MaltaToday survey | Very tight race sees Robert Abela edge ahead

A MaltaToday survey among Labour Party members shows that up to Friday Robert Abela was scoring 51.5% and Chris Fearne 48.5% but results are within the margin of error

Deputy prime minister Chris Fearne and Labour MP Robert Abela
Deputy prime minister Chris Fearne and Labour MP Robert Abela

Robert Abela has come from behind to edge ahead in what promises to be a very tight leadership contest, a MaltaToday survey shows.

The survey, which is not an exit poll, was conducted among Labour Party members who were eligible to vote. It was held between Wednesday 8 January and Friday 10 January.

MaltaToday took the decision to publish the results only after polling closed at 8pm on Saturday so as not to influence the outcome of the race.

Abela’s support ranges between 46.4% and 56.6%, while Fearne’s ranges between 43.4% and 53.6%.

The survey shows that Robert Abela enjoyed the support of 51.5% of party members, against Chris Fearne’s 48.5%, when results are extrapolated on those who declared their voting intention.

The margin of error on the extrapolated results stands at 5.1%, which means that any of the two candidates has the chance to emerge as winner.

Abela’s support ranges between 46.4% and 56.6%, while Fearne’s ranges between 43.4% and 53.6%.

The survey is conditioned by the large number of people who were uncertain who to vote for (44.8%) and who would vote for none of the contenders (1.6%).

However, these figures represent a significant drop from those registered in another members’ survey carried out by MaltaToday last week.

The previous survey, conducted on 2 January and 3 January found that 58.9% of members did not know who to vote for and 9.5% had said they would vote for none of the two candidates.

More members have made up their mind or decided to declare their voting intention since then, and it appears that Abela was the net beneficiary of this shift.

The raw results give Abela 27.6% and Fearne 26%. The margin of error for the raw results stands at 3.7%, which again suggests that this will be a tight race.

The raw figures show that Abela is more popular than Fearne among men, while women are evenly split between the two candidates.

More than half of women members were undecided, which suggests that they could be the decisive factor in a very tight race.

Abela strengthened his advantage among the younger age groups but also gained valuable territory among those aged between 51 and 65, where he edged in front of Fearne.

The Deputy Prime Minister maintained his advantage among those aged 65 and over.

The PL membership base is heavily skewed towards the older age groups.

There were around 17,500 members eligible to vote. This was the first time that the Labour leader was chosen by members.

The official result is expected later tonight, possibly in the early hours of Sunday.

Why is this not an exit poll?

Exit polls are done after a person has voted. This means an exit poll will be asking people how they actually voted. MaltaToday did not carry out an exit poll. The survey polled party members on their voting preference before polling day. The survey was conducted between 8 and 10 January.

Why is it a tight race if Abela is in front?

The difference between both candidates is well within the margin of error. Which means that the result for both candidates can oscillate between a minimum and maximum, which in this case can give either candidate victory. What the results show is that Abela has definitely gained ground. But the outcome will also depend on how the 44.8% of undecided voters cast their preference.


The survey was carried out between Wednesday 8 January 2020 and Friday 10 January 2020. 682 respondents opted to complete the survey. Stratified random sampling based on locality was used to replicate the Labour Party membership's geographical distribution and post sampling weights were implemented to replicate the gender and age distribution of the PL membership. The estimated margin of error is 3.7% for a confidence interval of 95% for the full set whereas a 5.1% margin of error is claimed for the respondent set that gave a definitive answers. Demographic and sub-group breakdowns have a larger margin of error.

Raw results

                        Don’t Know     None   Chris Fearne    Robert Abela

Women           51.8%              1.9%    23.3%              23%

Men                 39.3%              1.3%    28.2%              31.2%

18-35               38%                 3.4%    22.5%              36.1%

36-50               39.5%              1.6%    23.7%              35.2%

51-65               45.7%              0.4%    26.4%              27.5%

65+                  48.2%              1.9%    27.7%              22.2%

Overall            44.8%              1.6%    26%                 27.6%

Margin of error 3.7%

Extrapolated results

                        Chris Fearne    Robert Abela

Women           50.3%              49.7%

Men                 47.4%              52.6%

18-35               38.4%              61.6%

36-50               40.3%              59.7%

51-65               48.9%              51.1%

65+                  55.5%              44.5%

Overall            48.5%              51.5%

Margin of error 5.1%