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For those who didn’t see it the Lord Ashcroft interview on SkyNews

January 29th, 2015




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Remember 2005 when LAB and CON were level pegging on votes in England but LAB won 92 more seats

January 29th, 2015

There’s little to suggest that such a distortion won’t happen again

The blue team has understandably found great cheer and encouragement in the latest polling from a range of firms. The race is undoubtedly getting closer in terms of votes but it’s seats that matter.

One of the reasons why I’ve been highlighting England is because of what happened in the 529 seats being fought there at GE2005 when the Tories just had the edge on votes but LAB came out with 92 more English seats.

That election was fought on different boundaries, they were revised for 2010, and, of course, there’s a very different electoral environment with the vote being far more fragmented than ever before.

Could the the English seat split in May be so much more favourable to Labour once again?

One of the great drivers has been tactical voting with those opposed to the Tories being much more ready to switch their votes than those opposed to Labour. This has helped the LDs enormously in their CON facing constituencies as well as Labour in the LAB CON marginals. My guess is that we’ll see a repeat of the pattern from previous elections.

This could be offset to an extent by the Tories being able to attract ANTI-LAB from other LD supporters and, of course, those who have switched to UKIP. But I’m less convinced that Tory voters will abandon their traditional reluctance to switch to stop the party most able in their seats to impede LAB.

The other factors that cause the system to appear biased against the blues remain. The boundaries are the same and LAB voters are likely to turnout at lower levels in the party’s traditional heartland.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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The build up starts to what will be the biggest polling event so far in 2015

January 28th, 2015

Ever since the first post-IndyRef Scottish polls came out showing a huge move to the SNP the standard assumptions that were being made about the GE15 outome were put on one side.

For although in GB terms the the loss in the LAB vote and increase in the SNP one amounted to less than one percent overall the number of seats involved was enormous.

At GE10 LAB easily held onto its 41 Scottish seats with very comfortable majorities. Only three of them had leads over the SNP of less than 20% and in none of them was the margin less than 10%.

There’ve been projections that the SNP could take more than 50 of the 59 Westminster MPs in Scotland leaving Scottish LAB with a small handful. If that happens then EdM’s party will be struggling to win most seats never mind a Westminster majority.

The big question is whether the polling picture will hold when you get down to the constituency level and how those polled will respond the Lord A’s two stage voting question – the first a standard one and the second asking interviewees to think specifically about their own seats and the candidates who are likely to stand.

    Could we see well known incumbents getting a bonus and could there also be pro-unionist tactical voting? The fact is we don’t know but Lord A is starting to find out.

Whatever I’ve little doubt that our view of the general election overall will be changed by the findings. They are due out next week.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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A worrying trend for Ed Miliband’s team: Labour’s 2010 Lib Dem crutch is getting shorter

January 28th, 2015

Many ex-yellows are now going green

Over the last two years we’ve been keeping a close eye on the group of swing voters who could have a big impact on the May 7th outcome – those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 but have now switched to Labour. In my latest calculation, for January, the number has dropped to a low point.

This is not the sort of trend that you can easily discern from a single poll which is why I’ve gone for monthly averages.

The above chart is based on eighteen months of the twice-weekly Populus poll and shows the proportion of 2010 LD voters who are now telling the pollsters that they’ve switched. Populus has been chosen because the other regular one, YouGov, does not present its numbers in a way that you can easily extract the data.

What seems to be happening is that they are not going back to Clegg’s party but are now saying Green.

If the Ashcroft marginals polling is correct then we are likely to see less of an effect in key seats that the Tories are defending from LAB or trying to take from the LDs.

Professor John Curtice calls the yellow switchers “Labour’s crutch” – well it’s getting shorter.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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Cracking New Statesman piece by Matthew Engel on betting & politics

January 28th, 2015

The full article is here. This is an extract that’s most relevant to PB

“…The original purpose of both sides – trying to make a profit on the transaction – is certainly not absent. Indeed, in recent years it has become more central. At the heart of this phenomenon is a new class somewhat different from the blokes who hang round the betting shops. Their bible is a somewhat clunky blog-cum-website, PoliticalBetting.com, founded ten years ago by an ex-journalist, university fundraiser and Liberal Democrat candidate called Mike Smithson, who lost his political betting virginity as a teenager in the 1963 Tory leadership shemozzle.

Smithson uses the slogan: “The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble” (Bedford, actually), which for political betting purposes is definitely the place to be. No one can make money from the bookmakers by following conventional wisdom. And Smithson and his small team of contributors are particularly good at getting beyond that.

But of the two words in the site’s title, the first is more significant. This is a wonkish site first and foremost. I am not sure whether knowing that the Conservatives retained a seat on Rother District Council by winning the Darwell by-election adds to the sophistication of my political analysis, especially when I am not sure where either Rother or Darwell might be. But it certainly makes me feel clued up. As does the rigour Smithson brings to the study of polling data.

The site’s small profit, however, comes from the betting firms paying commission on click-throughs that generate custom, although the companies are just a bit wary of this new business. “I know who some of these people are,” says Matthew Shaddick, head of political betting at Ladbrokes. “A lot of them are political obsessives: activists, poll-watchers, or they work in political HQs. Real anoraky stats people, or political scientists with their own models.” In other words, not necessarily the mug punters the bookies traditionally love…”

Engel concludes:-

“..We aficionados all have our failures, heaven knows. But we can smile about our past triumphs, as over some long-ago night of passion. I was a fairly early Obama backer but Mike Smithson spotted him long before I did and backed him to be president at 50/1. My own moment of glory came in 1990, when I divined that Michael Heseltine would indeed topple Margaret Thatcher but then get punished by being deprived of the prize himself; therefore I knew – just knew – that the answer to the question simply had to be John Major, at 10/1. And I kept betting until Hills told me to get knotted.

I am relishing the 2015 election first and foremost because I care about my country and want it to be run by politicians who share my vision of its future; second because, for a journalist, it will be fascinating to write about; and third, because I hope that I might just have another moment of blinding insight to match the one I had 25 years ago. Which may be lucrative in a medium-sized way – and gloriously satisfying.”



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And for the evening with 100 days to go – a Marf cartoon

January 27th, 2015

  • If you would like to purchase one of Marf’s prints or originals, please contact her here.


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    New betting market: How many cabinet ministers will lose their seats?

    January 27th, 2015

    Betfair Sportsbook’s ever expanding range of new markets has got an interesting one up.

    How many of the current cabinet will lose their seats at the general election?

    0 9/2
    1 3/1
    2 2/1
    3 4/1
    4 6/1
    5 10/1
    6 20/
    7 40/1
    8 50/1
    9 66/1
    10 Or More 100

    Clearly the most vulnerable are the five Lib Dems and Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, whose Loughborough seat is a marginal. Carmichael and Cable look pretty secure. Ed Davey should be OK in Kingston giving the recent Ashcroft poll.

    Clegg might have a fight on his hands in Hallam where last month’s Ashcroft poll had him just 3% ahead. and there’s little doubt Danny Alexander is under real pressure in Inverness.

    My guess is that the best bet with Betfair sportsbook is 1.

    Mike Smithson

    For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble




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    Survation test a constituency specific question in its new Mirror poll and get a slightly different outcome

    January 27th, 2015


    Wikimedia

    An unusual feature of the new Survation poll for the Daily Mirror is that, partly at my suggestion, it used the two stage voting question similar to that which we see in the Ashcroft marginals polling.

    After the standard one was put the sample was asked to think specifically about the candidates likely to be standing in their seats and which one would they choose. The options were not the parties but were in the format of “the XYZ party candidate”.

    Interestingly this produced a slightly different outcome to the standard figure which is in brackets:

    CON 30.7 (31.4)
    LAB 31.1 (30.4)
    LD 7 (7)
    UKIP 21.4 (22.6)
    GRN 3.2 (3.2)

    So a minuscule changes but at the top a different party ahead. Certainly the level of the change was on nothing like the scale that we see in some of the Ashcroft single constituency marginals polling.

    Maybe this is because voters in the marginals can, even at this stage before the election, have a greater level of awareness about the election than voters in constituencies that are not marginals. More than 80% of responders in national polls do not vote in marginals.

    My view is that this close to the election that there should be only one question and that should be constituency specific getting people to think about the candidates. After all in general elections the actual choice is for an individual to be our MP not a party.

    Mike Smithson

    For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble