Archive for the ' General Election' Category

h1

David Herdson says “LAB most votes – CON most seats” is a good bet at 66-1

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

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

Why the “impossible” could happen

Labour has won most votes at a general election before and come out behind on seats.  It happened in 1951, when Attlee’s Labour polled over 13.9m votes: around a quarter of a million more than Churchill’s Conservatives, who nonetheless formed a majority government (and for that matter, more than Labour has ever polled in any other election).  A lot has changed since then and the conventional wisdom is that such an outcome is no longer possible.  And indeed, without great change, it’s not – but great change is happening and greater change still could be just around the corner.

The reasons why it shouldn’t be possible are simple enough: the turnout in Labour’s safe seats is much lower than equivalent Conservative ones, Labour’s seats are on average slightly smaller, and Labour has fewer seats where it is a moderate third, winning a decent number of votes without being in sight of winning.  There is a fourth reason: Scotland.  In 2010, Labour won one MP for every 25,000 votes north of the border; the Tories won one for over 400,000 votes.

For the bet to come in, three things would need to happen: firstly, Yes would have to win the referendum on Thursday; secondly, Lab would have to have a narrow lead on polling day; and thirdly, there’d need to be a differential impact in the two big polling shifts during this parliament.  Taken together, I think the chances of that happening are better than the 66/1 Ladbrokes are offering.

To take Scotland first, I’m surprised at how long the odds on Yes are.  True, the polls mostly have No ahead but only by a few points.  I’ve written before about why I’m not putting too much faith in the polling and the sudden clustering around 52-48 doesn’t give me any reassurance: are they all more-or-less accurate or are they finding comfort in each other’s company?  Even if they are right today, it wouldn’t take much of a swing for Yes to be ahead on Thursday.

Of course, should Yes does win, Scotland will still be a part of the UK in May 2015 but we could expect very different election results from a soon-to-be-independent Scotland compared with one with a future in the UK.  The three GB-wide parties are likely to be in a state of shock and the SNP riding a wave, Labour’s battle-cry, to ‘protect’ against evil English Tories would be obsolete, and most of all, the voters would be unlikely to wish to send mixed messages about the independence negotiations.  In 2011, the SNP won 53 constituency seats to Labour’s 15 and the Tories’ 3.  That’s probably not a bad guide to what might be expected should Yes prevail.

The second condition, of Labour being narrowly ahead can be quickly dealt with: it’s where we are now and although a Scottish Yes might shake up politics in England and Wales, there’s no reason to assume that it would substantially benefit either Labour or the Conservatives’ relative to the other.  There may be Black Swans between now and then, including possible leadership changes, but this is a probabilities game and the probability to my mind is for little change in that lead.

The third factor is more interesting.  For Labour to win most votes but fewer seats, their vote would have to become less efficient, even if the Scottish effect is substantially reduced.  That might well happen too.  We know that the two main polling movements since 2010 have been a big shift from Lib Dem to Lab, and the rise of UKIP at the expense of all the others but principally the Tories.  The question here is whether those movements will occur disproportionately in safe seats as against marginals.

In theory, this is what you’d expect to happen.  Where the results were close in 2010, you’d expect tactical votes to have already been substantially squeezed so there’d be fewer Lib Dems to move across.  Likewise, although UKIP voters as a whole may be relatively ambivalent about the alternative prospects of Miliband and Cameron as PM, there are still plenty to be pressured in the marginals, whereas ‘safe’ seats (I write this in advance of Clacton!), may offer a more cost-free protest vote, reducing Tory majorities and votes while still returning MPs.  In reality, the constituency polls don’t particularly bear this out but there are still nearly eight months to polling day and a lot of hard campaigning to go between now and then.

As with all long-odds bets, I’m not suggesting that this scenario is going to happen.  What I do think is that there’s a better than 1 in 67 chance that it will – and on that basis, there’s value.

David Herdson



h1

…meanwhile in the race to win GE2015 now less than seven months away….

Friday, September 12th, 2014



h1

The devastating detail from the Survation Clacton by-election poll

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

The constituency, though, is a one-off

In all the time I have been following and analysing polls there has never been anything as sensational as the Survation Clacton poll for the Mail on Sunday published overnight. The figures are extraordinary and point to an overwhelming victory for Douglas Carswell in his new colours.

The thing we must remember is – as Rob Ford and Matt Goodwin the leading academics who have studied the UKIP surge, will tell you – that the demographics of Clacton make it in theory at least the best of all of the 650 commons seats, for Farage’s party.

In the May 22nd Euro election the Tendring Council area saw a vote split of UKIP 48%: CON 25: LAB 13: LD 2: OTH 12. The Clacton seat covers 21 of the 35 wards in the council area.

Clearly there’s speculation over where this could happen next. The main consolation for the Tories is that in any other seat conditions would not be as favourable though that doesn’t meant it won’t happen.

The dramatic UKIP victory that Survation is pointing to will make waves throughout UK politics and other CON MPs, surely, will be considering their positions. I reckon that Kettering MP, Mr Philip Hollobone, might be a possible and I’ve had a small bet at 12/1 that the seat will go UKIP next May.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




h1

David Herdson on what Carswell’s defection could mean for 2015

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

carswell

A by-election victory could secure a TV debate place for Farage

The defection of one MP or another towards the end of a parliament is nothing particularly unusual.  The decision of one to resign and re-contest his or her seat is.  Were it not for the vote of even greater significance taking place in Scotland next month, the Clacton by-election could have been the seminal political moment of the parliament.  Depending on the two results, it still might be.

A Scottish Yes would have such profound implications it deserves a thread of its own (before the vote), to game the likely effects on the parties, their leaders and the reaction in the country at large, to work out where any betting value may lie.  The effect of a No would be less significant though the last time the SNP failed in a referendum, they parliamentary party took a hammering at the next election.  It’s also perhaps worth noting that Alistair Darling is 11/1 with Paddy Power to be the next Chancellor and 20/1 to be next Labour leader.

If we assume a No for these purposes, then the attention of the media and of Westminster will rapidly move on to the Essex coastal constituency of Clacton.  It’s a measure of how rapidly UK politics is changing that the best odds available on UKIP at the time of writing were 1/4.  Only twice since WWII has a party other than the Tories, Labour or Lib Dems (or their predecessors) won an English by-election: George Galloway was one, earlier this parliament; Dick Taverne the other, who held his seat at the 1973 Lincoln by-election after his parting of the ways with Labour.

Those odds don’t look tempting to me.  UKIP has not made the most sure-footed of starts to their campaign with their previously selected candidate refusing to stand down.  While it’s right that they’re odds-on favourites at the moment, it wouldn’t take much to turn a spat into a shambles if they can’t sort their local aspect quickly.  Indeed, much will turn on local matters: how seriously Labour tries (both for their own sake and the indirect effect their campaign, or non-campaign, has on the Blue and Purple camps), how many of Carswell’s activists follow him across, how many UKIP activists are willing to campaign for their erstwhile opponent – and so on.

    Even so, Clacton has been described by the most favourable seat for UKIP in the country, an assertion that the European election results reinforce. 

That’s a huge advantage in this election but it’s also a huge risk: if they don’t win, it undermines any claim they have to be taken seriously next year, it would halt their current momentum and would put a hefty spring in the stride of their conquerors.  On the other hand, if they do make history and gain their first elected MP, then that removes another obstacle to Farage appearing in the leaders’ debates next year – an aspiration that should be UKIP’s number one campaign objective given UKIP’s still-developing activist base, the impact the debates had in 2010 and Farage’s distinctiveness.  For that reason alone, the odds of debates happening at all should lengthen if UKIP wins.

There is another angle to consider, that of electoral fairness.  A UKIP win, consolidating their position as the fourth major national party, would go still further to undermining the legitimacy of FPTP; a system that only really works well with two dominant parties.  I wrote in March that the Tories’ 2015 manifesto should include a commitment to introducing PR (open lists in constituencies of about five MPs would be best).  The events this week have made that all the more necessary.

David Herdson



h1

Carswell seems to have had an impact on the GE2015 betting markets but not Rotherham

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Maybe the weekend polls will change that?



h1

Away from the IndyRef – today’s Populus poll sees UKIP up 4% to a record high for the firm

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

This follows an increase in the UKIP share in the ComRes online poll for IoS/S Mirror – published at the weekend and the last YouGov poll have Farage’s party up from its average for the month of about 12% to 14%.

We need to see more polls, of course, but the theory was that UKIP would fade after the May Euros and headed for GE2015.

Well these numbers suggest that that is not happening.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




h1

Let’s end this lazy assumption that UKIP voters are just Tories on holiday

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

The numbers show that this is simply not the case

You read and see this all the time both inside the Westminster bubble and out of it. Ukip voters, so the pervasive narrative goes, are simply ex-CON voters who can, if Lynton Crosby plays his cards properly, be seduced back into the fold thus providing the blues with the platform to secure an overall majority next May.

Thus the following is a statement that many might find hard to comprehend because it runs right across this current thinking

    Even if the Tories were able to win back half their UKIP defectors it would add barely 1.5% to current vote shares.

The reason why that doesn’t sound right is that one of the basic widely perceived “facts” of modern politics does not stand up to scrutiny.

Just look at breakdown in the pie chart above of current UKIP support in the marginals based on the latest data from Ashchroft polling. 2010 CON voters form only a quarter of UKIP support in the key LAB-CON marginals. If the Tories were able to win back half of them that would make up about one eighth of the kippers – and one eighth of the 13% UKIP figure in this polling is not going to make that much difference.

We see the same broad breakdown in standard national polling yet somehow so many cling to this “belief” so central to any analysis of GE2015.

Let me say that I, like so many others, have been guilty of making the wrong assumptions about where UKIP support is coming from.

Trying to win the kippers back is certainly something that the Tories should be doing but there are far far fewer ex-CON voters to be “swung back” than is widely assumed.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter




h1

Take LAB majority odds at 2-1 or longer – this is now a great value bet

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Ed-with-No-10-collage (1)

Yesterday’s batch of Lord Ashcroft polls of key CON-LAB marginals is further evidence that the betting price on CON majority is far too tight and that on a LAB one too long.

It is very hard looking at all the voter dynamics to make any case whatsoever for a CON majority. Time is passing quickly and there’s nothing at all from the seats that will decide this election that the Tories are going to better their 2010 performance. Rather it is completely the reverse.

One of the seats polled, Bedford, was won by the Tories at GE2010 by a 3% margin. It is a seat where I stood 22 years ago and which I know well. My own reading before the poll was that the LAB lead would be in double figures – Ashcroft had it at 10%.

    This is a massive margin for the Tories to make up and if they cannot hold onto Bedford then there will be no majority for the blues.

As things stand at the moment there are only two possible outcomes to GE2010 – a LAB majority or a hung parliament. Once you rule out a CON majority then betting on the other options looks very attractive.

I’ve now started for the first time putting money on a LAB majority simply because at odds of 2/1 or longer it is a great value bet.

I am well covered on a hung parliament.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter