MaltaToday survey: Labour and Abela hold on despite hospitals deal fiasco

MaltaToday May survey | Voting intentions - PL: 33.1%, PN 28.7%, Others: 1.1%, Non-voters: 20.8%, Undecided: 14.7% • Trust barometer - Robert Abela: 37.1%, Bernard Grech: 25.5%, No one: 34.1%

This poll was carried out over the past two weeks
This poll was carried out over the past two weeks

Robert Abela and the Labour Party registered gains in the latest MaltaToday survey partly held in a tumultuous week dominated by damning revelations on the hospitals concession. 

The PL polled 33.1%, an increase of 2.3 points since March, while the Nationalist Party registered 28.7%, an uptick of 0.3 points. 

The PL widened its lead over the PN from 2.4 points in March to 4.4 points now, translating into a gap of around 15,624 votes. 

But despite Labour’s small gain over its worst ever poll result in March, the gap between the two parties remains substantially less than it was in the last general election. 

The Prime Minister’s trust rating now stands at 37.1%, an increase of 2.8 points since his worst result in March. Opposition leader Bernard Grech has a trust rating of 25.5%, a slight dip of 0.6 points. 

The survey was held between Wednesday 10 May and Friday 19 May.

Labour gains two points as it retains more of its 2022 voters

The Labour Party has widened its lead over the Nationalist Party to 4.4 points from 2.2 points in March, the latest MaltaToday survey shows.

The PL scores 33.1%, while the Nationalist Party scores 28.7%. Collectively, ADPD and other small parties obtain 1.1%, while non-voters represent 20.8% of the electorate. Another 14.7% are undecided.

The survey which was carried out in the past two weeks partly coincided with the political turmoil caused by fresh revelations in the hospitals concession scandal over the past five days.

However, it also captures the public mood in the wake of the distribution of tax refund cheques.

While Labour has increased its vote share by 2.3 points over March figures, when it scored its lowest result ever, it remains a long way from the level of support it enjoyed in February when it had a staggering 16-point lead over the PN.

The survey also indicates that the PN has remained stable, gaining just 0.3 points over March, thus retaining the gains made in the previous survey.

Without attributing voting intentions to those who are unsure or who say they will not vote; the present gap translates into a 15,624-vote difference down from a 56,461-vote difference in February but up from an 8,522-vote difference in March.

This suggests that the difference between the two parties is now substantially lower than that in the general election when Labour won by 39,000 votes.

The survey suggests that Labour keeps on losing more votes to abstention than to the Nationalist Party.

The result also suggests that over the past two months both parties have consolidated their position with their voting base, with both retaining more of their 2022 general election voters.

Labour wins back its undecided voters but not non-voters

The survey indicates a small shift from Labour to the PN but it is losses to abstention which account for most of the party’s losses from the 2022 general election figures.

The survey shows that while 3% of Labour voters in 2022 now intend voting for the PN, these are partly offset by 2.2% of PN voters who will now be voting PL.

But while only 5.3% of PN voters in 2022 intend on not voting, a substantial 16% of PL voters will abstain in a forthcoming election, up from 15% in the last survey.

In fact, Labour’s gains in the survey are mostly accounted for by a drop in 2022 Labour voters who are undecided - from 13% in March to 9% now.

Overall, Labour retains 70% of its 2022 voting share, up from 66% in March while the PN retains 77% of its 2022 voters, just one point up from March.

This suggests that increased polarisation in the past weeks which saw both major parties organising mass rallies on 1 May could have solidified Labour’s base.

It also suggests that the PL has lured back apathetic voters who were undecided but has so far failed to lure back disgruntled or angry voters intent on not voting.

In contrast the PN is losing less support to abstention with the number of 2022 PN voters intent on not voting dropping from 11% in March to just 5% now.

But the PN still failed to make any gains because the number of undecided supporters within its pool of 2022 voters has doubled from 7% in March to 15% now.

This explains why despite a small shift from Labour to the PN and a decrease of PN voters who intend not to vote, the PN has only increased its support by 0.3pp.

PN wins among over 65-year olds

The survey shows the PL leading in all age groups except among those aged over 65 where the PN leads by six points.

Among 16- to 35-year-olds the Labour Party is significantly weaker than Robert Abela. While in this age group Abela leads Grech by nearly eight points, Labour leads the PN by just 1.5 points.

This suggests that Labour may have more room to grow in this category in which a substantial 31% do not intend to vote.

Significant in this age group the percentage of non-voters (30.7%) is greater than the percentage garnered by both the PL (20.5%) and the PN (19%).

In contrast among over 65 year olds only 6% are intent on not voting.

PL retakes Gozo

On a regional level Labour leads in all regions except the North Harbour where the PN enjoys a nine-point lead. In Gozo where the PN had overtaken the PL in the March survey, the PL now leads by four points.

In the Northern region where Abela leads Grech by 25 points the PL leads the PN by less than two points.

In this region the PN is seven points more popular than the Grech while the PL is 17 points less popular than its leader.

Compared to March the PL has lost support in the Southern Harbour and South-Eastern regions but has increased its vote share in the Western region.

Third parties fail to leave a mark on the survey and have seen their support drop from 4.7% in the March survey to just 1.1% now.

Support for AD only surpasses the 2% mark among 16- to 35-year-olds and is confined to the North Harbour and Western regions.

Support for other political parties peaks at 5% in the Southern Harbour region. Both major parties lose 1% of their support in 2022 to third parties.

Trust boost for Abela not enough to claw back lost ground

Robert Abela’s trust rating has increased by three points to 37.1%, which is not enough to claw back the ground he lost since February.

The latest MaltaToday survey suggests that despite the improvement, the Prime Minister has still not fully recovered from the March poll setback immediately after the revocation of the Steward hospitals contract by the court.

In the March survey, Abela’s trust rating had dropped to 34% from 45% in February. His rival Bernard Grech registers a small decrease of 0.6 points in his trust rating from March figures but remains six points higher than it was in February.

In the latest survey, Grech scores a trust rating of 25.5%. Abela remains four points more popular than his party, while Grech still trails the PN by three points.

This suggests that Labour has more room for future growth than the PN among the category of voters who trust Abela.

But both leaders make little inroads among voters who voted for the opposite party in 2022. While Grech enjoys the trust of 2.9% of PL voters in 2022, Abela captures the trust of 3% of PN voters. But Grech scores better than Abela among non-voters in 2022.

Among this category 7.4% trust Grech but only 2.3% trust Abela.

Among respondents who now say they will not vote, Abela enjoys a higher trust rating - 8.8% vs. 0.7% who trust Grech. This indicates that while the current crop of non-voters includes more Labour leaning voters, the same cohort in the 2022 election included more PN leaning voters.

52% of under 35s trust neither leader

The survey also shows a small two-point decline in the percentage of respondents who trust neither of the two-party leaders, who now account for 34.1% of all respondents. But their numbers remain six points higher than in February.

Moreover, among 16- to 35-year-olds, 52% trust neither of the two leaders. A relative majority of 36- to 50-year-olds (46%) also trusts neither of the two leaders.

Abela beats Grech among both men and women and across all age groups. But while Abela enjoys similar levels of trust among both women and men, Grech’s trust rating among women is 7.5 points higher than among men.

And while Grech trails Abela by just a point among over 65-year-olds, Abela’s lead grows to a staggering 27 points among 51- to 65-year-olds.

Grech trails Abela by eight points among 16- to 35-year-olds and by 15 points among 35- to 50-year-olds.

Abela wins all regions except Northern Harbour

Abela enjoys a higher trust rating than Grech in all regions except the Northern Harbour region where the latter leads by six points.

In the electorally strategic Gozo district Grech trails Abela by five points.

Significantly Abela leads by a substantial 25 points in the Northern region which includes several traditionally PN leaning localities like Naxxar as well as the more evenly split Saint Paul’s Bay and Mosta.

Abela also leads Grech by more than 20 points in the Labour leaning Southern Harbour and South-Eastern regions and by 14 points in the Western region.

The percentage of voters who trust neither of the two leaders is lowest in the Northern Harbour region where Grech registers his best trust rating.

Non-voters peak at 42% in the South-Eastern region where Grech registers his lowest trust rating.

The survey also shows Abela soundly beating Grech among respondents with a secondary and post-secondary level of education, but Grech beats Abela among those with a primary level of education by single point.

Among the tertiary educated Abela beats Grech by just two points.