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Fri May 5, 2017, 08:13 PM

Don't be fooled by election results - Tories still face uphill battle in their bid to crush Labour

Good, but perhaps not quite as good as the party would like. That seems to be the message for the Tories that emerged from the local ballot boxes yesterday.

True, at 38 per cent the BBC’s projection of the English county council results into a national share of the vote was the best tally for the Conservatives since Gordon Brown occupied 10 Downing St. It was enough to put the party as much as 11 points ahead of Labour, whose performance was worse than anything recorded during Ed Miliband’s tenure as leader.

However, this 11-point lead was rather less than the 17-point lead currently to be found on average in the opinion polls. More importantly it is only four points above the lead that David Cameron secured in the 2015 general election.

That performance gave the Tories a majority of just 12, a majority that is now deemed by the Prime Minister to be inadequate. Theresa May wants a landslide, and while an 11-point lead would probably give her a comfortable victory, such an outcome on 8 June might now be deemed something of a disappointment.


I'd call this a contrarian view, but it's by John Curtice, so I tend to listen.

I would quibble with his claim that the Tories' "strong advance in the local elections in Scotland gives the party good reason to anticipate making some gains north of the border next month", though.

Just as the Holyrood elections last year, run on the D'Hondt PR voting system, flattered the Tories in terms of seats (by far the majority were regional list seats rather than directly elected), the single transferable vote system Scotland used for the council elections will also have had its own more unpredictable effects in terms of down-ticket transfer votes (not least because an embarrassing number of the electorate don't seem to have grasped what was expected of them).

They could make some minor inroads beyond the sole Scottish Westminster seat they currently hold (they can barely do worse), but they've quite a hill to climb under the first past the post system, it will be a very different election despite their efforts to turn the local council campaign into an anti-indyref/SNP referendum, and a lot of their enthusiasm at the prospect of taking seats from the likes of the SNP's leader at Westminster Angus Robertson stems from wishful reading of small (hence statistically unreliable) Scottish subsamples of UK national polls.

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Reply Don't be fooled by election results - Tories still face uphill battle in their bid to crush Labour (Original post)
Denzil_DC May 2017 OP
nycbos May 2017 #1
Denzil_DC May 2017 #2
T_i_B May 2017 #3
muriel_volestrangler May 2017 #4
Denzil_DC May 2017 #5

Response to Denzil_DC (Original post)

Fri May 5, 2017, 08:31 PM

1. You are aware Labour lost seats they have held for decades?

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Response to nycbos (Reply #1)

Fri May 5, 2017, 08:42 PM

2. Yes, I am.

Is there a point behind that question, which seems pointless verging on insulting since I've posted numerous times about the local council elections in the last 24 hours?

I'm not even a Labour supporter, except that I'd crawl naked over broken glass to vote for them if it would keep a Tory out of office (being in Scotland, that's a pure hypothetical nowadays).

Curtice is pretty much the UK's top psephologist, and has been for decades. When he writes, I tend to read, if not always agree.

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Response to Denzil_DC (Original post)

Sat May 6, 2017, 01:21 AM

3. As I have been saying for some time now...

Last edited Sat May 6, 2017, 03:46 AM - Edit history (1)

.....the Tories are well on course to win my constituency, which is normally safe Labour. And if my area is a foregone conclusion for the Tories I don't see how the rest of the country can resist the Tory menace.

The main trend to benefit the Tories is the collapse of the UKIP vote now that Theresa May has stolen their agenda wholesale. Add into this the Tories financial advantage over their rivals and the state of Labour and it becomes reminiscent of the 2001 general election, in the sense that it was a landslide victory that was always rather inevitable.

And that's a bad thing because Labour from 2001 onwards were not good at all. That landslide made them think they could take people for granted.

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Response to Denzil_DC (Original post)

Sat May 6, 2017, 05:10 AM

4. Against that, there's this depressing model

Conventional wisdom suggests the Tories could bleed Remain votes to the Lib Dems. Our detailed data analysis suggests this idea could be very wrong indeed

To find out, I teamed up with Martin Baxter, from Electoral Calculus. We wanted to take the best, most recent polling available on the voting intentions of remain and leave supporters, split by who they voted for in 2015, create a model of which voters are moving where, and apply that seat-by-seat to figure out what the major shifts are and what their impact could be in an election.
To find out, Other Martin used the transition matrix above to create a Markov chain style simulation. This approach takes a collection of possible states (i.e. being a Tory voter, being a Labour voter, and so on), and uses the probability that voters will hop between any two given states to simulate outcomes for a large population of voters. (For a superb visual explanation, check out this link.)

To make the model more realistic, we accounted for ‘stickiness’ of each parties core vote, dividing voters into the stronger “red ‘til I die” supporters and the weaker types more likely to swing. Put together, this provides a pretty good approximation of what would happen in an election if the polls were reasonably accurate.
Our model sees the Tories on 422 seats, with Labour reduced to just 150, and the Lib Dems declining from 9 to 6. The Conservative majority would be north of 190. Labour would be wiped out beyond what most people are currently predicting. Leadership candidates like Clive Lewis would no longer be leadership candidates, because they would no longer be MPs.


The problem being that the changed votes so often seem to happen in places where it benefits Tories - from Labour in places where they're in direct contention, or from UKIP where that combined the RW vote, while Labour transfers to LibDems aren't in the right places to elect a LibDem instead, but might enough to weaken the Labour candidate enough to let in a Tory.

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Response to Denzil_DC (Original post)

Wed May 31, 2017, 09:28 PM

5. An update from Curtice, based on the last week's polling:

(My brief summary under each of his points since we can't use formatting in posts at the moment.)

John Curtice: Five things the last week of polling can tell us

1. The Conservative lead has shrunk dramatically

(All pollsters show a substantial narrowing of the Tory lead, ranging from 5-14 points.)

2. Nine points might sound like quite a healthy lead – until we remember one crucial fact

(The Tories' 7-point lead in 2015 gave them a majority of 12, a 9-point lead in this election could give them a majority of 30-40, but some recent polls point to a lead of less than 7 points, which might deprive them of an overall majority.)

3. May is likely to leave this election weakened

(A landslide could be unlikely, which would deprive May of the strong mandate she assumed she'd get.)

4. One key factor could scupper Labour

(Turnout among the 18-24 age group is crucial.)

5. The North could help May

(A number of polls have pointed to strong performance by the Tories in the North and Midlands of England - Labour's heartland, and where it's most vulnerable - though YouGov's megapoll looking at individual seats casts doubt on this and hints at a hung parliament.)


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