General Election 2015 Blog

Tracking election candidate activity on twitter

When parliament was dissolved at midnight on March 30 a team at Storyful began tracking the tweets of thousands of candidates across the United Kingdom. In this post, Peadar Grogan and Donie O’Sullivan look at some of the key numbers, trends, hashtags and links that have defined the general election campaign on Twitter in the first two weeks of the campaign. Candidates tweeted […]

Focus on…Scotland

In this post, the team at electionforecast.co.uk discuss their current predictions for Scotland. In 2010, not a single Scottish seat changed party hands. In 2015, it is likely that 70% of Scottish constituencies will return an MP from a different party to Westinster.

See Nicola McEwen’s analysis of the campaign in Scotland here.

The likely electoral change in Scotland in 2015 […]

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    A review of the top Voter Advice Applications for the 2015 General Election

A review of the top Voter Advice Applications for the 2015 General Election

There are more Voter Advice Applications than ever before. These webpages and apps allow voters to see which party best matches their views on policies, helping to better inform voter choice and to encourage voter participation. Chris Gilson reviews this election’s top VAA’s. 

The general election is now only weeks away and pollsters and pundits are scrambling over each other […]

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    A Lib-Lab coalition is perfectly possible – with the SNP as the silent partner

A Lib-Lab coalition is perfectly possible – with the SNP as the silent partner

There has been extended discussion over the different types of agreement between Labour and the SNP that would enable Ed Miliband to become Prime Minister after May 7th. In this post, James Dennison suggests an alternative scenario in which Labour forms a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, while relying on the support of the SNP as a ‘silent’ partner.

What makes […]

The South East – still overwhelmingly blue?

Throughout the short campaign, this blog will be publishing a series of posts that focus on each of the electoral regions in the UK. In this post, Paul Webb discusses the key things to look out for in the South East.  

The South East of England is overwhelmingly blue. Of the 82 parliamentary constituencies spread across the counties of Kent, East […]

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    The Liberal Democrats could get an electoral boost from undecideds – especially women

The Liberal Democrats could get an electoral boost from undecideds – especially women

In past elections, undecided women were more likely to vote for the Liberal Democrats than undecided men, and decided male and female voters. In this post, Rosalind Shorrocks asks whether this pattern is likely to be repeated in the election in May.

With just under a month to go until the general election, polls tracking voting intention put Labour and the Conservatives neck […]

  • Permalink Stuart Wilks-Heeg looks at the role of marginal seats in this election. The related paper ‘A tale of two electorates: why some voters are more equal than others’ is also available from Democratic Audit. As the election campaign entered its last week, media reporting shifted to focus on the marginals – apparently in response to the three main party leaders engaging in a whirlwind tour of these key seats. In actual fact, the party leaders have done little else than visit marginals over the past few weeks.  All three have visited dozens of places on the campaign trail – almost every one of them a key marginal, or a cluster of key marginals. As the leaders have toured the marginals, any encounters with voters have usually been pre-arranged, although once or twice events departed from the planned script. But the actual purpose of the visits is, of course, to let key ‘floating’ voters know, via media proxy, that the party leader has visited, and endorses their ‘excellent local candidate’. Duly documented by a mass of press photographers, radio and television crews, the regional and local media transmit the news to the electorate - a party leader had been in town. How else would they ever know? Under our current electoral system, this targeting of voters in key marginals constitutes entirely rational behaviour for political parties.  But what are the implications for the electorate? As political parties adopt an increasingly strategic focus on a tiny sub-section of the electorate, large parts of the country have become almost ‘campaign free’ zones.  An overseas visitor arriving in many parts of the country would have real difficulty believing that there is an election going on. If it wasn’t happening on the TV, many voters in safe seats might have the same doubts. A small scale Democratic Audit internet survey of 200 voters across a geographical spread of over 150 constituencies in Great Britain conducted mid-campaign (20 to 22 April 2010) reinforces this view. While the data should clearly be seen as little more than indicative, particularly in view of the small sample size, the table below reveals an obvious, and plausible, pattern. Voters in three-way marginals and Liberal Democrat target seats receive up to 4.5 times more contact from political parties than voters in safe Labour or Conservative seats. Reported contact from the political parties during the first two weeks of the 2010 General Election campaign, and in the three months before the election campaign, by type of seat/contest [table id=67 /] Patterns of local candidate spending at the 2005 General Election tell the same story. In 2005, candidates contesting the ultra-safe seat of Barnsley East and Mexborough spent the equivalent of 8p per elector, between them, trying to win over the voters. At the other end of the scale, the combined expenditure of candidates contesting Falmouth and Camborne, a three-way marginal in Cornwall, amounted to 65p per elector. If parties behave rationally in targeting certain seats, then the response of electors is arguably just as rational. Since casting a ballot in an ultra-safe seat is highly unlikely to impact on the outcome of the contest, voters have little motivation to turn out to vote – particularly if the parties have ignored them for the entire campaign. In an ultra-marginal, where a single ballot could realistically make the different between one candidate losing and another winning, the calculus is quite different. Turnout rises significantly as seats become more marginal, with low turnouts concentrated overwhelmingly among the ultra safe seats. As the figure below shows, following the 2001 General Election, 324 seats were classified as ultra-safe. At the 2005 election, the average turnout in these seats was 57.4 per cent and just 2.2 per cent of the seats changed hands. Both turnout and the proportion of seats changing hands rose as seats became more marginal. Compared to ultra-safe seats, over 20 times as many ultra-marginals changed hands, while turnout was almost 10 percentage points higher. Figure 1:  Turnout and proportion of seats changing hands at the 2005 General Election, by marginality of seat (marginality based on 2001 results) Source: Data derived from Pippa Norris’ British Parliamentary Constituency Database 1992-2005, release 1.3: http://www.hks.harvard.edu/fs/pnorris/Data/Data.htm The main two political parties have been reluctant to debate the impact of the electoral system on turnouts, or to discuss the wider democratic implications of parties targeting their efforts at a minority of seats. But this is not simply a question of political participation. Most of the seats in which voter turnout will be lowest this Thursday also suffer from the highest levels of social deprivation. That political inequality and socio-economic inequality have become so closely interwoven is yet another damning indictment of our electoral system.">Gallery

    Rules and practices of political opinion polls

Rules and practices of political opinion polls

In this post, John Curtice explains the role of the British Polling Council in the context of the forthcoming general election. He details the rules that polling companies agree to abide by when becoming BPC members, and discusses two recent cases that posed questions about who had responsibility for publishing poll details.

This will almost undoubtedly prove to be the most […]

The West Midlands – a bellwether for the election?

Throughout the short campaign, this blog will be publishing a series of posts that focus on each of the electoral regions in the UK. In this post, Cherry Miller discusses the key things to look out for in the West Midlands. 

It would seem churlish for any contributor in this series not to stake a claim for their region as the […]