We have our usual rush of Monday polls today, all showing a slightly healthier Labour lead than of late.

The first of Populus‘s two twice weekly polls had topline figures of CON 31%, LAB 36%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 15%, GRN 5% (tabs). Populus’s average so far this month has been CON 34%, LAB 36%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%, so this has the Conservatives a little lower than usual, UKIP a little higher than usual.

Lord Ashcroft‘s weekly poll had topline figures of CON 27%, LAB 32%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 18%, GRN 7% (tabs). Compared to his recent polls this has the Conservatives down a tad, Labour and UKIP both up a tad.

The daily YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 30%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 18%, GRN 6%. YouGov’s average figures so far this month have been CON 33%, LAB 33%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 16% – so again, the Conservatives lower than usual, UKIP higher than usual.

None of the figures are different enough from recent polls to be sure the difference isn’t just normal sample variation, but the fact all three are showing a shift in the same direction (Conservatives down, UKIP up) means it’s possible we are seeing a bit of a publicity boost for UKIP following Rochester & Strood last week. Time will tell. Note also what it doesn’t show – any decrease in Labour’s support following several days of fussing about White Vans and Emily Thornberry.

365 Responses to “Latest Populus, Ashcroft and YouGov polls”

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  1. Crossbat – it is defendable on that basis. My concern is that, this time, its legitimacy is under threat as the winning party may not have the most votes. That all said, it has happened before but the press have short memories.

    Meanwhile, I have been lurker for a while [please steer clear of speculating about what other posters think, it’s up to them to express their own views – AW]


    Good points and great name.

  3. Crossbat11

    Just back from the Cinema and saw your post

    I share your concern about Phil Hughes, sounds an horrendous injury. Lets hope he survives and makes a full recovery.

  4. On the power cuts point and connected to how fast a Ukip-first feeling might cement in the areas moving that way:

    1) part of the calc is based on getting leccy from across the channel in an emergency – obviously there’s a contingent liability angle to this in that if a power crisis effects all of western Europe at once then that option might not be available.

    2) Under orders from the EU the Cameroons closed down three perfectly good coal power stations because of carbon reduction – with a major dose of twisted irony in some of the turbines from these plants being sold to Germany … as they are building a dozen new coal power plants.

    Anyway if there are power cuts in this context (I have no clue how likely it is) I can’t imagine a more perfect way of crystallizing the anti-Cameroon view of Ukip minded currently Con-supporting voters.

  5. @Richard

    I remember that Peter Kellner article very well. It is I think very like the article and possibly the same article that just happened to be in a booklet circulated by the Labour Party with the ballot form for the September 2010 leadership election.

    The conclusion that Kellner drew was that Labour should be pursuing a Blairite all things to all men (and women) strategy because class loyalities had so weakened. What remained of the Labour C2DE core vote had nowhere else to go.

    How wrong that conclusion looks now, with the loss of 2010 Labour voters to both UKIP and the Greens putting at jeopardy Labour’s chances of forming the next government.

  6. I don’t think the problem is the voting system. The problem is the issue that has been #1 or #2 for years has been ignored by the currently big parties.

    So t he problem is the current political class (and the media for not reporting why it has been #1 or #2 for years).

  7. Bobajob

    I hope this forum is a bit more sensible than the one you just left.

    May the force be with you.

  8. Lurker

    I hope this forum always tries to be a non-partisan discussion of polls.
    I know it difficult at times to adhere to this rule, especially approaching the GE.
    However the attempt to stick to this assists a sensible comments policy.

  9. “One “senior Labour insider” doesn’t understand politics, or voters”

    I think the way it goes with core voters becoming ex core voters (possibly the same whichever party it is)

    election 1) say Lab to polls, vote Lab reluctantly
    election 2) say Lab to polls but don’t vote
    election 3) say D/K to polls, don’t vote
    election 4) say D/K to polls, vote for somebody else
    election 5) say somebody else to polls, vote for somebody else

    just a guess

  10. I do not know how many seats have never, or rarely changed hands in GE.
    But it might assist voter turn out in 2015 if there is a believe or perception in these seats, that there is a possibility of a change.
    Where I live the seat has never changed hands, apart from a by election in the 80`s.
    The comment why bother voting, I hear often around here.
    Obviously PR which I would like, still seems a long way off.

  11. Possible implications of moving away from the Uniform Swing Projection model

    This is a long post and not immediately linked to recent exchanges. Apologies for both. If you are not interested in how Vis turn into seat tallies then please click on to the next post.

    Summary (for those of you who don’t have the time or inclination to read the detailed arguments set out below).

    Given the evidence of recent marginal polling data, the Uniform Swing assumption is demonstrably wrong. A question that arises is whether this imperfection results in systematic distortions when the model is fed with nationwide polling data and used to project the distribution of seats in a putative parliament based on current data. In the notes below, I argue that use of the UNS Model may lead to a modest (5-10 seat) overestimate of the number of Labour seats likely to be returned in a future parliament.

    Based on current averaged polling data, the USP model projects a notional parliament comprising 274 Conservative seats, 325 for Labour, 23 for the LibDems with the remaining 28 seats going to various other parties. The number of Tory seats drops because the current average VI figure (32%) is four points lower than the 36.05% share they secured in the 2010 GE. Similarly, seat projections for Labour increase because the current VI (c. 33%) is about four point *higher* than their 2010 share (which stood at 28.99%). The model transfers from Labour all the Tory seats in which the majority (over Labour) was less than 8%. This includes all marginals up to but not including Stevenage (2010 Majority: 8.1%). Similarly, both Labour and the Tories gain at the expense of the LibDems.

    The question I am going to tackle is whether these transfer patterns are realistic, and I want to argue that they are not. From churn analyses (including AW’s post on November 7th) we know that the VIs for both Labour and Conservatives are being boosted by the changed expressed voting intentions of 2010 LibDem voters. To date, all analyses have shown that these changes have boosted Labour more than the Tories. (AW’s estimates were for a 4.6% gain by Labour compared to 1.8% by the Conservatives). What this implies is that the Labour VI is currently enjoying slightly higher boost from the LibDem influx. Part of the modelled shift in seats from Tory to Labour will have been produced in this way.

    The problems arise because Uniform Swing assumes that the national average swings are reproduced in each and every seat. However, we know for certain that the LibDem swing has not been uniform. The drop in their VI has varied systematically across seats to produce a national *average* of about 15%. In about 120 seats the LD vote was less than 15% and in these cases the drop must obviously have been *less* than 15%. To yield an average fall-off of 15%, the decrease in other seats must have been higher than 15%. Moreover, actual seat by seat polling data (from Ashcroft) show far from uniform drops. In fact, instead of being fixed across all seats the drop is close to being proportional to the 2010 recorded vote (see details below).

    If Labour’s VI is benefitting by picking up a good share of the 2010 LD votes it follows that Labour’s boost relative to the Tories must be smaller where there were fewer LD votes to share out in the first place.

    What happens if we take this into account and model a seat-by-seat transfer of votes rather than retaining the assumption that there is always a uniform swing across all constituencies? The exact calculations depend on the detailed transfer assumptions you make. (I favour using Ashcroft constituency polling data to regress LibDem polling drop against LibDem 2010 vote%, and using the slope and intercept of the resulting regression equation to predict LibDem drop in all unpolled seats. At present this gives the following equation: current LD VI = 0.47 x (2010 LD % vote) – 3%. Applied to the average national LD vote in 2010 (23%) this gives a ”prediction” for the current LD VI of 0.47 x 23% – 3% = 10.8%-3% = 7.8%, which is pretty accurate. It also gives a rather good account of the marginal VI data (R-squared = .88). Armed with this information, churn data (e.g., from AW Nov 7) can be used to reallocate these “lost” LibDem votes on a seat-by-seat basis.)

    However without getting caught up in too much detail, it is possible to give a rough idea of the changes that would be produced by any such adjustment. The basic idea is that the Tory->Labour swing will be smaller in any and all constituencies where there were a lower-than-average percentage of LibDem 2010 voters available to boost the Labour VI. If the most marginal Tory/Labour constituencies are seats that happen to have a low LibDem presence, then the Tory->Labour swing will be lower than that suggested by the national averages (and also by the UNS model). On the other hand if the swing region is populated by seats with a high LibDem presence we can then expect a larger-than-uniform swing.

    As it happens, in 18 of the 20 (currently) most marginal seats, the LibDem 2010 vote was lower than the national average (and less than 15% in some cases). It follows that a few of these seats are not likely to transfer to Labour in the way they are projected to do under uniform swing assumptions. To take an example, Harrow East had a 7.1% Tory-over-Labour majority in 2010, and so falls to Labour under current Uniform Swing assumptions. However, with a 2010 LD vote of only 14.27%. the prediction of the “modified vote-reallocation” version of the model is that the local drop will be about 60% of the national attrition, reducing Labour’s flight-from-LD windfall from 4.6 – 1.8 = 2.8 nationally (AW churn figures) to 1.68 locally. The 1.12% shortfall prevents Harrow East from falling to Labour under these adjusted assumptions. The same thing happens for Pendle (Labour’s margin to overcome being 7.96%) and Swindon South (with its 2010 margin of 7.52%).

    Obviously one has to take the individual seat projections with a pinch of salt. But the take-home message is that with what I would argue are reasonable assumptions about VI-reallocation (churn) Labour turns out to do a little worse in its seat-conversion than it does under the demonstrably false uniform swing assumptions. The next obvious question is whether this is just an accidental property of seats with majorities near the current (8% gap reduction; 4% swing) setting of the Swingometer. The answer seems to be that it isn’t. For the majority of seats where the Tories and Labour were close in 2010 the LD presence was below average. (Where the LD vote was above 23% it was likely to have been the seat winner or the runner-up, forcing one of the other parties out of contention.) So the same bias is likely to be in place even if swingback takes place over the next few months (or, indeed, if Ukip defections eat away at the Tory VI).

    Further note: A corresponding analysis might suggest that there are systematic biases in the relative damage Ukip defections cause to Labour and Conservatives respectively. However, it is not at all obvious that there are significant seat-by-seat differences of this kind. Regression data suggest that ‘uniform swing’ is much closer to providing an accurate description of the way the Ukip vote has built up since 2010. (The equation predicting Ukip VI from Ukip 2010 vote has a high intercept (12% – 13%) and relatively low slope (beta = 1.7), indicating that 2010 vote levels are not accounting for all that much of the subsequent change). This needs further work, but my impression is that Ukip churn is unlikely to alter the picture painted by uniform swing models.

  12. Lurker – ha thanks. My incredible secret revealed again!

    AW – apologies. Used to another forum. I’ll try not to let it happen again.

    Interesting to see tonight’s YouGov, shall we have a guess: I reckon back to the mean say Lab 33, Con 33

  13. @Candy

    “Perhaps the reason Scotland lags is not to do with “Westminster” at all but to do with clannishness resulting in people who should not be promoted holding key positions? In other words insider problems.”

    Does Scotland lag? In what way?

  14. @ Unicorn

    I’m not even going to pretend that I understood your Maths and I got lost at interceptions of regressions but I did like the idea of a formula at the end!

    Did you run back that formula on the Ashcroft marginals polling to see how accurate it was coming out between each seat and was there any obvious variation depending on the type of seat? I guess the point of the formula is that there wouldn’t be.

  15. @Candy – yours of 3.59

    Scotland ‘lags’ whom?

    It could be argued, I suppose, that all who have ability have already left, leaving behind only those of us of lesser capacity.

    Regarding the promotion of those who ‘knew the right people’, rather than promotion on merit, the problem with that argument is that although Scots were known to do this, my impression is that in the vast majority of cases those who were ‘recommended’ still had to start at or near the bottom and work their way up. Those who didn’t make the grade were usually kicked out.

    The crucial point seems to me to be the smallness of the Scottish population; this means that those of very different social/economic types lived alongside one another – the vast majority of Scotland’s population lived in small towns until the latter half of the 19th century when especially Glasgow grew at an rapid rate.

    Of course the system is open to abuse, but unlike the Anglican foundation of Eton, most Scots up until the mid 20th century were Presbyterians – who tend to take a dim view of anyone trying to gain an unfair advantage.

  16. Statgeek – “Does Scotland lag? In what way?”

    Managing life expectancy? School results? For the school results thing see the following:


    I think Scots know that something is wrong, hence the angst. But instead of realising that the solution is to open up to the rest of the UK, they seem to think doubling down on self-destructive clannishness is the answer…

  17. @MrJones – 4.44

    Yes – agreed. But you do not include the other (to me rather obvious) possibility: that many seats with close UKIP/Tory %s might in the end return LD or Labour MPs. After all, it’s the candidate who gets the most votes who wins. So unless the Tories and UKIP can work something out, a lot of recounts may be needed on the night of May 7. And on into May 8.

  18. P.S. Regarding Scottish schools – I read one comment which suggested that as many as 25% of Edinburgh schoolchildren attend private schools.

    If that’s true it suggests something is badly wrong with state schools there, because most parents prefer to save money for a house deposit and let their child attend a good state school.

    You certainly won’t see percentages like that in the much-maligned London.

  19. @unicorn

    Yours of 5.34 – do you write for a good newspaper? If not, you ought to! Excellent work. Many thanks.

  20. @ Unicorn

    Very interesting post, and does make sense. But I think any seat projection model would also need to take account of the rise of UKIP. How does adding UKIP into the model impact the result? We know they are doing very well in marginal seats from the last Ashcroft polls, and that the immediate effect seems to boost Labour at the moment based on the headline results in each of those marginal seats.

  21. @John B

    Yes, that’s what I mean about either Ukip-first or Con-first being cemented in place. If the GE happens before that point then as you say there might be a fair few three-way or even four-way splits.

  22. @Candy

    “You certainly won’t see percentages like that in the much-maligned London.”

    London has the highest percentage of children having private tuition.


    “The research also indicates a widespread variation between regions. In London 40 per cent of parents pay for extra lessons – a higher proportion than anywhere else in the UK. In Wales, by contrast, only 9 per cent of parents pay for private tuition.”

  23. @Unicorn

    The country is balkanizing so UNS is breaking down. It’s also why the imported US strategists are no use because in the US they admit the country is balkanized and operate on that basis explicitly whereas here the political class are still pretending.

  24. Sven HS,
    Now I am racking my brains to think who you could be.Fascinating.

  25. @ShevII

    I’m sorry my explanation was a bit opaque. I’d be happy to spell out anything that isn’t clear.

    I’m not sure I understand your question in your second paragraph. The idea behind using regression analyses and constituency polling data is to look for patterns that provide a more precise account of the polling evidence. The Ashcroft polls show that you can get a better idea of the shift if you enter as an independent variable the figure for the 2010 voting share in individual constituencies.

    If you compare the Ashcroft VIs with the figures calculated from the linear fit the two will not normally coincide. These discrepancies (or “residuals”) may just occur as a result of random variation (e.g., measurement error). However, there may also be systematic deviations and I suspect this is what you are asking about.

    One aspect of the ‘type of seat’ that might be relevant could be its geographical location. So, if LibDem support is holding up better in the West Country than (say) Scotland, then this pattern might show up in the residuals. In this case VIs for West Country seats would be underestimate by the regression equations, and those for Scotland might err in the opposite direction.

    Is this the kind of pattern you were thinking about?

  26. @Mr Jones

    Paying for private tuition is not the same as paying the fees for independent education! Hint: the sums involved for each parent are massively different!

    Most parents prefer to send their child to a good state school and save their money to help their offspring to buy a house. They’ll only blow the deposit money on £20k+ a year school fees if they think their child is not going to make it through the state school system.

  27. @Candy

    Edinburgh’s high ‘private school’ level is historic and in part due to large endowments in some schools which allow them to take children from relatively ‘humble’ backgrounds. You also have to remember that E’burgh has a huge % of ‘middle class’ families, and inherited wealth (in terms of houses, for example) is quite usual.

    Your argument could also be turned on its head – and some, indeed, do this – that the state system suffers because the ‘best’ go elsewhere.

    I am no expert on education, either in Scotland or elsewhere. Perhaps someone else on this site will be able to enlighten you.

  28. @Candy

    Sure, it’s a cheaper way of making up for the problems in the state sector.

    (It might even be more cost-effective for all I know.)

    It would be interesting to see a table of the state school results by the %age of parents using private tutors. My guess is they’d tally more or less exact (except places where there’s still grammar schools.)

  29. @Candy

    Furthermore, those of my friends and acquaintances who went to the E’burgh private sector often followed in their parents’ footsteps.
    E’burgh is a world apart, and I would not wish the rest of Scotland to be understood through the prism of George Watson’s, the Academy or Heriot’s.
    FWIW, our own local Academy, after an uncertain period under the previous Rector, is now once more held in high regard.

  30. Any news of noteworthy polls being released this evening?

  31. @Richard

    “Very interesting post, and does make sense. But I think any seat projection model would also need to take account of the rise of UKIP. How does adding UKIP into the model impact the result? We know they are doing very well in marginal seats from the last Ashcroft polls, and that the immediate effect seems to boost Labour at the moment based on the headline results in each of those marginal seats.”

    Indeed, a full seat projection model would have to take account of all party VI changes. My explorations so far suggest that non-uniform VI shifts to Ukip don’t have a big impact on seat calculations. Given that we have actually seen two recent Ukip gains in the real world, I would have expected to find evidence that the UKIP surge might shuffle various seats around.

    As far as I can tell there are two main reasons why Ukip dynamics don’t have much effect on the distribution of seats. The first is the point I made in the final paragraph of my long-winded post above. My regression analyses suggest that the UKIP rise HAS been pretty uniform. Proportional changes represent just a small part of their overall 13-point gain. To the extent that UKIP changes are in line with Uniform Swing assumptions, the Swingometer based models are already capturing the effects and there is nothing further I can add beyond that.

    The second point is that under my slightly different non-uniform swing assumptions the Tories just happen to lose most votes where they already have massive and unassailable majorities. This seems to suggest that the UKIP surge may not change the balance of seats. It is just an accident of geography that UKIP are stacking up most VIs in places where it doesn’t make any material difference.

    As I said, I haven’t yet had the chance to work through all of this properly. But my first impressions – rather to my surprise – are that UKIP variations are not a game-changer.

  32. @Unicorn – yours of 7.34

    Yes, I would agree that, at present, UKIP do not seem to have particularly strong support in particular areas, in the way that, for example, the LDs seem to have had historically in the South West of England. But what of the East of England places which some in the media seem to think of as prime UKIP territory – Great Yarmouth, or Great Grimsby for example.
    (Or does UKIP only do really well if the constituency includes the word ‘Great’ as part of its name?)

    It would seem to me that UKIP’s long-term strategy must be to identify those places where it really could win and concentrate there. Perhaps it is already doing this.

  33. @SYZYGY Thanks for the kind words.

    @Ann In Wales. You may have seen me on other places but I’m determined to preserve the anonimity ofboth my political leanings and my obsessive taste in music:) I don’t work for any of the broadsheets or tabbies, though.

    I’ve heard the next set of Ashcroft Marginals are very interesting. Are they due this week?

  34. Unicorn

    One further thought, and a very obvious one: UKIP and the SNP are sometimes lumped together on this site as ‘anti-establishment’. But there the similarity (if it exists at all, which I personally doubt) stops.

    The SNP on 5% of the UK vote could win 35 seats. UKIP on 15% might win none.

    Shame, really…….

  35. @JOHN B

    “UKIP on 15% might win none.”

    I’d say UKIP was a dead cert to hold on to Clacton…at least.

  36. @Norbold

    And that would mean that UKIP does not have ‘uniform’ support, but can rely on certain (as yet not well defined?) places to give them a chance.
    Perhaps Unicorn needs to do some more work on the model……

  37. CB – I recall an LD won a 4 -way marginal with 26% in Scotland in 92 I think.

  38. Edinburgh schools are worthy of a dissertation in their own right.

    There are a number of factors in play there including: a small number of very poor state schools (but many excellent ones), a high historical number of private schools with large endowments and a fair quantity of scholarships, a wide variety of private schools with differing fee structures (Fettes is 3x more than Watsons for example.)

    There is also an Edinburgh thing of asking “What school did you go to” in almost any situation. To see the perfect playing out of this I recommend Spud’s job interview scene in Trainspotting where despite having been compulsorily made to take the job interview by the jobcentre Spud lies on his application form to say he went to Heriots (although I see in the Film they fictionalised it as Royal Edinburgh College) rather than admit he went to “Craigy” (Craigroyston) in order to “get his foot in the door”.

    There are basically some bits of Edinburgh where middle class folk budget school fees into house prices as they will not send their kids to the local school (Craigy being one), in other areas (Royal High for example) nearly everyone uses the state school and house prices reflect this. The childless can pick up a bargain by buying nice houses in poor school catchments.

    Point being the situation in Edinburgh is completely different from anywhere else in Scotland for many and varied historical reasons.

  39. Very interesting stuff from Unicorn but I’m surprised by the comments about UKIP. I had the impression that their vote was quite notably concentrated in areas where (1) immigration was low, (2) outside of major cities, and (3) largely in the Southern and Eastern ‘rim’ of GB.
    This explains why they had a good chance of winning Clacton (and they did) and that they seem to be targeting – or by consensus have a better chance of winning – the likes of Thanet and the Greats (G and Y) whilst nobody thinks they have a prayer in (EG) London.
    I personally remain sceptical that they’ll win anything beyond retaining Clacton. I think they are likely to lose share when it becomes a touch clearer what policies they have alighted upon (and even more so if they fall out with each other and perhaps split, which I think is very likely.)

  40. Going back to what “We” are failing at I would say historically entrepreneurship levels in Scotland have been more the issue than education or health.

    Scottish skill levels are high, University educated levels increasing and employability rates are good.

    Health we all know about but there are some micro local issues at play (primarily pockets of the West of Scotland with extremely high alcohol consumption levels) so to say its a “Scottish” problem is not entirely true but certainly does need a strong focus on public health.

    Low Entrepreneurship however is an issue right across Scotland and there are many and varied causes and possible interventions.

    Control of corporation tax is one possible lever that the government would like and increased immigration is also another key part of the mix (immigrants are always more entrepreneurial no matter where they come from – Scots in USA for example have very high levels of business creation.)

    It’s not a quick easy thing to resolve but the current government is certainly focused strongly on it and it has support across the political spectrum at Holyrood.

  41. Sven,
    Now you have given me a clue,the games afoot as Sherlock would say.Welcome back.

  42. @JimJam

    Yes, it was Russell Johnton. There had been a bit of boundary redistribution in 1987, and he had lost his Skye and Lochalsh heartland, holding on against Labour (in those days quite strong in certain parts of the Highlands and Islands) with his personal vote.

    R Johnston LibDem 13,258 26.05%
    D Stewart Labour 12,800 25.15%
    FS Ewing SNP 12,562 24.68%
    J Scott Conservative 11,517 22.63%
    J Martin Green 766 1.50%

    In 1997 Johnston retired and Labour won, with Fergus Ewing for the SNP coming second.

    The seat, in its present incarnation, is represented by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

  43. @Northubrianscot

    Many thanks for your analysis of Edinburgh’s education system! Well beyond my ability, being only a ‘backwoodsman’ from out in the unknown hinterland…..

  44. and I think Northumbrian has an ‘m’ – apologies

  45. @JohnB

    You see if I was a proper middle class Edinburgh type I’d be thinking “Can’t spell, backwoods – Went to Strathallan!” ;-)

    I think your point re parental desire for offspring to go to “their” school is also relevant.

    Rugby is also an important part of the equation.

    As ever the gentle chronicler of Edinburgh mores – Alexander McCall Smith is the best source of insight into the mentality of the Edinburgh Middle class and the various schoolings of 44 Scotland Street’s Bertie are an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to know more.

  46. @ Unicorn
    Thanks for the regression analysis of Green polling.

    It confirms my own -more basic- calculations that have shown, for example the LD-Green gap reducing from about 8% in early January to less than 2% now (taking the mean of the last 10 polls).

    What it does that I could never have got any feel for is give a measure of where Greens would be in May if that trend continued.

    I wish I had taken stats options in Maths when I had the chance…

  47. @Unicorn

    Fascinating analysis. My question is why should there be such a linear relationship between support for a particular party and time?

    Do you think R reflects the osmosis of political attitudes, as they spread person to person? In other words, the momentum of the political narrative which forms in the absence of specific events such as the omnishamble budget.

  48. @ Northumbrian Scot

    As it happens, one of my brothers in law went to Strathallan…..

    Anyway, back to the point of this site….

    Picking up again on Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, as it is now known, it is hard to believe that only fifteen years ago it was represented by Labour. Now it is a battleground between LDs and the SNP. I suspect Danny Alexander will hold onto his seat (pants?) unless AS decides to challenge him, leaving the relatively safe SNP gain from LD in Gordon to someone else.

  49. @Guymonde

    I am sure you are right about many of your Ukip observations and I share at least some of your intuitions. But this slightly misreads what I am trying to do in this exercise.

    The game I am playing is to try to use computational steps to convert polling and electoral data into seat projections, exactly the same task as that performed by the Uniform Swing Projection calculator. The model isn’t furnished with information such as the socioeconomic balance in the constituency, it’s geographical location and so on. All it “knows” is what the voting profile was in 2010 and what the polls are showing now. Using swing assumption – uniform or more complex – the model is intended to show which seats change hands and which of them stay as they were.

    Paradoxically models of this kind ‘predict’ that seats like Clacton and Rochester & Strood are among those LEAST likely to be Ukip seats after next May. This is because both seats had a Ukip vote of zero in 2010: no UKIP candidate in either case. So, the model thinks there is nothing to build upon.

    There is no pretence at all that calculations offer anything like the full picture. What they might do, though, is to throw up patterns that are not all that discernible using more informal ways of thinking. In my original post I set out a case that Labour seat tallies may be more vulnerable to LibDem voting migrations than UKPR-frequenters have been assuming so far.

    Turning to informal hunches, don’t you think there is any chance that Thanet South will be a Ukip seat in the next parliament? An Ashcroft constituency poll found a UKIP lead there even before one Nigel Farage was selected as the candidate there…

  50. @SYZYGY – yours of 9.22

    You make a very good point by using the word ‘osmosis’. Whilst some of the political ‘weather’ is made by the regular storms which lash the political establishment – some expected, some not – some of this ‘weather’ is also ‘mood’ – ‘a general feel’ – ‘conversations over a cup of coffee’ or ‘talk in the local pub’. Someone who might not be influenced by the media might be influenced by a friend or someone met by chance on a bus. Politics is, after all, fundamentally about people.

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