Archive for the 'Campaigning' Category

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European Elections 2009 : Summary of Results

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

European Election Results 2009

UK 2009 Winners

Conservatives 4,193,706 votes (27.63%) winning 272 count areas and 25 MEP’s
United Kingdom Independence Party 2,495,782 votes (16.44%) winning 9 count areas and 13 MEP’s
Labour 2,375,361 votes (15.65%) winning 59 count areas and 13 MEP’s
Liberal Democrats 2,078,723 votes (13.70%) winning 11 count areas and 11 MEP’s
Green Party 1,302,705 votes (8.58%) winning 3 count areas and 2 MEP’s
British National Party 941,491 votes (6.20%) winning 0 count areas and 2 MEP’s
Scottish National Party 321,007 votes (2.11%) winning 22 count areas and 2 MEP’s
Plaid Cymru 123,816 votes (0.81%) winning 4 count areas and 1 MEP
Other Parties 1,340,174 votes (8.83%) winning 0 count areas and 0 MEP’s
Conservative lead of 1,697,924 votes (11.19%) with a majority of 164 count areas and 12 MEP’s

Over the next few weeks I will be outling the prospects for each of the main parties (Con, Lab, Lib Dem, UKIP) as well as the other parties (Plaid, SNP, BNP, Green) in the forthcoming European Elections and based on the polls on the eve of poll produce a forecast map showing not only what districts are likely to go to which parties but also the number of MEP’s elected by region (and the change on 2009).

I am therefore opening the comments section for people to ask what their local area result was in 2009. All of the results have been standardised to the districts being counted this year and all I need to know is the name of the council that you will be electing at the next set of elections in 2015 (for England), 2016 (Scotland and Wales).

Harry Hayfield



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The Christmas Game: Part I

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Many thanks to Harry Hayfield, for providing the fun for Christmas Day on PB.

Below are the The Google Earth outline of five UK parliamentary constituencies.

Can you guess what those constituencies are? The only clue being all the maps are aligned North to South.

The answers will be posted when the thread for constituencies six to ten is published this afternoon.

Have fun guessing one to five.

TSE

Constituency One

Constituency Two

Constituency Three

Constituency Four

Constituency Five



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At GE2015 the traditional media will be far less important than ever before

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Getting messages across is going to be a lot more difficult

The above is from a Populus/Open Road poll which asked the simple question of which parts of the media people got information from each day.

The poll did not cover the type of information so it is to be expected that percentages consuming what we think of as “news” are a lot lower.

Clearly we’ve seen from newspaper circulation figures how the printed media is falling sharply. What I find interesting is that this drop has not been compensated by increasing usage of newspaper websites which remained the same. Maybe part of this is down to paywalls.

We hear so much about Twitter yet usage amongst the general public just increased by 2% from 13% to 15% over the two years. Facebook is moving upwards but how much of the information that people get impacts on voting? We don’t know.

    So much effort goes into developing and refining messages for general elections campaigns yet the channels for getting these across are getting narrower

All this leads me to observe that the ground campaign is going to be more important than ever before. Direct personal contact with voters in the marginals will be central and this comes at a time when membership of the older parties is on the decline.

Foot soldiers to knock on doors and to push things through letter boxes are at a premium yet there are far fewer of them.

Mike Smithson

Blogging from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble since 2004




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In the marginals the presumption must that the more marginal voters will vote

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Polling+station+cyclist (1)

Polling turnout filters might be deceptive

It has become standard practice almost all polling firms to include a weighting for turn out particularly in the final stages of a campaign.

Participants are asked to rate the chances of them voting on a scale of 1-10 and the results are used to scale up or scale down their voting intention responses.

The most radical approach is taken by Ipsos-MORI which only includes the views of those 10/10 absolutely certain to vote in its headline figures. ICM adds another dimension and scales down by 50% the views of those who say they did not vote last time.

    Certainty to vote weighting is fine for the country as whole but in the key battlegrounds we have to assume that the party get out the vote operations (GOTV) will get more people out.

This is hardly surprising because after the whole point of the high octane highly intensive campaigning is to ensure that more of your potential voters actually do so.

Elsewhere, in the other 80% of seats, general election campaigns operate at a much lower tempo. Quite often party activists in the non-marginals are encouraged to put their efforts into seats other than their own.

Thus at GE2015 we are going to see a lot more focus on distributed phone banking and the parties are investing in infrastructures to make it simple to manage and ensure that databases are kept up to date – vital on polling day. A lot of this was tested at Eastleigh.

Overall we should be looking at the polls expecting that in the battlegrounds more marginal voters will vote.

Mike Smithson

For the latest polling and political betting news




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Henry G Manson – On the Lobbying Bill

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

 

 

This Big Brother Bill Belongs to Zimbabwe Not Britain

Hasty legislation usually makes for the lousy legislation. But for lousy and cynical legislation, look no further than the government’s ‘Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill’. It appears to be the latest sinister stunt from a Conservative Party looking to boost its chances in the run-up to the general election by effectively clamping down on dissenting views.

Under this legislation the staff time, office costs and expenditures of thousands of blogs, think tanks, charities and campaigners are all set to be heavily capped in the year before the May 2015 general election. What’s worse is that the regulation of independent organisations will not only come from the state, but even from the political parties themselves.

The Spectator’s Sebastian Payne explains that political blogs that spend more than is permissible would require the permission of political parties. ‘This new regime, unless clearly defined in the bill, could affect political blogs. Not necessarily due to their funding, but because some bloggers write primarily about the ongoings of a particular party, which could be classed as campaigning. This would give Ed Miliband the power to shut down LabourList, or David Cameron to Conservative Home, if he took a dislike to their coverage.’

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations warns that charities campaigning seeking to change views and attitudes risks being classified as electioneering. ‘This means that a charity that published campaigning material on an issue such as housing or healthcare could be considered to be engaging in political campaigning if it shares a point of view with one party but not another, even if its intention was just to inform the public, and even if it did not even mention the election.’

Respected anti-fascist campaigners Hope Not Hate have highlighted  how they will be legally limited to spending just 2% of what the British National Party is able to spend in the year before the last general election under these new proposals. They describe it as ‘nothing more than a Gagging Bill, limiting democracy, political involvement and criticism. At a time when trust in political parties and politicians is at an all-time low we need to increase involvement and participation in the democratic process rather than limiting it.’

Meanwhile the TUC have calculated that to hold their traditional annual Congress in the year before an election would become a criminal offence due to the expenditure involved. Their General Secretary Frances O’Grady damned the bill as “an outrageous attack on freedom of speech worthy of an authoritarian dictatorship” 

So charities, anti-racist organisations, trade unions and political blogs stand to be hit hard by the bill, while decaying political parties including the BNP will be its beneficiaries.

Presumably such a Bill must well and truly cover lobbyists? Seasoned lobbyist and former head of Public Affairs at Bell Pottinger Peter Bingle says no ‘Only a tiny percentage of the so-called lobbying industry will be covered by the bill, and in-house lobbyists are excluded. This is bizarre, as most lobbying of ministers, special advisers and officials is done by employees of corporations and trade associations and not by public affairs consultants. I will not be covered by the bill as it is drafted and nor will most of the major players in the public affairs consultancy world.’

Guido Fawkes agrees adding that ‘a huge amount of the type of lobbying that needs most scrutiny has been let off entirely’.

Politics simply should not be the sole property of political parties. Thoughtful Conservative MP Douglas Carswell asks, ‘If 38 Degrees or the Taxpayers’ Alliance want to get stuck in during an election campaign, why shouldn’t they? What possible reason can there be to regulate the political engagement of institutions in a free society?’

It is a sad reflection on David Cameron, who once described himself as ‘a liberal Conservative’, that his government seems intent on curtailing the campaigning freedoms of others to buttress support. He refuses to admit how many Conservative members have been lost under his watch yet wants to curtail thriving civic campaigning organisations far bigger than his own. His desperate response through this Bill owes more to Zimbabwe than Britain.

For Liberal Democrat MPs to back such Big Brother measures would surely mark a new chapter in the party’s departure from liberal values. It speaks volumes about Nick Clegg’s leadership that it cannot be ruled out. Chloe Smith is the government minister responsible for this Big Brother bill’s speedy passage. Email her at chloe.smith.mp@parliament.uk to tell her what you think. While you can.

 

Henry G Manson



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Data specialist Stephen Dunn gives his assessment of the Tory party hire of Jim Messina

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Is it different over here compared with the US?

Jim Messina, who was chief campaign manager for Barak Obama’s 2012 election campaign, has recently been recruited to assist the Tories with their 2015 campaign. This has attracted lots of attention and comment.

Jim is known for utilising the power of “Big Data” – Massive, indivualised datasets that, allow fantastically detailed contact with voters and management of a political campaign. He is potentially a huge asset to the Tories – although if you don’t read the news carefully, you won’t have noticed that most of the time he won’t be here – He’ll be helping out remotely from the USA.

His signing-up is potentially good news for Cameron. The Tories have a distinctly patchy record of using data and IT. They’ve made a stab at this already, with their Merlin system, introduced before the 2010 election. It uses MOSAIC Consumer data, to classify people by postcode into 61 types. It is fair to say that Merlin has not been universally popular. A grizzled Tory campaigner comments
“The very mention of the word (and the system) is likely to drive even the most temperate Tory into paroxysms of spluttering uncontrolled spasms of rage at its all-round uselessness.”

Regardless, it’s clear that “Big Data” is going to be big in 2015, for all parties. It’s instructive to look at what’s the same, and what’s different, between the USA in 2012 and Britain in 2015. It might even help us work out which party is going to do it better – and how this is going to influence the GE result.

In Mike’s clip and elsewhere, you can hear Jim talk about what he learned from running Obama’s campaign. You can also read more here

Let’s have a look at some of the Key Points

Have lots of money

Jim claims that he spent a Billion dollars on Obama’s campaign. That’s a suspiciously round figure, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. With this sort of money, he was able to do all sorts of things – like poll 10,000 people every night. Scaling that Billlion for population size, at £1 = $1.55, that would be £129 million in the UK. There’s the first big difference between USA 2012 and UK 2015. He won’t have anything approaching that to spend – none of the parties will.

Have lots of Data

Jim could rate every single voter in battleground states, on a scale of 1 to 100, in
term of likeliness to vote for Obama, and also likelihood to switch vote. And he could do this sort of thing reliably – His team predicted a particular vote in Florida to within 0.05%.

Where did this data come from? From door knocking records of voter concerns, from registers of emails supporting a cause, from analysing, and from buying big expensive commercial datasets – And from having the IT expertise to tie them all together and attach the relevant information to each individual.

Does any UK party have a good base to build an operation at this level of detail? Probably not – The culture of door-to-door canvassing in all parties often explicitly discourages detailed discussion – You collect 1 data point – Party allegiance – Or maybe 2, party allegiance and strength – and you move on. And of course, we don’t have “registered” voters by party allegiance in the UK.

So, to adapt to this approach, UK parties will need 2 things – a culture change, and boots on the ground. And a good starting point will be to round up the old campaigners, and ask them everything they know, or think they know, about everyone locally – You can start with the broad brush, and then ink in the detail. It’ll work fine, as long as the old campaigners are interested enough to bother.

Individualise the Message

One of Jim’s huge databases was called Project Narwhal. And here’s what he could do “with Narwhal working in the background, every message you saw from the campaign featured just the policies you loved. Where you disagreed, you never knew.”

Here’s an instance of how this worked – A voter in Ohio contacts the Obama campaign. From her location, by ZIP code, there is no reason to believe that the voter is susceptible to a Pro-Choice message. But the Obama campaign knew that, years before, she had registered her support for a Pro-Choice cause by email. And she receives a Pro-Choice, Pro-Obama message by return.

Can you combine this sort of thing with the UK ground approach of leafleting entire neighbourhoods with identical pamphlets? I don’t know. Perhaps you can, if your activists will let you.

You still need Door Knockers

“There is a magical place that you can reach every voter: the door”
It’s still more effective to contact people by knocking on their door, than by other methods. So, once again, the ground war is vital.

Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, and the next thing

A potential voter contacted by a Facebook link, would watch a 20 second video featuring Michelle Obama. In this 20 seconds, the voter’s 5 closest Facebook friends would be identified. The voter would see a link, inviting them to send a supportive message to those friends.

And this links us to Jim’s Biggest Truth – that’s what your friends and neighbours think has the most influence. So, it’s not just the message, it’s that WHERE the message comes from is important – and if you can use social media to pass political messages via a friend, that’s good news.

By Social Media, we currently mean Facebook and Twitter. But 2015 is 2 years away – there may well be something else in the mix as well.

What does all this mean in the UK? It will be interesting to see what Jim Messina is able to achieve for the Tories. But, Jim aside, the “Big Data” approach is likely to benefit the party with better organised ground operations and more adaptable activists. That’s probably going to be Labour.

Stephen Dunn



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This session with new CON hire, Jim Messina, is well worth watching

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

If he can do for CON a fraction of what he did for Obama it could be decisive



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The constituencies where the LDs will be most vulnerable at GE2015 and those where they are likely to do best

Monday, July 29th, 2013

The incumbency experience for the yellows at GE2010

There’s been some discussion over the weekend about the impact of incumbency and how it can help the parties achieve better outcomes in terms of seats won than the uniform swing might suggest.

In a post on Saturday I looked at the GE2010 experience of the Tories and Labour.

Today’s it’s the turn of the Lib Dems and the chart above shows how it performed on average in different types of seats that it was defending.

As can be seen the party did far worse in those seats where the candidate was new saw an average vote loss compared with GE2005 of 4.7%. Incumbents MPs standing again did better seeing on average a slight improvement.

But the biggest change was for those who were defending their seat for the first time seeing an average increase in vote share of 3.1%.

    So the spread the yellows was getting on for four time as big as for the blues and reds.

As well as the personal element of an incumbent being better known it’s also very likely that organisational strengths are much greater where you have a sitting MP.

  • The chart above is based on data from a post-2010 paper by Prof John Curtice, Dr Stephen Fisher and Dr Rob Ford, and looks at the impact of incumbency at the 2010 general election.

    Mike Smithson

    For the latest polling and political betting news