MaltaToday survey | PM’s approval rate drops by 13 points, still more trusted than Busuttil

The latest MaltaToday’s survey shows Joseph Muscat’s approval rate slipping from a staggering 59% positive rating in April, a month after the general election, to 46% after 100 days in power.

james
James Debono
18 June 2013, 12:00am


Survey highlights

Muscat's approval rating dips by 13 points in two months

Muscat still enjoys higher approval rate than Gonzi in June 2008

Only 31% of university-educated respondents judge Muscat's performance positively

Approval rating among Labour voters has fallen by 14 points since April

16% of PN voters judge Muscat's performance postitively

Only 34% believe Muscat is keeping his meritocracy pledge

Muscat leads Busuttil by 17 points on trust barometer

Muscat beats Busuttil among respondents from all educational groups

27% of PN voters in 2008 do not prefer Busuttil to Muscat

12-point drop in number of respondents who think Labour is honouring meritocracy pledge

What the switchers think*

34% judge Muscat's performance positively, a drop of 52 points from April

32% deem Muscat's performance to be 'not so good', an increase of 28 points from April

24% believe that Labour is honouring Malta taghna lkoll pledge, a 15-point drop since May

60% prefer Joseph Muscat to Simon Busuttil

8% prefer Simon Busuttil to Joseph Muscat

*Sample size was limited to 25 respondents who voted PN in 2008 and PL in 2013.

The latest MaltaToday's survey shows Joseph Muscat's approval rate slipping from a staggering 59% positive rating in April, a month after the general election, to 46% after 100 days in power.

The survey was held between Monday 2 and Thursday 6 June, before the controversy involving Parliamentary Secretary Franco Mercieca's private practice erupted.

The survey also registers a 12-point drop in the percentage of respondents who believe that the Labour government is honouring its meritocracy pledge. Only one-third of respondents now believe that the government is honouring the Malta taghna lkoll electoral pledge.

Significantly, only 34% of switchers (respondents who voted PN in 2008 and PL in 2013) gave Muscat a positive rating, and only 24% of this strategic category of voters believe that he is honouring his pledge of meritocracy in public appointments.

But despite this dip in popularity, Muscat emerges as more trusted than new Nationalist leader Simon Busuttil, who trails the Prime Minister by 17 points on the trust barometer.

Significantly, 60% of switchers prefer Muscat to Busuttil, and a quarter of PN voters were unable to choose between the two leaders. This could be an indication that after a month in office, Busuttil has still to prove himself among a segment of Nationalist voters. But the survey also shows the new PN leader already making a few significant inroads among switchers and Labour voters.

Less than half approve of Muscat's performance

In an indication that Muscat's honeymoon is already over after 100 days in office, Muscat has seen his positive rating slashed from a stratospheric 59% in April to more sobering 46% after his first 100 days in office.

Significantly Muscat's positive rating has fallen by 14 point among Labour voters and by a substantial 52 points among switchers. This comes in the wake of an increase in voters who now judge Muscat's performance as 'not so good'.

Yet Muscat still manages to cross the political divide, with his performance being judged positively by 16% of PN voters in last general election. This is even more significant in view of the fact that Labour won 55% of the vote in the election.

Moreover, while the survey shows a 15-point increase in respondents who judge Muscat's performance as not so good, less than a tenth judge his performance negatively. The survey only registers a small, 4-point increase in the percentage of respondents who judge Muscat's performance negatively.

This suggests that a growing segment of respondents are mildly disappointed by Muscat's performance but still give him the benefit of the doubt.

Interestingly, Muscat's approval rate is eight points higher than Gonzi's was in the corresponding 100-day period after the 2008 election. One notable difference is that while Gonzi won with a 1,500-vote margin, Muscat won the last election by an unprecedented 37,000 votes. Gonzi's approval rate increased from 38% in June 2008 to 41% in September 2008, only to fall dramatically to 19% in September 2009.

Significantly, university educated voters are the most likely to judge his performance negatively.

While among respondents of a lower educational level Muscat's negative approval rate hovers between 6% and 10%, among those with a university education it rises to 20%. 

Among university-educated respondents, only 31% judge his performance positively, compared to 51% of respondents with a primary education. This suggests that Muscat's appeal among the educated middle-class is limited. But Muscat's appeal goes beyond the working-class constituency of respondents with a secondary education, as evidenced by his high standing among respondents with post-secondary education (that is, respondents who have not gone to university but have attended junior college, MCAST or other post-secondary institutions).

Malta taghna lkoll comes back to haunt

The survey shows that only one third of respondents believe that Labour is honouring its central electoral plank to practise meritocracy in government.

This indicates that the spectre of its pre-electoral pledge is already haunting Labour.

Compared to May, the number of respondents who believe that Labour is honouring its pledge has dropped from 46% to 34%. On the other hand, the percentage of respondents who unequivocally replied that Labour is not honouring its pledge has increased from 16% to 25%. A further 23% believe that Labour is not always honouring its pledge.

Significantly only 24% of switchers believe that Labour is honouring its pledge, while an equal number believe that it is not. A further 32% of switchers replied that Labour is not always keeping its promise.

Even among Labour voters the percentage of those who believe that the party is honouring its pre-electoral pledge has fallen by 10 points.

The most likely to question Labour's meritocratic credentials are the university educated, 46% of whom think that the Labour government is not keeping its promise. In this category, only 15% believe that the promise is being kept.

On the other hand, 37% of secondary-educated respondents replied that Labour is keeping its promise on meritocracy.

Muscat leads Busuttil by 17 points

But despite his falling popularity, Muscat is still more trusted by respondents than the new Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil, who trails him by 17 points.

Busuttil's poor trust rating of 26% can be attributed to the fact that 23% of PN voters in last March's general election replied 'Don't know' or 'None' when asked which of the two leaders they trust most. This could be an indication that part of the Nationalist electorate is still demoralised after the defeat and has not yet warmed up to the new leader.

Only 13% of PL voters ­- most of whom are switchers - replied that they do not trust either leader or are still undecided. In fact Muscat retains the same trust rating he enjoyed before the last general election, while Busuttil enjoys a trust rating which is five points lower than Gonzi's at the height of the electoral campaign.

But respondents who trust neither of the two leaders are clearly sceptical of Muscat's performance in government. In this category, 63% deem the PM's performance 'not so good'.

Furthermore 4% of PN voters prefer Muscat to Busuttil, which suggests that Muscat still retains a cross-party appeal. But this is counterbalanced by 4% of PL voters who now prefer Busuttil to Muscat, which suggests that the new PN leader can also appeal to the other side.

Although 60% of switchers prefer Muscat to Busuttil, 8% of them have already shifted their allegiance to the new PN leader. This suggests that over the past few weeks, Simon Busuttil has already made some inroads in this strategic category of voters.

Busuttil trails Muscat among respondents of all educational backgrounds. But while he trails Muscat by 26 points among those with a secondary education, the gap is narrowed to just five points among those who have attended university.

Methodology

The survey was carried out between Monday 2 June and Thursday 6 June. A total of 701 potential respondents were contacted by telephone, 400 of whom accepted being interviewed. The results of the survey were weighted to reflect the age and gender balance of the population. The survey has a margin of error of +/-4.9%.
james
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...