Maltatoday Survey | Bumped up by Nationalists, trust in Muscat runs at all-time high

Running at 14.8%, Delia’s trust rating plummeted to its second lowest result since he became leader of the Nationalist Party in September 2017

Joseph Muscat's trust rating has hit an all-time high at 53.9%
Joseph Muscat's trust rating has hit an all-time high at 53.9%

Joseph Muscat’s trust rating has hit an all-time high in the aftermath of the Egrant inquiry that cleared him and his wife, a MaltaToday survey found.

With a trust rating of 53.9%, the Prime Minister also managed to secure the trust of a greater number of Nationalist voters.

The shift of PN voters towards Muscat mitigated the increase in Labour voters, who said they trusted no one.

Overall, Muscat registered a slight improvement on the record trust rating of November last year in the wake of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination. Nine months ago, Muscat’s trust rating hit 53.7%.

The latest survey was held in the week after Magistrate Aaron Bugeja’s inquiry conclusions were released, showing how the Egrant story was a fabrication.

But the survey findings also spelt more misery for Opposition leader Adrian Delia, who had to contend with internal party strife as a result of his decisions following the Egrant inquiry.

The survey straddled the period between Delia’s decision to ask for Simon Busuttil to suspend himself from the parliamentary group and the PN leader’s eventual backtracking after a truce was brokered by party veterans.

Running at 14.8%, Delia’s trust rating plummeted to its second lowest result since he became leader of the Nationalist Party in September 2017.

The trust gap between both leaders stood at a whopping 39 points as Delia lost almost nine points since the last trust barometer held in June.

Muscat trumped Delia across all age groups, all regions, among both men and women and across all educational levels.

Significantly, Muscat enjoyed the trust of 16.3% of those who voted PN in the last election, an increase of almost 10 points over the June survey. Delia could only muster the trust of 1.6% of those who voted for the Labour Party, an increase of less than two points over June.

Delia’s performance continued to be hampered by PN voters who appear unconvinced by his leadership 11 months down the line.

Delia only managed a trust rating of 34.3% among those who voted PN in the last election, a drop of almost 21 points since the last trust barometer in June. A significant section of PN voters (28.2%) said they trusted none of the two main political party leaders.

The numbers painted a different story on the PL side with 86.7% of those who voted for the party in the last election, saying they trusted Muscat. However, this represented a drop of almost 10 points as more PL voters said they trusted no one.

A breakdown of the numbers shows that 7.2% (an increase of almost seven points on June) of PL voters trusted none of the two leaders and 4.2% (an increase of 1.4 points on June) were uncertain.

Muscat’s trust rating ran highest among those aged 65 and over at 60.6%. Among the young, Muscat enjoyed the trust of 51.5% as opposed to Delia’s dismal result of 9.7%. The 18-35 cohort were also among those most distrustful of both leaders with 26.5% saying they trusted none of them.

With Egrant ghost exorcised, Labour grows stronger

The Labour Party is looking at an advantage of more than 90,000 votes over its political rival if an election is held now, according to a MaltaToday survey.

The findings show that the PL scored an absolute majority even before the results were recalculated to estimate the vote difference with the Nationalist Party.

Support for the PL stood at 52%, a massive 25-point lead over the PN, which registered a score of 27%.

Raw survey results in Malta very rarely, if ever, give political parties absolute majorities because of the chunk of respondents who say they will not vote or are uncertain of their voting intention.

To try and reflect a result that is akin to that of general elections, which since 1971 have always, bar once in 2008, delivered winning parties with absolute majorities, pollsters take the additional step of re-calculating results on declared voting intentions.

(Photo: Partit Laburista/Facebook)
(Photo: Partit Laburista/Facebook)

However, the latest survey result showed the PL surpassing the 50% mark even before such an exercise was undertaken.

If the results are re-calculated on the basis of declared voting intention by removing those who said they will not vote (10.7%) and those who are not sure (9.7%), the PL could be looking at support levels in the region of 65% and the PN 34%. The gap between the parties would translate into a difference of almost 94,000 votes.

While support for the PN appears to have stabilised – it shed less than a percentage point of support since June – the survey recorded a decline of two points in the number of those who said they would not vote or were uncertain.

The PN haemorrhage continues

Although the survey showed that 9.8% of PL voters in 2017 would now vote PN, this shift was more than compensated by 21.2% of PN voters who said they would now vote for Joseph Muscat’s party.

It appears the PN is still haemorrhaging votes to the PL at a faster pace than it is winning back the support of those who voted Labour last year.

And with nine months to go for the European Parliament election, the PN had to also contend with a higher voter abstention and uncertainty than the PL.

Of those who voted PN last year, 11.8% said they would not vote and 11.3% were unsure. The equivalent figures for the PL stood at 2.4% and 4.6% respectively.

11.8% of PN voters last year said they would not vote
11.8% of PN voters last year said they would not vote

Support for third and fourth parties is almost non-existent, with the Democratic Party failing to make an appearance in the survey despite having two MPs.

The longer established Alternattiva Demokratika only managed 0.5% and the relatively new Maltese Patriots Movement got 0.2%.

Support for the PL ran across all age groups, regions and among people of all educational backgrounds.

The survey found the PL’s strongest support was among the elderly (63%), followed by those aged between 51 and 65 (50.5%). Each of these two age groups also gave the PN its strongest support at 29.5%.

Among the young (18-35), the PL scored 48.8% against the PN’s 23.6%. This age group also had the largest number of people (16.9%) who said they would not vote.

In Gozo Labour scored strongly at 54.1% against the PN’s 25.7%. Gozo also represented one of two regions where the survey recorded votes for AD, the other being the traditional Northern Harbour.

The PL also scored absolute majorities in its traditional hinterland, with support running at 66% in the Southern Harbour region and 59.9% in the South Eastern.

The PN’s strongest showing was in the Northern Harbour region where it scored 34.4% but still trailed the PL by almost 11 points.