Yes vote falls by 6 points, No edges ahead [FULL SURVEY]

A MaltaToday survey held over the past week shows the Yes campaign trailing the No campaign for the first time in the past year, albeit by less than a percentage point.

The difference between the two sides now falls within the survey’s margin of error, an indication that the referendum is now too close to call.

This small advantage for the No campaign comes despite the lack of any significant gains for the anti-divorce camp, whose level of overall support has not changed in the past two months.

Over the past month the No vote has only increased by a percentage point and is practically the same as it was in March.

Despite this failure of the No campaign to make significant inroads, the Yes campaign is in free-fall, losing six points since April and a staggering 17 points since March. 

But rather than shifting to the No camp, the Yes losses have resulted in a massive increase in undecided or undeclared voters, which have increased by five percentage points.

This could be an indication that faced with the imminent prospect of voting, some Yes voters are either having cold feet or are struggling with their conscience.

This could be an indication of heightened moral pressures in a campaign which coincided with the Holy Week religious festivities.

The gender divide

Significantly, the survey reveals a gender divide, with men being more favourable to the introduction of divorce than women.

While among women the Yes vote trails the No vote by five percentage points, among males the Yes vote enjoys an advantage of four percentage points. Women also tend to be more undecided than males.

One of the sharpest differences between men and women is found among those aged over 55. While 39% of males over 55 favour divorce, only 27% of women in the same age bracket think likewise.

The age factor

Divorce remains more popular among those aged under 35 and least popular among those aged over 55. The 34-54 age bracket are the most undecided.

Over the past month, the sharpest drop in support for divorce occurred among those aged between 35 and 54, where the Yes vote lost 11 percentage points while the undecided increased by eight points. 

The No camp also registered a three-point increase in this age cohort. The survey suggests that this age group will have a decisive say in determining the referendum outcome.

And while the situation remained practically unchanged among those aged above 55 years of age, the No camp gained four percentage points among the 18-34 age bracket where the Yes camp still leads despite losing five percentage points.

The political divide

The Yes vote has plunged among voters of both major parties, by three points among Nationalist voters and five points among Labour voters.

But the No camp continued to lose ground in the Labour camp, losing four points, gaining only one  point gain among Nationalists. Moreover the number of undecided Labour respondents increased by four points since last month. 

The fact that both the Yes camp and No camp have seen their support split among Labour voters indicates that while some Labourites are having cold feet on voting Yes, others previously opposed to divorce are now more likely to abstain.

Overall, the survey confirms the political rift on this issue, with 63% of Nationalists intending to vote No and 70% of Labourites intending to vote Yes.

The turnout

The survey also suggests that Yes voters are more “sure” of voting on referendum day. While 71% of Yes voters are sure of voting, only 66% of No voters intend to do likewise.

Significantly, while less than 2% of yes voters say they will probably not vote, this figure rises to 5% among no voters.

This could be an indication that some potential No voters are still sceptical about the referendum, even if their numbers have decreased slightly in the past month. 

In a tight referendum, the result may well depend on the ability of both sides to convince their voters to go out and vote.

Labour voters also tend to be less likely to vote than Nationalist voters. While 64% of Nationalist voters are sure on voting, only 59% of Labour voters are so sure. But Yes voters are more likely to decide on the day whether to vote or not.

While 10% of Yes voters would decide whether to vote or not on the spur of the day, only 5% of No voters expressed the same intention.

Significantly, among the undecided nearly 60% replied that they will probably or surely vote in the referendum. This makes winning over this category crucial in determining the referendum outcome.

Nationalist voters are slightly keener to vote in the referendum. But while Labour voters are more likely to say that they will decide whether to vote or not on the day of the referendum, Nationalist voters are more likely to say that they will probably not vote.

Major concerns

Despite the imminence of the referendum, only a quarter of respondents consider it as one of their two most pressing concerns.

And a vast majority (58%) of those who consider divorce as their main concern would vote against its introduction in the referendum.

This could indicate that divorce is more of a “do or die” issue for those opposed to it. But it could also be an indication that pro-divorce voters have other priorities apart from divorce.

Interestingly the Libyan crisis has slipped from being a concern of 48% of respondents last month to being a concern for a mere 5% now. Despite the arrival of nearly a thousand migrants over the past weeks, concern about immigration is nowhere as high as it was in March 2009 when it reached 27% and only affects 5% of respondents.

Who are the undecided?

Elderly respondents are less undecided than other respondents. While 25.2% of those aged 18-34 and 28.2% of those aged between 35-54 are undecided, only 18.1% of those aged over 55 are undecided.

Women are also more undecided than males: 24.4% against 21.6% of males. Labour voters are more undecided than Nationalist voters, 15% against 11.6%.

A large segment of undecided voters are also unsure on whether they will vote in the referendum. 37% of undecided voters will decide on whether to vote or not “depending on how the feel” on referendum day.

A further 13% replied that they have still to decide on whether to vote or not while 12% will “probably” not vote. Only 20% of the undecided are sure of voting while 15.6% will “probably vote”.

Dearest maltese. it seems that you are so blinkered that you just dont use your common sense. I was referring to our mum Church when it comes to the deprivation of 130000 euros due to Joseph Muscat and which this very honourable gentleman intended to donate to charity. The Church has not even said a word about this for one simple reason that it does not dare put her friend and your Gonzipn in a bad light. Obviously there are all sorts of people who abuse of children . But and I need not point it out to you because it's very simple, that the WORST offenders are the priests and by pointing this out , it does not mean that I am anti-clerical. It's like a policeman who is there to see that the law is obeyed and he commits a hold up. Did you understand it now ? Or do I need to make it more simple for you to understand my friend. Once again you are so aggressive that you cannot see the wood for the trees.
@tonfatso First of all I was not agressive. Well you seem to be anti-clerical because it is not only priests who abuse children but also lawyers, teachers, relatives and so on. So do we paint all fathers as abusive? Apart from this you forgot to mention that the majority of priests perform more good than bad in society. It is incredible how biased you are. You could not even find one argument against what I said. You are also wrong because the negative effects of divorce have nothing to do with religion but people like you see religion in everything. What about the social services which will be milked dry because of the increased poverty that may result form divorce? Will you be happy if taxes are increased? About the 130,00 euros you mentioned, I cannot understand the relation between divorce and these euros? Enlighten me.
Micheal Bonanno
@Wenzu. You're wrong. If you followed MaltaToday's surveys in 2008 you would have seen that in the last week before the elections the PL was trailing the PN by 1.7%. Malta Today's polls are something to go by. Prefer them than any other surveys performed by other media.
@maltese. Scuse me but if my memory serves me right the Church apologised for having imposed the mortal sin and for burying people in the MIZBLA. And this for voting Labour. That was nearly 50 years ago. Now what do you have to say about your Gonzipn depriving charities of some 130,000 euros which were due to Joseph Muscat who intended to give this money due to him at the very moment that Gonzipn was caught redhanded increasing his and his friends salaries behind everybody's back. And that includes YOU, my friend. What about the numerous abuses carried out on children by priests all over the world ? I hope that you wont be that aggresive as to term me anticlerical when I am stating the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
@Trollface Who says that it will be only elderly and tal-grocer people. There are many professionals who are against divorce and many tal-grocer people who are in favour. You should go out in the streets to hear people talking. But then you seem to be a typical snob who is still stuck in the 60's anticlericalism.
polls suck. I am in favour of divorce. But in the pools we're going to get crushed by the elderly, catholic, tal-grocer people.
Before the election, labour was polled to win. So it goes to show that polls don't really predict a result at all.