Is PN experiencing a ‘midlife crisis’?

A swing of between 5,000 to 13,000 voters from the PN to the Labou Party suggests that if the PN does not manage to recover a portion of these voters, it would face a heavy defeat at the polls.

james
James Debono
8 February 2012, 12:00am
Lawrence Gonzi registers his worse trust rating among middle-aged men and fares best among males aged over 55 years of age.
Lawrence Gonzi registers his worse trust rating among middle-aged men and fares best among males aged over 55 years of age.
The size of the swing | Profile of the new Labourite | The swinger's profile

The latest MaltaToday survey shows the Nationalist Party getting its best results among voters aged over 55 years of age and its worse results among those aged between 35 and 54.  When both sex and age are taken in to account the PN gets its best results among males aged over 55 and gets a drubbing among males aged between 34 and 55.  Gonzi also registers his worse trust rating among middle-aged males and fares best among males aged over 55 years of age. 

The Nationalist Party is facing a problem in communicating its message to male voters aged between 35 and 54, who constitute the bulk of former PN voters in 2008 who intend to vote for the Labour Party if an election is held now. 

In fact, among males aged between 35 to 54 only 12.4% (compared to a 22% national average) intend to vote for the Nationalist Party. 

The size of the swing

MaltaToday surveys held between September 2010 and February 2011 puts the number of Nationalist and Labour voters at between 7.1% and 10.6% of Nationalist voters in 2008.

This will translate in between 10,186 and 15,207 voters who will swing to Labour from the PN if an election is held right now. On the other hand only between 2,270 and 4,526 former Labour voters will now vote for the Nationalist Party.

This suggests a swing of between 5,660 and 12,937 from the Nationalist Party to the Labour Party. This suggests that if the PN does not manage to recover a portion of these voters, it would face a heavy defeat at the polls.

Technically the PN can still compensate for its losses by winning a majority of the 23,487 new voters.  New voters were crucial in the PN's wafer-thin victory in 2008.

But the latest two MaltaToday polls show the two major parties are running neck and neck among this strategic category. Moreover a substantial 35% of new voters did not reveal their voting intentions while 10% will not vote.

Profile of the new Labourite

Over the past months Labour leader Joseph Muscat has done everything possible to transform Labour in to a 'PN-lite' party, not only symbolically by repeatedly wearing a blue tie, but also by recognising the moral illegitimacy of the Labour government between 1981 and 1987.

MaltaToday surveys show that these efforts have paid off among a segment of Nationalist voters.

An analysis of former Nationalist voters who declared their intention to vote for the Labour Party in the past four MaltaToday surveys conducted between September 2011 and February 2012, shows that the majority of these voters are males aged between 35 and 54, most of which lack a post secondary level of education.

Females constitute only between 27% and 37% of these voters. Respondents aged over 55 years constitute a small minority (less than 13%) of this strategic category of voters while a third are aged between 18 and 34.

Only a tenth of these voters have a post secondary education, while more than 80% have completed their secondary education.

This suggests that the PN has so far controlled its haemorrhage to Labour among women, elderly respondents and those endowed with a post secondary education. 

Significantly between 85% and 90% of former Nationalist voters who would now vote Labour trust Labour leader Joseph Muscat more than Gonzi. Only 4% to 6% of these voters trust Gonzi more than Muscat while 6% to 9% do not trust either of the two leaders. 

The high level of trust enjoyed by Muscat among this strategic category of voters suggests that recovering these votes will not be an easy task for the Nationalist Party.

Apart from voters swinging directly from the PN to the PL, surveys also show that between 430 and 1865 (between 0.3% and 1.3% of PN voters in 2008)  former Nationalists now intend to vote for AD.

The swinger's profile

(Demographic characteristics of Nationalist voters in 2008 who now intend voting Labour)
  • 63-73% are males
  • 46-52% are aged between 35 and 54
  • 38-44% are males aged between 35 and 54
  • 80-82% have a secondary level of education
  • 8-11% have a post secondary level of education
  • 85-90% trust Joseph Muscat more than Lawrence Gonzi


(This profile is based on information by respondents who during MaltaToday surveys carried out in September, November, January and Febraury declared that they voted PN in 2008 and would vote PL now)
PN's level support according to sex and age%
Males aged 18-34 21.9
Females aged 18-34 21.4
Males aged 35 to 54 12.4
Females aged 35 to 54 18.9
Males aged 55 31
Females aged 55 25
Total 21.8
Gonzi's trust rating according to sex and age%
Males aged 18-34 28.1
Females aged 18-34 23.8
Males aged 35 to 54 13.9
Females aged 35 to 54 28
Males aged 55 35.3
Females aged 55 30.6
Total 28.3


(Based on MaltaToday survey carried out between 30 January-2 February 2012)

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