MaltaToday survey shows 7-point lead for No camp

Support for spring hunting falls by 10 points – 8-point increase in undecided voters and 2-point increase in non-voters

The No to spring hunting campaign has established a solid seven-point lead over the Yes camp but the outcome of the referendum remains uncertain due to an increase in the number of undecided voters, particularly among Labour voters.

The last MaltaToday survey held shortly after Prime Minister Joseph Muscat reiterated his stance in favour of the spring hunting derogation showed the Yes leading by one point. 

The latest survey shows the Yes camp losing 10 points over the past month.  

But while the No camp does not make any gains, losing a point from last month, the number of undecided voters has gone up by eight points.

In an indication that Labour voters may be wavering in their strong and vital support for the hunting lobby, support for the Yes campaign among Labour voters dropped by six points, while the number of undecided voters increased by nine points.

On the other hand the survey also shows a smaller drop in support for the No camp among PN voters, which is also accompanied by an increase in undecided voters. 

The survey shows the No to spring hunting campaign now leading in all age groups with the exception of males aged over 55 years, and making significant gains among males aged between 35 and 54 and among respondents who did not go to university but have a post secondary level of education.  

The Muscat factor

The drop in Yes voters, particularly among Labour voters, indicates that the Prime Minister’s silence on this issue during the past weeks may have favoured the No camp.

Surveys held by MaltaToday throughout the past year have shown the pro-hunting lobby gaining ground in the aftermath of pro-hunting declarations by Joseph Muscat. This was the case in a survey held immediately after the MEP elections in 2014 when support for a spring hunting ban was shown to have fallen from 59% to 44%.

By September 2014 support for the spring hunting ban had risen again to 50%. But in January 2015, following Muscat’s declaration that he would be voting in favour of the derogation, support for the spring hunting ban fell again from 50% to 39%.  

Opposition to the spring hunting ban also rose by five points in a survey held after the MEP elections in 2014 and by 13 points after Muscat declared that he will be voting to retain the derogation.

This suggests that the Yes vote contains a solid core of pro-hunting voters who constitute 30% of the electorate and a vital segment of Labour voters who tend to follow the party leader.  

Support for the spring hunting ban declined from 39% in September to 20% in January and has remained stable over the past month. What has changed among PL voters is that opposition to the ban has now dropped by six points over the last month.  

But despite this drop the survey confirms that a majority of Labour voters continues to support the hunting lobby.

But although the No side has not made any gains among this category of voters the shift of Labour voters from Yes to undecided suggests that some PL voters may be changing their mind.  

But it could also suggest a lack of interest in a campaign which has seen the political leaders take a backseat. The increase of undecided voters could also reflect a tendency by voters to withhold voting intentions when elections or referenda are closer.

Among PN voters the large majority (67%) remains opposed to spring hunting despite the declaration by party leader Simon Busuttil that he would vote to retain the derogation. But apathy has also grown among PN voters where the number of undecided respondents has gone up by four points.  

Among PN voters it is the No campaign which sees its support drop by 3.7 points.   The Yes campaign among PN voters also loses two points.  

Post-secondary educated shifting to the No

Significantly the survey shows the No camp making significant inroads among post secondary educated voters, who continued their education after secondary level but did not go to university. Among this category support for the No camp has increased by four points while support for the Yes camp declined by 11 points. In this category the number of undecided increased by 14 points while those who would not vote dropped by five points.

This category is particularly significant as it saw a major shift from PN to PL before the 2013 general election.

Among university-educated voters both camps have lost ground, with the No camp losing seven points and the Yes losing three. Undecided voters and those who refused to divulge their vote have increased by nine points.

Support for the pro-hunting lobby also went down by six points among secondary educated respondents and by 11 points among those with a primary level of education. While the Yes makes no gains among the secondary educated, it gained seven points among those with a primary level of education.

Opposition to spring hunting remains strongest among the university educated (60%) and lowest among those with a primary level of education (31%).

Middle aged males shifting to No

Opposition to spring hunting is now strongest among males aged between 34 and 54 years. On the other hand support for retaining the spring hunting derogation is strongest among males aged over 55 years.  

The survey shows males in the middle aged group shifting towards the No camp.  Among males aged between 34 and 54 the No camp has gained six points.

Among males aged over 55 years the No camp has lost a point while the Yes camp has lost seven points.

The most undecided cohorts are women aged between 18 and 34, where the No retains a considerable lead, but 30% are undecided, and women aged between 35 and 54 years of age, where 26% are undecided.

Males aged between 18 and 34 years of age are the most likely not to vote (13%) followed by males aged over 55 years of age (12%).

Significantly both cohorts have seen a shift from voting no to not voting.

Over the last month the survey has seen the number of undecided voters rising drastically among younger voters. Among females aged under 34 the percentage of undecided voters has shot up by 19 points while among males it has shot up by eight points.

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