BludgerTrack UK: CON 43.9, LAB 35.4, LD 7.9

Latest update from a country where the polls are actually doing something.

With ten days left before the general election, Labour’s recovery in Britain, at least as measured by the polls, has reached an extent sufficient to cause the Conservatives real alarm. Since I last conducted this exercise a week ago, the Conservatives have dropped another 1.8% to hit 43.9%, while Labour is up 2.6% to 35.4%. This leaves both parties well up on their totals at the 2015 election, which were 36.9% and 30.4% respectively. The Liberal Democrats are at 7.9%, which is unchanged on both last week’s reading and their disastrous 2015 election result, while 4.0% is all that remains of Ukip, who polled 12.7% in 2015 and hit a peak of 15.6% on the poll aggregate a month before the Brexit referendum in June last year.

BludgerTrack UK: CON 45.7, LAB 32.8, LD 7.9

British polls continue to point to a Conservative landslide, while showing signs of life for Labour, and a weakening position for the minor parties (at least in England).

With two-and-a-half weeks to go, I’m going to start posting poll aggregates ahead of the June 8 British general election with a regularity yet to be determined. There’s no clever business going on here in terms of weighting and bias adjustment – the results are simply what SAS/STAT’s LOESS function spits out when I plug in all the polling since the 2015 election as harvested from UK Polling Report, using the optimal smoothing parameters it determines through means beyond my pay grade.

The story of the campaign period specifically is that voters have been returning to the major parties, with UKIP suffering particularly badly, to the extent that they are back to looking as “minor” as the Greens. The Liberal Democrats are by no means exempt, despite seemingly having a monopoly on the pro-Europe market. The first of the charts below covers the full course of the current term, while the second zooms in on the period going back to the start of March. Apparent on the second chart but not the first is that the Conservatives have not maintained their early campaign momentum, whereas Labour is undergoing an impressive recovery, albeit from an abysmally low base.

I see England, I see France: part deux

The results of looming elections in France and Britain are looking less in doubt than ever.

Update

4.00am. The sampled count result is in: Macron 65.1%, Le Pen 34.9%.

3.15am. Actually, what will be published at 4am will be the sampled early count of actual voting, which proved pinpoint accurate last time. Exit polls are coming out now, and have Macron at around 63%.

2.15am. I’m giving this a bump in case anyone’s about who wishes to discuss tonight’s results from France. Exit polls will be out at 4am.

Earlier:

We’re now two days away from the run-off election for the French presidency, and a bit under five weeks away from the general election in Britain. A ban on polling in the final days of French election kicks in around about now, and they suggest that centrist contender Emmanuel Macron’s 60-40 lead over far right candidate Marine Le Pen as of a week ago has widened a little as the big day approaches. The polls were eye-wateringly consistent and accurate ahead of the first round election, and have remained so on the former count at least.

Britain had a dry run with yesterday’s council elections, the results of which poured cold water on any notion that the polls might be as badly astray this time as they were in 2015. In other words, they delivered unprecedented victories for the Conservatives and unmitigated disaster for Labour, as well as reinforcing the impression of a mass exodus from Ukip to the Tories. The poll aggregate below, conducted without any clever-dickery in relation to weighting and bias adjustment, records the Conservatives at 44.8% (compared with 36.9% in 2015), Labour at 28.3% (30.4%), the Liberal Democrats at 10.5% (7.9%) and Ukip at 6.8% (12.6%).

The first chart goes back to the last election, the second to the beginning of March. Among the things the latter makes clearer is that a spike to the Conservatives after the election was announced has in fact levelled off, and that some vaguely encouraging results for Labour a week or so ago haven’t been maintained.

I see England, I see France

An overview and thread for discussion of looming national elections in the United Kingdom and France.

UPDATE: Exit polls from France will be published 4am EST (i.e. early Monday morning), and the actual result should be clear about three hours after that, unless it’s particularly close.

There’s a lot of big election news going down right now at the other side of the globe, starting with the first round of France’s presidential elections on Sunday, to be followed a fortnight later by a run-off between the two leading candidates.

Recent polling indicates the two leading candidates are Marine Le Pen of the far right National Front and Emmanuel Macron, a former Socialist running under his own banner. However, polling hasn’t had a great record in Europe lately, and Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight has pointed to a suspiciously narrow range of recent French presidential results, which has been known to signify that pollsters are “herding” each other off the end of a cliff. This leaves at least some hope for François Fillon of the centre-right Republicans, whose initially promising campaign has been hobbled by personal scandals. A hard left candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, has gained a head of steam over the past month, although his recorded support has recently tapered off at a level below where he needs to be. Head-to-head polling suggests Le Pen would be heavily defeated in the run-off, particularly if facing Macron.

It also emerged on Tuesday that Britain will go to the polls on June 8, for an election that looms as an historic disaster for Labour. The Conservatives’ unexpected majority victory at the May 2015 election was achieved from 36.9% of the national vote, which netted them 330 seats out of 650, compared with 30.4% and 232 seats for Labour. Recent polling has mostly had it in the low forties, but two polls conducted in the immediate wake of the election announcement had them at 46% (an ICM poll for the Guardian) and 48% (YouGov for The Times). Labour’s recent poll ratings have been anywhere between 23% and 29%, with the most recent results being 24% from YouGov and 26% from ICM. This suggests the Conservatives are in a position to match Labour’s historic landslides under Tony Blair, who won 418 seats in 1997 and 413 in 2001.

Both major parties were up slightly on the primary vote in 2015, but the Conservatives emerged the principal beneficiary of the collapse of the Liberal Democrats. By contrast, Labour was devastated north of the border by the triumph of the Scottish National Party, which won all but three of Scotland’s 59 seats, gaining 40 from Labour and 10 from the Liberal Democrats. The seats remaining to Labour are concentrated in London; Merseyside and Manchester; Leeds and its industrial surrounds; Birmingham; Newcastle and Durham; and south Wales. The rest of England’s electoral map is a sea of blue, punctuated by occasional small islands of red, and still more occasional ones of orange (traditionally associated with the Liberal Democrats).

Each of Labour’s stronghold regions consists of a safe core and a less safe periphery, and it’s the latter areas that are looming as the main battlegrounds of a losing election. To isolate one example, Labour holds 45 seats in the area of Greater London, compared with 27 for the Conservatives and one for the Liberal Democrats. It will continue to dominate the city’s inner east even under worst case scenarios, but will come under pressure in as many as ten seats in the west and on the fringe of the Greater London region.

The polls have generally had the Liberal Democrats at around 11%, representing a modest recovery from the disaster of 2015, when they dropped from 57 seats and 23.1% of the vote to eight seats and 7.9%.
However, opportunities for further gains are limited, and the Conservative tide could even cause the party trouble in the few seats it continues to hold. Ukip yielded only the seat of Clacton from its 12.6% share of the national vote in 2015, and lost that a month ago when Douglas Carswell, a former Conservative MP, quit to sit as an independent. Polls suggest the party has shed support to the Conservatives, so its pickings in the House of Commons look likely to remain slim or non-existent.

The polls I’ve looked at for Scotland suggest the Scottish National Party will retain most if not all of its 50.0% support from 2015, so the party will presumably continue to dominate Scotland’s 59 seats, of which it holds all but three. Any talk of a defeat for the government is being framed in terms of its majority being lost to a “progressive alliance” of Labour, the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats, but at this stage it seems very unlikely it will come to that.

A rough guide to the British election

A region-by-region beginners’ guide of what to look for in today’s/tomorrow’s British election.

This post features, or will feature, a region-by-region run through of the key constituencies and their prospects for the British election, which is being held overnight our time with the business end of the count occurring tomorrow morning. The maps identify Conservative marginals as “primary” if they would fall to Labour on the uniform national swing predicted by the polls, which broadly point to a Conservative vote of 34% (down three on the last election), Labour on 33% (up five) and the Liberal Democrats on 9% (down fourteen). “Secondary” marginals are those which might be expected to fall if Labour won a majority, which I’ve crudely drawn at the 12% point on the swing-o-meter. I’m playing Liberal Democrat seats by ear according to the betting markets in identifying them either as safe or under threat from this party or that.

I’ll be adding regions to the guide progressively as I complete them. And what better place to start than:

London

Six seats in London that would fall from Conservative to Labour on the uniform swing indicated in the polling, but no real prospects for Labour beyond that, the margin in Ilford North being 11.5%. I’ve heard it said that the swing is expected to be slightly above par in London, but an Ashford poll during the campaign had the Conservatives with a four-point lead in Croydon Central. With respect to the Liberal Democrat seats, Labour are very short-priced favourites in Brent Central and favourites in Hornsey and Wood Green. Other Liberal Democrat seats are at least endangered, but betting markets favour them in each case.

South-East

This area is ground zero for the Ukip insurgency, being home to the two seats they have won at by elections, Clacton and Rochester & Strood, and the seat being targeted by party leader Nigel Farage, Thanet South. It’s also good territory for the Greens, encompassing their solitary seat of Brighton Pavilion.

The strength of both parties is causing Labour headaches, and could certainly cost them what should otherwise have been an easy win in Thurrock, which the Conservatives won last time on the tightest of margins. Southhampton Itchen is the only seat anywhere identified as a potential Conservative gain for Labour, partly due to a retiring sitting member, but also because Ukip is believed to be biting into the Labour vote (the number for it has failed to show up on my map tomorrow, but it’s the one bordering Eastleigh to the west).

The Greens vote could also cost Labour potential gains in the two seats neighbouring Brighton Pavilion, Hove and Brighton Kemptown, although they are the favourites in both cases. Seats Labour is clearly favoured to gain from the Conservatives are Hove, Brighton Kemptown and Hastings & Rye, and the betting is fairly tight in Milton Keyes South.

The Conservatives are short-priced favourites to win Portsmouth South from the Liberal Democrats, and rated competitive but behind in Eastbourne. The markets rate the Liberal Democrats a better chance than Labour to unseat the Conservatives in Watford, for what reason I’m not sure.

South-West

This region is the greatest area of strength for the Liberal Democrats, and much depends on the extent to which they can dig in here. The Conservatives are clearly favoured to win St Austell & Newquay, Taunton Deane, Somerton & Frome, Wells, Mid Dorset & Poole and Chippenham, and it would appear to be very close in St Ives, North Cornwall, North Devon and Torbay. Labour is expected to win Bristol West from the Liberal Democrats, despite determined efforts from the Greens. The only seats the Liberal Democrats are clearly favoured to retain are Yeovil, Bath, Thornbury & Yate and Cheltenham. As for the few Conservative-Labour contests, Labour is strongly favoured to gain Plymouth, Sutton & Devonport, it’s expected to go down to the wire in South Swindon, and the Conservatives are slightly favoured in Gloucester.

Midlands/East Anglia

Moving up to the central band of England, we find rock solid Labour industrial areas and equally safe Conservative countryside, with marginal seats tending to crop out where the two blur together. Labour is very strongly favoured to win Sherwood, City of Chester, Broxtowe, North Warwickshire, Wolverhampton South West and Corby, and moderately favoured in Cannock Chase, Erewash, Amber Valley, Lincoln and Bedford. Crewe & Nantwich, Nuneaton, Halesowen & Rowley Regis, Northampton North, Ipswich and Norwich North are thought to be lineball, while Labour holds out some hope in High Peak, Cleethorpes, Loughborough, Worcester, Peterborough, Great Yarmouth.

There are only a few Liberal Democrats seats here, but one of them is Nick Clegg’s seat of Sheffield Hallam, where polling long found him struggling to hold off Labour, although more recent polling has been more favourable to him. Labour is also expected to gain Norwich South, but the Conservatives are favourites in Cambridge, and Birmingham Yardley is lineball. Next door to Birmingham Yardley, the Conservatives are short-priced favourites to unseat the Liberal Democrats in Solihull.

The North

Around Liverpool and Manchester, we see a repeat of the pattern in the Midlands where marginals seats fill the cracks between Labour-voting industrial and Conservative-voting country areas, although elsewhere in the north the distinctions are more pronounced. The betting markets favour Labour to win six seats from the Conservatives throughout the region: Wirral West, Bury North, Dewsbury, Lancaster & Fleetwood, Morecambe & Lunesdale and Carlisle. The Conservatives are rated as having the edge in South Ribble, Rossendale & Darwen, Pendle, Colne Valley, Elmet & Rothwell and Blackpool North & Cleveleys, while Keighley and Pudsey are down to the wire.

The expectation is that the Liberal Democrats will be hit hard in the north as voters react against their involvement in the coalition by returning to Labour, who are thought all but certain to gain Bradford East, Burnley, Manchester Whitington and Redcar, with the Liberal Democrats given a slight edge in Leeds North East. There are a further three seats where the Liberal Democrats are under pressure from the Conservatives, with the markets favouring the Liberal Democrats in Southport, the Conservatives in Berwick upon Tweed, and evenly split in Cheadle. The wild card constituency in the region is Bradford West, which George Galloway won from Labour for his Respect party at a by-election in March 2012. His re-election bid would appear to be a 50-50 proposition.

Wales

My casual observation of polling suggests the Conservatives have dropped a point since the last election, Labour has gained one, the Liberal Democrats are down thirteen and Plaid Cymru are up about four. Labour are short-priced favourites to take Cardiff Central from the Conservatives and Cardiff North from the Liberal Democrats, and at least some chance of further gaining Carmathen West & South Pembrokeshire, Vale of Glamorgan and Aberconwy from the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats are also under pressure in Brecon & Radnorshire from the Conservatives and Ceredigion in Plaid Cymru, who otherwise don’t seem in danger of matching the SNP’s accomplishments.

 

Scotland

It may seem odd to be short-changing Scotland in a guide to this election, but there really isn’t all that much that needs be said: anything that isn’t held by the Scottish National Party is under threat from them. The map to the right accordingly sticks to representing the result of the 2010 election. Out of 41 seats currently held by Labour, a list of seats from The Week where they “might survive” consists of Coatbridge Chryston & Bellshill, Glasgow East, Glasgow North East, Glasgow South West, Motherwell & Wishaw and Paisley & Renfrewshire South. The SNP is clear favourite in every one of the 11 seats held by the Liberal Democrats with the exception of the border seat of Berwickshire Roxburgh & Selkirk, a three-way contest in which the Liberal Democrats might instead lose to the Conservatives.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland and its 18 seats are generally treated as an appendage to the real action, since it has a distinctive party system with an overlaying of sectarianism. Sixteen of those seats behaved the same way at both the 2005 and 2010 elections, with five being won by Sinn Fein, eight by the Democratic Unionist Party founded by Ian Paisley, and three by the nationalist, Labour-aligned Social Democratic and Labour Party. The Ulster Unionist Party lost its only seat at the last election after formally aligning with the Conservatives, causing its one incumbent, Lady Sylvia Hermon, to contest and hold her seat of North Down as an independent. The other change was that the non-sectarian Alliance Party won Belfast East from the Democratic Unionist Party, which is mounting a determined effort to win it back.

UK general election: May 7

A thread for discussion of Britain’s May 7 general election.

April 30, 2015

With only a week left to go, I’m bumping this thread back up the batting order. If you’re a Crikey subscriber, here are my thoughts on the subject of Britain’s need for electoral reform.

April 14, 2015

A thread for discussion of Britain’s May 7 general election, about which I’m sure I’ll find something to say in due course. In the meantime, here is a poll aggregation from Wikipedia.