More election stats

Second places
We know the Liberal Democrats didn’t end up increasing the number of seats they hold, but they did substantially increase the number of second places they have, and have more winnable marginals. The notional 2005 figures had the Lib Dems holding 62 seats and in second place in 188. Following the 2010 election the Lib Dems hold 57 seats, but are in second place in 242. On the 2005 notional figures the Lib Dems were within 10% of the winning party in 31 seats, now they are within 10% in 45 seats.

Conversely, Labour held 348 seats and were in second place in 151 – a total of 499. Those figures are now 258 and 160 (assuming they retain second place in Thirsk and Malton), a total of 418 and suggesting they have dropped to third place in an additional 81 seats.

Swings needed
Based on the 2010 results, the Conservatives would need a swing of 2% in order to gain an overall majority (meaning they would still need a lead of roughly 11 points over Labour to win an overall majority). In short, any effect from unwinding tactical voting or shifting voting patterns has not made the system kinder to the Conservatives.

However, it has got less kind to Labour. On the notional 2005 result, Labour could have got an overall majority by getting an equal number of votes to the Conservatives. From the 2010 results, Labour would require a swing of 5% in order to gain an overall majority, the equivalent of being 3 psoints ahead of the Conservatives. For Labour to become the largest party in a hung Parliament they would need a swing of 1.7%.

Regional differences
We have past instances of Scotland behaving somewhat differently to the rest of Great Britain (most obviously 1992, when England and Wales swung towards Labour, but Scotland swung to the Tories). This election produced an extreme contrast – in England and Wales there was a swing of between 5-6% from Labour to the Conservatives, in Scotland there was a 1% swing towards Labour, mostly at the expense of the Liberal Democrats, whose vote rose in England and Wales.

More unusually there was a significant difference between London and the rest of England. In London the swing to the Conservatives was only 2.5%, compared to 6.1% in the rest of England. Labour’s vote fell by 2.3% in London, but 8.2% elsewhere in England. Perhaps some of it is a Boris effect, but some will also be the high ethnic minority population in London. Labour’s vote seemed to hold up better in seats with a high ethnic minority population, and in some seats with a high proportion of Muslim voters Labour’s vote share increased as the Iraq effect from 2001 faded.

Marginal swing, and a puzzling question
The Conservatives performed only slightly better in marginal seats. In the country as a whole they had a swing of 5.03% from Lab=>Con, in Lab held marginal seats with a majority of under 10% they got a swing of 6%, in Labour held marginal seats with a majority between 10% and 20% they got a swing of 5.13%. This does raise the question of why they got so many seats – they managed 305 seats, when on a uniform swing of 5% they should have got only 289. If they didn’t do better in the marginals, how come they won more seats than they should have?

There are two reasons. Firstly, while the mean average swing in Conservative marginals where they needed a swing of between 5% and 10% was only 5.13%, the median swing in those seats was 5.84%. The mean was dragged down by some Scottish and London marginals where the Tories went backwards, but in most seats in that range the Conservatives did slightly better than their average performance across the country. The other reason is sheer, dumb luck. There were 11 seats where the Conservatives and Labour were within 1% of each other and the majorities were under 500 votes, the Conservatives won 8 of them.


1,255 Responses to “More election stats”

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  1. 1250 posts – I cannot be bothered trying to find out how many are sane.

    But lets get one thing straight – making parliaments fixed term takes a huge amount of power and patronage away from the PM. Putting in safeguards to prevent a major partner shafting its minor one seems eminently sensible to me.

    And the BBC point out that the Coalition (National ?) Government have a majority of over 80. Is it likely to lose a vote on no confidence.

    Socialist whinges about ‘dictatorships’ (laughable) after their 13 years of twisting democracy is truly absurd.

    But the ground is being laid by the socialists — they leave a huge massive deficit and an appallingly rising debt. A huge pile of poo to clean up. They are clearly all set to rewrite history; Brown has already started by claiming how wonderful the last 13 years have been. Get real – he has only achieved raising the national debt to an eye watering 1.4 trillion. Now we have to pay the bill and suffer accordingly — bye bye all his alleged benefits foisted on us with no regard to the bill.

  2. Although part of the reason why the LDs are within 10% of winning in slightly more seats is because they lost seats.

  3. One thing. Is it correct to talk about a swing from labour to Conservative, given that the Labour vote declined by a lot more than the Tory vote increased? It is more complicated than that.

  4. Ah, I see th ConDems can be partisan, but polite replies are moderated. I guess we’re not wanted on here then.
    Oh well..

  5. Is the Lib Dem Surge for Real (Part 4: The meltdown)
    by Renard Sexton @ 12:00 PM

    I thought this was quite an interesting blog on 538.

    We have seen the Lib Dems ascend to 30s% post first debate poll a tad over 23% in the GE and slipped lower now they have entered into coalition.

    So decline not arrested.

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