MaltaToday Survey | PN grows, Delia sinks in General Council week

The results of a new MaltaToday survey put the Labour Party 15 points ahead of the Nationalist Party, as Joseph Muscat continues to widen the trust gap with Adrian Delia.

Buildling trust: the slogan chosen by the PN for its General Council... but Delia is not generating much of it
Buildling trust: the slogan chosen by the PN for its General Council... but Delia is not generating much of it

A slight recovery for the Nationalist Party in General Council week runs counter to a decrease in Adrian Delia’s trust rating, a MaltaToday survey out last Sunday shows.

It appears the PN’s General Council which started in Gozo on 17 February and ended with Delia’s keynote speech last Wednesday brought mixed fortunes for the party.

The survey results for March show support for the PN running at 27.3%, an increase of three points over the February results. This is a partial recovery of the losses suffered since December.

But the upward movement will be little cause for celebration at PN headquarters. With 83 days to go until the European Parliament election in May, the PN still trails the Labour Party by 15 points and its leader is failing to inspire trust in people.

This is the second survey asking people how they will vote in the May election, as opposed to the more abstract ‘How will you vote if an election is held tomorrow?’

Delia’s trust rating dropped to 15.9% from 20.4% last month, as he trails Prime Minister Joseph Muscat by a wide margin across all age groups, regions and both male and female voters.

If the May election becomes a battle of the leaders – it will be the first electoral face-off between Muscat and Delia – the PL appears to have more space for growth, given Muscat’s trust levels.

Stable Labour

For the Labour Party, the results are all about stability.

Support for the PL has settled at 42.3%, a marginal increase of 0.3 points over February, and Muscat’s trust rating runs at 54.7%, an insignificant drop of 0.1 points.

The PL trumps the PN across all age groups and regions. The party posts its strongest results among voters aged 51 and over and enjoys a positive gap of 19 points over the PN among those aged 18 to 35.

On a regional basis, the PL enjoys advantages that range from seven points in the Western region and Gozo, to a massive 30 points in the Southern Harbour area.

The party retains 79.2% of those who voted for the PL in the last general election. However, 9.7% of 2017 PL voters are now saying they will not vote in the May election and 10.3% are unsure over what to do. Only a meagre 0.4% of 2017 PL voters say they will vote PN for the European Parliament election.

In contrast, the PN retains 68.4% of those who voted for it in the 2017 general election but loses 5% of its voters to the PL.

The results suggest the PN is still haemorrhaging voters to the PL at the same time that it is beset by disaffection for its leader.

Delia’s trust deficit among PN voters

Delia’s trust rating flounders among those aged 18 to 35, managing only 9.4%, despite the PN’s efforts to reach out to young voters. His strongest trust rating is among those aged 65 and over with 26.2%.

The PN leader appears to have recovered in Gozo where his trust rating stands at 24.6%. This stark contrast with the zero-result obtained last month, suggests either that the February rating in Gozo was a fluke or that voters on the island are more fickle when deciding who to trust.

In Malta, Delia’s strongest trust rating, albeit at 19.9%, is achieved in the South Eastern region.

The PN leader retains the trust of 38.9% of those who voted PN in the last general election. Significantly, a large cohort (41.3%) of PN voters say they trust none of the two political leaders, while 9.8% trust Muscat.

Muscat earns trust of PN voters

Meanwhile, the Labour leader maintains his stratospheric rating. Muscat’s strongest performance is among those aged 51 to 65 (60.3%) and in the Southern Harbour region where he is trusted by 60.5% of people.

Trust in Muscat runs higher than the intention to vote PL among those who supported the party in the last general election.

The Prime Minister appears to enjoy currency with 94.7% of those who voted PL in 2017, with only 0.8% saying they trust Delia.

Significantly, Muscat also gains the trust of 9.8% of those who voted PN in the general election, which suggests the PL could possibly see a new wave of disgruntled PN voters coming its way.

The trust gap between the two leaders now runs at 39 points.

A quarter of voters say they trust none of the two major leaders and 4.7% are unsure who they should place their trust in.

Small parties make no mark

The European election could be fertile ground for third parties to flourish but survey results so far suggest they will have little success come May.

Support for the Democratic Party runs at 0.9%, while that for Alternattiva Demokratika stands at 0.6%. Both have registered slight increases over the February results but nowhere near becoming a force to be reckoned with.

While people have indicated AD as an option when asked which party they will vote for in May, none of its two candidates (Carmel Cacopardo and Mina Tolu) were flagged when people were asked which candidate will get the number one vote.

However, the name of former AD chairperson Arnold Cassola, who has since parted ways and will be contesting as an independent, did crop up.

These results have to be interpreted with caution because the numbers are very small and fall well within the survey’s margin of error.

However, it has to be seen whether people who support AD will choose to transfer their vote to Cassola next May.

On its part, the PD fails to capitalise on the fact that it has two MPs in the national parliament, making no progress over the past 12 months.

PD is fielding three candidates for the European election – Anthony Buttigieg, Martin Cauchi Inglott and Cami Appelgren.

The results show that PD and AD, primarily draw support from voters who voted for the PN in the last general election.

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