MaltaToday Survey | Muscat slips, Delia gains as migrant riot dampens budget impact

Despite budget's high ratings, Joseph Muscat's trust rating slips by almost four points, while Adrian Delia gains five points

Joseph Muscat's trust rating has dropped four points, while Adrian Delia's has gained give
Joseph Muscat's trust rating has dropped four points, while Adrian Delia's has gained give

Joseph Muscat’s trust rating has slipped by almost four points despite presiding over a budget that received high ratings, the November MaltaToday trust barometer shows.

The Prime Minister’s slippage over last month’s survey result, comes as Adrian Delia gains five points.

The Prime Minister enjoys a trust rating of 50.5% and the Opposition leader a rating of 21.3%. The results broadly reflect the same trust ratings both leaders obtained in the survey published a few days before the May European Parliament election.

A quarter of people say they trust none of the two leaders.

It has to be seen whether the changes in trust ratings either way are a momentary blip or the start of a trend but a factor that cannot be underestimated is the migrant riot at the Hal Far open centre on the eve of Delia’s budget replica speech.

This is likely to have dented the budget’s feel good factor, impacting the results. As the voting intentions results show (see separate article), Muscat’s slippage is more pronounced than his own party’s, which could be an indication that his personal stand on the migration issue is less appreciated by people.

However, Muscat still carries gravitas with the trust gap between both leaders now standing at 29 points. The Prime Minister trumps Delia across all age groups, among men and women, and across all regions.

The Prime Minister registers his highest rating among those aged between 51 and 65 (63.1%), followed by the 36-50 age group (54.9%).

His lowest trust rating is among those aged between 18 and 35 (39%), which however, is also the age group most distrustful of both leaders (37.9%). In this age group, Delia enjoys the trust of 18.4%.

The Opposition leader’s highest trust rating is among those aged 65 and over (37.2%), as opposed to Muscat’s 47%.

PM’s trust soars in Gozo

On a regional basis, Gozo continues to exhibit significant pro-Labour tendencies with Muscat’s trust rating soaring to 64.4%, eclipsing his results in the traditional Labour strongholds in the south. In Gozo, Delia registers his lowest trust rating at 11.2%.

The Opposition leader’s strongest performance is in the South-Eastern region, obtaining 29.1%. But this is also a region in which Muscat registers his second highest rating at 59.3%.

The closest trust gap between the leaders is in the Northern Harbour region where Muscat is 24 points ahead.

Muscat retains the trust of 92.4% of those who voted for the Labour Party in the last general election. The picture is more muddied for Delia, who only manages a trust retention rate of 53.9% among Nationalist Party voters.

The PN leader continues to be hampered by a substantial chunk of party voters (37.4%), who say they trust none of the two leaders. There are also 5% of PN voters who trust Muscat but less than half a percentage point of PL voters who trust Delia.

PN gains four points, PL stalls

Support for the Nationalist Party has increased by almost four points since last month and now stands at 26.9%, the MaltaToday survey shows.

This comes as the Labour Party slips by one point, registering the support of 44.4% of the electorate.

The PN’s increase reflects the surge in trust for its leader Adrian Delia, suggesting that the party leader’s personal performance over the past month may have been the factor that also dragged the party up.

The situation is different for the PL, where the dip in support was less pronounced than Joseph Muscat’s slip in the trust barometer. This suggests that voters are still behind the PL but not as happy with the Prime Minister’s performance.

The gap between both parties stands at 17.5 points, which is the same as where the parties stood in February this year.

The PN’s gains are important because they come on the back of a budget that people have perceived as good but it still has to be seen whether this is the start of a comeback for a party that has so far failed to poll above 30% since May 2018.

The results may, however, have also been influenced by the migrant riot at the Hal Far open centre.

The PL is ahead of the PN across all age groups bar the 65+, where the PN is ahead with 47.7% against the PL’s 44.2%. This is interesting because it reverses the result of the trust barometer, where Muscat comes ahead of Delia and appears to fly in the face of the high rating the elderly give the budget.

It is a fact that the gap is within the margin of error and could represent a statistical anomaly but it can also suggest that the voting preferences of the elderly are influenced by other factors than just the budget.

Highest abstention in PL stronghold

On a regional basis, Gozo delivers the PL’s strongest result, which is very similar to the trust rating registered by Muscat.

In Gozo, the PL’s support stands at 62.4%, as opposed to the PN’s 16.2%.

The PL leads in all regions with the closest gap between the major parties being in the Northern Harbour where the PL is ahead by 11 points.

The region with the highest number of people saying they will not vote if an election is held tomorrow is the Southern Harbour, where 23% will stay away from the polling booths.

This relatively high abstention rate is harming the PL, where support has dropped to 48.6% in its traditional stronghold.

The PL retains 84% of those who voted for it in the 2017 general election, while the PN retains 67.8%.

The PN’s retention rate is higher than that of its own leader, which suggests that there are Nationalist voters who will still vote PN despite not being convinced by Delia’s leadership.