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

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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

Seats projections from GB and Scottish polls combined

by Stephen Fisher.

We’ve had eight Britain wide opinion polls since the election was called. Roughly in order, with the most recent first (and with thanks to Anthony Wells at UKPollingReport.co.uk for the figures and changes since the previous poll) they are:

ICM/ITV, CON 48%(+2), LAB 26%(+1), LDEM 10%(-1), UKIP 8%(nc), GRN 3%(-1)

Norstat/S Express, CON 42%, LAB 26%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 8%, GRN 6% Continue reading Seats projections from GB and Scottish polls combined

Another Labour Meltdown?

By Stephen Fisher

The polls in Scotland just before the last election showed a 21-point lead for SNP over Labour. The SNP went on to take all but one of Labour’s 41 Scottish seats.

This week Theresa May called a general election in the wake of polls showing her Conservative party 21 points ahead of Labour. Could Labour now be headed for a Britain wide meltdown of the kind that they suffered in Scotland two years ago? Continue reading Another Labour Meltdown?

Why was Trump elected?

by Stephen Fisher.

This question can be addressed from various angles and at different levels. I will start with the basic features of the result, then discuss the patterns of change since 2012, all before trying to address the bewilderment of many who find it hard to understand how anyone could vote for him.

Trump won the presidency by holding on to states that Romney won and winning some states that Obama previously won, including Iowa, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. He did this by a combination of a national vote swing of around 1.5 points since 2012, plus above average swings in some key battleground states, such as Pennsylvania 3 points, Michigan 5 points and Iowa 10 points.*

At the same time, Trump lost the national popular vote but won the presidency by narrowly winning Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida with leads of less that 1.5 points each. So, had the swing to Trump in these states been smaller by just 1 point then Hilary Clinton would have won outright.  This was a close election. Continue reading Why was Trump elected?

What to make of the US election forecasts?

By Stephen Fisher

The majority of forecasts point to Hilary Clinton winning tomorrow’s US presidential election. Several of the poll, market and expert forecasts with probabilities for who will win are helpfully summarised by the New York Times here.  The polls-based predictions are all, apart from one, pretty confident that Clinton will win. At the time of writing, Drew Linzer’s model at Daily Kos puts the probability of a Clinton win at 87%, HuffPost has 98% and Sam Wang at the Princeton Election Consortium estimate is as high as 99%. The New York Times’ own model is slightly less confident, on 84%. The exception is Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight model which puts Clinton’s chances at just 67%.

The lower probability for Clinton in the FiveThirtyEight model is partly (by comparison with most but not all models) due to 538 having a smaller estimate of her likely lead in votes. By comparison with HuffPost, for instance, this is because FiveThirtyEight put more weight on more recent polls that haven’t been so great for Clinton in wake of the FBI announcement last week of further investigations into her emails.

But the discrepancy is mostly due to the FiveThirtyEight model allowing for more uncertainty. So 538 have a higher probability of a Clinton landslide than other models as well as a higher probability of a triumphant Trump. Continue reading What to make of the US election forecasts?

Why did the UK vote to leave the European Union?

by Stephen Fisher.

It is not hard to see why Leave won. Evidence from numerous opinion polls showed that there was a clear majority for Leave on the basis of concerns about immigration and beliefs that leaving would reduce immigration. Moreover the same opinion polls showed us that there was no compensating majority who believed that the UK would be worse off if we left. Still less did people feel that they personally would be financially worse off. For further details see here.

Although it should not have come as a surprise that Leave won, the result was close enough that it could easily have gone the other way. There will be much debate as to whether the Remain side could have made their arguments more persuasively and campaigned more effectively. With such a close result a host of relatively small differences could all have made a difference. It will be hard for survey and other academic research to identify what, if anything was decisive.

Turnout, at 72%, was the highest for any UK-wide vote since 1992. Whilst this might constitute a relatively high level of participation by recent standards, it does still mean that 28% of registered voters did not bother to have their say in what, we were frequently told, was the most important national decision in our lifetimes. If opinion poll questions on likelihood of voting are at least roughly right, it is likely to transpire that non-voters more often favoured remaining. Moreover it is probably the case that if everyone eligible had voted then the UK would have chosen to Remain.

The local authority results provide some evidence that the divisions in society suggested by the opinion polls as important for referendum voting were born out. Places with more pensioners were more likely to vote for Leave.

leaverefsh_c11age65p_graph

The Remain vote was higher where there were more graduates.

leaverefsh_c11degree_graph.png

These are geographical manifestations of primarily individual-level differences. There are also others related to ethnic diversity and economic prosperity.

The national divides are the most notable aspect of the political geography. Both Northern Ireland and Scotland voted Remain (at 56% and 62% respectively). Both England and Wales voted 53% Leave.

The only region within England to vote Remain was London, and it did so strongly with 60% of the vote. Setting aside London, the rest of England voted solidly, 55%, for Leave. While it is true that the Leave vote was strongest in the English countryside, many of the big cities voted Leave, including Birmingham, Sheffield, Bradford, Sunderland, Bolton, Newcastle, and Stoke. While the North and Midlands were stronger for Leave than the South of England, there were cities in the South, such as Plymouth, Southampton and Swindon, that voted Leave.

In the end only 52 out of 293 local authorities in England outside London voted to Remain. Similarly only 5 out of 22 Welsh council areas voted to Remain. Outside London, the preference for leave was widespread in England and Wales.

 

Forecasting the 2017 UK General Election