Archive for the 'Coalition' Category


The ComRes marginals’ poll would be a lot more valuable if there had been a 2 stage voting question

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

It’s important to tease out incumbency & tactical elements

I was tied up last night when the ComRes/ITV online marginals poll was published as well as the latest YouGov which has the Tories back with a 1% lead.

The ComRes poll with a sample of a thousand questioned online is in 40 seats where at GE10 the two main parties were overall level pegging. So it takes in both CON and LAB held marginals.

The changes are broadly in line with what we have been seeing in national polls so did not greatly add to our understanding.

What the pollster could have done to make this a lot more valuable was to have used the two-stage voting intention question that was first deployed in Politicshome polling ahead of GE10. After the standard party choice question you ask those sampled to think specifically of their own constituency.

This, as we are seeing in the Lord A single seat polling can produce very different outcomes. For key factors which really matter are incumbency and tactical voting.

Later today we are promised the next batch of Ashcroft polling of marginal seats each with 1k samples. My guess is that this will focus on CON held seats that were held with majorties of 7%+.

There’s also the possibility of some Scottish seats as well the Ed Miliband’s Doncaster North where UKIP is strong.

Last night’s YouGov saw the Tories with a 1% lead and the Greens ahead of the LDs.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Ed Miliband could be in trouble in Doncaster

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014


The NT should repeat “This House” – a taste of what happens when you have a minority government

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

This should be screened again before May 7th

Suddenly people are talking about a possible minority government after the general election because of the way the maths appear at the moment. With the polls looking so tight with UKIP and the SNP expected to have much bigger contingents at Westminster it’s quite likely that neither LAB or CON will secure a majority and a future coalition very difficult to achieve.

Last year I wrote enthusiastically about James Graham’s “This House” chronicling the period 1974 until Mrs. Thatcher’s victory in 1979. It enjoyed a second sell-out run at the Olivier at the National Theatre and was also part of the NT Live when productions are screened to cinemas and other venues throughout the UK.

It is set in the whips offices of both Labour and Tories from the February 1974 election being called through to 1979. We watch first the period when Labour tried operate without a majority and then as it tries to govern with a majority of 3 after the October 1974 election.

Death, defections and by-elections soon whittle that down to zero and the play portrays some of the apparently crazy measures taken to keep the ship afloat when Labour didn’t have the numbers. The need to bring even critically ill MPs into the Palace of Westminster for major votes is a major part of the drama.

The Callaghan government, of course, fell on March 28th 1979 when it failed to win a confidence motion by the smallest of margins – just one vote. The SNP voted with the Tories.

It’s wonderfully funny but also very contemporary illustrating the huge difficulty party managers have in working with “the odds and sods” – the other parties who might help.

    Given the current political numbers I’ve suggested to the NT that it should screen it again in the run up to the general election. It could be highly relevant

It would be a reminder of the huge challenges of minority government which, I’d suggest, are much greater now than in the 70s.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble

Mike Smithson

For the latest polling and political betting news


Marf on a great PB gathering at Dirty Dicks and the Saturday night rolling polling blog

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

dirtydicks (1)

Thanks Marf for capturing the spirit of last night’s PB gathering at Dirty Dicks in the City of London. This was the best attended PB event that we’ve ever had and it was great to compare notes and betting strategies with fellow PBers.

The pub was absolutely packed with Friday night drinkers that our little corner felt very over-crowded at first but it worked well and I, for one, had a great time.

We had people with five different party allegiances there and the conversation and company was very civilised. It really is good to meet fellow PBers face to face.

The first poll out tonight looks set to be Opinium for the Observer followed by YouGov. I’m expecting a UKIP boost.

LAB lead with YouGov Sun/S poll

Tories slip back 4 & LAB retake lead with Opinium

CON & LAB level pegging with YouGov/S Times

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Terrible expectations management but you can’t accuse Farage of lacking ambition

Friday, November 21st, 2014


It’s looking like a UKIP victory but by a tighter margin than any of the polls

Friday, November 21st, 2014


Under single constituency first past the post system national aggregate vote totals don’t mean that much

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Collage-DC-EM-NC-NF (1)

Why the legitimacy of what could appear a perverse general election outcome cannot be questioned

There’s lots of talk at the moment about the electoral “system being bust” and “no longer fit for purpose”. What is being pointed to are possible disparities between national aggregate vote shares and the total of MPs each party gets.

Clearly in what is now a four party structure it is very likely that many seats will be won with the victor securing fewer than 30% of the votes. Until the post referendum LAB Scottish collapse it was possible to envisage LAB securing an overall majority with, perhaps, a third of the national aggregate vote.

In 2005 Tony Blair secured a comfortable overall majority for LAB with just 35.2% of the UK vote or 36.2% excluding Northern Ireland.

    But much of this is the product of a voting system that forces those who wish to influence the outcome not to vote for their allegiance but to choose between the two top choices in their particular seat who can possibly win

To many , in any case, their vote is for an individual not a party or a potential prime minister. Incumbency can be a key element thus undermining a bit further the idea that national party totals are important.

Thus, to take one of many recorded examples, we see from the Ashcroft marginals polling that in seats where the effective choice is between blue and yellow that 17% of LAB voters will switch to back the latter. They maybe doing this because they are happy with their sitting MP or they want to stop the Tories. Whatever their actions depress the overall LAB vote share but it does mean that these voters can have an impact on the election. The alternative is for them to accept that their first choice is pointless in their seat and waste their votes.

One of the reasons why the Tories seem to do worse under the system is that, in the past, they have been much less likely to vote tactically than LAB voters even where their party does nor have a chance

    If the legitimacy of the outcome of a general election is questioned on national aggregate votes share grounds there is one simple response – the legitimacy derives from the nation voting overwhelmingly in May 2011 to retain the first past the post system.

A direct consequence of that result is that national aggregate vote totals can not be said to reflect what voters’ first choices are. So you cannot draw many firm conclusions from them.


Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


Both Tories and UKIP go for the tactical vote in their final push in Rochester

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Will by election voters want to stop UKIP or give Cameron a bloody nose?

After a campaign that seems to have been going on forever we are now into the final day of the Rochester and Strood by-election effort.

The polls and PBers in the prediction competition all go for UKIP by a double digit margin and anything less than that will be spun as some form of victory by the blue team.

All the polls show that the Tories have won the battle for those who voted for the party in 2010 when Reckless was the candidate. UKIP, however, has built a coalition based on the balance of the Tory vote, ex-LAB and LD ones together with a sizeable slice of non voters from last time.

I’m told that the Tories have not given up hope and their final message is in the top Tweet above. It will be interesting to see if this resonates as much as Tory strategist hope it will. Do the good citizens of the area really wanting to wake up on Friday with a UKIP MP?

    We do know from by-elections past that there can be big swings in the final 24 hours and a huge effort is being put in.

The first target is keeping the Tory loyalists on board. Then there are the other party switchers to Reckless. The latter might not be persuaded to switch to CON but if they go back now to their own allegiance or simply not vote then that will be a plus. The second target group are those planning to vote LAB whom the Tories think might come on side.

The Reckless approach is also strongly tactical – trying to encourage ANTI-CON voters to give Cameron a bloody nose. The really surprising feature of the election is that LAB party HQ decided right at the start not to put central resources in.

So what’s going to happen. It is very hard to argue against the polling but I wonder whether the margin of victory might not be as large as the surveys suggest and that it could be a lot tighter.

Whatever the outcome will have a huge impact on the political climate in the run-up to next May.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble