This forecast was updated on 17th May 2017. The predicted outcome is unchanged from my previous forecast.
For my 4th seat forecast of the 2017 general election, I am heading to the North East which is where I grew up. A colleague who lives in the Bishop Auckland seat told me that “Labour could put a monkey up as a candidate and it would get elected”. Since the seat was created in 1885, no Tory has ever won this seat and it has been Labour since 1935.
My Prediction – CON Gain
My first seat forecast was for the CON/LD battleground of Bath in the South West and in that post I describe my 3 forecasting models in some depth so please read that post if you are unfamiliar with these. However, now that we know the number of candidates in each constituency, I have created an additional model to handle stand downs by parties and in this seat, both UKIP & the Greens are standing down. In addition, there is a 5th model under development.
- URS – Uniform Regional Swing model based on chart R1 of my Opinion Poll Tracker. This will no longer be my main forecast
- URS+S – my URS forecast modified for parties standing down which is explained in my North Norfolk prediction. This is now my main forecast model.
- URS+T – my URS forecast + Standown plus my Tactical Voting model and is now my alternative forecasting model.
- EU16R – my Brexit Realignment model based on my by-election forecasting model but with some tweaks. For now, I am not regarding this as a forecast, rather it is a sense check for my other forecasts.
- nURS – Non Uniform Regional Swing model which was first explored in my Cardiff South & Penarth prediction and updated in my Edinburgh South prediction. This model is still under development and does not constitute an official forecast.
I have run these models for Bishop Auckland and all predict a Conservative gain with a clear majority. This seat is a classic emblem of the EU referendum in 2016, an eternal Labour seat that voted strongly for Leave and exposed the fault lines in the working class vote that historically have been the bedrock of the Labour vote.
The North East & London are the only regions in Britain where Labour still has a lead in the polls albeit narrow ones. Unfortunately, since 2015, their lead over the Conservatives has shrunk from 21.6% to 4% as shown in the charts below. Chart R2 is the same information as displayed for the North East in chart R1 of my Opinion Poll Tracker, R3 is the rolling 15 poll median for the North East crossbreaks of all the polls. The apparent brief Conservative lead shown is the result of a very large poll carried out by Lord Ashcroft at the start of May which showed a large Conservative lead and temporarily distorted my rolling median.
In Bishop Auckland, Labour only had a 9% majority in 2015 so a 17% reduction in this leads to a straight loss of the seat. A major reason for their smaller majority in 2015 was the rise of the UKIP vote from 3% to 18%. Chart S2 in my Opinion Poll Tracker shows that nationally, 52% of UKIP15 voters have defected to the Conservatives compared to only 8% of UKIP15 voters defecting to Labour. It is worth noting though that Chart R2 above appears to indicate that since the election was called some UKIP voters appeared to have switched to Labour but it still seems the majority have switched to the Conservatives. Of particular interest is what will happen to the remaining UKIP voters given that UKIP has stood down. As I explained in my North Norfolk forecast, I am expecting these voters to split 70:30 CON:LAB but I am keeping this under review.
In addition to UKIP15 voters, the other large voter segment to watch for are Labour Leavers who I estimate make up 15% of voters in this seat. Again chart S2 indicates that 11% of LAB15 voters nationally have switched to the Conservatives which equates to about 1/3 of Labour Leavers. It is worth remembering that Bishop Auckland’s Leave vote of 60% is higher than the North East Leave vote of 58% and if my analysis of a potential non-Uniform Regional Swing in Cardiff South & Penarth is correct, then this could be worth an additional 2% to the Conservatives and 2% less for other parties.
If you would like to see my predicted outcomes for all 632 seats in Britain, please visit my 2017 General Election Forecast page and download the spreadsheet at the bottom of the page.
UPDATE 11/5/17 – The day after I wrote this, the BBC did a short piece on whether the Conservatives could win Bishop Auckland!