The Conservatives victory in the Hartlepool by-election means the Brexit realignment of British politics is still taking place … or does it? In fact, Labour’s defeat in Hartlepool for the first time in over 60 years should be put down to tactical voting rather than Brexit realignment, at least for now. It will be the two upcoming by-elections in Batley & Spen on 1st July representing the Red Wall and Chesham & Amersham on 17th June 2021 representing the Blue Sea that will answer the question “Is Brexit realignment is still continuing or did it end in December 2019?”
Keir Starmer has to match what Clement Attlee did in 1945 and beat what Tony Blair did in 1997 if he wants to form a Labour government at the next election. To arrive at Downing Street by the end of 2024, Starmer must get his party to board an InterCity 125 train and spend the next 3 years following the tracks I lay out in this article. As I will show, whichever track they take has to go through 125 English Conservative seats, most of which are in between cities. Hence InterCity 125 becomes the easy to remember name of Labour’s list of target seats.
After 3 general elections with severe polling errors, the UK opinion pollsters redeemed themselves in the 2019 UK General Election with their most accurate performance since 1955. I base this statement on data provided by Mark Pack who has systematically recorded every opinion poll published since 1945. The challenge now for the industry is to maintain this level of performance for the next election which may be easier said than done given that 5 out of the last 8 elections have experienced a major polling error.
The fevered political climate in the UK at the moment is all about Brexit and possible second referendums and general elections. Jeremy Corbyn made it clear recently that he wanted a General Election now so that he could take over the Brexit negotiations. With that in mind, I decided to take a look at what Labour’s target seat strategy could look like based on the results of the 2017 general election. What I see at the moment is that Labour has many ways of becoming the largest party in Parliament but the road to a working majority is much harder than people realise due to the Brexit realignment in 2016 and the Nationalist realignment in Scotland in 2015.
In a week’s time, Americans will go to the polls for what is known as the mid-term elections. Inevitably, the results will lead to much speculation on what it means for Donald Trump’s chances of re-election in 2020. However, I will be surprised if many commentators will look to history as a guide to 2020 and so I will fill in this gap with the help of fun 10 question quiz about US presidents.
The last 3 general elections have seen some significant polling errors. In 2010, the Lib Dems were significantly overestimated, in 2015 the Conservatives were underestimated and last year saw the largest ever underestimate in the Labour vote. Whilst these errors suggest that the polling industry is struggling with general elections these days, a natural question to ask is “are all pollsters equally bad or are some better than others?”
Exactly one month ago, the UK woke up to the news that they had elected a hung parliament for the second time in 3 elections. For many forecasters including myself, this came as a surprise as I had been predicting a Conservative majority of 100 seats. In the event, the largest ever polling underestimate of the Labour vote was enough to see the Conservatives lose their majority.
At the beginning of my commentary on election night itself, I defined success for my forecasts as being how close the number of Conservative seats was to my forecast of 375. I also stated that if the number of seats was in the 340s I would consider this to be a prediction error. The final outcome was 317 seats so clearly that is a major prediction error.
Ahead of the 2017 general election, I predicted that the opinion polls would be wrong again and that the Conservatives lead over Labour would be underestimated by 2.6%. I based this on data provided by Mark Pack who has systematically recorded every opinion poll published since 1945. In the event, I was right that the polls would be wrong but instead of an error favouring the Conservatives, the polls recorded the largest ever underestimate of the Labour vote. As a result, election forecasters were blindsided yet again and the result was a hung parliament which few saw coming.
Friday 07:35 – I’ve just woken up to the result that we have a hung parliament which is miles away from my prediction. Clearly I need to conduct a post-mortem of my model but I did state in my first chart of this post (see bottom of post) that a hung parliament would occur if the CON-LAB lead was under 3%. Sure enough that is the outcome with the BBC currently saying the CON-LAB lead is 2.3%. What it also means that we have another epic polling error as the average of all polls in the week before the election showed a CON-LAB lead of 7.5%. Unlike 2015 when all pollsters got it, congratulations must go to Survation who called it spot on.
I am sure we will have a wave of people claiming to have predicted this error. As far as I am concerned a valid prediction is only one made in public in advance. Such a prediction would also need to explain why they expected a polling error on the scale shown in the chart.
The last time such an error occurred was 1983 and the error is on the scale of 1951! In fact the error is even more remarkable if you look at the 3 main parties.
Another polling post mortem beckons but this election will go down in history.
Over the last 6 weeks I have been making many posts about what is happening and what will happen in 2017. I thought it would be helpful to have one post which brings everything together in one place.
My official 2017 election forecast summarises what I expect the results to be on June 8th 2017. This post also includes a link to a spreadsheet containing my seat by seat forecasts which can be found at the bottom of that post. (EDIT: Weds 7th June @1030AM. If you downloaded the spreadsheet before 1030 on Weds 7th June, please visit the link and download the spreadsheet again. The link explains why)
To accompany my forecast, I have created 4 youtube video clips where I dig into the details of how I arrived at that forecast.