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The word on the street

Betsan Powys | 07:39 UK time, Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Christmas has come early, especially if you have a red and white anorak in your wardrobe.

Rather than make you wait until or annual, one-and-only St David's Day BBC Wales/ICM opinion poll we've gone for it early.

A quick run through of what the results tell us:

53% say they've vote yes
24% no
18% don't know.

A thousand people were telephoned to canvass their views and for what it's worth, the Yes vote is higher in each and every one of the 22 local authority areas. A case of no voters keeping stumm, not particularly wanting to tell a man on the other end of a phone- line how they feel, falling into 'a spiral of silence' as pollsters put it - only to turn out and make their views felt on March 3rd? It's happened before, after all. Or is this a genuine indication that attitudes have changed over a decade of devolution? No-one can tell, not even those clever polling companies.

Another point highlighted by ICM. The percentage who said they'd certainly vote is 37%. 13% said they would definitely not vote while the rest - around 50% - weren't yet sure whether they'd vote or not.

Of the 37% that said yes, definitely, we'll be out on March 3rd voting - 77% said that when they got to the polling booth, they'd be voting yes.

Another point of analysis from ICM: the suggestion in the poll that "four times as many no voters (23%) are certain not to vote, while only 6% of yes voters won't go to the polls. Part of the probable decisive victory is premised on a low turnout which will favour the yes campaign".

Pleasant reading over his cornflakes this morning for First Minister and Labour leader Carwyn Jones. The poll reveals more than half of those questioned (53%) believe he's done a good job in his first year or so in office, with only 14% saying they think he's doing a bad job. The 32% of 'don't knows' may be down to those who don't follow Welsh politics avidly, but also, as a pollster suggests, show that Mr Jones does need to get himself out and about there a bit more.

Still, a net approval rating of +39 is pretty handy, particularly given his predecessor's consistently high ratings.

The poll also delivers food for thought in the bitter battle over a proposed cut in the number of Welsh MPs. Labour MPs have been issuing dire warnings for some time now about the impact that equalising the number of voters per constituency across the UK might have - a cut of a quarter in the number of Welsh MPs. The UK Government are equally adamant that it's all about fairness.

40% of those polled were in favour of keeping the status quo, while 27% felt the reduction should take place. Another 20% feel that the numbers should be reduced, but by a smaller number to take account of Wales' geography and status.

When asked whether the cuts to public expenditure are necessary, a substantial majority agree that are - but there's a clear divide between those who feel they're being implemented too quickly - 39%, those who feel they're being brought in at the right pace - 22% and those who feel they're not being implemented quickly enough - 9%. A further 22% feel that the cuts are unnecessary.

Plenty to chew over today then, and not just for anoraks.

The tuition fees pledge from the Assembly Government yesterday came too late to be included, but an opinion poll of opposition AMs, who seemed pretty taken aback by the scale of the announcement, would probably find a healthy majority in favour, albeit pretty grudgingly.

"Nice little policy, that, nice little policy" was the nearest one opposition member could come to criticism yesterday. He was certainly looking forward to what politicians like to call "the only poll that counts" next May with a little more trepidation than before.


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