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. If anything, the current situation shows what utter contempt political parties have for the will of the British people (and democratic values). It also shows what a disaster PR would be, as we would get hung parliaments every single GE, and the Libs would gravitate towards Labour regardless of how many seats and votes the Tories and centre-right wing parties get.

  2. “Lord, what a mess we’re in.”
    Mandelson is the one who caused it though!

    yadda, yadda, yadda.

  3. @robert in france

    “I also see no reason why Cameron should fear for his position. He has just won a landslide of seats – the most of any for 80 years. How is that failure?”

    Cameron got less seats than at any election since the war bar 97, 01 and 05: it was a *terrible* performance.

    As revealed by the fact they have had to offer a referendum on AV to Clegg and go along with Cables spending plans.

    @james ludlow

    “My preference now is for emergency multiparty govt and another general election in October. I just don’t see any other workable way out of this mess – anything they cobble together now is very likely to fall apart.”

    I could see that working for a short but crucial period- cross party agreement for a referendum on various types of PR within 6 months plus a cross party team to decide on deficit reduction: and a fixed term for this cross party administration of either 6 or 12 months.

    Cameron as PM Clegg as DPM and Darling as CoE with new Labour leader in cabinet.

    Though what I think will happen is as said before- a Con minority based on giving the LD’s a referendum on AV, and covering only economic policy and perhaps education.

  4. “Blues here becoming a bit partisan again from staring into the tea-leaves at the bottom of their morning cuppa I see.”

    Well, the level of partisanship shown by the reds over the past few weeks has been unbelievable! Us blues have been labelled all manner of things – most pretty insulting. If you can’t beat them, why not join them!

  5. Eoin – He was by far the most approachable Cabinet member at conference. Spent the whole time wandering around, posing for photo’s, making time to chat and getting involved in good causes etc.

    David is sexy though. I forgive you for not noticing this ;)

  6. “May all your wishes come true”
    An old curse which the LibDems are realizing to their cost.
    The Tories under DC are playing the situation with a straight bat and will get a lot of credit ,whereas the LibD would feel the full force of a backlash.

    Labour cannot be blamed for making a offer but a Lib/Lab would be a disaster for both parites in the long term. Even AV woudn’t save them..

  7. Labour negotiators are so confident about how talks are going with the Lib Dems that they’ve already drawn up a five-point plan for how to sell a Lab-Lib deal to voters and to doubters within their own ranks, says the BBC’s Iain Watson. First and foremost, they plan to argue that a vote for Labour wasn’t a vote for Gordon Brown. They say the UK doesn’t have a presidential system so it’s fine to change the leader post-election, and argue that support for Labour is likely to increase now Mr Brown is set to go.

    This behaviour is hardly a surprise to me, given how Labour took the country to war in Iraq despite massive opposition.

  8. “Labour cannot be blamed for making a offer but a Lib/Lab would be a disaster for both parites in the long term. Even AV woudn’t save them..”

    Everyone’s assuming a Lib-Lab coalition would last long enough to put legislation such as the AV vote through. I’m not so sure it will.

  9. i agree with the tories on here who relish the rainbow coaltion trying to work together.I think we should have sweep stakes in hours how long it will last.This is perfect for the tories,they get to rip up a queens speech before it happens.Vote of no confidence on May 26th ,another election,Tory landslide.
    LAB-LIBS in wilderness for years. Bring it on.

  10. A lot is being made of that if a rainbow coalition is the new government, the electorate will severely punish them…..

    The electorate has the memory of a goldfish! ;-)
    The World Cup next month!

  11. @John TT
    “If you’re saying that the electorate is rather pleased with itself for making the elected think a bit less about their own pet policies and a bit more about representing the whole country, then I agree.”
    ____________________________
    Well I don’t buy that millions of voters have a collective mind but in my experience it is very very hard to hold politicians and/or bureuacrats to account. and a good shakeup from time to time is the only hope of restoring some ‘power to the people’ no matter which party.

  12. Expect a Con-Lib pact to be announced anytime soon.

  13. “A lot is being made of that if a rainbow coalition is the new government, the electorate will severely punish them…..

    The electorate has the memory of a goldfish! ;-)
    The World Cup next month!”

    They won’t forget once the massive cuts and tax increases are announced, and yet the Welsh, Scottish (and N. Irish?) will pay less (which would be needed for an agreement with the nationalists)!

    Remember, the cuts will have to be really massive anyway (bigger than under Margaret Thatcher). They’ll be even larger for us English if the Scottish, Welsh and Irish negotiate some kind of deal.

  14. Re:Adam Boulton incident yesterday

    I doubt I am the only one who was wanting him to lay one on Alistair Campbell yesterday! It would have been long over due in my eyes. ;-)

  15. As soon as GB resigned last night, Sky reported a “collapse” of the £. It fell one cent then recovered.

    Never mind, they were sure it would go horribly wrong this am. Nope, just the same reaction as all the other markets that suddenly thought “Hey hang on a sec, where will the Eurozone get a trillion Euro from?”

    All is not lost though, there is still the gilt sale, the best indicator of all in confidence in the UK economy. Nope. That too is over-subscribed by 3:1. “Well, it was cheap,” they sniffed.

    Poor Beeb. They were left to conclude, rather flatly, that it is FACT (fact you note) that a “rainbow coalition” would be hated by the markets and THEN all hell would break loose.

    You really couldn’t make it up…..

  16. @matt

    “I doubt I am the only one who was wanting him to lay one on Alistair Campbell yesterday! It would have been long over due in my eyes. ”

    I think you’ll find the consensus on here and outside is quite the reverse !

  17. @Sue,

    A financial collapse of some sort would definitely help the Tories out. I hope it happens if Labour form a grubby coalition/alliance of some kind. Under such circumstances, they could be out for a generation (or more).

  18. “I think you’ll find the consensus on here and outside is quite the reverse !”

    Amongst Labour (and some Libs) perhaps. ;-)

  19. @Sue M
    yep also see that “The UK gilt sale went “smoothly today with gilts “oversubscribed” by 2.5 times. Earlier a drop in the value of UK gilts pushed the 10-year yield to the highest in more than two weeks; the government will sell £2.25 billion pounds of 2027 bonds today.”

    Another ‘prediction’ by Boulton and faux news-UK that went ass-up.

  20. While we’re at it, let some one lay one on Mandelson and Osborne too. ;-)

    I am joking, of course. ;-)

  21. Re Adam Boulton
    I ‘ve been rifling off complaints to Sky News everyday and to ofcom as have many other viewers – I’d like to think this helped in pushing him over the edge .

    But seriously he’s made really basic misstatements such as quoting polls incorrectly and yesterday was saying that it was Tory Policy to have an elected House of Lords – ??

    Thoug Adam Boulton was right in saying he didn’t need Alistair Campbell to tell
    him what to think
    – Rupert Murdock has that job., ;-)

  22. BBC News screen feed “Some Lab MPs are unhappy about coalition”

    Oh, and all the Libs were DELIGHTED about talks with the Tories weren’t they?

  23. @Sue,

    To be fair, the BBC did report that the Tory coalition was causing a ‘mixed response’ from Lib Dems, and many Libs didn’t want a Lib-Con coalition.

  24. Sounds like we might be heading (possibly) for another imminent GE. That is unless some kind of agreement can be reached with someone!

  25. Matt – You really have given up any attempt at non-partisan posting eh? Now you hope for financial meltdown just to get your “team” in no.10.
    Nice.

    Xiby – I SO hope you’re right, but where is the rumour from?

  26. Re:The press,

    This is what happens when you have been in power for 10+ years. It happened to the Tories when they had been in power too long – where all reporters were watching Tory MPs closely to dig up any dirt/scandals on them. It’s worth remembering that many newspapers supported Labour, instead of the Tories, not too long ago.

  27. @Sue,

    “Matt – You really have given up any attempt at non-partisan posting eh? Now you hope for financial meltdown just to get your “team” in no.10.
    Nice.”

    Not financial meltdown, no. Just short-term financial jitters on a small scale. I don’t believe many Labour supporters would want the Tories to do a good job of running the economy/the government if they managed to form a minority/coalition administration? We all want our parties to win.

  28. It is the Nationalist that are the problem for the Lib\lab pact. The Scottish Labour MPs will not work with them. Scottish Labour dislike the Nationalist more than they dislike the Tories. The idea that they would be depending on Salmond etc for support …it would not work.

  29. Further to my post on the press, I think that there should be greater controls placed on the media, including newspapers, so that all reporting has some basis in reality. I don’t personally agree with biased reporting, even if at the moment it benefits the Tories.

  30. @Sue,

    In short, I am just very annoyed at the current situation. I admit that my thoughts and posts have become progressively more partisan, but I would think that if Labour had won 307 seats and the Libs had secretly been holding meeting with the Tories behind Labour’s back, Labourites would rightly be annoyed as well.

    My apologies if my comments seem to have gone a bit too partisan. You know that I respect many Labourites on here, – including yourself Sue. Politics is a very infuriating game for all sides!

  31. I’d like to add that I don’t blame Labour in all this – I blame NC and the Liberals.

    Anyway, I shall take a short break and resort back to my un-partisan nature.

  32. one thing is certain – if this is allowed to drag on much longer the electorate is going to get even more annoyed than it already is.

    I had thought that things might reach a conclusion today – there appears little chance at the moment

  33. @Rob Sheffield

    You forgot to mention that Cameron got 36% of the vote. Exactly the same as Blair in 1997 who ended up with a massive majority. Yet despite this inequality you don’t hear Tories bleating about PR.
    By the way, in my view, these shenanegins will ensure that the public at large will never vote for PR! IMHO

    I am also coming to the view to let the Lib Dems deal with Labour and reap the whirlwind that will surely follow at an election within the year.

  34. @Matt

    ‘Well, the level of partisanship shown by the reds over the past few weeks has been unbelievable! Us blues have been labelled all manner of things – most pretty insulting. If you can’t beat them, why not join them!’

    I couldn’t agree more.

  35. @ Sue
    Matt – You really have given up any attempt at non-partisan posting eh?

    Oh Sue, pot & kettle?

  36. Can the more excitable Conservatives and Labourites here please remember:

    You can’t go on about the glories of FPTP for decades and then start complaining, because it lets you down, about moral right and the will of the electorate. You come across as a spoilt kid who demanded the game be played by his rules and is now whining “‘s not fair” because he lost.

    This latest kerfuffle is all due to Labour letting it be known that the Lib Dems were also talking to them. Everyone was aware that were contacts why the fuss. “Negotiating” is a term that covers everything from a passing word in the corridor to the Versailles Conference. All that’s happened is that (probably) Peter Mandelson has said there was an actual sit down meeting so as to make himself look important. And normally sensible people are going round as if the Lib Dems had gone behind their backs and sold their families into slavery. All at the behest of Lord Mandy of Melodrama. Have you no self-respect?

    What else do you do if you’re negotiating? The Lib Dems always made it clear they would talk to both sides in this sort of situation, but the Conservatives would have first go. As has happened – and incidentally with good discretion from both sides, to the loathing of the media.

    Everyone is going on about stability, but the real danger lies within the two bigger parties. Both sides have:
    Ideological purists who would rather be right than president.
    Control freaks who would rather have no power than share with anyone.
    Party “strategists” who think it would be a wonderful idea to sit in opposition watching the country go to hell in a handcart because they would gain politically from it. (This of course ignores the problem that the country might not and if it does, solving the mess might make you even more unpopular).
    It’s quite possible that both sides have enough of these various sorts to sink any deal.

  37. @Roger Mexico

    Well said.

  38. I think everyone need to calm it down a bit on here. I admit that I wrote some pretty un-partisan things myself – my sincerest apologies for that. Most of us on here are very reasonable people, so I think, although feelings and emotions are naturally running high at the moment, we need to stay as un-partisan and friendly to others as possible.

  39. Matt – fair enough, I did say last night that I understand EXACTLY how you feel, and yes I would feel the same.

    Robert in France – My posts may reflect my opinions, but I hope they are never offensive, insulting or cruel. That is where I draw the line. Do you?

  40. Mike Moeller

    “What the heck is wrong you people! PR is an absolute disaster. The only things that PR are good for are unstable governments (Belgium and Italy) and the election of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany”

    Hitler offered the strong, stable government so admired by your party. It is true (as a German pointed out to me) that he was a loser, because he lost the whole country, but he lost it in war, not throgh unstable government.

    PR has brought stable and sensible govenment to Scotland for the last dozen years when the governmnt has to take acount of the wider opinion of parliament.

    Strong government is what brought us the poll tax and an illegal war, sofa government, the marginalisation of the cabinet and a heap of dangerous dog legislation. It appeals only to those who put loyalty to the party above any other principle. These are authoritarians who hanker after their early certitude of a religious upbring or youthful infatuation with the dogmatic left.

    John Reid is a prime example.

    They have turned the Labour party into a leadersship cult which not only does not do Socialism any more, it doesn’t do politics either having replaced political discourse with PR and focus groups.

    Loyalty is a vice, not a virtue.

    Lord Salisbury suggested to an MP that he might offer him a government position if he thought that he could rely on the MP’s support.

    On being told that the MP would support him when he was right, he explained that that wasn’t the kind of loyalty he had in mind.

  41. @Sue,

    “Matt – fair enough, I did say last night that I understand EXACTLY how you feel, and yes I would feel the same.”

    Thank you, Sue. You have always shown yourself to be a very nice and reasonable person. I am very sorry I allowed my emotions to get the better of me. I have calmed down a lot now.

  42. I think what I now realise is that partisan interests (i.e. who will seize power) doesn’t matter – a point I lost sight of, I must admit. What matters is that whoever takes power is given a chance to show that they can govern in the UK’s best interests and is able to resolve this country’s economic problems. That is why I give, whoever manages to form a coalition government, my sincerest and best wishes from now on.

  43. @Robert in France

    “You forgot to mention that Cameron got 36% of the vote. Exactly the same as Blair in 1997 who ended up with a massive majority. Yet despite this inequality you don’t hear Tories bleating about PR.”

    In 1997 Labour won 43.2% of the vote.

  44. I have no problem with

    the way NC and LDs have conducted or are conducting themselves, or
    the way in which GB and Lab are trying to form a coalition with the LDs, or
    the way in which the Cons have sought to reach agreement with the LDs.

    I do object to pressure being applied via the media or the ‘money men’ to bring about a hasty resolution. (Pressure from the politcal parties and leaders is simply negotiating tactics.)

    The main thing is that a stable gov emerges. If the LDs cnnot reach an accord with the Cons or Lab, there is IMO no point in GB resigning and enabling DC to become PM as we will immediately have an unstable gov.

    Assuming that Con and Lab cannot reach an accord, we are then left with two options:
    a national gov, or
    another election.

    I suggest the Q will not countenance the latter. I suggest we will end up with a national gov.

  45. Prescott quite superb just then on BBC. Talking a lot of sense and taking no nonsense.

  46. “Labour are trying to impose a government on the country that they didn’t ask for” BBC

    *sigh*

    This narrative shapes opinion

  47. Mike N – the Q will mind its own business. The Crown cannot insist on a Govt being formed. If it did, the new Govt wouldn’t last one day.

    GB will go to the palace and resign. DC will form a Govt in minority.

    Autumn election to follow (at the latest – poss June)

    Or the Con/LD govt works for two yrs.

    Or the LbLib one works until Autumn.

    No othe possibilities in my view.

  48. @John TT,

    If the Rainbow Coalition doesn’t come off, DC will go to the palace and let HM know if he can command the confidence of the House. If he tells her he can’t then she’ll dissolve parliament.

  49. OK Neil A – GB has to go first, then DC, then back to the people.

    How can we have a leaders’ debate on TV though, if the Labour Party has no leader?

    Tempting for DC to force the Labs to hold a special conference, and then have a quick GE in June. Cons are the only ones with any funds.

  50. Wonder how many people are aware that Tory party never used to have an official ‘Party Leader’, never mind that person being voted in by party members nationwide? This was the case previously when Tory’s won elections. Noone complained about the ‘right to govern’ of the new PM on those occasions.

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