Labour forecast to remain biggest party in Senedd at Welsh election
Labour will remain the biggest party in the Welsh Assembly but will lose seats, a poll on the eve of the election has suggested.
Voters go to the ballot box today with the ruling Labour administration seeking a record fifth term in office.
A YouGov/ITV Wales poll has predicted that the party looks set to keep its grip on power - with a 33% share of the constituency vote and 31% on regional ballots.
However, Wednesday's poll anticipated that Labour will win three fewer seats than in the 2011 election - which could mean a minority or coalition government in the Senedd.
The poll also predicted second place will be fought between the Welsh Conservatives and Plaid Cymru - with significant gains for Ukip.
Academic and political commentator Professor Roger Scully, who drew up a seat projection based on the figures, said Labour remains the party to beat.
He said: "It remains well ahead of the field, though their support levels in this poll are close to those in 2007, their worst-ever Assembly election.
"No other party has yet mounted a strong challenge to them. This is despite the party having lost considerable ground since 2011. The final YouGov poll before the last election had the party on 47% for the constituency vote and 43% for the regional list ballot."
In constituency voting, the Welsh Political Barometer Poll for May 2-4 puts the parties as follows:
Labour: 33% (no change since the last poll conducted from April 19-22).
Conservatives: 21% (+2).
Plaid Cymru: 19% (-2).
Ukip: 16% (+1).
Liberal Democrats: 8% (no change).
Others: 4% (+1).
On regional voting, the research indicates:
Labour: 31% (+2).
Plaid Cymru: 20% (-2).
Conservatives: 20% (+1).
Ukip: 16% (+1).
Liberal Democrats: 6% (-2).
Greens: 4% (no change).
Others: 4% (+1).
Prof Scully's seat projection, based on the figures, predicts the following results:
Labour: 27 seats (25 constituency seats, two list seats).
Plaid Cymru: 12 seats (six constituency seats, six list seats).
Conservatives: 11 seats (seven constituency seats, four list seats).
Ukip: Eight seats (Eight list seats).
Liberal Democrats: Two seats (Two constituency seats).
Prof Scully added: "This is a very disappointing poll for Plaid Cymru. Our two previous Barometer polls had apparently suggested some momentum in the Plaid campaign, yet this final pre-election poll shows any apparent surge in their support halting, and possibly even going into reverse.
"The Tories will be more encouraged by this poll: the trend downwards in their support seems to have been checked. If the Conservatives can out-perform their poll rating, as they have done in some previous Assembly elections, then they might well finish second in both seats and votes."
He also said that Ukip's support had "defied the expectations "of some observers.
Prof Scully added: "Unless our poll is vastly over-stating their support, or that support fails to turn out, Ukip are still likely to win regional list seats tomorrow across most, if not all, of Wales's five electoral regions."
On the final day of campaigning, Labour was joined on the campaign trail by national leader Jeremy Corbyn - who met with local traders alongside First Minister Carwyn Jones in the south Wales town of Maesteg.
Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies, who completed a 36-hour tour of the country, said he wants to "knock an arrogant, tired, failing Labour Party off the perch".
Plaid leader Leanne Wood was in the south Wales Valleys.
In an appeal to disillusioned Labour voters, she said: "For people who want to strengthen and protect our public services, who want to deliver fairness and equality in our communities, and who want a government that will look after people from cradle to grave, you can be confident that Plaid Cymru wants that too."
Polls will be open from 7am until 10pm on Thursday.