This is an excerpt from the upcoming episode on the General Election to be released tomorrow. Hope you enjoy!
I love election day. I don’t think there’s a greater feeling than slamming on some regal classical music and entering the polling booth to take part in the little direct democracy we get in this country. If you’re curious, this year, I’ll be listening to the Coronation Anthem No.1, better known as Zadok the Priest by Handel as I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading about him for an upcoming episode.
I’ve relied on the same couple of polls over the last few years and haven’t been too wrong. People often say, don’t trust the polls. I disagree, and say, don’t trust the wrong polls. Politics and predictions become a lot easier if you read the data. John Curtice isn’t a god, he’s an economist who reads the right polls.
Personally, I use Deltapoll, Yougov and Lord Ashcroft’s pollsters to collate across the three and decide who’s going to win. I use Deltapoll as I like the layout and questions they ask. One of their biggest clients for data is the Mail on Sunday newspaper, but I don’t hold that against them. They canvassed a sample size of just over 1500 people across the country, of various past party voting habits and split almost equally on leave and remain, stating whether they were a Tory leaver or a labour leaver and the same for remain.
On the actual voting, the Tories sit at 44% and labour at 33%. Lib Dem way behind on 11% and Brexit on 3%. This is pretty interesting, even from a small data set that we’re probably not going to see a Brexit party surge, especially as they’re not competing against Tory held constituencies. The only place they’re seeing a real surge is Wales, where we’ll probably see some labour seats go Tory and maybe Brexit.
From my own opinion and knowledge of Wales, Labour will still come out on top for number of seats in Wales, but there will be Tory gains.
We may see Plaid Cymru lose vote share and maybe one of their two seats to the Brexit Party, where their remain stance is wholly opposite to the majority of Welsh people who voted to leave the EU. There are areas in Wales, like Merthyr Tydfil, that voted heavily to leave, but may feel unrepresented by Labour- however, due to a fierce hatred of the Tories in the area due to some of the actions of Margaret Thatcher in the 80s, amongst some, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see it go Blue.
From my own opinion and knowledge of Wales, Labour will still come out on top for number of seats in Wales, but there will be Tory gains. I can see Gower, my constituency going back to the Tories, that Labour won in 2017. They’ll most likely win back Brecon and Radnorshire from the Lib Dems, who gained it in a by-election earlier this year, after the incumbent Tory MP was convicted of faking invoices to claim expenses.
Tories perform pretty statically at the 40% mark across all areas of the UK, except Scotland, where they’re with labour at just under 20%. Half the voters in Scotland are saying SNP. It’s not unsurprising they’ll hold quite a few of their seats. The SNP actually do a half decent job of running the Scottish government.
On polling views of the leaders, which has played such a big role in this election, Boris Johnson walks away with a 52% approval rate, when looking at those who viewed he was doing “well” at his job, against him doing badly. Corbyn sits with a 28% approval rate and Jo Swinson of the Lib Dems at 24%. Nigel Farage of the Brexit party comes in at 32%.
It looks like the Jo Swinson charm really hasn’t taken off, especially in Scotland, her home country, and looks like they’ll take about 11% of the vote. But I wouldn’t sniff at that. They only took just over 7% of the vote in the 2015 and 2017 election, largely due to supporting the Tories on the Bedroom Tax and raising tuition fees after promising they wouldn’t. I mean, they were literally wiped out, going from 57 seats in 2010 to just 8. They were hit even harder in local elections in 2014, losing more than 300 councillors and control of two local governments.
What the polls show is that they are on the rise again. Slowly. Will they get back to the heady heights of 23% vote share under Charles Kennedy and Nick Clegg? It’s certainly going that way, but the British public are a fickle bunch. If former mining communities still won’t vote Conservative because of Thatcher, well- you can bet that there’s a few million students who will hold a grudge with a pretty long shelf life.
Yougov is probably my favourite, because the polling database is so large. They use an MRP model, which stands for Multi-level Regression and Post-stratification, and in the data I’m looking at, conducted over 100,000 interviews over 7 days. I’ve taken a snip from their website explaining how the model works:
It works by modelling vote intention based on analysis of key demographics as well as voting behaviour in the 2016 EU referendum, the 2017 general election, and the 2019 European Parliament elections. Each day, YouGov conducted approximately 14,000 interviews with registered voters from our panel, who are shown just the parties and candidates running in their particular seat. This data is used to assess how voters are making choices across the many different types of constituency in Britain, using information about the voters in each constituency as well as the sets of candidates who are standing in different constituencies. From this, the model calculates voting intention and seat estimates.Yougov
Yougov is estimating 43% of the vote going to Tories and Labour coming in at 32%. If this happened, you’re looking at 359 seats to the Conservatives and 211 to Labour with Lib Dems taking 13. That gives the Tories a majority of 28 (if all the other parties voted against them). SNP retain most of the North of Scotland, with Tory gains across the west of the border and labour keeping a safehold on the east coast. Labour looks to remain in urban areas an cities, with the Tories winning almost ever southern and midland coastal seat and a large swathe of home counties, as you’d expect.
And finally, the Lord Ashcroft polls. Over 4000 interviews between the 5th and 9th December show a clear Conservative lead. Quoting from his website, lordashcroftpolls.com, which is definitely worth a visit due to the pretty graphs and diagrams, it says:
“When we force people to choose between a Conservative government with Boris Johnson as PM and a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn, we find a Tory lead of 8 points (54% to 46%), down slightly from 10 points last week. Labour leavers now break 58% to 42% in favour of Labour and Corbyn, compared to 54% to 46% in favour of Johnson and the Conservatives in the first week of the campaign. 2017 Tory Remainers favour a Johnson-led Conservative government by 83% to 17%, down slightly from 86% to 14% last week.”Lord Ashcroft Polls
A lot of people are talking about tactical voting on a scale not many have ever seen amongst remain voters, to keep the Tories out, but if I’m honest, I can’t see it happening. John Curtice has said it’s possible that it could scupper the Tory majority, which he only predicts as being around 14. Tactical voting is like the prisoner’s dilemma, everyone needs to be informed on the plan and stick to it. It’s hard enough to get two people to do that, let alone two million or more.
The TL;DR is this, the Conservatives are likely to get a majority and I would personally suggest that this won’t be as high as Yougov. It will be sizeable probably around 20 or so. The Lib Dems will make minimal gains and Labour will lose a number of seats across the UK. The Brexit Party will fail to win more than one or two of seats from Labour, and I say that as a push.
The Green Party will fail to make any seat gains, but will certainly increase their vote share this election in the wake of Extinction Rebellion and the climate crisis. The SNP will continue to holdout in Scotland. I’m not skilled enough to speak about Northern Ireland, but in Wales, where I am, you’ll see Labour on top with at least one Plaid Cymru loss and a few Conservative gains.
Of course I can’t prove my predictions to you, but I was firmly of the belief Trump would win, as well as being on the right side of the last four elections. I will admit, Brexit even took me by surprise- despite everyone I know saying they’d vote out, which is a pretty good indication. If I’m wrong, I’ll take the flak. I’m happy to be wrong on this, as it gives me a chance to learn about the holes in the polls and where to improve next times predictions.
I’m not a pollster, but no one likes someone who sits on the fence, so here’s what I think is going to happen. All I’ll say, is I’ve put money on a Tory majority. If you want a tip, try Gower, Canterbury and Bridgend to go Conservative from Labour. I can see the Lib Dems winning back Sheffield Hallam, Nick Clegg’s old seat, after Jared O’Mara, a disastrous Labour candidate, now independent has upset a wide portion of the community. Finally, I’d be inclined to take a stab at Perth and North Perthshire going from SNP to the Conservatives.
And with a Labour majority at 20 to 1 in the bookies- that’s probably worth a pound for a laugh.
How am I going to vote? Well I’m still not sure to be honest. Interestingly, almost 10% of men and 20% of women are still also undecided on how they vote, which is a bit crazy to me- I feel this is a really difficult election choice. It’ll probably be a last minute decision, like it was in 2017- I talk more about this in our Q&A episode from last season.
All I can say, is make sure that if you can vote, that you do. And make sure you read into the full policies, not just this breakdown. Vote for the party that is going to make yours and your family’s life better. Who’s the most competent?
Don’t vote Tory just because your dad does. Don’t vote labour as you like the colour red. Vote with conscience and conviction. It’s only five years- don’t worry if you get it wrong. In fact you can’t get it wrong, that’s the great thing about democracy.
There’s a couple of great websites you can use to choose a party based on your views on certain policies, there’s a great one called I Side With.