The Futility Monster

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Posts Tagged ‘election predictions’

Pollwatch: T-Minus 2 Days

Posted by The Futility Monster on May 4, 2010 @ 22:39

CONSERVATIVES: 34% (N/C)

LIB DEMS: 28% (-1%)

LABOUR: 28% (N/C)

Changes based upon last time (yesterday). Sample consists of all polls with mid-point fieldwork dates within the last 10 days, including today (n=29). Includes all British Polling Council registered pollsters. The results above are the median figure for each party.

This election has been like a rollercoaster. One day up, one day down.

The problem is that rollercoasters are under the influence of gravity. And, in the end, it returns to the Earth.

Just like the Lib Dems. Tonight’s polls continue to show their steady decline back to the norm. Bear in mind that good old Charles Kennedy notched up some 23% in very favourable circumstances last time. Now that expectations have been raised immeasurably, anything in this region would be very disappointing for Nick Clegg.

So what are we to make of tonight’s YouGov putting them on 24%. It feels like an outlier. We might find out tomorrow. But what if it’s not? Oh, I can’t take the stress any more.

This is what makes this election so cruel to us poor downtrodden Lib Dems. We thought we might be in with a shot. The polls were even mean enough to confirm our gut feeling that something special had happened on the night of that first debate.

And then it gets snatched away from us.

I’m trying to stay positive though, especially as it would be fickle of me to change my mind again after my post yesterday, in which I tried to cheer myself up.

The election, however, is even more wide open than before. If YouGov is right, and Labour get 30%, that will definitely be enough to ensure a hung parliament. I’m confident of that, because it will mean Labour don’t lose too many Lab-Con marginals; and if the LDs outperform their rating in the LD-Con marginals, it will make for one hell of scrap for power on May 7th.

The final polls tomorrow will be the ones to watch out for. Will there be the usual convergence? Even if there is, will it even mean anything, because 1% here and there when the polls are this tight, and in our electoral system, can be the difference between hung parliament and majority?

I love elections.

There will be no Pollwatch instalment at this time tomorrow, as it will be shifted forward into Thursday instead to make sure I don’t miss any of them being released on Wednesday night.

Be lucky.

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Pollwatch: T-Minus 3 Days

Posted by The Futility Monster on May 3, 2010 @ 23:59

CONSERVATIVES: 34% (N/C)

LIB DEMS: 29% (N/C)

LABOUR: 28% (N/C)

Changes based upon last time (yesterday). Sample consists of all polls with mid-point fieldwork dates within the last 10 days, including today (n=31). Includes all British Polling Council registered pollsters. The results above are the median figure for each party.

Still, very little change. Tonight’s polls suggest the Lib Dem bounce has indeed run its course though, with two of them putting the LDs back in third place, and ComRes have a tie. That might be reflected in the coming days calculations. But stranger things have happened. Every time it seems someone is pulling away, the following days polls bring it back again.

But I’m going back out on a limb.

This election only has two questions for us now:

Are the Tories going to get a majority?

Will the Lib Dems pip Labour to second place?

I suspect yes and no, respectively. I have that depressing, sinking feeling.

Same as it ever was.

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Putting It In Perspective

Posted by The Futility Monster on May 3, 2010 @ 10:00

I have been wondering why I’m so frustrated with this election. Partly it’s the lack of substantive policy discussions, but mostly because I’ve been sorely tempted by what the polls have been showing.

Lib Dems in the high 20s. Such a result would be unprecedented in modern British politics.

And yet I’m still disappointed.

So this morning I’ve been trying to figure out why that would be. After all, if before this campaign someone had offered me the Lib Dems in a Royal Rumble for second place with Labour, I’d have bitten their hand off.

Because – let’s face it – the early polls, in the days leading up and after the election being called, looked a bit like this…

Or, in words, the Tories were floating around the 38% mark, with Labour just creeping over 30%, and the Lib Dems in a distant third with about 20%.

And now, with the polls as they are, I’m disappointed?!

I think, perhaps, my disappointment stems from two sources:

Firstly, that it’s not even better. After all, the best poll put the Lib Dems on 34%. That would be truly monumental. Not just a political earthquake, but an entire rearrangement of the tectonic plates. That got my hopes up just a little too highly. I knew it wouldn’t last, but it didn’t stop me dreaming.

But secondly, it is the fact that the polls have been cruel. Showing the Lib Dems safely above 30%, even showing them in first place, and then snatching it away again.

So I decided it was time for this reality check.

The Lib Dems are doing fantastically well. I always knew they would recover some support during the campaign – that is always what happens – but a year ago, when the polling was as bad as 15 to 18%, I thought all that would happen would be that they would just rise enough to ensure we aren’t destroyed. Here is my gloomy analysis from last year.

Instead, the Lib Dems have more than shown that they’re capable of winning voters from Labour and the Tories. That might just mean those LD-Con battleground seats, all of which I thought they’d lose, might just stick around for the fun. Oh please, let it be so. The loss of the legendary David Heath in Somerton and Frome would be a cruel blow!

The upshot of all this, the LDs are on course for a stunning level of support on Thursday. Of course, support does not equal seats, but it will help make the great case for electoral reform that might mean that, some day soon, I might actually cast a vote that counts for something.

That’s cheered me up a bit.

Now just don’t wreck it, Nick!

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Pollwatch: T-Minus 4 Days

Posted by The Futility Monster on May 2, 2010 @ 23:59

CONSERVATIVES: 34% (N/C)

LIB DEMS: 29% (N/C)

LABOUR: 28% (+1%)

Changes based upon last time (yesterday). Sample consists of all polls with mid-point fieldwork dates within the last 10 days, including today (n=29). Includes all British Polling Council registered pollsters. The results above are the median figure for each party.

Hang on a minute. I thought Labour were finished after “bigotgate”?

Apparently not. At least, no one seems to have told the Labour voters to desert the sinking ship.

Instead, the polls have been remarkably solid. The good news appears to be that the ComRes poll which showed the Tories with a 10 point lead has not been backed up by other pollsters. Poor old ComRes haven’t had much luck with the sampling lately.

But the degree of similarity lately is remarkable. They’re all either going to be pretty much on the money, or all massively wrong.

My money is still on the former.

Right now, our poll medians are following the YouGov numbers very closely. That’s probably because the sample pool is littered with nearly half the surveys coming from the firm. With a bit of luck we might see some more variety in the coming days. If not, I’m going to look at the medians without YouGov to see what difference it makes.

Having said that, I think these numbers are very close to being right, though I think they may be a little generous to both Labour and the LDs. My guess at this stage would be a Tory figure of 35%, with Labour and LD both one lower than above, and the other spare 1% going to others. Because I still don’t think Others are going any lower than 10%.

There is still one other issue… whether the pollsters will converge in the closing days. Some have observed in the past that this is a common feature. Either they start losing their nerve about how right they are, and start to tweak the methodology a little, or suddenly people’s minds become set, and the pollsters begin to keep hitting the same blend every time.

Maybe it’s a bit of both.

Not long to find out though. Isn’t it exciting?

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Pollwatch: T-Minus 5 Days

Posted by The Futility Monster on May 1, 2010 @ 23:59

CONSERVATIVES: 34% (N/C)

LIB DEMS: 29% (N/C)

LABOUR: 27% (N/C)

Changes based upon last time (yesterday). Sample consists of all polls with mid-point fieldwork dates within the last 10 days, including today (n=28). Includes all British Polling Council registered pollsters. The results above are the median figure for each party.

Still nothing happens. And there were four new polls today, as well… all of them suggesting that the Lib Dems are slipping and the Tories are gaining.

It’s an old cliché, but it’s beginning to come true. The more likely a hung parliament seems, the less likely it really is.

As the election draws nearer, and it seems like it’s going to be an inconclusive result, opinion starts to harden one way or the other. In this case, the country seems to be deciding, after it’s brief flirtation with the third party, to come home. Perhaps we just wanted to keep Cameron on his toes, make him prove that he is worthy of being PM.

Or maybe it’s just the fickle electorate once again.

Having said that, it’s probably too early to conclude just yet. The medians above haven’t moved, after all. And so they shouldn’t. More evidence is needed first, and there’s going to be plenty of that next week.

These shares, despite what UNS might say, are not far off a majority. Labour meltdown, plus more “wasted” votes going to the Lib Dems, and a disproportionate pro-Tory swing in the marginals, will ensure they get the seats they need.

It’s not over, but the writing is starting to appear on the wall.

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Pollwatch: T-Minus 6 Days

Posted by The Futility Monster on April 30, 2010 @ 23:59

CONSERVATIVES: 34% (N/C)

LIB DEMS: 29% (N/C)

LABOUR: 27% (N/C)

Changes based upon last time (yesterday). Sample consists of all polls with mid-point fieldwork dates within the last 10 days, including today (n=28). Includes all British Polling Council registered pollsters. The results above are the median figure for each party.

Well, that was exciting, wasn’t it?

There has only been one post-debate poll released, and that’s the daily YouGov. That showed… nought but a 1% rise in the Labour share. Barely anything. And, though we still need more data, I’m going to stick my neck firmly on the block now and say I’m feeling pretty vindicated about predicting nothing will come of “bigotgate” .

Sunday is definitely the big day. There is bound to have been lots of polling in the field today, and more tomorrow, all ready for the final Sunday of the campaign. There will be much talk of whether these polls on a bank holiday weekend are accurate, but I trust the pollsters to get round any sampling difficulties. They know what they’re doing.

And expect next week to be a continued deluge. Be aware too, that of all the numbers coming out over the next few days, one of them is bound to be exactly right. And maybe more.

Scary thought, no?

The endgame approaches. Are you ready for it?

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Pollwatch: T-Minus 7 Days

Posted by The Futility Monster on April 29, 2010 @ 23:59

CONSERVATIVES: 34% (+1%)

LIB DEMS: 29% (N/C)

LABOUR: 27% (N/C)

Changes based upon last time (yesterday). Sample consists of all polls with mid-point fieldwork dates within the last 10 days, including today (n=29). Includes all British Polling Council registered pollsters. The results above are the median figure for each party.

All very stable, but we’re in a holding pattern. The first, and only, post-bigotgate poll puts Labour on absolutely no change at all. But I told you that yesterday, so regular visitors (all two of you) should not be surprised!

The holding pattern is, of course, because of tonight’s debate. What will the impact of David Cameron’s “win” be? We won’t find out for sure tomorrow… for the full reality, we may have to wait till the opinion polls in the Sunday papers.

But so far, it’s a slight nudging forward for the Tories. And that’s all we will ever really see in these smoothing median samples. The direction of travel, then, is most important. Maybe we’ll see another point to them tomorrow… and that will definitely be a worrying sign for those of us hoping for a hung parliament.

Oh well…

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Pollwatch: T-Minus 8 Days

Posted by The Futility Monster on April 28, 2010 @ 22:42

As we count down to May 6th, as promised, Monster’s Poll will be going daily. Here goes…

CONSERVATIVES: 33% (N/C)

LIB DEMS: 29% (N/C)

LABOUR: 27% (-1%)

Changes based upon last time (Saturday). Sample consists of all polls with mid-point fieldwork dates within the last 10 days, including today (n=30). Includes all British Polling Council registered pollsters. The results above are the median figure for each party.

Not a lot happening, more’s the pity. But these numbers would certainly produce a hung parliament.

What will be the effect of the Gordon Brown gaffe? I suspect very little. In truth, I hope so, because anything less is sheer hypocrisy. He got caught out with a thoughtcrime. Who amongst us hasn’t been rude about someone behind their back?

But then again, my opinion of the electorate is so low that it wouldn’t surprise me if Labour took a knock. Yet, I still think this betrayal of humanity might just let him off the hook. Remember: not flash, just Gordon.

Will the electoral landscape be different tomorrow? Stay tuned to find out…

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Roll-y Poll-y

Posted by The Futility Monster on April 24, 2010 @ 23:42

There is a real danger in my poll projection methodology at the moment. The huge highs recorded in the Lib Dem share are estimating that the figure for “Others” could go as low as 6%, which is never going to happen. At the last election the three main parties achieved 90% of the British vote. That will not be lower this time, especially with the rise of the Nats.

So there is going to have to be some revision to my methodology. Again. Before that, the new numbers…

CONSERVATIVES: 33%

LIB DEMS: 29%

LABOUR: 28%

No changes from last time, because of the methodology change.

I have decided, because of the huge volume of polls coming through at the moment, on average three a day, to close the polling window down to just 10 days. 10 days of polls is roughly 30 polls, which is sufficient to get a good view of what’s going on. And, in light of the major developments in recent weeks, it’s important the averaging becomes a little more sensitive. 10 days will achieve that.

I have also decided that it would be wrong to use maxima and minima. Labour are not going get 23%, whcih is what the minimum would predict. It is not going to happen. The Lib Dems, much as they usually outperform the polling, are not going to get 34% this time.

So now we’re all on medians. All the above numbers are now the medians spread across all results from members of the British Polling Council.

It looks and feels a little closer to the truth. A major drop for the Tories, and a major rise for the Lib Dems. As the election enters its closing stages, this index will be regularly updated.

What do these results mean in terms of seats? Using our old, discredited friend – UNS – we get…

  • ukpollingreport.co.uk – Conservatives: 247 seats; Labour: 276 seats; LD: 96 seats: LABOUR 50 seats short
  • Electoral Calculus –  Conservatives: 258 seats; Labour: 265 seats; LD: 95 seats: LABOUR 61 seats short

Unfortunately, I can’t even try it with Andy Cooke’s version, principally because his system was designed in the bad old days when the Lib Dems knew their place.

So we’re in bizarre territory. Potentially Labour coming third in share of the vote, and yet getting the most seats. And thus getting the first crack at forming a government. God bless FPTP!

But UNS can’t possibly be a useful guide in such a close election. It cannot cope with a genuine third party “surge” like this. It’s going to make some of these predictions look very bad come results day. Unless, that is, the Lib Dems do fail to consolidate their vote in the key marginals, and instead lift up everywhere, potentially gaining very little as a result. That is my worry.

And yet, these numbers sort of feel right. Perhaps they may be transposed; maybe the slightly greater swing to the Tories in the key marginals will mean the Tories get roughly what we think Labour will get in such a close scenario. Either way, both parties are way, way short of a majority.

All this can change so easily. A couple of percent either way will make the outcome more decisive, and bring in lots of other scenarios, potentially involving other parties than the Lib Dems.

But if we get stuck here, there will only be one winner: the Yellow Peril. The Lib Dems will get the choice of government. Or neither, precipitating another election. That would be highly dangerous. I sense a lose-lose situation for them.

So many scenarios. So much still to play for…

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Four Degrees Of Lib Demmery: Coalition

Posted by The Futility Monster on April 21, 2010 @ 14:00

Some coalitions are just... weird.

Slightly more likely than my previous two scenarios is the idea that the Lib Dems might choose to enter into a formal coalition with another party, Labour or Conservative. After all, the Lib Dems have done it in Scotland with Labour, and nearly did it with the SNP too. The same was also nearly true in Wales in 2007, when a “rainbow alliance” nearly came together between the Tories and Plaid.

But for it to happen in Westminster would be such an incredible culture shock to the village. No one could believe that such mortal enemies could ever jump into bed together.

These times, however, are very much a changing. I can easily conceive of Nick Clegg joining a Conservative coalition. A Labour coalition seems less likely, primarily because Labour will have just been rejected at the ballot box, but bear in mind that as the one that would make it all happen, Nick Clegg could exact a very high price.

Let’s imagine that scenario. Nick Clegg demands Labour elect a new leader in a genuine contest. He could even ask that Labour elect their new leader in a national series of primaries, just like the selection of a president in the USA. In return, the Lib Dems would enter into a formal agreement, and have a stable coalition for the entire length of the Parliament, implementing vast chunks of the Lib Dem manifesto.

I cannot imagine a scenario where the Lib Dems agree to go into coalition with Labour while Gordon Brown is the leader. Gordon Brown represents everything that is wrong with Britain today. He is the change the Lib Dems are supposed to be rejecting. To join his government would be suicide. It won’t happen. But can I see them joining a Labour coalition with a different PM, one elected from a fair contest that engaged the nation, and looked different to the previous government? Yes, most definitely.

But would Clegg join a Tory coalition? Again, very much so, especially if it’s what would be required in order to shift Gordon Brown out of office (i.e. if Labour retained the largest amount of seats). His price would be high; it would have to be. After all, Lib Dem coalition agreements must be backed by the membership at large. Clegg would have to get plenty of seats at Cabinet, at least one of the major offices of state, and half the manifesto, including voting and other constitutional reforms.

That would, surely, be enough to get the members backing the deal.

To summarise:

  • Labour largest party by some distance, but still many seats short of a majority: Lib Dem coalition possible if Gordon Brown goes, plus major concessions to Lib Dem policy.
  • Labour and Tories essentially with the same number of seats: Brown will woo the Lib Dems, but Clegg will be aware of electorate’s rejection of Labour and refuse it. Tory coalition possible; potentially unstable. Major concessions.
  • Conservatives largest party, still quite a few seats short of a majority: Lib Dem coalition possible if major concessions achieved. Potentially stable for a whole parliament.

All potentially very fruitful for the Lib Dems in the short-term. In the long-term, they would be damaged by their close association with an establishment party, destroying all tactical vote potential for a generation. But then again, with electoral reform, tactical voting would become a thing of the past.

Formal coalition, however, is still a long shot. It taints the brand. The Lib Dems in Scotland have suffered major damage from being seen as Labour’s yes men. Our political culture is not accustomed to it, and so we’d struggle to digest it. We would get used to it in time if the electoral system changed, and would stop being so childish about parties joining forces, but in the meantime, the media would have a field day, and the reputational damage could be severe. Politicians are risk-averse, and this one would be too much for any of them to take.

In reality, we’re left with one scenario. At this stage, it’s probably the most likely electorally. And potentially the most palatable for the nation, the media and the parties themselves. Face-saving all round.

And yet still pretty revolutionary.

One last gaze into the crystal ball might reveal all…

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