Friday, 8 November 2019

Remain alliance may have limited impact

The Remain alliance of three parties may have limited impact. Sir John Curtice estimates that it could affect the outcome in six seats. Of course, that could be significant in a tight contest.

There is some anecdotal evidence that voters do not like their choice being restricted so that, for example, they can no longer vote Green. It has also been pointed out that the election is about more than Brexit.

Good analysis here, pointing out that Labour is key to the Remain Alliance achieving its goal: Conservative seats under threat

Friday, 1 November 2019

Three figure majority for Conservatives?

Current polling figures suggest a 148 majority for the Conservatives over all other parties: Forecast

Some leading Labour names would lose their seats, e.g., Tom Watson. However, the figures don't really take account of personal votes for sitting MPs, admittedly not large, but they could count in tight contests.

Although a Conservative overall majority is a likely outcome, I doubt whether it would be in three figures.

Conservative Home takes a look at East Midlands seats: Election battlegrounds

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Here comes Workington man

We all remember the fictitious median voter, Worcester Woman, that David Cameron was supposed to target. Actually, I think it started as a joke by election guru Robert Worcester, but the media honed in on this thirty something woman in Worcester with children and working part-time.

Well now it is the era of 'Workington man', at least according to a Tory think tank: Boris Johnson must target Workington man

He lives in a Rugby League town in the north of England and is a traditional Labour voter who backs leave. Apparently, he 'favours security over freedom across both social and economic axes, but leans much more towards security on social issues'. He distrusts globalisation and neo-liberal Thatcherism does not appeal to him. It has to be said that the historic Conservative record in these towns is poor, but old loyalties are disappearing.

Vox pops always interest me in elections. They are completely unscientific, but they are one way of trying to understand what voters are thinking. Vox pops on the television channels last night suggested that many voters think that Boris Johnson is someone who 'gets things done' and 'has bottle'.

All the poll evidence so far suggests that Boris Johnson has not suffered from failing to die in a ditch. Leave voters think that he tried his best and two-and-a-half times as many blame Jeremy Corbyn as they do the prime minister.

What Labour has to try to do is to switch the narrative away from Brexit to other austerity related issues where they might hope to be stronger, although the Conservatives will pledge extra spending. The problem is that voters take a very poor view of Jeremy Corbyn. Some women voters are not impressed by Boris Johnson and they may be open to appeals based on social justice issues.

I think that the Lib Dems are taking a bit of a risk with a very hard Remain line. Many people would think that revoking Article 50 on day one of a Liberal Democrat government without any further consultation is a bit strong. Of course, there won't be such a government, but that is their core message.

There has been a lot of emphasis on how much damage the Brexit Party could do the Conservatives, but they could attract more Labour voters in Leave seats that the Conservatives hope to win in the north and Midlands.

Experts on the election

Experienced Welsh politics commentator Roger Anwan-Scally has published a blog on the general election in Wales: The general election battlefield in Wales

None of the Labour seats in Wales is ultra marginal, but there are four feasible target seats. Their close fights are generally straight battles with the Conservatives.

Plaid Cymru will find it hard to gain seats and are vulnerable in two contests.

Writing from his Hong Kong fastness, Philip Cowley gives twelve reasons why this will be a difficult election to predict: Volatile electorate

Sir John Curtice thinks that parties other than the two main ones could have 100 or more seats which would increase the chances of a hung Parliament: Prediction

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Election thoughts

I am not an elections expert and one is dealing with a volatile electorate facing four cornered contests in many seats, but here are a few reflections.

  • A Labour working majority is the least likely outcome. Johnson is a better campaigner than May and Corbyn is less of a fresh face than in 2017. His somersaults on Brexit have disillusioned younger supporters.
  • The Lib Dems may win fewer seats than they anticipate.
  • What the Brexit Party is up to is a bit of a puzzle, they have been very quiet, but it seems that they are still hoping for an electoral pact with the Conservatives.
  • The Democratic Unionists may have marginalised themselves.
  • The Conservatives may hang on to a few seats in Scotland.
  • Students have hardly been disenfranchised by the election date as they can register in two places. But the student vote will be more dispersed and hence less important.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

The problems of polling the electorate

A very interesting report from the Polling Observatory which looks at recent trends in voting intentions: How to read the polling tea leaves

In particular there is a helpful discussion of 'house effects', i.e., the tendency of a polling company to report high or low figures for a particular party. However,if a pollster tends to show one of the parties doing better than the polling industry on average, it does not automatically mean their estimate for the other main party will be lower than the average.

Prompting for the Brexit Party and controlling for past vote appear currently to have significant impacts on poll numbers. In the former case, pollsters that prompt for the Brexit Party in their surveys tend, unsurprisingly, to report higher numbers for the party.

The use of past vote (i.e. how people voted in 2017) to weight samples to make them representative is a longstanding practice in the polling industry. However, this can introduce error through people misreporting their past vote, leading supporters of a party to be overrepresented in the poll.

They wisely conclude, ' There can be no way of knowing which pollster is right before election day, but it is worth urging some caution in how these sorts of numbers are interpreted by those in politics, media and the wider public.'

Monday, 9 September 2019

Impeachment a non-starter

I don't think the call by Westminster's Plaid Cymru leader Liz Saville Roberts to impeach Boris Johnson is going to go anywhere: Impeachment

Impeachment is when a peer or commoner is accused of ‘high crimes and misdemeanours, beyond the reach of the law or which no other authority in the state will prosecute.’ It is a procedure that is ‘directed in particular against Ministers of the Crown’. This arcane procedure has not been used since the 19th century and has never been used against a prime minister.

A House of Commons Library briefing paper on the subject can be found here: Impeachment

The Government says that it thinks it has a way of by-passing the Brexit extension law, but won't say what its cunning plan is. I suspect this means that it doesn't exist other than as more bluster.