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New BBC/ICM Poll – Voting Intentions for the National Assembly

13 June 2014


As mentioned in my previous post, BBC Cymru-Wales have this week published findings from a new poll, conducted by ICM soon after the European elections. The poll covered a number of areas, including attitudes to the policy achievements of devolution, and awareness of devolution, which I looked at earlier this week. Now let’s focus on the poll’s findings on voting intentions for the National Assembly.

ICM asked about voting intentions for both the constituency and list vote; this is the first poll to ask about these to be conducted by a company other than YouGov since the 2011 Assembly election. Before discussing these results, though, a few cautionary words about comparing them with those from YouGov. The BBC/ICM poll used the exact question wording on voting intention used by YouGov since December 2013. We don’t, therefore have concerns about different question wordings causing different results. However, we should recall that the February BBC/ICM poll, which asked about general election voting intentions in Wales, produced a lower figure for Labour support than any YouGov poll that has been conducted the 2010 general election. It also produced an unusually high Plaid Cymru figure.

We may want to bear that in mind when looking at the figures below. This is not an implied slur on either ICM or YouGov; both are, quite deservedly, internationally-respected survey companies. (The Political Betting website habitually refers to ICM as the ‘Gold Standard’ of pollsters, while among YouGov’s many achievements was estimating the recent European election results in Britain closer than any other polling company). My point is simply that the different methods used to conduct the surveys (the ICM polls have been conducted by phone, while YouGov’s use the internet) and weight the data seem to be generating small but distinct differences in the results produced: ICM have Labour support a little lower, and that for Plaid Cymru a little higher, than do YouGov. It is therefore sensible to take this into account when analysing ICM’s new findings alongside those from recent YouGov polls. We are not quite comparing like with like.

The basic figures on voting intention are as follows:


Constituency Vote

List Vote










Plaid Cymru









Translated into a national result, and assuming uniform national swings (with all the usual health warning applied to that assumption), this would produce the following result in an Assembly election (with changes from the seat totals won in May 2011 in brackets):






26 (-2)


28 (-2)


4 (-2)

7 (-1)

11 (-3)


2 (+1)

0 (-4)

2 (-3)

Plaid Cymru

8 (+3)


14 (+3)



5 (+5)


The constituency seats to change hands would be: Aberconwy and Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire (gained by Plaid Cymru from the Conservatives), Llanelli (gained by Plaid Cymru from Labour), and Cardiff Central (gained by the Liberal Democrats from Labour).

Even with the qualifications mentioned above about comparing this poll with those conducted by YouGov, ICM’s findings are broadly consistent with the trend over recent YouGov polls for Labour’s support on the constituency vote to be slipping below the levels enjoyed through 2011-13. ICM’s findings are also consistent with the modest upwards trend in Plaid Cymru constituency vote support found in recent YouGov polls; nonetheless, this is Plaid Cymru’s highest Assembly constituency vote score since October 2009.

Looking at the other parties, UKIP continue to perform quite strongly. That said, this was not an outstandingly good poll for them by recent standards; frankly, I was actually expecting a post-European election ‘bounce’ to lift them a little higher than this, especially on the list vote. The Liberal Democrats’ ratings continue to be awful; those for the Conservatives to be steady and resilient at a decent, if not outstanding, level of support.

One slightly surprising feature of the results is that Labour’s vote share is higher on the list ballot than in the constituency one. Labour have always won a higher vote share on the constituency vote than the list in the Assembly elections, while the last poll to put their list vote share as the higher one was an NOP poll conducted in April 2007. This may simply be one of those occasional, one-off findings that polls can produce, although we won’t know this for sure until we have more such ICM polls in Wales.

If we up-date our figures on the average constituency vote scores for each party for the last three years, these ICM findings – as indicated above – strengthen the trends that were already observable for Labour support to be declining, and that for Plaid Cymru and UKIP to be rising.




2014 (so far)









Plaid Cymru











Whether these trends will continue, of course, is another matter. For now I’d just like to thank the BBC and ICM for adding some further information to our understanding of where the parties in Wales currently stand.


  1. Harry Hayfield

    I agree, ICM are the best (in fact I use their monthly poll as a base for all my Westminster forecasts) however, I do have a two slight bones of contention. First is accepting UKIP as a constituency voting party. In 2003, they polled 19,795 constituency votes in 20 constituencies. In 2007, they polled 18,047 votes in 13 constituencies and by 2011 they knew that their only hope of getting an AM was on the regional list (indeed in Wales South East, they qualified for the allocation stage). Therefore I believe that ICM should stop polling UKIP as a constituency party and concentrate on them as a wholly regional party (however if UKIP announce they intend to field constituency candidates, then I shall stand corrected)

    Secondly: In 2011, Lab polled 42% of the constituency votes, the Lib Dems polled 11%. This poll suggests that Lab have fallen by 6% since then and that the Lib Dems have also fallen by 6%. In other words, no swing from Lab to Lib Dem or Lib Dem to Lab. Cardiff Central requires a 0.08% swing to the Lib Dems (so therefore if there is no swing to the Lib Dems, how can they possibly gain it?)

  2. Roger Scully

    Thanks, Harry.

    On the first question, I guess you’d have to ask ICM. But I think what they did is defensible; until we know for sure that a party won’t stand in the constituencies, I think we probably ought to include it in the list of potential options.

    On the second: I was unsure of what to do about Cardiff Central. But, strictly speaking, this poll has Labour down 6.3% on 2011, and the LDs down 5.6%. With Labour having taken the seat last time by only 0.2%, on uniform swings this would then project to a LD gain. Of course, this does perhaps point to problems with uniform swing, which I may explore in a future blog post. If the LDs vote share across Wales is falling by around half, is it really credible to see them capturing a constituency seat like Cardiff Central? The trouble is, I’m not too happy with any of the main alternatives to uniform swing – like ratio swing – either.

  3. Thom Hollick

    Surely the transient student population in Cardiff Central (if they can be mobilised that is) might suggest problems in using uniform swing in that constituency. The maths doesn’t quite capture the fact that thousands of 2011 voters will have been replaced by 2016, although these new voters may of course be quite similar in terms of their socioeconomic profile.

  4. J.Jones

    I too am uncomfortable with the seat projections but I accept that there are some general truths that can be drawn from the poll. The Tory/UK media blitz on Welsh Labour, a tactic to ensure that people in England become fearful of Labour policies on the NHS and Education, has not increased Tory support in Wales (it may have in England) nevertheless it could well have acted as a recruiting sergeant for our other left of centre party; Plaid.

    Will UKIP have candidates standing in the constituencies? Probably, at least in some. Since they seem to think that the Valleys are “theirs for the taking” it would appear strange if they didn’t put up candidates but, assuming that they are wrong, they could still have an effect on Labours vote and bring Plaid into the mix in a place like Caerphilly.

    Similarly UKIP in Aberconwy could do serious damage to the Tories. At the moment Plaid look to be the big winners from the UKIP upsurge. Paradoxically they are the party which seems most annoyed by UKIP’s success in Wales…..If I were them I’d back off.

    • Roger Scully

      Well, Labour support has moved down across GB over the last 12-18 months. But it has fallen further in Wales.

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