YouGov’s poll for the Sun this morning asked people their preference on the coalition deal. 20% wanted the Conservatives to govern as a minority, 33% wanted a pact or coalition between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats (giving a total of 53% wanting a Conservative led government), 39% of respondents backed the Labour, Lib Dem, SNP, etc rainbow coalition.

YouGov also asked whether people would prefer FPTP or a proportional system. 38% backed FPTP, 47% proportional representation – this was a repeat of a question YouGov asked a week or so before the general election, and there has not been any significant change in opinion.

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.


There are two post-election polls in tomorrow’s papers. A YouGov poll in the Sunday Times found 62% think that Gordon Brown should concede defeat, wih 28% thinking he is right to wait to see if the Conservative and Liberal Democrat negotiations fail. Asked who should form the next government 48% of respondents thought there should be either a Conservative minority or a Con/LD coalition. 31% favoured a Lab/LD agreement.

62% said they supported a change to a more proportional system, with only 13% supporting FPTP. You can get a lot of variation in FPRP v PR survey questions depending upon how the question is asked, but if this question is a repeat of one of YouGov’s previous electoral reform questions it is probably a big jump in support for electoral reform.

ICM also have post-election poll. They found similar preferences on who should form the government, 51% wanted a Conservative minority (18%) or Conservative/LD coalition (33%) and 32% wanted a Lab/LD coalition. ICM however found considerably less support for electoral reform – 48% supported PR, but 39% supported sticking with FPTP.

Seats where the Conservative share fell
There were 75 seats where the Conservative share of the vote fell. Their biggest falls were Westmorland and Lonsdale (the effect of Tim Farron building up a mountainous personal vote), Bromsgrove (presumably the result of Julie Kirkbride’s expenses – though there were two other cases of ethnic minority Conservative candidates inheriting safe seats and receiving a lower share of vote), Sheffield Hallam (the Clegg factor no doubt), Folkestone and Hythe (probably the loss of Michael Howard’s personal vote as leader), Castle Point (where the former Conservative MP Bob Spink split their vote).

Biggest Conservative increases
The biggest Conservative increase was 16% in Hartlepool, taking second place from the Liberal Democrats (probably the by-election factor slowly unwinding), followed by Montgomeryshire (where Lembit Opik fell), Esher and Walton, Crewe and Nantwich (the by-election effect), Cardiff Central (a strange one there, the Conservatives are in third place), Camborne and Redruth (unseating Julia Goldsworthy from third place).

Seats where the Labour vote rose
There were 80 seats where Labour increased their share of the vote – over half of these were in Scotland, many others were seats with a large Muslim population where the Iraq war effect in 2005 seemed to reverse somewhat. The biggest increases in Labour’s vote were Blaenau Gwent, where they reclaimed the seat from the Independent MP, East Ham and West Ham (where Respect performed well in 2005 but did not stand in 2010), Glenrothes (after the successful by-election defence), Dunbartonshire West, Edinburgh West (where they took second place from the Conservatives) and Bethnal Green and Bow (another of the three Labour Gains).

Biggest Labour falls
The biggest drop in the Labour vote was 24% in Barnsley East, a seat so safe they probably barely felt it. The main beneficiary there was a new BNP candidate. This was followed by Hemel Hempstead (putting them into 3rd place in a seat they held till 2005), Redcar, Don Valley (making Caroline Flint’s seat a marginal – the votes went to new BNP, UKIP and English Democrat candidates), Norfolk North West (where their candidate went spectacularly off message in the days before the election), Cannock Chase (the “safest” Labour seat that was won by the Conservatives) and Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper’s seat).

Biggest Lib Dem increases
Three seats stand out with huge increases in their vote – most notably the incredible performance in Redcar, Mo Mowlam’s old seat, which fell on a 21.8% swing, wiping out a 31% majority – presumably on the back of the mothballing of the Corus steelworks. Almost as large was the increase in the Lib Dem vote in Ashfield, Geoff Hoon’s old seat inherited by Gloria de Piero, which the Lib Dems only narrowly missed out on. Less remarked upon was a 17% increase in the Lib Dem vote in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney. After that the best performances were Dunfermline and Fife (by-election factor, though not enough to hold the seat), Westmoreland and Lonsdale (the Tim Farron effect), Ceredigion, Maidstone and the Weald, Brent Central (Sarah Teather gambling on going for the difficult option when her seat was abolished… and making the right choice).

Worst Lib Dem peformances
The biggest drop was Orpington, where they lost whatever following their candidate Chris Maines had built up after fighting the seat hard at multiple elections. Following that their worst performances were Edinburgh West, Hartlepool (fading by-election effect), Montgomeryshire (Lembit Opik) and Haltemprice and Howden.

Biggest swings from Lab => Conservative
36 seats had a swing from Labour to Conservative of over 10%. The biggest were Hemel Hempstead (CON HOLD – 14.4%), Cannock Chase (CON GAIN – 14%), Barnsley East (LAB HOLD – 13.9%), Crewe and Nantwich (CON “GAIN” – 13.7%), Norwich North (CON “GAIN” – 12.9%), Hartlepool (LAB HOLD – 12.8%), Sittingbourne and Sheppey (CON “HOLD” – 12.7%). The biggest swings in the other direction were Blaenau Gwent (-7.7) and East Ham (-7.7).

Biggest swings from Lab => LD
There were 29 seats with a swing from Labour to Lib Dem. The biggest were Redcar (LD GAIN – 21.8), Ashfield (LAB HOLD – 17.2), Merthyr Tydfil (LAB HOLD – 16.9), Barnsley East (LAB HOLD – 14), St Albans (CON HOLD – 13.8), Bosworth (CON HOLD – 13.8), Norfolk North West (CON HOLD – 13.3). Note some of those movements beneath the surface where the Conservative MPs vote remained pretty unchanged but the Lib Dems overtook Labour and took a strong second place on large Lab=>LD swings. The biggest swings in the other direction were mostly in Scotland, the largest were Edinburgh West (-11.3), Orpington (-9.5) and Paisley and Renfrewshire North (-8).

Biggest swings between Con and LD
The largest swings from LD to Con were Hartlepool, Montgomeryshire, Orpington, St Ives and Cardiff Central. The biggest swings in the other direction were Redcar, Westmoreland and Lonsdale, Ashfield and Dunfermline and Fife.

Highest shares and lost deposits
The Conservatives won 125 seats with over 50% of the vote. The highest were Richmond Yorkshire (62.8%), Beaconsfield (61.1%) and Windsor (60.9%). They lost their deposit in two seats, Glasgow East (4.5%) and Na h-Eileanan an Iar (4.4%).
Labour won 76 seats with over 50% of the vote. The highest were Liverpool Walton (72%), Knowsley (70.9%), East Ham (70.4%). They lost their deposit in 5 seats, all tight LD-v-Con marginals: Eastbourne (4.8%), Somerton and Frome (4.4%), Newbury (4.3%), Cornwall North (4.2%), Westmorland and Lonsdale (2.3%).
The Liberal Democrats won 12 seats with over 50% of the vote. The highest were Orkney and Shetland (62%), Westmorland and Lonsdale (60%), Bath (56.7%). They managed to save all their deposits, with their lowest share of the vote being Glasgow East (5%).

Minor parties and Independents
The BNP saved 72 deposits. Their strongest performances were Barking, Dagenham and Rotherham. UKIP saved 98 deposits, their strongest performances were Buckingham, Boston and Skegness and Christchurch. The Green party saved 7 deposits – their best performance was obviously Brighton Pavilion, followed by Norwich South.
The English Democrats put up 107 candidates and saved 1 deposit in Doncaster North (5.2%). The Christian party put up 70 candidates, and lost all their deposits. Their highest vote was 1.8% in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey.
The highest votes for Independents and others were obviously Buckingham, Wyre Forest, Castle Point (where Bob Spink did surprisingly well for a former MP standing as an Independent) and Blaenau Gwent. Less obvious strong performances came in Makerfield, Mansfield, Hemsworth, West Ham, Dewsbury and Sleaford and North Hykeham.

Safest seats, closest marginals
The safest seats are Liverpool Walton (Lab, 57.7%), Knowsley (Lab, 57.5%), Liverpool West Derby (Lab, 56.2%). The safest Lib Dem seat in Orkney and Shetland (51.3%). The safest Conservative seat is Richmond Yorkshire (43.7%). There are 40 seats with majorities under 1000, including 5 with majorities under 100 – Thurrock (92), Bolton West (92), Camborne and Redruth (66), Warwickshire North (54), Hampstead and Kilburn (42). All the figures on this post are based only on Great Britain – in Northern Ireland we had the narrowest majority of all, 4 votes in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

We now have results from every constituency but Thirsk and Malton, where the election was delayed because of the death of a candidate. The final results in Great Britain are CON 37%, LAB 30%, LDEM 24%, Others 10%. Seats are Conservatives 306, Labour 258, Liberal Democrats 57, Others 28. The MORI/NOP exit poll, despite initial scepticism when it showed the almost total disappearence of the Lib Dem surge, turned out to be pretty much spot on. However, this means the final polls tended to call the Lib Dems wrongly.

CON LAB LDEM Other Av. Error
ICM 36 28 26 10
-1 -2 +2 0 1.25
Populus 37 28 27 8
0 -2 +3 -2 1.75
Harris 35 29 27 9
-2 -1 +3 -1 1.75
Ipsos MORI 36 29 27 8
-1 -1 +3 -2 1.75
YouGov 35 28 28 9
-2 -2 +4 -1 2.25
ComRes 37 28 28 7
0 -2 +4 -3 2.25
Opinium 35 27 26 12
-2 -3 +2 +2 2.25
Angus Reid 36 24 29 11
-1 -6 +5 +1 3.25
TNS BMRB 33 27 29 11
-4 -3 +5 +1 3.25
RESULT 37 30 24 10

(UPDATE – This table includes only those companies who polled in the final 48 hours before the election – genuine eve of election polls. Three companies polled during the campaign, but did not produce eve-of-election polls. RNB, BPIX and OnePoll all carried out their final polls on or over the final weekend of the campaign, meaning that strictly speaking they cannot be compared to the final result. For the record however RNB did very well indeed with figures of CON 37%, LAB 28%, LDEM 26%, BPIX had CON 34%, LAB 27%, LDEM 30%, OnePoll produced a horrific CON 30%, LAB 21%, LDEM 32%. These three pollsters were also the only ones in the campaign not to fully disclose methodology and data tables, so we can draw little in the way of conclusions on what they got wrong or right)

ICM was the closest to the final result, and was within 2 points for every party. Almost all the pollsters were within the margin of error for the Conservatives and Labour (the exceptions being TNS and Angus Reid) and for the first time in decades pollsters were underestimating Labour support! The average error of all but two of the pollsters was within the margin of error. However, this disguises the issue of the Liberal Democrats: every single pollster over estimated their support, by between 2 points and 5 points. Something was wrong here (interestingly enough, the closest poll of all was the penultimate YouGov poll that showed the Lib Dems down at 24, which at the time looked like a rogue to me when Wednesday’s poll showed them bouncing straight back. Perhaps it was indicating something after all).

Before the election most of the comments here expressing scepticism about the polls were people saying they were underestimating the Conservatives (on average they did slightly, but not by much. ComRes and Populus got the level of Tory support spot on), or that the polls couldn’t cope with the huge surge of new support for the Liberal Democrats from new voters and were underestimating it. Reality turned out to be the opposite – the Lib Dem surge was an illusion, that vanished when people arrived at the ballot box. We’ll get a better idea over the next few weeks as pollsters look at their data and recontact people they interviewed before the election to see how they actually voted – the basic question though will be whether the Lib Dem boost was a genuine surge of support that reversed at the last minute – after all, a lot of respondents were saying they might change their mind – or whether it was never really there to begin with and the pre-election polls were wrong.

Ben Page and Martin Boon have both already commented to Research Live – Ben says “On our final poll for the Evening Standard on Wednesday, we had 40% of Lib Dems saying they might change their mind. We’ll all want to look and see what we can do about soft support for the Lib Dems, we’ll have to find a rational and reasonable way of dealing with it rather than just saying Lib Dems tend to overstate. We will all be looking at certainty of vote, voting history – the surge was partly younger people – and late switching, things like that. The Lib Dems were most likely to say they would vote tactically. So the support was there but it didn’t actually manifest itself in votes on the day – Lib Dem support was slowly deflating after initial Clegstacy and on the day fell further.”

Martin said “There are some sizeable average errors out there and we all do need to take a look at our methods. Clearly all polling companies have overstated the Lib Dems, so there has to be something consistent going on. It would be a little bit premature to consider the reasons for this but it’s up to the opinion pollsters to see why it might have been the case. We’re always testing our methods and this is the best time to be looking at methodologies, assumptions and techniques in order to improve them in the future.”

The first part of the post mortem really needs to be for pollsters to re-contact people they interviewed in their final polls – did people who said they’d vote Lib Dem change their minds at the last minute (in which case it’s late swing), or did they not vote at all (in which case, perhaps pollsters need to work on more sensitive methods of predicting likelihood to vote) or will they claim they did go ahead and vote Lib Dem, meaning there was a sampling problem – if so perhaps it’s down to the Lib Dem support being the least well correlated with past vote or party ID. Did don’t knows split disproportionately against the Liberal Democrats? One possiblity that strikes me is whether it could essentially be the opposite to the spiral of silence, a spiral of enthusiasm perhaps! Political pollsters are used to worrying about people being embarrassed to admit voting for unpopular parties, and have come up with ways of dealing with it, but having it suddenly become hugely fashionable to support a party is a new problem. At least it’s one that is unlikely to re-occur too often ;)

Once I get a nice spreadsheet of results I’ll also be interesting to see how accurate the marginals polling was too. Right now, however, I’m going to catch up on some sleep. I expect there will be some polls in the Sunday papers asking exactly who the public think should be the new Prime Minister – so until then…