The 650

The 650 | 23rd May 2017

How our constituency forecasts model works

Constituency Forecasts is our model for projecting the 2017 UK general election result. Unlike forecasts based on uniform, or adjusted uniform swings, we use a mathematical tool called Regional Variants, or RegVar (after the brass band). RegVar attempts to aggregate together data from previous elections to predict how a particular seat will behave relative to the UK as a whole, and to nearby seats. In theory, this means that if Southwark sneezes, then Kate Hoey catches a cold.

The aim is to avoid the kinds of systematic polling errors that can be caused by small errors in the national polls. As Ed Miliband will tell you, more votes doesn’t always mean more seats under first past the post. Similarly, we saw Hillary Clinton rack up a two million popular vote lead while losing the Electoral College – she would have needed her voters to be less than 2 per cent more efficiently distributed to win the day, and the presidency.

RegVar works first by taking the national vote share and comparing it with the regional vote share, simulating the unequal distribution of votes. In the South East, you would expect the Tories to pick up twelve votes for every ten they received nationally, while they might get only seven in the North West. Consequently, for every 100 Tory votes nationally, we expect perhaps 120 Tory votes in Guildford.

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The 650 | 22nd May 2017

Why is Labour surging in Wales?

A new poll suggests Labour will not be going gently into that good night, says Cardiff University’s Roger Scully. 

Well where did that come from? The first two Welsh opinion polls of the general election campaign had given the Conservatives all-time high levels of support, and suggested that they were on course for an historic breakthrough in Wales. For Labour, in its strongest of all heartlands where it has won every general election from 1922 onwards, this year had looked like a desperate rear-guard action to defend as much of what they held as possible.

But today’s new Welsh Political Barometer poll has shaken things up a bit. It shows Labour support up nine percentage points in a fortnight, to 44 per cent. The Conservatives are down seven points, to 34 per cent. Having been apparently on course for major losses, the new poll suggests that Labour may even be able to make ground in Wales: on a uniform swing these figures would project Labour to regain the Gower seat they narrowly lost two years ago.

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The 650 | 22nd May 2017

Anatomy of a collapse: What explains the decline of the Lib Dems and Ukip?

New analysis by Populus reveals the Lib Dems are struggling to win back young voters and Tory Remainers– while Ukip’s support is plummeting across the board.

This, supposedly, is a Brexit election. Theresa May says she needs a larger majority to strengthen her negotiating position. Ipsos MORI’s respected long-running issues tracker shows voters think Brexit is the most important issue facing the country, alongside the NHS. Yet the two parties with the strongest positions on Brexit – the Liberal Democrats and UKIP – are faring poorly. Why?

The latest June2017 poll of polls puts the Liberal Democrats on 8%, barely changed from their 2015 collapse. Ukip linger at around 5%, a significant decline since the last general election. Local elections are imperfect guides to general elections, but the lacklustre Lib Dem performance and Ukip’s solitary win earlier this month are broadly in line with the polling.

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The 650 | 18th May 2017

The manifestos are out – but don’t expect broadcasters to talk policy

Cardiff University research shows while coverage of parties and leaders is balanced, policy information is limited

After two weeks of election campaigning, which issues have dominated election coverage? Our research finds BBC and ITV evening bulletins have become more focussed on campaign process compared to coverage of the 2015 election, with policy issues pushed down the agenda.

Whereas 64.8 per cent of BBC news items were about policy at this stage of the 2015 campaign, this has fallen by over 10 per cent to 54 per cent in this campaign. Likewise, ITV reported more substantive issues in the opening part of the last campaign, but its coverage has dropped to 48.5% in 2017.

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