Thursday, 18 December 2014


A couple of rules: We know that overall trends are more important than individual polls. We know that while politics is not an exact science, certain historical patterns tend to repeat. What we cannot yet say with a high degree of certainty is how the most finely balanced electoral contest in decades will play out. Here are some thoughts on how you might at least get a sense of the possibilities.
The ‘poll of polls’
You are usually on safer ground looking at an average of polls, as this reduces sample error (the natural margin of error in even a perfectly representative sample) and may even out the different “house effects” individual pollsters have in their methodologies.
Even the poll of polls should be treated with caution, though. If most polls include similar inaccuracies, systematic error can occur – where they are all biased in a particular direction. The classic example is the 1992 General Election, when most pollsters collectively and incorrectly pointed to a victory for Neil Kinnock’s Labour, but this year’s Scottish independence referendum also showed systematic biases across all pollsters, with the poll of polls average significantly underestimating the ‘No’ vote.
Systematic error is not normally large. The problem this year is that relatively small differences in vote share for the Conservatives and Labour could lead to wildly different outcomes. Even a small degree of systematic error could be the difference between David Cameron or Ed Miliband standing on the doorstep of Downing Street in May.
Reversion to the mean
Reversion to the mean says that if a measure is over- or under-performing its long-run trend, it is likely to revert towards that trend. In the context of an election, this means that parties tend, over the course of an election cycle, to climb or fall towards their vote share at previous elections.
A very simplified example of this process at the last election is shown below. It uses the December 2009 polling average and compares it with the results at GE2005 and GE2010 (excluding Northern Ireland):

GE2005 final result (GB only)
December 2009 poll average
GE2010 final result (GB only)
Lib Dem
What we see here is that each party’s vote share moved back towards its previous result (the Lib Dems overshooting it after a late surge). This time around, though, there are a couple of jokers in the pack.
Junior coalition partners suffer
Junior coalition partners face a torrid time. The nearest parallel can be found in Germany. In 2009, Germany’s Lib Dem sister party (the FDP) won a strong 14.6% of the national vote, and went into coalition with Angela Merkel’s larger Christian Democratic Union (a centre-right party). At the following election, their share fell nearly ten points to just 4.8%, despite the government being relatively popular.
The German experience suggests that the Lib Dems could face a similarly severe collapse and that the above projection of 13.2% for the Lib Dems may still be an optimistic estimate. The FDP polled a static 4-5% throughout the run-in to the 2013 election.
A vacuum for UKIP
While UKIP has not stolen hoards of voters from the Lib Dems, it is the collapse of the Lib Dems more than anything that has created the space for UKIP to thrive. Many commentators have made the point that the rise of UKIP is not about policy but about their being a focal point for anti-Westminster sentiment – a role in which the pre-2010 Lib Dems and other “outsider” parties thrived.
The size of the non-Labour/Conservative vote at general elections has increased steadily at every election in recent memory, from just 22% in 1992 to 33% in 2010 (these figures are for Great Britain only; the dotted line projects this forward):
It is reasonable to assume that this trend will continue, given declining party loyalty among younger generations of voters and demographic changes. (More bluntly, at each election, some of the older two-party tribalists have died, and younger, less loyal voters have reached voting age.)
The two-horse race
So the Conservatives and Labour are competing for about two thirds of the total vote. This is reflected in their current polling shares of around 30-34%. Below are some rough seat forecasts based on different permutations of figures in this range (assuming Lib Dem 8% and UKIP 16%). We have used UK-Elect v.9.1 to run the projection.

Con vote % (GB only)
Lab vote % (GB only)
Con seats
Lab seats
LD seats
Hung parliament (Con largest)
Hung parliament (Con largest)
Hung parliament (Lab largest)
Hung parliament (Lab largest)
Lab majority
Lab majority
Lab majority
The most striking feature of these projections is the imbalance in the system. Some will argue that the Labour figures could be depleted by a strong SNP showing in Scotland (some have even suggested, erroneously in our view, by as many as 40 seats) – that could happen, but none of these losses would directly benefit the Conservatives, so barring an extraordinary and isolated collapse in Scotland, the imbalance persists.
The fundamentals
And yet the suspicion remains that Ed Miliband can never be Prime Minister: that voters balk when confronted with the image of him striding into Downing Street; that he is weird, otherworldly, unsuitable. Anyone who has conducted a focus group on British politics will be familiar with these attitudes.
The question is whether these views have already been priced into the polls. It is tempting for those who dismiss Mr Miliband to think that a further collapse in Labour support is on the horizon. But there have been plenty of ineffective party leaders in the past, and there is little evidence that their presence precipitates a last-minute collapse in support (as opposed to an already depreciated stock value). Michael Foot’s disastrous performance in 1983 had already been foreshadowed by polls in the summer of 1982.
So Mr Cameron’s biggest hope will be that the polls are systematically understating his party’s support by two percentage points (see Shy Tory phenomenon), and overstating Labour’s by the same figure. He will hope that he then climbs from an adjusted current position of 33% to 35%, with Labour dipping from an adjusted position of 31% to 29%. This would give him a slim majority or pole position in another round of coalition negotiations.
Mr Miliband will simply want to avoid losing any ground. The debate around 35% and 40% strategies is over. For Labour it is now a minus–two strategy – avoid slipping any further than two points behind the Conservatives, and hope that the Government continues to make mistakes.
Bet on a weak government
In the meantime, given the volatility of the system, betting on an actual outcome this far out is pretty difficult. With four possible outcomes, nothing stands out as being more likely to happen than not happen, with the exception of a hung parliament. Instead we can look for common threads running through each likely outcome, and see if together these give us something we can confidently predict.
The one that strikes us is the likelihood of a weak government. Not all coalitions are created equal: the current Conservative-Lib Dem coalition has been remarkably stable, enjoying a large working majority of over 360 seats, and the (relative) goodwill of senior figures in each party. But a Lib Dem collapse in 2015 would make viable two-party coalitions much harder to form, and the remaining options (Scottish and Welsh nationalists, Northern Irish parties, and UKIP) would make strange bedfellows for a party with a conventional agenda.
Expect a parliament of management rather than reform. Expect the constant threat of backbench rebellions. Expect there to be a battle in each party between consensus-driven politicians, who seek to make a difficult parliament workable, and adversarial figures seeing an opportunity to fight a second election on more favourable terms. And your most lucrative bet may be on another election well before 2020.
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Author:Andy White

Head of Innovation
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More information here.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

YOUGOV (FACEBOOK v VOTING)  <<< Follow the link if you would like to join the YOUGOV panel and have your opinions heard 

Mr Clegg why do we seem to have more immigrants than LibDems in the UK?

YOUGOV (LIBDEMS v THE GREENS) <<< is a link to a breakdown of today's YOUGOV polling

this tweet from us

Ended up getting this response from
In case it gets deleted

Matt Gallagher @Matt4PCC
@UKELECTIONS2015 What would help is some explanation as to why UK now seems to have fewer liberals than immigrants?

YOUGOV (LIBDEMS v THE GREENS)  <<< Follow the link if you would like to join the YOUGOV panel and have your opinions heard 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Survation polling in Witney & SW Surrey

David Cameron & Jeremy Hunt's Constituents Tell Survation Healthcare Is Their Focus, Want NHS Protected From EU-US Trade Deal (TTIP)

On behalf of Unite the union, Survation interviewed 1016 residents of Prime Minister David Cameron's constituency of Witney and 1062 residents of Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt’s constituency of South West Surrey by telephone. Fieldwork was conducted between 2-5 December.

What Is The Most Important Local Issue In The Prime Minister's Constituency?

Local NHS and GP services are by far the most important local issue in Witney – almost three times as important as immigration.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt?

Local NHS and GP services are by far the most important issue in South West Surrey - as important a local issue as crime, immigration, employment and education put together.

US-EU Trade Agreement - Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP)

We also asked Mr Cameron and Mr Hunt’s constituents about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The deal, dubbed TTIP, is currently being negotiated between the EU and the USA.

Survation found that:
  • A majority of constituents in both constituencies told Survation they oppose the inclusion of the NHS in the agreement.

  • The majority of both Mr Cameron and Mr Hunt's constituents think the Prime Minister should seek to exclude the NHS from the agreement.

  • If Mr Cameron were unable to achieve a guaranteed opt-out for the NHS, residents of Witney and South West Surrey that had a view told Survation he should veto the agreement.

Voting Intention

Unsurprisingly in these rural safe Conservative seats, headline results suggest that both Mr Cameron and Mr Hunt will safely keep their seats next May - Mr Cameron leads UKIP - his closest challenger by 34 points and Mr Hunt ahead of UKIP by 42 points in our snapshots.

Comparing the results of these polls to the 2010 general election, in both seats UKIP have since overtaken the Liberal Democrats to claim second place. UKIP are now polling on 19% in Mr Cameron’s Witney seat, up 16 points from their 2010 result in the seat. Similarly, UKIP are polling on 15% in South West Surrey, up from 2% in 2010.

Our polls also suggest both the Greens and Labour are doing better in these South East seats than in 2010. 

Full tables for the poll in Witney including the full questions put are available here. Tables for the polling in South West Surrey are available here.

Populus Polling

A list of up coming council by elections

 Thanks to MiddleEnglander for the information gathering.

There are 2 by-elections remaining in 2014 with an additional one scheduled for the 18th having seen the Plaid Cymru candidate returned unopposed. There are 3 called so far for January including one for 2 seats. A further 11 vacancies are known where the election has as yet no date, although up to 8 could remain unfilled as they are to be contested again in May. So far 10 vacancies have been identied classified as under the "six month" rule.

18th December - 3
Gwynedd UA, Bowydd & Rhiw - Plaid Cymru resigned - Plaid Cymru returned unopposed
Kingston upon Thames LB, St James - Conservative died - 5 candidates: Con, Lab, LD, UKIP, Green
Nottinghamshire CC, Ollerton - Labour died - 4 candidates: Con, Lab, LD, UKIP

22nd January - 1
Fife UA, Kirkaldy East - SNP resigned
Wealden DC, Crowborough West - Conservative died

29th January - 1 for 2 seats
St Albans DC, Marshalswick - 2 Conservatives resigned

Current known vacancies where by-election not yet called - 11
Derbyshire CC, Brimington - Labour died 22nd October
Cambridgeshire CC, Bar Hill - Conservative died around 22nd November
Carmarthenshire UA, Hengoed - Labour died around 29th November
* Herefordshire UA, Mortimer - Conservative died 6th November
* High Peak DC, Limestone Peak - Conservative died around 15th September
* Lichfield DC, St John's - Conservative died 14th September
* Rushcliffe DC, Manvers - Conservative died 26th September
* South Oxfordshire DC, Goring- Conservative died 21st September
* South Ribble BC, Bamber Bridge West - Labour died 1st November
* St Edmunsbury BC, Haverhill East - Conservative sitting as UKIP died 2nd October
* Waveney DC, St Margaret's - Labour died 8th November

* seats that will be contested again in May 2015.
Whilst not covered by the "6 month" rule, experience from earlier years suggests some may be left unfilled until May.

Vacancies covered by the "6 month" rule - 10
Bedford UA, Great Barford - Conservative died 6th December
Bracknell Forest UA, Winkfield & Cranborne - Conservative died 18th November
Milton Keynes UA, Monkston - Liberal Democrat resigned 17th November
Rushcliffe DC, Thoroton - Conservative died 16th November
Shepway DC, Hythe East - Conservative died 7th December
Stroud DC, Nailsworth - Conservative died close to rule becoming applicable
Torbay UA, Blatchcombe - Conservative died around 4th December
Waverley BC, Cranleigh East - Conservative died 29th November
Wealden DC, Buxsted & Maresfield - Conservative resigned 26th November
Wychavon DC, Badsey - Conservative died 15th November

Bookmakers Favourites #GE2015 Forecast result

Before I start with the result I would like to thank our lass for humouring me with being the teller for todays results. I did try to do the tally sheet myself, checking down the page and using the gate system to see who had the most favourites. Last time I tried this exercise I lost my place more times then I care to mention and it took nearly an hour. So this time my wife became teller and checked off the figures as I called out the parties. Now my wife has no interest in politics or stats for that matter. But in these small things humours me. So a big I LOVE YOU to Mrs Election.

Here courtesy of oddschecker (and Mrs Election) is the amount of seats each party are Favourite in

Labour 305
Conservatives 268
LibDems 29
SNP 16
Plaid Cymru 3
Greens 1
John Bercow 1

Now it is not scientific, but this is where the money is going so all in all it is as good as any scientific theorem of projected shares and swings.

Will monitor once a month our lass permitting, once maybe enough to humour me.

link to 8 other sources of election forecasts >>> #GE2015 FORECASTS

Sunday, 14 December 2014

YOUGOV (STATS FROM BENEATH THE HEADLINE FIGURES)  <<< Follow the link if you would like to join the YOUGOV panel and have your opinions heard