Archive for the ' General Election' Category


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


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


George needs to find a way of making UKIP voters less economically pessimistic

Monday, August 18th, 2014

An opportunity for the Tories in the 2015 budget?

One of the great things about taking part in Edinburgh Festival of Politics was being able to meet up again with Professor John Curtice, who must be the county’s leading political scientist.

Talking about UKIP voters he made a point that I’ve not really looked at before – their economic pessimism particularly when related to their own situations. Look at the chart above based on data from yesterday’s YouGov/ST poll.

The Curtice view is that negative views on economic and financial matters are even greater defining features of UKIP voters than what they think about the EU or immigration.

Measures such pumping government money into schemes like “help to buy” properties really don’t impact on many UKIPers.

Increasing the minimum wage, however, might resonte.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


If it’s an IndyRef YES then CON can afford to lose 9 seats at GE2015 knowing it’d have a majority after partition

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Looking at the mathematics of a Scottish 2016 exit

This post has been prompted by comments on previous threads about the impact on LAB chances should Scotland vote five weeks today for independence.

The plan is that the actual separation should take place in March 2016 which could have an impact on what happens in the aftermath of next May’s UK general election. For clearly on separation Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats will cease to exist and the commons will be reduced from 650 seats to 591.

    For the Conservatives securing a majority would a fair bit easier. It could afford to lose 9 seats next May and not have to rely on a coalition post a break-up.

In 2010 Labour took 41 of the Scottish seats, the LDs 11, SNP 6 and the Tories 1 which was no change on GE2005.

Assuming that LAB retains its 41 Scottish seats it could be hard hit if those MPs were to go within a year but the impact would be ameliorated to some extent by the overall drop in commons seats numbers. The current target of 326 for an overall majority would be down 30 to 296.

Given the tightening between the parties it is possible that Labour could just have a majority in May next year only to know that ten months later 41 MPs would be departing. At current seat levels a seat lead over all other parties of 68 would suffice. But if there’s no Scottish element that would increase to 79.

The general election next May would be very odd given that partition was due to take place in less than a year. What would happen in Scotland? Who knows?

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


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