March 2, 2021

Stones of paper – Catalan elections: 5 graphics not to miss


Two weeks ago @Piedras_Papel jumped to the platform TWITCH and it was released with the Catalan elections. Here we leave you some of the graphics that we have been commenting on during the last days.

Participation keeps falling

This graph shows that in recent weeks voters have demobilized. If at the beginning of January 67% of those assured that they would go to vote “with complete certainty” that percentage falls by more than 13 points, to 53.6%, in February. Furthermore, the data for January (in green) showed that the probability of going to vote fell (compared to 2017) in all age groups, but more intensely among the youngest. This data suggested that the oldest did not seem to demobilize due to the pandemic. In the February poll (in blue) the voting and age pattern is blurred, and participation falls especially among the middle-aged. Again, the older ones do not seem more reluctant to go to the polls for fear of contagion since it is the older voters who less they are preparing to vote by mail. Finally, the participation percentages in Catalonia are lower than those shown by the pre-electoral polls in Galicia (69.4%) and in the Basque Country (69.1%), which indicates that the drop in participation in Catalonia may end being more intense.

The blocks remain and the non-independence bloc is recomposed

This is the transfer chart according to the CIS flash survey from early February. The graph confirms some trends pointed out by both the CEO survey (second half of January) and the previous CIS survey (first half of January). First: that there are hardly any transfers between blocks. The main transfers are within the non-independence sector and are carried out by Ciudadanos, which continues to lose voters. In this survey, it only retains 16% of its former voters (in the previous survey the CEO retained 23%) and it loses more to Vox than to the PP, which indicates that in these elections it cannot be sustained or on the useful vote, that the PSC collects, nor on the protest vote, which largely goes to Vox. Although in January the PSC received more voters from the commons than from Citizens, in this latest survey it received more of the latter (16% compared to 10% for ECP). Second: the CUP and the PSC are the parties that retain the most loyalty from their electorate, with upward progression in the case of the PSC, which also leads in mobilizing abstention. In January, the Socialists retained 51% of those who supported them in 2017, a percentage that increased to 61% in the CEO survey and that reaches 64% in this flash poll. Third, but no less important. ERC’s ability to maneuver, a party on which the government formation will surely pivot, depends on the distance of its result from the Junts. Although ERC shows a higher intention to vote than Junts, Puigdemont’s party is ahead of the Republicans in three indicators: it receives slightly more transfers than it loses; it appears with a more mobilized electorate and its voters are more confident of going to vote.

The old and new transfers to the PSC

The following graph shows the evolution of transfers to the PSC from Ciudadanos and En Comú Podem during the last legislature with data from the CEO. These are the parties that today all polls indicate as the ones that are losing the most voters in favor of Illa’s party. As we can see, the flow of voters from Cs to the PSC is more or less stable from an early stage of the legislature. Let us remember that Cs had its most social democratic base in Catalonia. With its definitive turn to the right in the two general elections of 2019 and its dilution as an alternative, the PSC has been counting on voters who returned to vote for it after having gone to Cs. This is not the case with En Comú Podem. It had to happen that Podemos was understood with the PSOE at the state level so that there would be a greater transfer in Catalonia of voters from En Comú Podem to the PSC. The result is that the PSC faces the elections with good prospects, receiving votes from both its right (Cs) and its left (En Comú Podem), always within the non-sovereign bloc.

Is the “Illa effect” fading?

The arrival of former health minister Salvador Illa into Catalan politics monopolized much of the media attention during the weeks of January. The popularity of the new socialist candidate substantially improved that of his predecessor in office, Miquel Iceta. The so-called “Illa effect” was not only characterized by good evaluations among the socialist electorate but also among the voters of the parties bordering the PSC, especially Ciudadanos and En Comú Podem (ECP). We see this in the graph above, which shows the assessment that on a scale of 0 to 10 of Illa make the voters of all parties (using their vote in the 2017 elections) of Salvador Illa. The graph also compares the evaluation that these voters make of the candidate that their party presents. We can see that PSC voters, as expected, value Illa very positively. Only JxCat voters rate their candidate even better. What is interesting is what happens to the voters of ECP and Cs. ECP voters rate Illa very highly. They give him a 5.6, with which they give him a pass and not far from Albiach, the candidate in these elections. Cs voters also rate Illa well. Although it does not reach approval, which in these indicators is always unlikely, it is striking that they value Illa almost the same as Carrizosa, who is the party’s candidate. In short, Illa seemed like a candidate that allows consolidating the two sources of growth of the PSC: voters of Cs and ECP. The “Illa effect” shown by the polls was of considerable magnitude and indicated that the PSC was in a position to improve its results thanks to the attractiveness of the candidate.

However, this Illa effect should be taken with some caution heading into Sunday. There were reasons to suspect that once the candidate entered the electoral battle and became the focus of attacks by rival parties, his image could easily be damaged. The recently published CIS flash survey allows us to analyze the evolution of the Illa effect between January and February. The data indicate that the popularity of the socialist candidate has deteriorated especially among the voters of the independence orbit (CUP, ERC and Junts), which was probably to be expected. The most interesting thing is that the valuation also falls among En Comú Podem voters. This could indicate that, despite being a candidate valued by these voters, the initial push could be fading and the campaign is not serving to consolidate this transfer of votes. In fact, in the GESOP poll for El Periódico last month, among those who voted for ECP in 2017 there were more voters who valued Illa better than the party’s candidate, Jessica Albiach, and in the latest data from the CIS this is no longer the case. . On the other hand, Illa has improved her assessment among those who voted for Ciudadanos, the PP and the PSC. It would appear that Illa’s campaign and leadership are allowing the transfer of votes from the oranges to be consolidated. Let us also remember that this is a party in which Arrimadas’ leadership was fundamental to the success of 2017 and in which many voters, already then, voted centered on the leader.

In short, has the “Illa effect” faded? The results are not conclusive. Certainly, the PSC should not be overly concerned that Illa is less popular today among the independence movement, since it is a group that would hardly vote for this party regardless of the candidate’s image. However, it does seem relevant that the valuation of the socialist candidate has fallen half a point in just one month among the voters of En Comú, a group that could more easily choose to move to the socialist ranks depending on how the Illa candidate is valued.

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