I am not one to quote President Trump often but considering that this has been billed as the most important Senedd election since the advent of devolution, it is totally appropriate to refer to it as a ‘low-energy’ campaign.

Admittedly, Covid has had its part to play in that. London media haven’t helped by showing little interest too. And, alas, over half of those young things haven’t bothered to register to vote either.

Even the poor political anoraks have only been able to entertain themselves with wild opinion polls, a shoddy replacement for lacklustre policy announcements and the lack of ‘big’ events from characterless politicians.

Thankfully some life has come into the campaign in its dying days. With only a few hours to go until the electorate go to vote across Wales – the only poll that really counts – YouGov and Savanta ComRes have blessed us with their latest findings. Hallelujah!

On the surface the key takeaway from both polls is that there have been some Tory gains this week. As expected, Welsh Labour are the largest party, short of an overall majority by a few seats and not losing much ground from 2016.

Plaid Cymru appear to have made little progress from five years ago although (if predictions pan out) the party could pick up anything from one to three extra seats. Smaller parties are haplessly watching from the side-line, otherwise known as the regional list.

Seen through a British prism, ‘Super Thursday’ will no doubt focus on a likely Labour collapse in Hartlepool – possibly matched in local elections across England – as well as events of constitutional significance in Scotland. Results in Wales will no doubt catch the attention of government advisers and journalists in London though, depending on the extent of gains made by Welsh Conservatives in Red Wall seats and the resilience of the Labour vote.

I hear you minor parties! This election is bigger than Labour versus the Conservatives too. ‘Spare a vote for us on the regional list!’, the Lib Dems and Greens plead with tears in their eyes.

Yet they make an important point should you wish to keep out radical Anglophiles from Abolish and UKIP who want to dismantle Wales. (Keep that in mind when you have your second vote at the ballot box).


Overall there are very fine margins in so many seats. But the narrative is now fast developing that this is a straight Labour and Conservative contest. Plaid Cymru are dropping off the agenda, and fast.

In several of Adam Price’s target constituencies – such as Llanelli, Cardiff West and even Blaenau Gwent – the nationalist-left-of-centre vote has been split for months. Labour may be breathing a sigh of relief when those votes are counted, but Mark Drakeford will know there is a real danger of seeing parts of the Red Wall crumble in South and North Wales. Then there are constituencies like Aberconwy where it’s a free-for-all.

Consistent polling does give us one certainty, however: Welsh Labour will remain the largest party, short of a majority and in need of a partner to govern effectively. What’s new?

Should it be a good night for Welsh Labour and they match their seats in 2016, a deal with the sole Lib Dem or even Green member may do. Plaid Cymru will hope Labour fall five, six or even seven seats short of a majority.

Critically, YouGov’s (excellent) polling puts Drakeford on course to bring home 26 members in Cardiff Bay. That could be enough for Drakeford to pick up the phone to Adam Price, although such a scenario would be a setback for the first minister.

The previous coalition worked well and was a very clear government ‘in red’, after all. And I am sure Drakeford would rather Kirsty Williams’ progressive politics and Lord Elis-Thomas’ statesmanlike grace than Adam barking over his ear every month, channelling his inner Gordon Brown, to ask: ‘Mark, when are you handing over to me?’. But needs must if you are a Labour politician in Wales.

A straight Labour-Tory contest may give us more surprises in key constituencies; and then again that does not mean it would be to Labour’s benefit. It is all about whether the party wins 29, 26, 24 or 22 seats. Pick a number. That will define the scope and make-up of the next Welsh Government, and Adam Price will be praying that the Red Wall is not as resilient as it looks in parts of the nation.

That’s because a coalition with Labour is the best thing that can happen to the nationalist movement; it would save face after what is likely to be a disappointing night after so much hype about Y Mab. It would enable the party to have one hand on the tiller as Wales jostles with Westminster over further powers and funding, competing for a voice at the table with Scotland.

The clever Plaid Cymru members know as much. More than two-thirds would be ‘delighted’ with a coalition. They’re smart enough to know that if the polls play out as expected, it is nothing short of an electoral disaster for Welsh nationalism. No real gains. Hardly any tangible cut through. Little chance of independence by Christmas, after all.

Of course, anything could happen. So much so that it is best to stop speculating at this point and let people vote. But be in no doubt that Wales is falling into its old habit of mirroring British party politics – making this election about two, rather than three or four parties. One Wales 2.0? A minority government? Minor Tory gains? Whatever the case, remember: Welsh Labour always wins. Somehow, someway.