[MaltaToday Survey] ‘No’ vote seven points ahead as more people make their mind up on spring hunting

Support for both camps increases by 3 points as number of undecided drops by 5 points

james
James Debono
22 March 2015, 6:47pm
Spring hunting referendum survey • March 2015 | Create infographics
The latest MaltaToday survey indicates that the launch of the Yes campaign, which has tried to project a more positive image of hunters as law abiding citizens, has not dented the No camp’s 7-point lead registered in a survey in February, held before the yes campaign was launched.

The No to spring hunting campaign has retained its solid 7-point lead over the yes camp but the outcome of the referendum remains unclear as 16% of respondents remain undecided. The decision by the hunting lobby to campaign for a yes instead of abstaining has resulted only in a small two-point drop in respondents who intend not to vote.

The latest survey saw both the Yes and No camps gaining three points. Both camps registered an increase in support among both PN and PL voters.

While both sides have gained five points among Nationalist voters, the yes camp gained slightly more ground than the no camp among Labour voters, gaining three points while the no gained two points.

Overall the survey suggests that the respective camps have consolidated their position among their constituencies, with the no camp increasing its support among the university and post secondary educated and the yes camp increasing support among those with a secondary and primary level of education. Older respond- ents have shifted to the yes while younger respondents have shifted to the no camp.

The survey shows the yes camp leading among males aged over 35 years and among women aged over 55.

Abstention falls by 2 points

Despite the decision of the hunting lobby to campaign for a yes vote, non-voters have only decreased by 1.7 points from 9.3% before the decision to 7.6% now.

This suggests that there has been no significant shift from the abstaining camp to the yes vote. With the no camp leading by seven points, any such shift would seriously dent the no camp’s lead.

The survey also shows that the de- crease in the number of undecided voters during the past month has not resulted in any notable shift to either side.

An eight-point drop of undecided among Labour voters has resulted in a three-point increase in the yes camp and a two-point increase in the no camp.

A similar drop of undecided among Nationalist voters has resulted in a five-point increase for both camps.

This suggests that the undecided are shifting to both camps in equal numbers. Since the no camp enjoys a seven-point lead, if the current trend continues, the no will win the day.

But the survey still shows a higher percentage of undecided voters on the Labour side. While only eight per cent of PN voters are undecided the percentage rises to 15% among PL voters.

Since Labour voters tend to be more favourable to spring hunting than PN voters, a surge for the yes camp in the last few days of the campaign cannot be excluded.

Declarations made by the Prime Minister may have an impact on these voters in the last days of the campaign. But the PM’s latest declaration of sup- port for the yes camp in Gozo last week did not have any impact, judging by the result of the survey.

No camp peaks among PN voters

Support for the no camp has peaked at 73% among PN voters in the last general election. This means that nearly three out of four Nationalist voters will be voting no.

But despite the increase in the No camp, the yes camp has also gained five points amongst PN voters. None of the PN voters interviewed declared that they would not vote and only eight per cent are still un- decided.

Support for the yes camp among Labour voters is three points higher than it was last month but still four points lower than it was in January, just after Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s declaration that he would be voting yes. Only one fifth of Labour voters will be voting no.

This means that while the no camp is attracting the support of three fourths of PN voters it is only attracting the support of around a fifth of PL voters. On the other hand while only one fifth of PN voters support spring hunting, more than half of PL voters (54%) think likewise.

An extrapolation based on respondents who voted PN or PL in 2013 would give the Yes camp a small one-point lead.

But the survey also shows that the majority of voters who did not declare their 2013 vote will be voting against spring hunting.

In fact while 31% of voters who did not reveal their 2013 vote will be voting against spring hunting only 21% of these voters will be voting in favour.

Among respondents who did not vote in 2013, 51% will vote no while only 11% will vote yes.

University educated shifting to the No

The survey registers a sharp increase in support for the no camp among university-educated voters (+13 points) and a small increase among those with a post secondary education (+1) and those with a secondary education (+2).

Support for the yes camp has de- creased slightly among respondents with a secondary level of education but has increased by 11 points among those with a primary level of education.

Significantly the survey shows that only 5% of respondents with a university level of education will be voting yes, compared to 12% last month.

The survey shows that the drop in support for the yes camp among the university educated is corresponded by a three-point increase in non-voters. The 13-point increase in support for the no camp is corresponded by a nine-point drop in undecided voters. This suggests that among the university educated the decrease in undecided voters has resulted in an increase of support for the no camp.

Middle aged males shifting to No

Opposition to spring hunting is now strongest among females aged between 18 and 34. Among this category 58% intend to vote against spring hunting. The no camp was already leading by 10 points in this category in last month’s survey. But a 20-point drop in undecided has

largely benefited the no camp.
And a drop of undecided voters among males aged between 34 and 54 years has largely also benefited the no vote, which has shot up from 30% to 44%.
The survey shows males in the middle age group shifting towards the no camp. Among males aged between 34 and 54 the no camp has gained six points.

The no camp has retained its substantial lead among females aged between 35 and 54 years, despite the attempt by the yes camp to appeal to female voters by putting females like Kathleen Grima at the forefront of the campaign.

But support for the yes camp has increased marginally among females aged over 55 years. For the first time since January the yes is leading among this demographic group. The no camp remains weakest among males aged over 55 years.

Methodology

The survey was held between Monday 16 and Wednesday, 18 March. A total of 741 respondents were contacted by telephone. The survey was stopped when a 600 quota sample was reached. The survey has a margin of error of +/-4 percentage points.

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