Trust gap widens as Muscat recovers lost ground

The new MaltaToday survey reveals that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's trust rating now stands at 52.6% – up four points since last month's survey

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's trust rating outstrips Delia's across all age groups, regions, and educational levels
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's trust rating outstrips Delia's across all age groups, regions, and educational levels

Joseph Muscat has restored his stratospheric lead on Opposition leader Adrian Delia with the latest MaltaToday trust barometer putting the Prime Minister 29 points ahead.

Muscat’s trust rating now stands at 52.6%, up four points since last month’s survey when the Prime Minister had registered a decline of four points over March.

The Prime Minister’s trust rating outstrips Delia’s across all age groups, all regions, all educational levels and among both males and females.

The Nationalist Party leader sees his trust rating slip to 23.5%, a loss of almost four points since the last trust barometer in May.

Delia’s trust rating had been on an incline since the start of the year as the PN leader appeared to gain some of the lost ground among those who voted PN in the last election. He had a seven-point upswing last month, although he still trailed Muscat by 21 points.

But the latest result is a setback for Delia in what is an already very difficult feat to chip away at Muscat’s dominance.

The survey was held between 28 May and 31 May, capturing the people’s mood in the aftermath of Muscat’s 1 May mass meeting speech and Delia’s keynote policy speech at the PN’s general council a fortnight ago.

Muscat still carries currency among those who voted PL in the last election, with a whopping 96.3% registering their trust in him. But Muscat also manages to win the trust of 6.7% of those who voted PN, a feat Delia fails to achieve.

A mere 0.3% of PL 2017 voters trust Delia, while 2.8% trust no one. But the Opposition leader’s problem remains his inability to convince PN voters. Of those who voted PN in 2017, 55% say they trust Delia but a significant 33.9% trust no one.

This remains the PN leader’s Achilles’s heel and a nut that appears hard to crack after more than eight months at the party’s helm. Muscat’s strongest trust rating is among the middle-aged (54.7%), followed by the 18-35 bracket (53.2%).

His weakest, albeit still higher than Delia’s, is among the 65+ at 45.9%. Delia’s strongest trust rating is among the elderly at 41.6%, followed by the 51-65 bracket (25.5%). His weakest trust rating is among the middle-aged where he languishes at 14.4%.

On a regional basis, Muscat appears to have retaken Gozo, where he suffered a slump last month. Muscat’s rating in Gozo now stands at 49.7%, reversing last month’s result, which stood at 34.3%. The Prime Minister’s fortunes, are however, Delia’s problems, since the PN leader dropped to 24% from 43.8%.

The volatility may suggest that either of the results is a fluke, or else that Muscat’s decision to bring back from the cold former Gozo minister Anton Refalo and appoint him chairman of Heritage Malta, placated internal discontent.

Muscat’s strongest showing is in the Southern Harbour region where his trust runs at 66%. Delia’s best result is in the Northern Harbour region, where he managed 28.7%.

Labour restores massive gap

The Labour Party continues to enjoy strong support that could potentially translate into a much bigger victory, if an election is held now.

Support for the PL runs at 48.8%, an upswing of three points over last month’s survey. The gap between the major parties now stands at 21 points. Support for the Nationalist Party languishes at 27.6%, a drop of almost five points since last month.

The survey also shows that support for the small political parties remains insignificant. The Democratic Party and Alternattiva Demokratika only manage one per cent between them.

If the results are re-calculated on the basis of declared voting intention by removing those who said they will not vote (12%) and those who are not sure (10.7%), the PL could be looking at support levels in the region of 63% and a gap of around 82,000 votes on the PN.

The PL outstrips the PN across all age groups with the closest gap in the 65+ category where Labour leads by 2.4 points.

Reflecting Joseph Muscat’s strong trust rating among those aged between 36 and 50, the PL’s strongest showing is among this cohort with support standing at 54.6%. Its weakest result is among the young, where the PL registers 43.7%.

The PN is strongest among the elderly with support running at 44.4%, and weakest among the young, where support settles at 18.7%.

However, the young are also those who are more likely to say they will not vote (16.1%) and who are uncertain about their vote (17.9%). The PL trumps its political rival across all regions, with the closest result being in the Northern Harbour where Labour leads the PN by almost nine points.

Labour’s strongest showing is in the Southern Harbour with 63.3%, followed by the Western region with 51.9%. PN’s strongest showing is in Gozo with 37% support, followed by the Northern Harbour at 31.1%.