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The BBC/ICM Poll: Voting Intentions

BBC Wales is today publishing findings from its annual poll on political issues. As is now traditional results are being published on Wales’ national day, St David’s Day. Also as in previous years the poll was conducted by ICM, with fieldwork by telephone. A sample of just over 1000 respondents was obtained.

Although I work closely with ITV-Cymru Wales and YouGov on the Welsh Political Barometer polls, I very much welcome that the BBC have continued to conduct occasional polling as well. It offers an alternative measure of political attitudes in Wales – and one provided by another very well-respected polling company.

In this and a couple of following blog posts I will look at some of the findings. For this first one I will consider voting intentions for both Westminster and the National Assembly – which the BBC has asked about for the first time in some years.

First, let’s look at voting intentions for a general election. These are the figures produced by ICM. (As we have no recent evidence from ICM in Wales to compare with, in brackets I will show the changes on the percentage vote share that each party won at last year’s general election. Anyone wishing to compare these figures with those from the last Welsh Political Barometer poll by YouGov should click here.)

Westminster Voting Intention

Labour: 49% (+0.1)
Conservatives: 32% (-1.6)
Plaid Cymru: 11% (+0.6)
Liberal Democrats: 5% (+0.5)
UKIP: 2% (no change)
Others: 3% (+2.5)

As is self-evident from these numbers, there has been little change in public preferences since last June’s general election: indeed, all of the changes since the election suggested by this poll are well within the standard ‘margin of error’ for a poll with this sample size.

If we take the small changes suggested by this poll, and use the standard Uniform National Swing method, this indicates that only one seat would change hands from the results at the general election. Presli Pembrokeshire, which was narrowly retained by former Cabinet minister Stephen Crabb last June, would be narrowly gained by Labour. That would give an overall general election outcome as follows:

Labour: 29 seats

Conservatives: 7 seats

Plaid: 4 seats

 

What about the National Assembly? ICM found the following levels of support for the parties on the constituency ballot (with changes since the last Assembly election again indicated in brackets):

 

National Assembly Constituency Voting Intention

Labour: 40% (+5.3)
Plaid Cymru: 24% (+3.5)
Conservatives: 22% (+0.9)
Liberal Democrats: 6% (-1.7)
UKIP: 5% (-7.5)
Others: 3% (-0.5)

Once again we see Labour in a substantial lead. However, this poll gives rather more encouragement for Plaid Cymru than did the last Barometer poll, which had them down on 19 percent for the constituency ballot. Conversely, this poll is less good for the Welsh Conservatives, who were on 26 percent in the November Barometer poll. ICM do seem to confirm, however, the lack of any progress being made by the Welsh Lib-Dems, and that UKIP now have much lower support levels than at the time of the May 2016 Assembly election.

Rather remarkably, if we use uniform swing to project the changes since 2016 suggested by this poll onto all seats in Wales, it indicates not a single constituency seat changing hands! This reflects the fact that in 2016 many constituencies were held by Labour despite their overall vote share falling substantially; the new poll simply projects those seats to become more comfortable Labour ‘holds’. The nearest any seat comes to being projected to change is Aberconwy, but on these figures Plaid Cymru fall narrowly short of gaining it from the Conservatives.

What about the regional ballot? ICM got these results (with changes on 2016 again in brackets):

National Assembly Regional Voting Intention

Labour: 36% (+4.5)
Plaid Cymru: 22% (+1.2)
Conservatives: 21% (+2.2)
UKIP: 8% (-5.0)

Liberal Democrats: 6% (-0.5)
Others: 5% (-4.5)

 

Taking into account the constituency results projected, and once again using the assumption of uniform national swings since 2016, these figures generate the following projected results for the regional list seats:

North Wales: 2 Conservative, 2 Plaid
Mid & West Wales: 3 Labour, 1 Plaid
South Wales West: 2 Conservative, 2 Plaid
South Wales Central: 2 Conservative, 2 Plaid
South Wales East: 2 Plaid, 1 Conservative, 1 UKIP

 

This, in turn, gives us the following overall projected result for the National Assembly:

Labour 30 seats (27 constituency, 3 regional)
Plaid Cymru 15 seats (6 constituency, 9 regional)
Conservative 13 seats (6 constituency, 7 regional)

UKIP 1 seat (1 regional)
Liberal Democrats 1 seat (1 constituency)

 

Overall, this poll shows Labour continuing to be in a very strong position in Wales. They have commanding leads for Westminster, and for the two Assembly votes. While the internal problems experienced by the party in the Assembly may have damaged the standing of First Minister Carwyn Jones, they have had no obvious impact on the position of the party as a whole.

This poll is significantly better for Plaid Cymru, and rather less good for the Conservatives, than recent Barometer polls – certainly in terms of National Assembly voting intentions. This may be a reflection of differences between the methods of YouGov and ICM. Alternatively, it could be that the problems being experienced by the UK government are starting to have some impact on the standing of the Tories. Or it could just be an ‘outlier’ finding. At any rate, after a difficult few months internally for the party, this offers some encouragement for Plaid.

The poll confirms that the Liberal Democrats are making no significant progress in Wales. And while ICM place UKIP a little higher than YouGov have done of late, they nonetheless conform that the party’s support is much lower than it was two years ago.

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