Archive for the ' General Election' Category


Ipsos-MORI finds CON and LAB level pegging – but with Boris as leader they’d be 5% ahead

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014


Why LAB wins more seats with fewer votes : The way First Past the Post works in its favour

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Understanding Labour’s “other crutch”

We’ve talked a lot on PB about Labour’s “electoral crutch” – the big shift to it since 2010 of Lib Dem voters which has so far remained. Well Labour has another crutch – the electoral system which could be equally or even more important.

UK general elections are not decided by aggregate national vote shares but by FPTP elections in 650 separate seats where voters choose which individuals they want as their MPs.

Unlike the Euro elections the process is not about voting for parties but for people and whoever tops the poll in each of the 650 goes to Westminster. In one seat last time, Norwich South, the Lib Dem candidate won with just 29% of the votes.

Generally the party that chalks up the biggest aggregate national vote share ends up “winning” but not always. LAB won on votes in 1951 but the Tories were returned with a workable majority. In February 1974 Harold Wilson’s LAB secured fewer votes than Heath’s Tories but won more seats.

    The biggest driver of the seats:votes ratio is not as commonly believed the “boundaries” but the fact that LAB seats on average have significantly lower turnout levels than CON ones

The chart above shows the gap. Boundaries do play a part as the third drop down chart shows but not on the same scale as turnout. Added complications are that the Tories see many more votes “wasted” in seats where they come third and are much more vulnerable than LAB to tactical voting.

In what could be tight election on national votes shares Labour could easily repeat February 1974 and win on seats but lose on votes. If the tactical Anti-CON element is strong, which I believe it will be, then we could be heading for what could appear a perverse and unfair result.

It might just be possible that there could be a LAB majority on fewer votes.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


If the “ICM August polls before general elections” rule works again then Ed Miliband is home and dry

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Look at the record for when LAB is in the lead

Five years ago I made a comment on PB that August polls should not be trusted because of the holiday effect and got into an email exchange with Nick Sparrow – then head of polling for ICM.

He pointed out the following from his firm’s record over several general elections which on the face of it looks convincing.

August 1996 ICM poll had LAB ahead by 12%.
The result – LAB won by 13%

August 2000 ICM poll had LAB ahead by 10%
The result – LAB won by 9%

August 2004 ICM poll had LAB ahead by 3%
The result – LAB won by 3%

The only problem with this “rule” is that it doesn’t seem to apply with the Tories. The August 2009 ICM poll had Cameron’s party leading by a massive 16% ahead looking all set for a big majority. Their vote margin in the election itself was 7%.

There is a big point about this which Oxford’s Dr Stephen Fisher should note. Following the polling debacle at GE1992 ICM’s Nick Sparrow led the way in developing a different approach to polling which didn’t grossly overstate LAB. He was proved right at GE1997 and GE2001 and by the time GE2005 came along other firms had followed the Sparrow approach.

Much of Fisher’s polling trend data embraces the big LAB poll over-staters of the past.

Last night, as reported on the last thread, ICM’s phone poll for the Guardian had CON 31, LAB 38, LD 12 and UKIP 10.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


The August ICM poll sees reverse cross-over with LAB moving from a 1% deficit to a 7% lead

Monday, August 11th, 2014

And the inevitable “what if Boris was CON leader” questions

Tonight’s big polling news is that Labour has moved up sharply in the monthly ICM phone poll for the Guardian. In July EdM’s party was 1% behind. Now they are 7% ahead.

I must admit that I’m rather surprised by these latest findings and was expecting both main parties to be just about level-pegging. We’ll have to wait till the full data is out before we can work out what’s happened.

ICM tends to find UKIP with lower numbers than other firms partly because of its turnout filtering which scales back by 50% the value of responses of non-voters from GE2010.

Because of ICM’s long-standing reputation as the “gold standard” its finding are taken more seriously than just about any other pollster and inevitably tonight’s numbers will hearten EdM’s team as they go into next month’s conference season.

There were the inevitable BoJo questions with the inevitable findings. The LAB lead drops to 3% with the Mayor as the leader and he’s by far and away the most popular choice as Dave’s replacement.

The real problem for Cameron is that time is running out for the Tories.

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


Another cross-over gets reversed – but could ICM, expected tonight, have a consecutive CON lead?

Monday, August 11th, 2014

This could be a highly unusual polling day for the two firms to be reporting both had the Tories in the lead last time out. A couple of hours ago Populus online moved from a 1% CON lead on Friday to a 4% LAB one now.

Later in the day I’m hoping that we should see the ICM Guardian poll which in July had CON 34. LAB 33, LD 12, UKIP 9. I’ve not had confirmation yet that this will be out but this is the normal point n the month when it appears.

Over the past four months we have see a handful of cross-overs but none have been sustained to the next poll from the same pollster. Could it just happen with ICM?

And how are we going to define a cross-over?

Mike Smithson

Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


We have cross-over with Populus online. CON 36% LAB 35%

Friday, August 8th, 2014

But Tories need bigger margin to ensure most seats

And the fundamental problem for the blues remains:

Populus following usual bad for LAB on Fridays


Remember when the Tories “won” England at GE2005: Ahead on the popular vote but 92 behind on seats

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Labour’s other crutch: First past the post

Britain’s leading political scientist, Professor John Curtice, has taken to describing the phenomenon of the 2010 LD to LAB switchers as Labour’s “crutch” for without this massive influx of support EdM’s party would be in a sorry state.

I’d suggest that there’s another crutch that is equally if not more valuable – the way the electoral system works. Nothing, I think, better illustrates this than the GE2005 results for England’s 529 seats.

The popular vote split CON 35.7%, LAB 35.5% and the LDs on 22.9%. In terms of seats the split was LAB 286, CON 194, LD 47, OTH 2. Thus LAB secured 54.1% of the English MPs with 35.5% of the English vote.

Of course the boundaries were a factor but not as big a one as many Tories believe as I’ll explore in a further post. What’s relevant looking at at GE2005 in England is that the areas covered by Labour’s 92 vote surplus very much make up the battlegrounds for GE2015.

It was the English seat split that made a huge contribution to LAB 2005 and there’s a possibility that the same a similar dynamic could happen again.

My best GE2015 bet is still LAB most seats – CON most votes.

Mike Smithson

Blogging from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble for more than a decade


UKIP soar 4 points in this week’s Ashcroft national poll

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Populus Green total half that of Ashcroft

After a period in which UKIP has been edging down across the polls there’ll be some relief at Farage Towers that today’s Lord Ashcroft poll has them at 18% – up 4 on a week ago.

The chart shows the comparisons with the Populus online poll published earlier.

The bigger picture is that another month has gone by and LAB is maintaining a lead albeit a small one. Twice since the Ashcroft poll was started in May it has shown Tory leads.

As can be seen from the Electoral Calculus projection LAB’s 33% would give EdM a 34 seat majority. UKIP’s 18% = ZERO seats.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble