Category Archives: Local elections

UKIP dropout did not help the Conservatives much in the local elections

By Stephen Fisher.

UKIP are putting up just 377 candidates at the general election, well short of the 624 they had in 2015. Given that the polls are showing that around half of former UKIP voters are planning on voting Conservative this year, and given that the Conservatives clearly benefitted from the collapse of the UKIP vote in the local elections, surely UKIP dropout is a big advantage for Theresa May?

Perhaps not. A good way of assessing this question is to look at the experience of local elections and analyse how much other parties benefitted when UKIP stood a candidate in 2013 but not this year, compared with where they had candidates both times. To make the context more like a general election I focus just on places fought by the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats both in 2013 and 2017.

There were 969 such divisions where the BBC collected the full details of the result. Of these 523 had UKIP candidates both times, and 446 had a UKIP candidate last time but not this time – only a slightly higher (46%) dropout rate than that for the general election (40%).

Continue reading UKIP dropout did not help the Conservatives much in the local elections

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Welsh Local Election Forecasts 2017

by Stephen Fisher.

Update 18.40, 4.5.17: I was mistaken as to the method for the Rallings and Thrasher projection, the details have now been corrected. Nothing about my forecast has changed. 

This is definitely just for curiosity value only! Last week Roger Scully released the results of his Welsh Political Barometer survey which included Westminster and local election vote intention questions see here. The changes on the comparable survey from just before the last main round of Welsh local elections five years ago are presented in the first and third columns of the table below. Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher did a seat projection based on the change from the actual 2012/3 local election vote share to the 2017 local-vote intention poll (Con +13, Lab -8, LD -1, PC +3), as discussed by Roger Scully here and listed in the second column of the table.

%Local vote Rallings & Thrasher %GE vote Regression
12-17 change seat change 12-17 change seat change
CON +9 +90 +17 +272
LAB -20 -130 -20 -320
LD 0 0 +1 +12
PC +2 +20 +1 +16

The final column of the table represents my attempt to translate the changes in the Westminster vote intention into changes in local election seats, similarly to the way I did for the English local elections. Regression analysis of local election results in Wales since 1995 shows strong linear relationships between votes and seats for each of the main parties, with the partial exception of the Liberal Democrats. On average the main parties have picked up around 16 extra seats for every percentage point extra in the overall share of the vote (just 12 for the Lib Dems).

If this relationship were to continue and if the changes in the opinion polls since 2012 were to be reflected in the results then the numbers of gains and losses would be much bigger than suggested in the Rallings and Thrasher projection. For instance Labour would be expected to lose 320 not just 130 seats.

By implication the geography of local election voting must be doing a lot of work to dampen the scale of gains and losses for the Conservatives and Labour parties in the Rallings and Thrasher projection. It would seem that there are a lot very safe Labour council seats in Wales and the system is extremely biased to Labour. The Rallings and Thrasher projection implies that the Labour would win with a 2 point lead over the Conservatives in votes, but more than twice as many seats (450 to 195). That would be extraordinarily unjust.

Projecting the changes in the Westminster vote intention on to seats with the regression method (final two columns) suggests the Conservatives will emerge (for the first time in a long time) with a substantial lead in both votes and seats.

Thanks to Eilidh Macfarlane for help with the data.

Scottish Local Elections Forecast 2017

by Stephen Fisher

The local elections in Scotland tomorrow will be conducted using the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, a form of proportional representation. As the graph below shows, the relationship between seats and votes has been close to but not perfectly proportional in the only previous sets of STV elections. Larger parties tend to be a little over-represented, smaller parties a little under.

ScotLocalsSeatsVotes

However, the Conservatives were noticeably less well represented than might be expected from their size alone. For my seats forecasting model (a regression of seat share against first preference vote share, with zero intercept) I have interpreted these as party effects that are likely to be replicated again this week, but we shall see.

Continue reading Scottish Local Elections Forecast 2017

Forecasting English Local Election Seat Gains/Losses 2017

by Stephen Fisher

I am planning on forecasting the general election, but first things first. There are local elections this week.

My seat gains/losses forecasts for the English council elections this year are definitely more for curiosity value than to be taken very seriously. They are based on a simple model which uses change in party support in the polls since the equivalent round of elections four years ago to predict seat changes at the national level. The Conservatives are at 46% in the polls; up a massive 15 points on 2013. Labour are down 11 points in the polls since last time; extraordinary for an opposition party. With such big changes in the polls my model inevitably predicts very big net seat tally changes for these parties. But it does not take the electoral geography into account. Many of Labour’s seats are likely to be very safe and the Conservatives might find it hard to recoup many more than the 337 they lost last time.

With that caveat and with more below, my forecasts, together with those from Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher, are presented in the table below. They also forecast UKIP -105. My modelling approach still cannot manage a sensible UKIP forecast.

 2017 Forecast Range Rallings & Thrasher
Con +430 +190 to +670 +115
Lab -315 -555 to -75 -75
LD -30 -265 to +210 +85

Continue reading Forecasting English Local Election Seat Gains/Losses 2017

Calculating the Local Elections Projected National Share (PNS) in 2015 and 2016

by John Curtice and Stephen Fisher

Much of the speculation about what might happen in the English local elections tomorrow has focused on how many seats each party – and especially Labour – could or should gain or lose. Indeed, we can expect many a judgement to be cast on Friday on the basis of this evidence. However, given that these elections are held under first past the post, seats won and lost can be a poor guide to how well a party has done in the ballot box. A party whose vote has fallen less than that of their principal rivals may gain seats even though it has lost votes. A third party whose vote is geographically spread may make a substantial advance in votes yet reap little reward on terms of seats. Meanwhile, even if these issues do not arise, seats won and lost only provide an indication of whether a party has lost or gained ground as compared with when the seats up for grabs were last contested – which (as this year) is usually four years ago. Continue reading Calculating the Local Elections Projected National Share (PNS) in 2015 and 2016

Forecasting Local Election Seats 2016

by Stephen Fisher

Local elections are supposed to be about local matters, but the electoral fortunes of councillors and would-be councillors depend very heavily on the popularity of their parties nationally. So the outcome of this year’s local elections depend on how the current standing of the parties compares with four years ago when the seats up for election this year were last contested.

In the run up to the 2012 local elections Labour were polling above 40% with a solid 9 point lead over the Conservatives, in part because of the so-called omnishambles budget. Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats had slumped in the polls after the formation of the coalition government with little over 11%.

According to the average of the most recent polls from six companies, Labour have dropped since 2012 to 35% now, only narrowly ahead of the Conservatives who are on 34%. The Liberal Democrats have slid even further to just 7%. On this basis alone we should expect both Labour and the Lib Dems to lose substantial numbers of council seats while the Conservatives should make gains from their 3-point recovery. Continue reading Forecasting Local Election Seats 2016