General Election -- 15 Seats To Watch

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jim360 | 10:20 Thu 07th May 2015 | Politics
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I thought I'd try my hand at being a political pundit and offer up a few seats whose results I think are particularly important in the overall result, at least based on the predictions from the electoral calculus website. Keep an eye out for what goes on in these seats (possibly)!

1. Bermondsey and Old Southwark

A massive Lib Dem majority in 2010, set to become a Labour seat if predictions hold, but with the tiniest of majorities of 0.6% it's basically a dead heat at the moment. If the Lib Dems are to have much say in coalitions/ other deals then they'll need to hold on to seats like this one.

2. Blackpool North and Cleveleys

A close Labour v. Tory battleground, Labour expected to win by only 1.4%. UKIP votes acting as a potential spoiler here for the Tories -- in this and several other seats, if UKIP voters "come back to the fold" then the Conservatives could well return on overall majority.

3. Cambridge

Potentially a four-horse race including the Green party (on about 15% prediction), and also set to be a seat with the smallest overall vote share for the winner at not much more than 25%. Could be very tight, could go any way. A predicted Labour win.

4. Ceredigion

The SNP are expected to win seats in droves but their fellow nationalists Plaid Cymru seem to be unable to to the same in Wales. Here's one of their better chances of gaining a seat from the Lib Dems but they probably will fall well short.

5. Devon North

Coalition partners going head-to-head and, again, an important one for the Lib Dems to hold if they want to stay relevant. The Conservatives might win this one with the support of UKIP votes though.

6. Glenrothes

Up in Scotland, Labour won this seat with a 40.6% majority in 2010. Electoral Calculus predicts that to be slashed to 0.6% by the SNP rise, making it a statistical dead heat. If the SNP win here they will be ecstatic and probably looking at 50+ seats overall.

7,8,9,10. Harrow East, Keighley, Loughborough, Pendle

Four Lab/ Con marginals which could go either way. Pendle in particular comes out as a dead heat on Electoral calculus. Key marginals.

11. Norwich South

An outside chance of the Green party winning here, but it'll probably go to Labour.

12. Thanet South

Obviously -- will Farage win this? UKIP won't have much luck elsewhere, probably, winning good second or third places but struggling to get above 20%. Best chance here of picking up a seat.

13. Wentworth and Dearne

100% guaranteed that this will go to Labour. But I thought it would be interesting as UKIP could come a strong second. If even voters in Labour heartlands are turning to UKIP, albeit without hitting Labour's vote exactly, it's clear that the main opposition are struggling.

14. Wyre Forest

Electoral Calculus has got this seat utterly wrong, I think, as it predicts a strong showing for the "minority" candidate. Except that candidate isn't standing. Throws out their predictions by only a seat, but a bit of an oversight!

15. Upper Bann

A wildcard from Northern Ireland, as Sinn Fein might win here possibly. SF Mps traditionally don't sit, lowering the bar for a "real" majority, so extra Sinn Fein seats could allow a party to sneak over the line with only 322 seats as opposed to 326.

* * * * *

Well that's my lot. There are plenty of other tight marginals -- almost 200 -- meaning that all results remain possible. Which way these seats go could be important, or they could be lost in the noise of tiny swings the other way elsewhere, but I thought I'd highlight them all the same.


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Thanks Jim, I will keep an eye on them. I also will watch Sheffield Hallam to see if Nick Clegg gets back in.
11:09 Thu 07th May 2015
Very shouty & boorish, those lefties, ain't they?
You didn't answer me earlier, Svejk. The fight was crap, wasn't?
Boxing? Didn't watch it.
Question Author
Thanks vetuste.

Yes, a sad result for the left. Glad to see the UKIP vote holding up reasonably well, if not turning into seats.

But the somewhat understated side of the results so far is how flat the Conservative vote is overall. Their successes tonight come from the collapse of their opponents. But then I suppose even holding on to the vote is an achievement of sorts.
Salmond now threatening English taxpayer (in the spirit of local hero Rob Roy MacGregor - although that particular treachorous bully boy only beat up on fellow Scots): "Give us money, or else". The cunning stunt's phraseology was slightly less crude than my statement of it, but I'm sure you get the drift.
Nick Clegg wins
Jim, can you give us a round up of what happened in your 15 to watch please?
Question Author
Sure -- I'd not had a chance to prepare it yet today but I was planning to.

Here you go:

1. Bermondsey and Old Southwark -- predicted Labour by 1.4%; actual Labour by 8.7%. Losing a race predicted to be quite tight by so much echoes the disaster the Lib Dems had across the country.

2. Blackpool North and Cleveleys -- predicted Labour by 3.2%; actual Tory by 8.5%.

3. Cambridge -- predicted Labour by 3.2%; actual Labour by 1.2%. However that hides how well Labour did here. The prediction was for a tight race between three or even four parties locked at less than 30% each. instead, the Tory vote collapsed, leaving it as a two-horse race, and the Lib Dems lost. Bucking the trend of the nation. Another sad loss for the Lib Dems. Julian Huppert kept his promise to vote against tuition fees, but that was not enough apparently.

4. Ceredigion -- pred. Lib Dems; actual Lib Dems. No luck for Plaid Cymru here, and indeed they didn't gain any more than their three seats.

5. Devon North -- pred. LD (just!), actual Con (massively). Another example of bye-bye to the Lib Dems, this time losing to their coalition partners.

6. Glenrothes -- predicted to be a tight race between Labour and the SNP, even with a majority in 2010 of 40%. That was slashed and then some. Result came in early and it showed what was to come as the SNP won here by a landslide, a majority of almost 14,000 votes and 30%.

7,8,9,10. Harrow East, Keighley, Loughborough, Pendle

All four of these key marginals went the way of the Tories, often increasing their majorities.

11. Norwich South. Thought this was going to Labour, and it did so, but the Greens actually lost votes here. A disappointing night for them, despite tripling their vote share, as they remain basically a wasted vote.

12. Thanet South. Nigel Farage managed to increase UKIP's vote here by almost 27 points but it wasn't enough -- and nor were any of UKIP's other attempts. Starting from too far back. But maybe next time...

13. Wentworth and Dearne. A strong Labour win, of course -- UKIp picking up all the disaffected though and winning almost a quarter of the vote. Labour have work to do even in their heartlands.

14. Wyre Forest. In a seat that EC probably got wrong from the start it went to the Tories. Obviously.

15. Upper Bann. Sinn Fein never came close to winning, and indeed they lost a seat. Not that it mattered, as the Tories passed the winning margin anyway.
Thanks Jim, very interesting.

By the way who is EC referred to in 14?
Is it Electoral Commission?
Question Author
Electoral Calculus -- the site on which I based my choices for seats to watch. Apparently in 2010 they were the most accurate poll predictors (to be precise, they do not conduct the polls themselves, but merely use polling data to make predictions). In 2015, they failed, although this is currently being blamed on the polls that got things so wrong. The model appears, they claim, to still be accurate so long as the inputs are correct e.g. they can predict which seats go where based on what the national levels are.

Political Science is a tricky business, it seems!

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General Election -- 15 Seats To Watch

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