Archive for November, 2013

Politicians think the public don’t want a deal to stop climate change. They’re wrong.

Posted in Climate Sock on November 23rd, 2013 by Leo – Comments Off on Politicians think the public don’t want a deal to stop climate change. They’re wrong.

I made this BuzzFeed thing about what people think about climate change.

It’s got graphs and a gif. But no cats. Sorry.

It’s here.


Labour’s 2015 firewall is former Lib Dem voters

Posted in Politics on November 10th, 2013 by Leo – Comments Off on Labour’s 2015 firewall is former Lib Dem voters

With 18 months to the election, the latest skirmish has broken out in the geeks’ war to predict the result. But fun though the battles are, history really is bunk for this one. There is, though, one way we can understand how the war will be won.

The fresh round of the debate was started by a projection by the Oxford academic, Stephen Fisher, that the Tories have a 57% chance of winning a majority, and Labour just 15% chance. In the 28% chance of a hung parliament, he projects the Tories being the largest party 88% of the time.

This contradicts most other projections. Bookmakers currently have Labour as favourites (6/5 at the shortest odds), followed by a hung parliament, and then the Tories on only around 3/1 to win a majority. When I last wrote about 2015, I concluded that past elections pointed roughly towards an electoral tie – which would put Labour as the largest party and just short of a majority.

The trouble is, all these projections (including mine) use past election to predict what will happen in 2015 – and this doesn’t work.

On the one hand, governments tend to lose votes after they’ve served a full term: suggesting Labour should win the election. On the other, oppositions generally lost support as an election gets closer: which, in the context of current polls, suggests the Tories should win.

It’s not hard to see why precedent doesn’t stand up at the moment. The major parties are historically unpopular so there’s not the usual zero-sum game of one gaining at the other’s unpopularity. The coalition confuses three-party switching; and the rise of UKIP has split both the vote of the right and of anti-government protestors. Anyway, as Randall Munro has pointed out, electoral precedents are there to be broken.

So forget using past elections to predict May 2015. Instead, let’s look at how the election will be decided*.

There’s a simple question we can ask, that over time will tell us who’s going to form the next government: what’s happened to the people who voted Lib Dem in 2010?

In the six months after the 2010 election, the Lib Dems’ support fell from 21% (YouGov, May 13th) to 9% (YouGov, November 11th). Labour’s vote intent went from 34% to 40%. Since then, the two parties’ support has stayed roughly at the same level.

Looking at the latest poll of each of the major firms**, about a third of 2010 Lib Dem voters now say they would vote Labour:

With the Lib Dems getting 23% at the last election, this means Labour has gained about 8pts from 2010 Lib Dems. It’s the biggest transfer of votes between any parties – easily eclipsing the loss of Tories to UKIP. So I conclude:

Unless Labour loses these post-2010 Lib Dem defectors, it will win the election. This is Labour’s firewall.

Ok, that needs a couple of strings attached.

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