Category Archives: Wales

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.

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How did Labour hold up so well in Wales?

by Stephen Fisher

In the Scottish Parliament elections yesterday the SNP lost 6 seats and their majority because their share of the list vote fell by 2 points. They ended up with 49% of the seats from 42% of the vote. Meanwhile, at the Welsh Assembly elections Labour’s vote share dropped by 5.4% points but they lost just one seat, finishing with 48.3% of the seats from just 31.5% of the vote.

Why was the Welsh system so much more generous to Labour than the Scottish system was to the SNP? Continue reading How did Labour hold up so well in Wales?