Archive for the ' General Election' Category


Looking back to those final GE15 phone polls one thing stands out about LAB backers…

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

There were more non-GE10 voters in the LAB totals than in CON

The British Polling Council inquiry into what went wrong with the GE15 is well under way and no doubt many will be putting forward theories about what caused them to be so wrong.

One of the factors that I believe was partly responsible for the overstatement of LAB shares is featured in the chart above – a larger part of its support according to the surveys was coming from those who did not vote for the main parties at the 2010 election.

From the data that’s made available by the pollsters it’s not possible to identify whether these were non voters or not but given that 90%+ of the overall 2010 vote went to LAB-CON-LD it is a reasonable assumption that the above is a good pointer.

Part of this is accounted for by those in the 18-23 age bracket who, clearly, could not have voted at the previous general election and they were more likely to be LAB backer but that is only a partial explanation.

The same happened in much of the by-election polling over the past year. LAB was attracting more non-voters at the previous election than other parties.

    All the evidence is that the best guide to whether you will vote in the next election is whether you voted in the last one.

The BPC needs to address the way pollsters deal with likelihood to vote. It should be more than just telling the interviewer that you are 10/10 certain.

Mike Smithson


The widespread assumption that Dave won’t lead CON into the next election might be wrong

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

How much should we attach to the famous Landale interview?

Whenever people discuss the next election they will invariably point out that the Tories will not, unlike 2010 and 2015, be led by David Cameron.

All this is based on the televised kitchen conversation that the PM had with the BBC’s James Landale in March a week or so before the official campaign began.

    My reading after watching the video again is that this was not a firm commitment to stand aside and that we cannot necessarily conclude that a new person will lead the Tories in 2020.

A key factor, of course, is that Cameron’s comments were made when virtually nobody, himself included I guess, thought a Tory majority was possible. Now that he has pulled that off he’s in a much stronger position within his party and the country. Cameron is now what he wasn’t in 2010 – an unequivocal winner.

Of course there is a lot that could go wrong in the next five years. The EU negotiations and referendum won’t be an easy ride but I wonder whether having tasted a clear victory on May 7th will have impacted on Cameron’s career planning. He is, after all, a relatively young man and would only be 53 at the next election.

If you are prepared to lock up your stake for 5 years then the William Hill 16/1 that he’ll cease to be CON leader in 2021 or later looks a value bet.

Mike Smithson


After the IndyRef experience it’s going to be harder not to allow 16/17 year olds to vote in the EU referendum

Monday, May 25th, 2015

When Alex Salmond pushed through his measure to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in last September’s IndyRef in Scotland it was only a matter of time before this became an issue for the whole of the country.

With constitutional change, like Scotland going independent or Britain leaving the EU, there’s clearly a strong argument that those who will be most affected, the young, should be able to participate in the decision.

    After their apparent reversal on having an EU referendum at all Labour clearly wants to be seen to be doing something that means this is not all a Tory measure.

The big risk to Cameron is that the referendum bill could get clogged up in the House of Lords where it is in the minority. A concession, using the Scottish precedent is possible although it will be strongly opposed by some sections of the blue team.

The polling suggests that the older you are the more you oppose Britain remaining in the EU.

Mike Smithson


New research finds that the Tories took a third of the ethnic minority vote at GE2015

Monday, May 25th, 2015


The million minority voters that put Cameron into Number Ten

One million ethnic minority votes helped put David Cameron into Downing Street on election night, according to a major new piece of research into attitudes among minority voters released today.

While LAB remains ahead with minority voters on 52%, the research finds that the gap between the two main parties is shrinking dramatically. One third (33%) of ethnic minority voters supported the CON in 2015, a stronger result than ever before for the party, which has historically struggled to appeal to non-white voters. LDs and Greens took 5% of the ethnic minority vote, with 2% voting for UKIP.

The new study, the largest survey of ethnic minority attitudes to be published in the 2015 election cycle, provides surprising new insights into the political views of ethnic minorities in Britain. Conducted by Survation for thinktank British Future, it surveyed 2,000 ethnic minority respondents across Britain straight after the election from 8-14 May.

Translated into votes(1), based on an estimated 3 million ethnic minority taking part in the election, the results equate to 1.6 million votes for LAB, with CON securing one million ethnic minority votes for the first time in the party’s history. The Lib Dems and Greens both secured 150,000 ethnic minority votes, with UKIP on 75,000.

The research also reveals interesting differences in party support by ethnic group, showing much higher support for CON among Asian voters than other ethnic minorities:

Asian: 50% LAB , 38% CON

Black: 67% LAB , 21% CON

Mixed race: 49% LAB , 26% CON

Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future, said:

“Ethnic minority votes are more ‘up for grabs’ than ever before.

“While David Cameron clearly took a lot of votes from the Lib Dems in the election, he also seems to have extended his party’s appeal to ethnic minority voters too.

“Labour remains ahead with minority voters, but the party may have won too many of its minority votes in the wrong places electorally – doubling majorities in heartland urban seats that were already safe but slipping in the southern marginals.

“But in places like Watford, Swindon and Milton Keynes, Conservatives can be increasingly confident of their appeal to aspirational ethnic minority voters.

“The middle-England ‘Mondeo Man’ of the 2015 election could well be a British Asian.”

Different faith groups also gave very different responses, with ethnic minority Christians and Muslims preferring Labour to the Conservatives but Hindus and Sikhs* preferring the Conservatives to Labour:

There were also significant differences by region, with the gap between Labour and Conservative support very small in the south and much larger in the north of England:

England: 53% LAB, 33% CON
South: 43% LAB, 40% CON
Midlands: 60% LAB, 28% CON
North: 60% LAB, 26% CON
London: 54% LAB, 34% CON

Omar Khan, director of the Runnmyede Trust, said:

“These findings confirm that Labour remains the preferred choice among BME voters, but also that the Conservative party has made a breakthrough in winning around a third of those votes, nearly matching their overall national vote share.

“The research also offers new evidence on what we know about voting patterns among different ethnic groups and in different areas in modern Britain.

“Labour’s vote share looks to have held up best in the top 75 most diverse seats in the UK, where half of BME people live. But with more and more BME people moving outside the major cities the conservatives appear well placed to make further gains in 2020 and beyond if they can respond to ethnic inequalities and realise BME aspirations while in government.”

The contents of this post are from the write up on the Survation site.

Mike Smithson


David Herdson: Elect in haste; repent at leisure

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015


Straight after defeat is not the best time to elect a new leader

Michael Howard did the Conservatives two great favours as leader: the manner of his arrival and the manner of his departure. After the hapless two years under Duncan Smith, he (and David Davis, by standing aside), created a much-needed sense of unity and with it, the first signs of the determination and hunger necessary to regain office. Perhaps even more importantly, after he led his party to a relatively honourable defeat in 2005, he didn’t resign straight away but allowed the Tories time to relax, think and reassess the previous four years before starting the election to succeed him. Had he not done so, it is far less likely that David Cameron would have become leader.

    Not that having thinking space guarantees it will be used wisely – Labour waited until 1980 before picking Michael Foot, for example – but to pitch battle-tired MPs and activists alike into an internal contest within weeks or even days of a general election is asking a lot of their judgement.

It’s also asking a lot of the candidates and such a short timescale inevitably favours front-runners: politicians already at the top or with powerful connections. This matters particularly for Labour where there’s a very high threshold for nominations but applies to all parties simply because name recognition matters even for MPs (how many of those new to Labour’s benches hadn’t even met Burnham or Cooper before this week?). As such, there’s a stronger chance of a continuity candidate, particularly following a defeat. Hague and IDS’s pro-Thatcherite credentials were crucial in winning, as, in a not dissimilar way, was Ed Miliband’s union backing. It is a hard task for any candidate to immediately and credibly disassociate him- or herself from the policies they’ve just fought under. By contrast, some of the clearest turns to the centre, such as the elections of Major, Blair or Clegg, happened mid-term.

It’s even less necessary to pick quickly now with the FTPA in place. Labour could be forgiven for wanting a new leader installed by September 2010 when there was no guarantee the first peacetime coalition government since the 1930s would last the winter never mind five years. There is no such pressure this time. Cameron has a working majority will almost certainly see him through until the EU referendum: there’ll be no general election before October 2017 at the very earliest, and then only if there’s a massive Tory revolt.

So why do it? In some ways, that’s the wrong question. Clearly much depends on whether the sitting leader being willing to stay on or whether it’s possible for a deputy to lead an extended interregnum. Both scenarios depend on the mood of the party in question, both in the House and in the country.

The problem lies in the dual nature of the job, particularly for parties in opposition, which is where most changes occur. It’s all very well picking someone to lead through the next parliament and hold the government to account; that has to be done now. On the other hand, to select someone to fight the next election nearly five years before it happens might be considered a bit previous. If all goes according to the three parties’ respective plans, the Conservatives will select their next PM-candidate more than four years after Labour and the Lib Dems. That carries its own risks but will allow people to make their way through during the parliament. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next Tory leader isn’t currently in the cabinet.

The real question is more about goings than comings. If parties have to have leaders all the way through, which they do, then it’s essential that there’s an effective ejection method. That doesn’t have to be a formal mechanism – the Lib Dems replaced Kennedy and Campbell without any such need – but it’s certainly better if it is, not least because such a means stands as a credible threat to an underperforming leader, to be utilized if they refuse to jump. Getting it right, however, is a tricky balance; you want something usable that’s not destabilizing.

But that’s about more than just systems. The Conservatives didn’t materially change their leadership election process between 1975 and 1999 and yet the two halves of that period could not have been more dissimilar: until 1987, not only was Margaret Thatcher not challenged but there was practically no talk of it; by contrast, from thereon, whoever was Tory leader was almost always under threat. What changed was not the process but the mentality of the party (and, it has to be said, its electoral success – or not – at the polls). And getting the right cultural attitude towards leader replacement is as fine a balance as the powers in the rules: too passive and you drift to a foreseeable and perhaps preventable defeat; too aggressive and you become a discredited unruly mob.

Of course, it’s best not to need to change leader at all but if events do plunge a party into an early leadership contest before candidates or electorate are ready, the last thing you want is to be stuck with the wrong person for five years with no effective way out.

David Herdson


How Britain voted on May 7th – the Ipsos MORI guide

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

pic (1)

And the BPC announces details of its GE15 inquiry

After every general election Ipsos produces a table like the one above which become a key source of reference.

Meanwhile the British Polling Council has announced details of its inquiry into what went wrong with the polls.

Under the chairmanship of Prof. Patrick Sturgis, Director of the National Centre for Research Methods at the University of Southampton, the Inquiry is charged with the task of establishing the degree of inaccuracy in the polls, the reasons for the inaccuracies it identifies, and whether the findings and conduct of the polls were adequately communicated to the general public. Due to report by 1 March next year, the Inquiry will seek and welcomes submissions from all interested parties, and is empowered both to make recommendations about the future practice of polling and, where appropriate, for changes in the rules of the BPC. The BPC and MRS are committed to publishing the Inquiry’s report in full.
Eight people with professional expertise and experience in conducting and analyzing survey and polling data, have agreed to serve (unpaid) as members of the Inquiry. None of them were directly involved in conducting published polls during the election campaign. They are as follows:
o Dr. Nick Baker, Group CEO, Quadrangle Research Group Ltd

o Dr. Mario Callegaro, Senior Survey Research Scientist, Google UK

o Dr. Stephen Fisher, Associate Professor of Political Sociology, University of Oxford, who runs the Electionsetc website

o Dr. Jouni Kuha, Associate Professor of Statistics, London School of Economics and lead statistician for the BBC/ITV/Sky exit poll

o Prof. Jane Green, Professor of Political Science, University of Manchester and Co-Director of the 2015 British Election Study

o Prof. Will Jennings, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, University of Southampton, and a member of the Polling Observatory team.

o Dr Ben Lauderdale, Associate Professor in Research Methodology, London School of Economics and one of the team behind the website.

o Dr. Patten Smith, Research Director, Research Methods Centre, Ipsos MORI and Chair of the Social Research Association.

Mike Smithson


New PB columnist Don Brind looks back two weeks

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

ITV News 2200 May 7th the moment the exit poll was announced

The Tories won the ground war

There was a persistent refrain from Tories as they looked at polls pointing to David Cameron being ejected from No 10 – “Rememeber 1992”.

It was tempting to reply – “Beware of what you wish for”

The Tory annus mirabilis saw John Major confounding the pollsters and trouncing Neil Kinnock with a record 14 million votes. But it swiftly turned into annus horribilis when four months later Black Wednesday saw the pound crash out of the European Exchange rate mechanism in a welter of interest rate hikes.

The Tories plunged to 32% in the polls where they flatlined, making Major easy meat for Tony Blair in 1997,

On May 7th David Cameron delivered the first Tory majority for 23 years. The comparison with 1992 tells us something interesting about GE 2015.

Cameron’s tally of 11.5 million votes and 37 % share look miserable alongside John Major’s 14m votes and 42% share.

Cameron got his overall Commons majority despite increasing his vote tally by fewer than 100,000 – an increased vote share of 0.8%. Labour’s vote was up 1.5% — an extra 150,000 despite dropping 125,000 in Scotland.

    But if the Cameron comes out badly – the comparison is grim for Labour. What made the results so bad for Labour was they lost where they thought they were strong – in the ground war.

That is the big contrast with 1992. Then John Major’s record record vote was rewarded with a Common’s majority of 20 a handful more than Cameron’s. Labour had mastered the art of key seat campaigning and denied Major around 20 seats that he would have expected to win.

Two landslide defeats later the Tories set about catching up. In 2010 with the then deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft was in charge. He has described how “target seats received nearly 74 million centrally produced fliers, leaflets, postcards, surveys, newspapers and magazines.” The keys seats showed bigger swings to the Tories than the national average and that, he claims produced an extra 23 gains from Labour and another 9 from the Lib Dems.

This time round the Tories employed micro-targeting techniques from the US, which were “so sophisticated that in the final week the party was having multiple contacts via Facebook, phone and on the doorstep with individual voters who had been identified as likely to switch from the Liberal Democrats or choose the Tories over Labour,” according to Jim Messina, recruited by the Tories from among top Obama campaigners.

“Facebook was the crucial weapon; using data which the social media site sells to advertisers, he was able to target key constituencies and get to niche groups of voters,” he told the Times.

“We went in and took very deep dives in the seats and to see what was do-able, what was winnable . . . who were the voters, who were potential waverers, thinking about leaving the Lib Dems; who were the voters trying to decide between us and Labour; and who were the voters considering leaving us for Ukip — and we were able to have very focused messages to all of those people.”

Labour had their own hired gunes from the US but it looks as though the Tories’ was the best buy. But that may have had something to do with the fact he had more money to spend. Messina said of his operation “It’s expensive, it’s difficult, but you’re gonna miss a bunch of close races if you don’t.”

It enabled the Tories to match Labour in the key marginals where Labour’s meagre haul of Tory seats was matched by Tory by gains from Labour.

But it was the Lib Dems – traditionally very good at fighting local ground wars — who felt the full force of this Tory onslaught. As campaign chief Paddy Ashdown told the New Statesman’s Tim Wigmore “ they had £50 million to throw at their election campaign, I had less than £3 million.”

“Those organising the Lib Dem campaign on the ground report being outspent by the Conservatives like never before,” says Wigmore. And it was the slaughter of his erstwhile partners that was the key to the David Cameron’s outright victory. His 25 gains from the Lib Dem was about twice what most pollsters and pundits expected.

Labour have been developing techniques similar to Messina’s with the help of “data guru” Ian Warren. Ahead of the election a party source was describing it as the “This is the most sophisticated election tool we’ve developed.” The “Ribena test” (coloured Ukip purple) uses demographic information to carry out risk assessments for the 50 MPs deemed most at risk from Ukip A party source told the paper.

The big challenge facing the new Labour leader and his or her deputy is to work out how they can can scale up this initiative and to match Tory operation – and even more important how they can raise the cash to do it.

Don Brind


Post election “how did you vote” poll finds it was the oldies and men what won it for Dave

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

GQR, Labour’s pollster, has just published a post May 7th survey it carried out for the TUC asking people how they voted.

The main findings are above and show a big lead for CON amongst men and a huge one amongst the over 55s.

There’s a huge amount of data presented in an easy access interactive way on the GQR site.

Mike Smithson