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MaltaToday electoral survey | Labour still leads by 12 points

Last survey before 9 March general elections shows confirms 8-point swing to Labour.

james
James Debono
7 March 2013, 12:00am
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi's two-month campaign so far still leaves his trust rating wanting.
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi's two-month campaign so far still leaves his trust rating wanting.


A profile of the undecided | The margin of error | PN losing 12% of its former voters | PN reduces gap among under 35-year-olds | Muscat's trust lead | Methodology | FULL DATA


The last MaltaToday survey before next Saturday's general election shows an 11.7-point gap between the PL and the PN, which is slightly less than the 12 points gap registered last week.

The survey was held among 700 respondents between Monday and Wednesday.

If the +/-3.7 margin of error is taken in to account the gap between the two major parties stands in a range between 4.3 points and 19.1 points.   

But one also has to consider that the PL has enjoyed a gap of more than 10 points in all eight MaltaToday surveys conducted during the electoral campaign, as well as in most surveys conducted in the previous year.

The PN would still be 7 points below Labour if it recovers all former PN voters who are still undecided, intent on not voting or who refused to state how they would be voting next week.

But the PN would be closer to Labour if PN voters prevail among those who refused to declare their voting intentions.

Moreover the swing from PN voters in 2008 to labour has remained at 8 points, the same as last week. 

This indicates that the overall situation has remained stable over the past week with Labour retaining a very strong lead.

But the survey shows a small increase in support for both major parties and a slight decrease in non-respondents. At 15%, the number of undecided has remained the same as last week.

This is an indication that a number of respondents are still making up their mind just 3 days before election day.

Support for Alternattiva Demokratika rose slightly to 2.5 per cent, which is the highest registered in the past year of MaltaToday's surveys. 

AD is attracting a small but consistent shift from both the PN (2.5%) and the PL (0.8%) and a relatively high percentage of new voters (7.5%) and under 35-year-old voters (5.4%).

The survey's sample had practically an equal number of respondents who voted PN or PL in the last general election. This means that the sample matches the 2008 general elections result. First-time voters which account for 29,000 (19,000 of which were underage in 2008) are under-represented in the sample.

The percentage of people who intend not to vote has decreased to 2.6%. Joseph Muscat continues to enjoy a very high trust rating of 44% against Lawrence Gonzi's 31%.







A profile of the undecided

One in every four respondents is either undecided or would not reveal who he or she intends to vote. This percentage would rise to 27% if non-voters are included. Since none of the two major parties surpass the 50% mark in the survey, the role of these three categories will be crucial in determining the outcome of next week's general election.

It is impossible to decipher the political leanings of non-respondents as 87% did not reveal how they voted for in the 2008 election. 

If a large number of non-respondents are PN-leaning the gap between the two parties would be much closer. In fact if all 'no respondents' shift to the PN, the two parties would be neck to neck. 

The survey indicates that PN voters outnumber PL voters in all three categories. In fact, while 28% of undecided voters declared voting PN in 2008, only 17% of presently undecided voters declared voting PL in the last election.

Among non-respondents, the majority of which did not reveal how they had voted in 2008, 5% declared voting PN while 2% declared voting Labour in 2008.

Former PN voters account for 68% of present non-voters. Only 5.3%  of those intent on not voting this time round are former PL voters.

In view of this, the PN would increase its support by 7.4 points if it recovers all its past voters who are presently undecided, not replying or intent on not voting.

Labour would only increase its support by 2.7% if it does the same.

Yet, despite the predominance of PN voters among these categories, the PN would still be trailing Labour by 7 points if it recovers all these ex-PN voters.

Even recovering these voters at such a late stage is not an easy task for the PN. 53% of those intent on not voting do not trust either Muscat or Gonzi. But Muscat is more trusted than Gonzi among the undecided. While 17% of the undecided trust Muscat, only 10% trust Gonzi, while 16% trust neither leader.

One of the most curious aspects of this survey is that the number of undecided remains as high as last week, and 4 points higher than two weeks ago.

Interestingly, 46% of these voters declared which party they had voted for in the past election. This indicates that a large chunk of these voters are genuinely undecided and most of these voted for the PN in 2008. 

This component could be vital in any attempt by the PN to cut the margin but could also shift to AD, especially if they are convinced that the greens have a realistic chance of making it to parliament. It is also possible that ex-PN voters who are still undecided but trust Muscat more than Gonzi, could shift to Labour, thus increasing its majority.

The margin of error

One important consideration in any survey is the size of the margin of error. A margin of error occurs in any survey and depends on the size of the sample used: the greater the sample the lower the margin of error. 

In this case the margin of error amounts to +/-3.7%. To decrease the margin of error to +/-2% one would need a sample of 2,200 respondents.

This means that Labour's support in this particular survey could be anything between 37.4% and 44.8%. On the other hand support for the PN could be anything between 25.7% and 33.1%. 

So if one were to put Labour's support at a minimum of 37.4% and the PN's support at a maximum of 33.1%, Labour would still be leading by 4.3%.

But one has also to consider that the lowest gap registered in the past year of surveys been of 9 points.

Support for AD could be anything between 0% and 6.2%. In AD's case the range in the margin of error includes the both the prospect of a remarkable success and a complete wipe out. Still the last seven electoral surveys have indicated that AD has seen its support increase from 1.5% to 2.5%-which would represent an increase of 66% in its support.

PN losing 12% of its former voters

The survey shows the PN losing 9.5% of its 2008 voters to the PL and a further 2.5% to AD. This means that the PN is losing 12% of its 2008 voters to the other two parties.  In last week's survey the PN was losing 11.4% to both parties.

The percentage of PL voters in 2008 now shifting to the PN amounts to just 1.6%.  Labour only loses 0.8% to the Greens. 

In total the PL is losing 2.4% of its 2008 voters to the other two parties.

Over the past week the net swing between the two major parties has remained the same (7.9 points).

This week's survey sees the PN retaining less of its 2008 voters than last week. 

In fact the percentage of votes retained by the PN has decreased from 70.8% to 69.4%. This is corresponded by a 1.5-point increase in the number of former Nationalist voters who now intend not to vote.

Labour now retains 91% of it 2003 voters up from 89% last week. In this survey AD retains 60% of its 2008 voters.

The party compensates for these losses by attracting a swing from both major parties as well as an amount of new voters and non-voters in the 2008 election.  Among new voters AD's support rises to 7.5%.

If AD manages to retain its undecided 2008 voters it would reach 2.9%.

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 an 18-point lead over the PN.

The PN is also trailing Labour by 22 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. 

The survey indicates that 53% (up from 38.2 % last week) of non-voters in 2008 will be voting in March and the overwhelming majority of these will be voting for Labour.

Support for AD in this category has risen to 5.4%.

New voters, which were pivotal to the PN's victory in 2008, are also shifting towards Labour.

This category has been quite volatile in its voting intentions with the PN leading Labour over most of the past year but Labour has gained an edge over the past weeks. But 24% of new voters have not expressed their voting intention.

PN reduces gap among under 35-year-olds

The survey shows the PN recovering support among voters aged under 25, over the past week. While the PN recovers 10 points, the PL gained 3 points over last week.

In this way the PN has reduced the gap in this age group from 15 points to 8 points.

Support for AD in this category stands at 5%.

The increase in support for all three parties is corresponded by a 9 point drop undecided young respondents. 

Over the past week both major parties have managed to retain roughly the same levels of support in the other age groups. 

Labour now enjoys a 13-point lead among 18-to-34 year-olds and a 16-point lead over 55 year olds. AD has seen an increase in support among 35-to-54 year-olds where its support has risen to 3%.

Muscat retains trust lead

In the trust barometer Joseph Muscat enjoys a 12.5-point lead over Lawrence Gonzi (down from 14 points last week).

The survey suggests that three days before the election Gonzi has still not recovered one of the greatest hurdles for his re-election, which is Muscat's higher trust rating.

Interestingly although 9.5% of PN voters in 2008 would now vote for Labour, 13% of PN voters in 2008 now trust Muscat more than Gonzi.

This suggests that a small category of former Nationalist voters prefer Muscat but are hesitant on switching party allegiance. But this factor could also make it harder for the PN to reduce the gap.

Only 1.6% of Labour voters in 2008 prefer Gonzi to Muscat.  This is equivalent to the percentage of voters shifting from the PL to the PN.

Methodology

The survey was held between Monday 4 March February and Wednesday 6 March. A total of 1,027 respondents were randomly chosen from telephone directories and contacted by telephone. Of these 700 accepted to be interviewed. Results were weighed to reflect the age and sex balance of population. The survey has a margin of error of +/-3.7%.

james
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...
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Beatrice Gatt
I do not believe these surveys, if they were taken in areas mostly labour? many times polls were aginst pN and Still PN WON!!!!!!
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Yanika Chetcuti
@ Zoltan - Hear ! Hear!
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Well put Zoltan. I just want to add that we also wish to see morality and ethics introduced once again into politics and politicians so that we can once more put our trust in them. Not voting for PN/GonziPN shall prove it.
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Stefan Cassar
The Gonzi PN is asking for my vote so that he will keep raising my water elect bill to put my money in the fat cats pockets that surround it. He implied by his strong answer in the Times Debate that the drydocks people were the 'hallelin ta Malta" and good riddance, when the biggest scandal in Maltese History happened under his nose and within Gonzi`s Klikka. Gonzi is asking for my vote to help him establish 25000 jobs,,alias slave work who always work but with a pittance.......nini nini GONZ
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Jessica Sammut
We, the electors, need to give a clear message to the political class, our future generations and to the Europeans observing our electoral process: we want meritocracy, a development of our civil liberties at par with the rest of Europe, we want a partial reversal of the right-wing policies that have turned many of this country's elite into self-serving, arrogant patriarchs, we want solidarity and opportunities for the weak, the poor and the young, a healthier environment for our children and above all, we want a clean-up of the inefficiency, bureaucracy, sleaze and corruption that is slowing down this country's growth and wasting the EU funds. In short, this election is a vote for the PL and/or Alternattiva but this time, it cannot be a vote for the PN.