9%, the PN 47.3% and AD 0.8%.

The gap between the two main parties remains within the margin of error of the survey.

The survey shows 5.7% of Labour voters (down from 6.3% last week) in 2013 shifting from the PL to the PN and 1.9% (down from 3% last week) of PN voters in 2013 shifting from the PN to the PL. In actual figures this would translate into the PL losing some 9,549 votes to the PN and the PN losing circa 2,516 votes to the PL over the 2013 election figures.

The survey also shows the PL losing 1.5% of its 2013 voters to abstention, compared to 0.6% lost by PN.

If translated in actual votes this would translate in Labour losing 2,512 votes and the PN losing 794 votes.

When losses to abstention and flows between the two parties are taken into account the PN is gaining 6,239 votes over 2013 and the PL losing 9,545 votes. This suggests that while the PN is gaining more votes than the PL, the shift is not enough to overturn Labour’s majority.

But these figures do not factor in the influx of non-voters in previous elections, new voters and respondents who still claim to be still undecided.

The survey shows 10% of PL voters in 2013 still undecided, up from 9% last week.  This category is mainly composed of switchers who voted PN in 2008 and PL in 2013. In this category 29% are undecided compared to only 5% of PL voters in 2008. Only 5% of PN voters in 2013 are undecided. This suggests that undecided switchers may have a determining role on June 3.  

The survey also shows 5% of PN voters in 2013 refusing to reply to the question on voting intentions. Only 0.2% of PL voters said the same in 2013.  

While the PL is still enjoying a lead among switchers (33.3%), when combining the switchers’ vote for the PD with the PN’s, it shows the coalition enjoying a lead among switchers.

The survey only gives an indication of how non-voters and new voters will be voting on June 3 because the sample of these two strategic cohorts is too small. But the survey confirms a PN advantage among non-voters in 2013 registered in previous surveys.

Busuttil also enjoys a strong trust lead among this group. This suggests that the PN is recovering former voters who registered their protest by not voting in the 2013 general election. As regards new voters, the survey suggests a high level of indecision in the group, 39% of whom replied “don’t know” to the question on voting intentions.

While the survey shows a slight lead for the PN in this group, contrary to the trend in previous surveys, it also shows Muscat as the most trusted leader in the same group.     

MaltaToday’s latest survey was carried out among 750 respondents contacted between Monday and Thursday. The difference between the two main parties still lies within this margin. This means that it is still possible that the PN could be in the lead even if Labour’s lead has been consistent at between three and four points in four consecutive surveys.

The survey still shows the Greens below the one-point mark at 0.6%. The overall percentage of respondents who would vote for PD candidates on the PN list stands at only 1.4%, down from 2% last week. The PD also attracts 4% of switchers to the coalition, up from 2% last week. 

Godfrey Farrugia (centre_ at a PN rally: is the Democratic Party the key to the switcher vote that chose Labour in 2013 after ahving voted for the PN in 2008 (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Godfrey Farrugia (centre_ at a PN rally: is the Democratic Party the key to the switcher vote that chose Labour in 2013 after ahving voted for the PN in 2008 (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Muscat retains 5-point lead

Overall when asked who of the two leaders they trust most, 39.2% chose Busuttil while 43.9% chose Muscat. Compared to last week Busuttil has gained 0.8 points while Muscat has gained 0.2 points. The PN leader registers his highest ever trust rating since being elected PN leader. Muscat’s trust rating is slightly higher than it was in January 2015.

Among Labour voters in 2013, Muscat has seen his trust rating rise from 73.7% before the start of the election campaign to 78.8% during the first week, to 85% in the second week and third week of the campaign. This suggests that Labour voters have rallied behind the party leader as the campaign progressed.

On the other hand Busuttil’s trust rating among PN voters in 2013 has practically remained the same during the first two weeks and has gained a point over last week. The survey now shows Muscat trusted by 85% of PL voters in 2013 and Busuttil by 87% of PN voters in 2013.

The percentage of Labour voters in 2013 who trust neither of the two leaders remains at 5% as it was last week. Only 3% of PN voters in 2013 trust neither leader. 4% of PL voters are undecided on whom to trust between the two leaders, compared to 6% of PN voters.

Significantly 6.4% of PL voters in 2013, down from 7.2% last week, trust Busuttil more than Muscat. On the other hand 3.8% of PN voters in 2013 trust Muscat more than Busuttil, down from 4.4% last week. This suggests that both leaders have managed to appeal beyond the boundaries of their respective 2013 cohorts.

Over the past week both leaders have lost points among switchers. But while Muscat has lost five points, Busuttil has lost three. Both leaders now enjoy the trust of 35% of switchers. The percentage of undecided among this category has grown by nearly eight points.

In this week’s survey only 2% of PL voters in the 2008 general election trust the PN leader more than Muscat, down from 4% last week.

Overall when asked who of the two leaders they trust most, 39.2% chose Busuttil while 43.9% chose Muscat (Photo: Chris Mangion/MediaToday)
Overall when asked who of the two leaders they trust most, 39.2% chose Busuttil while 43.9% chose Muscat (Photo: Chris Mangion/MediaToday)
PL leads by 4 points 

As regards voting intentions the survey shows the PN losing 0.4 points and Labour losing 0.7  points. The survey shows a two-point increase in ‘don’t knows’ and ‘no replies’ combined. But the percentage of no replies is higher among PN voters in 2013.

The survey confirms inroads made by the PN among Labour voters in the last election. The percentage of PL voters shifting to the PN-PD alliance has decreased slightly from 6.3% to 5.7% now. This includes 0.8% of PL voters who will be voting for the PD. Two weeks ago 5.3% of PL voters in 2013 were shifting to the PN.

The percentage of PN voters who will now vote PL has also slightly decreased from 2.9% to 1.9% but this figure remains higher than the 0.9% registered in the first week of the campaign. This suggests that the PN has not entirely blocked the haemorrhage of votes to the PL.

The survey also suggests switchers making up their mind, with 35.3% (up from 34% last week) choosing the PN and 33% (down from 34% last week) choosing the PL. The PN’s result in this category includes 4% of switchers who will be voting for the Democratic Party.

The number of switchers intent on not voting has now dropped to 0% from 6% of switchers last week but 29% remain undecided (up from 21% last month week).

While the PN has consolidated its position among switchers, only 1% of PL voters in 2008 will now opt for the PN, a drop from 3% last week. This suggests that the PN’s concerted campaign to attract traditional Labour voters may have hit a snag.

Of strategic importance is the PN’s advantage among non-voters in the 2013 general election. Among this category, while 30% will vote PN or PD (5 points up from last week), 15% (up from 8% last week) will vote PL. AD fares best among this group, registering 5%. The PD also attracts 5% of non-voters to the coalition.  This suggests that while not attracting a significant number of votes overall, the PD is helping the PN in two strategic categories – namely switchers and non-voters in the 2013 general election.

On the other hand, while last week Labour enjoyed a 10-point lead among new voters, in this survey it is the PN which enjoys a nine point lead. But significantly the percentage of undecided new voters has risen from 33% last week to 39% now.  This suggests that winning over undecided new voters may be decisive in the run up to 3 June.

Moreover the survey also suggests that Muscat remains more popular than Busuttil in this category, but a number of new voters who prefer Muscat are saying they are undecided on who to vote for.

Muscat 4 points more popular than his party

The survey also shows Muscat being four points more popular than his party. Busuttil is three points more popular than his party.

This indicates that Labour has the comfort of having a bit 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 gaining ground among Labour voters than his own party. In fact while 5.7% of PL voters in 2013 will vote PN, 6.4% of the same cohort trust Busuttil more than Muscat. This also indicates that the PN has space for further growth.  

Methodology

The survey was held between 15-18 May. The results were weighted to reflect the age and gender balance of the population. The survey was stopped when a quota sample of 750 completed questionnaires. The survey has a margin of error of +/-4 points.

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