Thursday, 8 June 2017

#GE2017 Night - Oh What a Night!

As the dust settles on the election, it's time to write up my thoughts.

Quite frankly, who but a few could have predicted yesterday that the Conservatives would be losing their majority?

The exit poll did. And as part of the exit poll team, I have to say a huge congratulations to everyone on the team. From Psepho-in-Chief John Curtice, to fellow Curtice-minions Steve Fisher, Rob Ford, Jon Mellon, and Jouni Kuha. To our producer Tim and typist Tracey. To everyone involved in the operation at GfK and Ipsos -- and to all those who answered the exit poll!

We were delighted that everyone's immensely hard work paid off, and that we were able to successfully predict the outcome and guide the coverage on the night.

As for the result: only YouGov (Ben Lauderdale) had a hung parliament as their central forecast (before the exit poll). My own forecast suggested a Conservative seat total of 348 - a full 30 seats too high. It was however the closest model other than YouGov's that I know of (please do correct me if I am wrong there). I will run a full diagnostic on the model and write a report over the coming days.

In the meantime, full kudos to YouGov and Ben Lauderdale for their success in predicting the hung parliament.

To be where we are now given where we started when the snap election was called is quite incredible.

What happened since forecasts of a 100 seat majority for the Conservatives in May is:
1) the Conservatives put together a dismal campaign,
2) the Labour Party put together an impressive campaign and manifesto which confounded their critics, and
3) the majority of polls were highly erroneous by assuming and weighting to a far too low turnout of young people. This was, we all think, a real central part to the story: young voters coming out and winning Labour those key seats.

In truth, Labour were up mostly everywhere. It was a good performance (compared to the 2015 baseline). We can however draw out some interesting stories which begin to unravel a bit the complex and dynamic picture we now see before us on the British electoral map.

As well as some clear and well established stories about age and voting (swing to Labour was around 5% in seats with more than 10% of young people (aged 18-24), compared to around 2 in seats where there were less than 5% young people), there were also two other clear dynamics: regional performances and the Brexit vote.

On the first, the North East of England was the only region where the Conservatives out-performed Labour outside of Scotland. Here they made a serious impact in terms of winning over UKIP voters, and flipping seats (Middlesborough South and Cleveland and Southport, for example).

In Scotland, the Scottish Conservatives continued their strong advances under Ruth Davidson and have undoubtedly successfully established themselves as the second party there. Indeed, the Conservatives' ability to govern from this point are entirely thanks to their wins north of the border, 12 in all, without which they would be much too far adrift.

Elsewhere however, Labour were very much on top and achieved large swings from both the Conservatives and UKIP. Remarkably, the assumption that the vast majority of UKIP voters would go to the Conservatives simply didn't hold up outside Northern seats. The swings in the South and East in particular were mightily impressive (3.5% in the South East region for instance), knocking over seats which never should have been on the cards such as Ipswich and Canterbury.

The Conservatives also did well in high leave voting areas, particularly those in the North West and Midlands. In midlands seats where the Brexit vote was higher than 60%, the Conservatives rose on average by 10.5 points. This again did win them some contests, such as Walsall North and Mansfield.

Conversely, Labour were up on average 12 points in seats across the nation where the remain vote share was greater than 65%. They picked up wins across London, a high remain voting area, but also in Wales and the East where leave was in the majority.

For the Liberal Democrats, they will be pleased to have increased their overall seat numbers but their loses in England and Wales must be of great concern. They appeared to do well in England in high remain voting areas, against the Conservatives, and with well known candidates. Elsewhere, and particularly against Labour incumbents, they did not do well. In Scotland, the Lib Dems simply held up in many places while the SNP crashed all around them (which is the only real story there).

Young voters, the regions, and Brexit. What a night.

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