Category Archives: opinion polls

A regional prediction

Scottish Parliament
Scottish Parliament.
In a blog post I wrote last October, I bemoaned the lack of polling data for the Holyrood regions:

What we really need is precise polls for each region. The constituencies don’t matter that much (the outcome is unlikely to change the number of seats won by each party), but we really need to know the level of support for the smaller parties in each region.

It seems Survation have been listening -- at least their newest poll comes with some rather useful data tables that break the list vote down into the various electoral regions. Of course the sample sizes are tiny, so the statistical uncertainty is enormous, but it's probably the best data we've got at the moment. (I'm basing the following on Table 7, "Normal weightings & likelihood to vote, with undecided and refused removed".)

I decided to ignore the constituency figures found in the poll completely -- as far as I can tell, the SNP is now Scotland's largest party by far, and it's likely it will win most seats (mimicking the result from May 2015); of course individual MSPs will be very popular in some places, and some SNP candidates might get into trouble, but I don't believe these exceptional results can be predicted from the polls.

What I've done instead is to work out three different scenarios (see below). In all cases, the SNP aren't doing quite as well as most people are expecting, and this is basically due to getting fewer list votes than in 2011.

Scenario 1: Same constituency results as in 2011

In the first scenario, I assume that all constituencies are going to produce the same result as five years earlier. I don't think this is particularly likely, but it probably represents the worst possible result for the SNP.

Central Scotland:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 2 0 2
Green 1 0 1
Labour 5 3 2
SNP 8 6 2

Glasgow:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 2 0 2
Green 1 0 1
Labour 5 4 1
SNP 8 5 3

Highlands and Islands:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 2 0 2
Green 1 0 1
LD 4 2 2
Labour 1 0 1
SNP 6 6 0
UKIP 1 0 1

Lothian:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 2 0 2
Green 2 0 2
LD 1 0 1
Labour 3 1 2
SNP 8 8 0

Mid Scot and Fife:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 2 0 2
Green 2 0 2
LD 1 0 1
Labour 3 1 2
SNP 8 8 0

North East Scotland:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 2 0 2
Green 1 0 1
LD 1 0 1
Labour 2 0 2
SNP 10 10 0
UKIP 1 0 1

South Scotland:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 3 3 0
Green 1 0 1
LD 2 0 2
Labour 4 2 2
SNP 4 4 0
UKIP 2 0 2

West Scotland:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 2 0 2
Green 1 0 1
Labour 6 4 2
SNP 8 6 2

Total:

Cons 17
Green 10
LD 9
Labour 29
SNP 60
UKIP 4

Scenario 2: Labour and the Tories win one constituency seat each

In the second scenario, I assume that Labour and the Tories will win one constituency seat each in every region. Again, I don't think that's particularly likely, but it represents a situation where the SNP does really well but still needs some list seats to gain a majority.

Central Scotland:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 3 1 2
Green 1 0 1
Labour 4 1 3
SNP 8 7 1

Glasgow:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 3 1 2
Green 1 0 1
Labour 4 1 3
SNP 8 7 1

Highlands and Islands:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 3 1 2
Green 1 0 1
LD 2 0 2
Labour 2 1 1
SNP 6 6 0
UKIP 1 0 1

Lothian:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 3 1 2
Green 2 0 2
LD 1 0 1
Labour 3 1 2
SNP 7 7 0

Mid Scot and Fife:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 3 1 2
Green 2 0 2
LD 1 0 1
Labour 3 1 2
SNP 7 7 0

North East Scotland:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 3 1 2
Green 1 0 1
LD 1 0 1
Labour 3 1 2
SNP 8 8 0
UKIP 1 0 1

South Scotland:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 3 1 2
Green 1 0 1
LD 1 0 1
Labour 3 1 2
SNP 7 7 0
UKIP 1 0 1

West Scotland:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 3 1 2
Green 1 0 1
Labour 5 1 4
SNP 8 8 0

Total:

Cons 24
Green 10
LD 6
Labour 27
SNP 59
UKIP 3

Scenario 3: The SNP wins all constituencies

In the third and last scenario, I wanted to see what happens if the SNP wins all the constituencies. Back in 2011, this happened in the North East, and yet the SNP won an additional list seat, so I wanted to see whether this could happen again.

Central Scotland:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 2 0 2
Green 1 0 1
Labour 4 0 4
SNP 9 9 0

Glasgow:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 2 0 2
Green 1 0 1
Labour 4 0 4
SNP 9 9 0

Highlands and Islands:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 2 0 2
Green 1 0 1
LD 2 0 2
Labour 1 0 1
SNP 8 8 0
UKIP 1 0 1

Lothian:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 2 0 2
Green 2 0 2
LD 1 0 1
Labour 2 0 2
SNP 9 9 0

Mid Scot and Fife:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 2 0 2
Green 2 0 2
LD 1 0 1
Labour 2 0 2
SNP 9 9 0

North East Scotland:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 2 0 2
Green 1 0 1
LD 1 0 1
Labour 2 0 2
SNP 10 10 0
UKIP 1 0 1

South Scotland:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 2 0 2
Green 1 0 1
LD 1 0 1
Labour 2 0 2
SNP 9 9 0
UKIP 1 0 1

West Scotland:

Party Total seats Const seats List seats
Cons 2 0 2
Green 1 0 1
Labour 4 0 4
SNP 10 10 0

Total:

Cons 16
Green 10
LD 6
Labour 21
SNP 73
UKIP 3

Conclusion

In all three scenarios, the Survation poll predicts that the SNP will have a majority together with the Green Party; however, they only have a majority of their own in the last scenario (where they win all the constituencies).

As far as I can tell, this means the SNP will have to do two things simultaneously in order to gain a majority in May: Firstly, it has to fight ruthlessly to win as many constituency seats as possible because it cannot assume that it'll get any list seats; and secondly, it has to try to persuade the voters that Both Votes SNP is the way forward, or any lost constituency seats will be truly lost because the party doesn't pick up list seats to compensate.

From a Yes perspective the good news about this poll is that it's looking like there will still be a majority of Yes parties after May's election, but it could very well be a majority that requires the Green Party to support the SNP.

Could the Lib Dems and the Tories overtake Labour in Scotland?

A map of the predicted result.
A map of the predicted result.
I've decided to update my prediction of winnable SNP seats which I wrote two weeks after we lost the referendum. At the time it seemed incredibly optimistic, but since then it's been overtaken by lots of polls by YouGov and other well-known SNP cheerleaders.

Apart from the much more positive opinion polls (from an SNP point of view), the past months have also seen the publication of Lord Ashcroft's constituency polls (which found a greater-than-average swing towards the SNP in Labour-held constituencies) and more recently by tactical voting polls.

I've put the detailed analysis in separate pages (please click on the constituency names below), but in summary format my findings are as follows:

Constituency 2010 MP 2010 2015 pred. Pred. maj.
Orkney and Shetland Alistair Carmichael LIB LIB 3349
Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale David Mundell CON CON 2066
Ross, Skye and Lochaber Charles Kennedy LIB LIB 1575
North East Fife Sir Menzies Campbell LIB LIB 853
Glasgow North East Willie Bain LAB LAB 695
Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk Michael Moore LIB CON 392
Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath Gordon Brown LAB SNP 119
Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill Tom Clarke LAB SNP 479
East Dunbartonshire Jo Swinson LIB SNP 540
East Renfrewshire Jim Murphy LAB SNP 718
Glasgow South West Ian Davidson LAB SNP 1674
Rutherglen and Hamilton West Tom Greatrex LAB SNP 2664
Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross John Thurso LIB SNP 2689
Motherwell and Wishaw Frank Roy LAB SNP 2943
Paisley and Renfrewshire South Douglas Alexander LAB SNP 3495
Glasgow North Ann McKechin LAB SNP 3628
Dunfermline and West Fife Thomas Docherty LAB SNP 3850
Glasgow North West John Robertson LAB SNP 3962
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine Sir Robert Smith LIB SNP 4164
West Dunbartonshire Gemma Doyle LAB SNP 4169
Inverclyde David Cairns LAB SNP 4181
Glenrothes Lindsay Roy LAB SNP 4290
Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey Danny Alexander LIB SNP 4549
Glasgow East Margaret Curran LAB SNP 4924
Glasgow Central Anas Sarwar LAB SNP 4947
Airdrie and Shotts Pamela Nash LAB SNP 5762
Paisley and Renfrewshire North James Sheridan LAB SNP 6002
Edinburgh South West Alistair Darling LAB SNP 6149
Edinburgh North and Leith Mark Lazarowicz LAB SNP 6338
Edinburgh West Michael Crockart LIB SNP 6402
Dumfries and Galloway Russell Brown LAB SNP 6509
Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East Gregg McClymont LAB SNP 7167
Na h-Eileanan an Iar Angus MacNeil SNP SNP 7207
Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock Sandra Osborne LAB SNP 7285
Glasgow South Tom Harris LAB SNP 7294
Gordon Malcolm Bruce LIB SNP 7508
Edinburgh South Ian Murray LAB SNP 7831
Central Ayrshire Brian Donohoe LAB SNP 7937
Argyll and Bute Alan Reid LIB SNP 8461
East Lothian Fiona O'Donnell LAB SNP 8682
Midlothian David Hamilton LAB SNP 8786
Lanark and Hamilton East Jimmy Hood LAB SNP 9128
Aberdeen North Frank Doran LAB SNP 9742
Aberdeen South Anne Begg LAB SNP 9873
Edinburgh East Sheila Gilmore LAB SNP 10022
Kilmarnock and Loudoun Cathy Jamieson LAB SNP 10360
East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow Michael McCann LAB SNP 10586
Dundee West James McGovern LAB SNP 11466
Stirling Anne McGuire LAB SNP 11732
Angus Michael Weir SNP SNP 12301
North Ayrshire and Arran Katy Clark LAB SNP 12397
Linlithgow and East Falkirk Michael Connarty LAB SNP 12964
Livingston Graeme Morrice LAB SNP 13160
Banff and Buchan Eilidh Whiteford SNP SNP 13178
Moray Angus Robertson SNP SNP 15332
Perth and North Perthshire Peter Wishart SNP SNP 15850
Dundee East Stewart Hosie SNP SNP 17278
Falkirk Eric Joyce LAB SNP 17465
Ochil and South Perthshire Gordon Banks LAB SNP 19651

Shockingly, it looks like the LibDems and the Tories might fare slightly better than expected due to the inverse Ashcroft effect (if the swing towards the SNP is greater in Labour-held seats, it must be smaller in other seats) and tactical voting.

If this prediction is correct, the Lib Dems will hold onto three of their seats, the Tories will go from one to two (by winning a Lib Dem seat), Labour will be reduced to one, and the SNP will win the remaining 53 Westminster seats.

Which Westminster seats can the SNP realistically win?

[London] Westminster
[London] Westminster by Fabrizio Sciami, on Flickr.
It's very clear that the best way to ensure that Westminster keeps paying attention to Scotland and to the promises they made during the referendum campaign is to elect as many Yes MPs in May 2015 as possible.

I'd love to see some Scottish Green MPs elected together with a strong SNP contingent, and a Yes Alliance might be the way forward. However, given the weak Green performance in 2010, I'll concentrate on the SNP's chances in the following.

How many seats can the SNP realistically win? To find out, I decided to look at the question from three different angles.

Firstly, I implemented a uniform swing based on Scot Goes Pop!'s latest poll of polls (SNP 35.6%, Labour 31.3%, LD 5.8%, Con 17.2%).

Secondly, I took the constituency votes cast at the 2011 Holyrood election and calculated the equivalent Westminster result. For instance, my calculations showed that Banff and Buchan consists of 74.8% of Aberdeenshire East plus 90.2% of Banffshire and Buchan Coast, so I simply applied these percentages to the 2011 results.

Thirdly, I took the independence referendum results, assigned the results to the Westminster constituencies (in a way similar to the above, just based on the council areas instead, except for Glasgow, which published the results for the Holyrood constituencies, and Edinburgh, which used Westminster ones), and mapped the Yes vote to SNP votes and the No votes to Labour, LD and Conservative votes according to their distribution at the last UK election. Of course the referendum was very different from an election, but it shows what a united Yes Alliance could potentially achieve.

Finally, I calculated the average of the three predictions described above and the actual 2010 result, which should take the incumbency effect into account.

The results are very interesting:

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 6 24 45 56 28
LAB 41 30 12 1 27
LD 11 3 1 2 3
CON 1 2 1 0 1

A map of the constituencies showing my rankings. The white ones are formidable, and the dark yellow ones are safe.
A map of the constituencies showing my rankings. The white ones are 'formidable' and the dark yellow ones are 'safe'. Based on this map.
This means that according to uniform swing, the SNP stands to win 24 seats, but if we can convince the voters to vote like they did in 2011, the SNP will get no less than 45 seats, and if we can replicate the referendum result, a total of 56 seats is possible. However, if we look at the average of the predictions and of the 2010 result, the SNP will get 28 seats, one more than Labour.

I've listed all the Westminster constituencies below, ranked from formidable ones (where the SNP is not in the lead according to any of these measures) to safe ones.

List of formidable constituencies

Dumfries and Galloway

The MP elected in 2010 was Russell Brown.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 6419 14610 14401 24503 14983
LAB 23950 18367 14273 24914 20376
LD 4608 0 1473 4793 2719
CON 16501 16762 15805 17165 16558

Orkney and Shetland

The MP elected in 2010 was Alistair Carmichael.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 2042 5079 3178 10552 5213
LAB 2061 0 1078 2557 1424
LD 11989 9455 7374 14876 10924
CON 2032 2129 1016 2521 1925

List of challenging constituencies

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

The MP elected in 2010 was Michael Moore.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 4497 12192 15017 23593 13825
LAB 5003 0 5830 5366 4050
LD 22230 15809 9772 23844 17914
CON 16555 16800 14937 17757 16512

Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

The MP elected in 2010 was Tom Clarke.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 7014 13551 19277 32998 18210
LAB 27728 23273 21580 25319 24475
LD 3519 0 789 3213 1880
CON 3374 3582 2870 3081 3227

West Dunbartonshire

The MP elected in 2010 was Gemma Doyle.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8497 15133 12197 33720 17387
LAB 25905 21383 12618 22880 20697
LD 3434 0 1402 3033 1967
CON 3242 3453 3208 2863 3192

Dunfermline and West Fife

The MP elected in 2010 was Thomas Docherty.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5201 12886 19510 29281 16720
LAB 22639 17402 19912 18830 19696
LD 17169 10757 6570 14280 12194
CON 3305 3550 3519 2749 3281

Glasgow East

The MP elected in 2010 was Margaret Curran.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 7957 13007 20441 54143 23887
LAB 19797 16355 22619 40260 24758
LD 1617 0 879 3288 1446
CON 1453 1614 2269 2955 2073

Glasgow North East

The MP elected in 2010 was Willie Bain.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 4158 8775 26476 66750 26540
LAB 20100 16953 28657 45916 27907
LD 2262 0 2627 5167 2514
CON 1569 1716 3907 3584 2694

Inverclyde

The MP elected in 2010 was David Cairns.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 6577 12466 12244 27243 14633
LAB 20993 16979 12705 18809 17372
LD 5007 93 1952 4486 2885
CON 4502 4690 2187 4034 3853

Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath

The MP elected in 2010 was Gordon Brown.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 6550 13741 18831 29281 17101
LAB 29559 24658 19664 27831 25428
LD 4269 0 1590 4019 2470
CON 4258 4487 3083 4009 3959

Motherwell and Wishaw

The MP elected in 2010 was Frank Roy.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 7104 13246 16154 31261 16941
LAB 23910 19724 17139 22798 20893
LD 3840 0 662 3661 2041
CON 3660 3856 2933 3490 3485

Paisley and Renfrewshire South

The MP elected in 2010 was Douglas Alexander.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 7228 13508 22327 30254 18329
LAB 23842 19562 23695 25517 23154
LD 3812 0 2493 4080 2596
CON 3979 4179 6069 4258 4621

East Renfrewshire

The MP elected in 2010 was Jim Murphy.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 4535 12570 9922 24287 12829
LAB 25987 20511 15343 23413 21314
LD 4720 0 980 4252 2488
CON 15567 15823 11254 14025 14167

Rutherglen and Hamilton West

The MP elected in 2010 was Tom Greatrex.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 7564 14940 19438 31812 18439
LAB 28566 23539 19769 28289 25041
LD 5636 0 1634 5581 3213
CON 4540 4775 3911 4496 4431

List of tough constituencies

Airdrie and Shotts

The MP elected in 2010 was Pamela Nash.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8441 14069 21107 30104 18430
LAB 20849 17013 20215 22369 20112
LD 2898 0 921 3109 1732
CON 3133 3312 2984 3361 3198

Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock

The MP elected in 2010 was Sandra Osborne.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8276 15481 15964 26432 16538
LAB 21632 16721 11780 19771 17476
LD 4264 0 844 3897 2251
CON 11721 11950 10572 10712 11239

Central Ayrshire

The MP elected in 2010 was Brian Donohoe.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8364 15259 20998 27249 17968
LAB 20950 16251 15654 19987 18211
LD 5236 0 1106 4995 2834
CON 8943 9163 10778 8532 9354

Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East

The MP elected in 2010 was Gregg McClymont.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 9794 16255 20724 27927 18675
LAB 23549 19146 16364 23478 20634
LD 3924 0 1667 3912 2376
CON 3407 3613 3375 3397 3448

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale

The MP elected in 2010 was David Mundell.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 4945 12150 19752 21473 14580
LAB 13263 8353 19143 12611 13343
LD 9080 3068 4607 8633 6347
CON 17457 17686 12650 16598 16098

East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow

The MP elected in 2010 was Michael McCann.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 11738 19737 23910 33832 22304
LAB 26241 20790 19369 28246 23662
LD 5052 0 521 5438 2753
CON 6613 6868 4923 7118 6381

East Lothian

The MP elected in 2010 was Fiona O'Donnell.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 7883 15601 17771 27467 17181
LAB 21919 16659 16776 24346 19925
LD 8288 1848 2392 9206 5434
CON 9661 9907 6316 10731 9154

Edinburgh North and Leith

The MP elected in 2010 was Mark Lazarowicz.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 4568 12003 19947 28813 16333
LAB 17740 12673 19526 18790 17182
LD 16016 9812 7526 16964 12580
CON 7079 7316 6174 7498 7017

Edinburgh South

The MP elected in 2010 was Ian Murray.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 3354 10231 24887 20340 14703
LAB 15215 10528 21613 14727 15521
LD 14899 9161 10826 14422 12327
CON 9452 9671 12304 9149 10144

Edinburgh South West

The MP elected in 2010 was Alistair Darling.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5530 12668 30824 24659 18420
LAB 19473 14609 24440 19884 19602
LD 8194 2238 15761 8367 8640
CON 11026 11253 19254 11259 13198

Glasgow North

The MP elected in 2010 was Ann McKechin.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 3530 8179 18436 44811 18739
LAB 13181 10012 18693 21010 15724
LD 9283 5404 2339 14797 7956
CON 2089 2237 3158 3330 2704

Glasgow North West

The MP elected in 2010 was John Robertson.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5430 11016 19257 45552 20314
LAB 19233 15426 19239 28055 20488
LD 5622 961 2339 8201 4281
CON 3537 3715 3462 5159 3968

Glasgow South West

The MP elected in 2010 was Ian Davidson.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5192 10182 12713 31076 14791
LAB 19863 16462 12466 21405 17549
LD 2870 0 612 3093 1644
CON 2084 2243 1645 2246 2055

Glenrothes

The MP elected in 2010 was Lindsay Roy.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8799 15158 26004 27296 19314
LAB 25247 20913 21924 26983 23767
LD 3108 0 1489 3322 1980
CON 2922 3125 3647 3123 3204

Lanark and Hamilton East

The MP elected in 2010 was Jimmy Hood.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 9780 17089 29748 31812 22107
LAB 23258 18277 23492 25145 22543
LD 5249 0 744 5675 2917
CON 6981 7214 7350 7547 7273

Paisley and Renfrewshire North

The MP elected in 2010 was James Sheridan.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8333 15195 18931 25212 16918
LAB 23613 18936 17879 19258 19922
LD 4597 0 1581 3749 2482
CON 6381 6600 7086 5204 6318

Ross, Skye and Lochaber

The MP elected in 2010 was Charles Kennedy.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5263 10733 14956 21292 13061
LAB 5265 1537 4335 4522 3915
LD 18335 13771 9603 15748 14364
CON 4260 4434 2904 3659 3814

List of average constituencies

North East Fife

The MP elected in 2010 was Sir Menzies Campbell.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5685 11975 14469 28289 15105
LAB 6869 2582 6006 7136 5648
LD 17763 12515 8595 18453 14332
CON 8715 8915 6037 9054 8180

Glasgow Central

The MP elected in 2010 was Anas Sarwar.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5357 10158 29409 63792 27179
LAB 15908 12636 25020 38414 22995
LD 5010 1004 2091 12098 5051
CON 2158 2311 4235 5211 3479

Glasgow South

The MP elected in 2010 was Tom Harris.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8078 14373 21763 43576 21948
LAB 20736 16446 16692 26783 20164
LD 4739 0 1608 6121 3117
CON 4592 4792 3796 5931 4778

Kilmarnock and Loudoun

The MP elected in 2010 was Cathy Jamieson.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 12082 19391 21489 32251 21303
LAB 24460 19479 14615 25578 21033
LD 3419 0 827 3575 1955
CON 6592 6825 4730 6893 6260

Midlothian

The MP elected in 2010 was David Hamilton.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8100 14261 12657 26370 15347
LAB 18449 14250 8363 21017 15520
LD 6711 1570 3329 7645 4814
CON 4661 4857 2640 5310 4367

List of easy constituencies

Aberdeen North

The MP elected in 2010 was Frank Doran.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8385 14304 26484 28781 19489
LAB 16746 12712 17538 24019 17754
LD 7001 2062 4752 10042 5964
CON 4666 4855 5841 6692 5514

Aberdeen South

The MP elected in 2010 was Anne Begg.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5102 11858 19273 24213 15112
LAB 15722 11117 12483 14626 13487
LD 12216 6579 5752 11365 8978
CON 8914 9129 5692 8293 8007

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine

The MP elected in 2010 was Sir Robert Smith.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 7086 14182 24404 25907 17895
LAB 6159 1323 5720 6530 4933
LD 17362 11441 10603 18408 14454
CON 13678 13904 11002 14502 13272

Argyll and Bute

The MP elected in 2010 was Alan Reid.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8563 15660 18885 26324 17358
LAB 10274 5437 10360 10772 9211
LD 14292 8370 3652 14984 10325
CON 10861 11087 6555 11387 9973

North Ayrshire and Arran

The MP elected in 2010 was Katy Clark.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 11965 19205 23346 35304 22455
LAB 21860 16926 15561 23845 19548
LD 4630 0 931 5050 2653
CON 7212 7443 5361 7867 6971

Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross

The MP elected in 2010 was John Thurso.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5516 10033 12423 24840 13203
LAB 7081 4003 4880 8696 6165
LD 11907 8138 5730 14623 10100
CON 3744 3888 2633 4598 3716

East Dunbartonshire

The MP elected in 2010 was Jo Swinson.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5054 12582 23227 25751 16654
LAB 16367 11237 22009 14939 16138
LD 18551 12270 3573 16933 12832
CON 7431 7671 6013 6783 6975

Dundee West

The MP elected in 2010 was James McGovern.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 10716 16545 22082 28124 19367
LAB 17994 14022 10005 15155 14294
LD 4233 0 1453 3565 2313
CON 3461 3647 3497 2915 3380

Edinburgh East

The MP elected in 2010 was Sheila Gilmore.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8133 14392 34167 27500 21048
LAB 17314 13048 31765 18025 20038
LD 7751 2529 11578 8069 7482
CON 4358 4557 10928 4537 6095

Edinburgh West

The MP elected in 2010 was Michael Crockart.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 6115 13407 30985 22615 18281
LAB 12881 7911 24096 13716 14651
LD 16684 10599 15814 17765 15216
CON 10767 10999 15468 11465 12175

Falkirk

The MP elected in 2010 was Eric Joyce.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 15364 23336 26936 33659 24824
LAB 23207 17774 18391 26306 21420
LD 5225 0 1220 5923 3092
CON 5698 5952 3965 6459 5519

Gordon

The MP elected in 2010 was Malcolm Bruce.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 10827 18485 27569 24418 20325
LAB 9811 4592 6273 9810 7622
LD 17575 11185 7724 17574 13515
CON 9111 9355 7026 9110 8651

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey

The MP elected in 2010 was Danny Alexander.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8803 16196 22437 31937 19843
LAB 10407 5369 8678 10417 8718
LD 19172 13004 7443 19191 14703
CON 6278 6513 4868 6284 5986

Linlithgow and East Falkirk

The MP elected in 2010 was Michael Connarty.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 13081 21159 33053 36981 26069
LAB 25634 20129 24516 29501 24945
LD 6589 0 1789 7583 3990
CON 6146 6403 5162 7073 6196

Livingston

The MP elected in 2010 was Graeme Morrice.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 12424 19945 30256 33191 23954
LAB 23215 18089 21458 28163 22731
LD 5316 0 1464 6449 3307
CON 5158 5398 3992 6257 5201

Ochil and South Perthshire

The MP elected in 2010 was Gordon Banks.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 13944 21868 18612 31212 21409
LAB 19131 13731 6635 22543 15510
LD 5754 0 2077 6780 3653
CON 10342 10594 8533 12186 10414

Stirling

The MP elected in 2010 was Anne McGuire.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8091 15445 23251 25010 17949
LAB 19558 14546 15295 19321 17180
LD 6797 661 1941 6715 4029
CON 11254 11488 6827 11118 10172

List of safe constituencies

Angus

The MP elected in 2010 was Michael Weir.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 15020 20980 15487 24969 19114
LAB 6535 2473 3561 9409 5495
LD 4090 0 1256 5889 2809
CON 11738 11928 6050 16901 11654

Banff and Buchan

The MP elected in 2010 was Eilidh Whiteford.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 15868 21907 29768 27408 23738
LAB 5382 1266 4105 10403 5289
LD 4365 0 4033 8437 4209
CON 11841 12033 7290 22888 13513

Dundee East

The MP elected in 2010 was Stewart Hosie.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 15350 21719 29102 35571 25436
LAB 13529 9188 9983 17616 12579
LD 4285 0 1588 5579 2863
CON 6177 6380 6160 8043 6690

Moray

The MP elected in 2010 was Angus Robertson.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 16273 22711 18467 27232 21171
LAB 7007 2620 3839 10945 6103
LD 5956 584 1421 9303 4316
CON 10683 10888 6324 16687 11146

Na h-Eileanan an Iar

The MP elected in 2010 was Angus MacNeil.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 6723 9034 8496 9195 8362
LAB 4838 3263 3724 7750 4894
LD 1097 0 228 1757 771
CON 647 721 563 1036 742

Perth and North Perthshire

The MP elected in 2010 was Peter Wishart.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 19118 26696 23577 26613 24001
LAB 7923 2758 3999 11142 6456
LD 5954 0 1948 8373 4069
CON 14739 14980 10835 20727 15320

Polling companies have to stop treating Britain as one unit

General Election 2010
General Election 2010 by poppet with a camera, on Flickr.
I'm starting to get seriously annoyed when the polling companies conduct their General Election opinion polls and report the results for England, Scotland and Wales together, e.g., Con 29 (+1), Lab 35, (nc), LD 10 (+1), UKIP 15 (-2), Others 11 (nc).

Surely the purpose of an opinion poll is to predict the outcome of the next election, but this doesn't enable us to do so. It's completely clear that the two things that are important for predicting May's election in Scotland is the extent the SNP can take seats from Labour and whether the LibDems will retain any seats outwith Orkney and Shetland. In other words, the only really important figures for a Scottish prediction are SNP, Lab and LD -- whether Con and UKIP are up or down is really not likely to make any difference north of the border. However, you cannot work out where the SNP is at from "Others 11" (which conflates the SNP with PC and the Greens and other parties). You can't even work it out if you look at the regional breakdown in the tables because the sample size for Scotland is almost always too small to give us statistically significant figures.

At the same time, including the Scottish figures is likely to make the Tories and UKIP appear less successful than they really are in England, which must distort any predictions made on this basis. Furthermore, it's completely conceivable that Labour might be dropping like a stone in Scotland while rising gently in England, but these two movements will to some extent cancel each other out.

The pollsters have as far as I know always excluded Northern Ireland from their British polls because the party-political system there is completely different. It's also easy to understand why it made sense to include Scotland in the main polls in the days when the SNP was a minor party and the Tories still had a sizeable following up here.

However, it's becoming increasingly clear that the divergence of Scotland's political system is here to stay, and the No in the referendum hasn't changed that at all -- if the massive increase in the Yes parties' membership figures is any guide to such matters it's likely to become even more different in the years to come.

I'm not entirely sure whether Wales should be treated separately from England too, but I cannot see any justification for continuing to conduct political polls for England, Wales and Scotland as one unit.

Unpredictable prediction errors

Yes?
Yes? by Cams, on Flickr.
Readers of this blog may remember that a while ago I made a prediction of the geographical distribution of a narrow Yes vote, based on the most recent council election and some reasonable assumptions about voter behaviour.

The assumption made was that the following percentage of party voters would vote Yes: SNP -- 81.7%, Labour -- 25.8%, Tory -- 5.9%, LibDem -- 26.2%, Others -- 50.0%. (That is, I expected 81.7% of the people who voted SNP in the council elections to vote Yes to independence.)

A survey made by Lord Ashcroft (PDF) found that 86% of SNP voters, 37% of Labour voters, 5% of Tories and 39% of LibDem voters voted Yes to independence, but this was based on people's recollection of their last Westminster vote, not the council elections. Also, this was based on a small sample, so these numbers may not be entirely accurate.

To test this, I wrote a computer program to work out the percentages that would have produced the best prediction of the actual result (still based on the council election results). The results are rather surprising: SNP -- 64.6%, Labour -- 50.3%, Tory -- 9.1%, LibDem -- 33.4%, Others -- 36.9%. Using these percentages produces a decent prediction of the actual result (although a few council areas are wrong, such as Dundee, which performed much better than the revised prediction, and West Lothian, which performed worse).

I don't claim that these revised percentages are accurate -- you'd need a massive exit poll to make sure -- but they show that many strong SNP areas performed much worse than I had expected, and many Labour areas performed much better.

To illustrate this, look at the differences between the old prediction and the actual result (the table has been sorted by the difference):

Council area Old prediction Actual result Difference
Orkney Islands 56% 33% -23%
Shetland Islands 56% 36% -20%
Moray 60% 42% -18%
Scottish Borders 47% 33% -14%
Aberdeenshire 53% 40% -13%
Angus 57% 44% -13%
Argyll and Bute 53% 41% -12%
East Lothian 49% 38% -11%
Na h-Eileanan an Iar 58% 47% -11%
Perth and Kinross 51% 40% -11%
West Lothian 55% 45% -10%
Clackmannanshire 55% 46% -9%
Midlothian 53% 44% -9%
Dumfries and Galloway 43% 34% -9%
East Ayrshire 55% 47% -8%
Aberdeen 49% 41% -8%
Falkirk 54% 47% -7%
Highland 54% 47% -7%
Stirling 47% 40% -7%
Fife 51% 45% -6%
South Lanarkshire 51% 45% -6%
Renfrewshire 52% 47% -5%
East Dunbartonshire 44% 39% -5%
North Ayrshire 53% 49% -4%
Edinburgh 43% 39% -4%
East Renfrewshire 40% 37% -3%
North Lanarkshire 53% 51% -2%
West Dunbartonshire 56% 54% -2%
South Ayrshire 43% 42% -1%
Dundee 56% 57% 1%
Inverclyde 49% 50% 1%
Glasgow 51% 53% 2%

Orkney and Shetland might be special cases, because they are so far away from Edinburgh, but what happened in places such as Moray, Aberdeenshire and Angus? Did the focus on winning over the Labour voters in Greater Glasgow make the rural SNP voters desert independence?

Going forward, we need to ensure that independence doesn't become solely a left-wing ambition. Independence will be good for almost everybody in Scotland, and next time we need to work harder on making independence the choice of people everywhere, not just in and around Glasgow and Dundee.

Or to victory!

I haven't discussed the independence referendum opinion polls for a long time, mainly because they haven't shown a clear picture.

Indyref opinion polls.
Indyref opinion polls.
However, the polls are starting to converge. To see why, let's first look at the raw Yes/No results reported since the beginning of 2012 (see the graph on the right -- click on it for a larger version; all data from Wikipedia).

At a first glance, the picture isn't very clear. Some pollsters are showing a strong movement -- for instance, TNS BMRB is showing an enormous fall in the number of No voters since early 2013 -- but it's hard to spot a uniform pattern.

Indyref opinion polls, DKs excluded.
Indyref opinion polls, DKs excluded.
To make the results more comparable, many experienced psephologists recommend excluding the undecided voters (see for instance this blog post by John Curtice from last September). If we do that, Ipsos MORI, TNS BMRB and YouGov move closer together, but there are still huge differences (see the graph on the right).

Very broadly speaking, it does look like Ipsos MORI, TNS BMRB and YouGov are in agreement, just as Angus Reid and ICM seem to concur, and Panelbase appears to be on its own. There's no way to conclude at this stage who's right and who's wrong (we won't know until the day after the referendum), but the gap between the first group and the second one is about six percentage points, and the gap between the second one and the third one is about three points.

Indyref opinion polls, DKs excluded, adjusted.
Indyref opinion polls, DKs excluded, adjusted.
If we adjust the opinion polls by this amount, it becomes much easier to spot common trends. Of course, nobody knows for sure which pollster to use as the target, so I've done this exercise three times, once for each pollster group. However, to save space I've only included the graph where Angus Reid and ICM were to chosen to be the target that the other pollsters were brought into line with (see the graph on the right).

When displayed like this, it becomes very clear that the support for the No side seems to have peaked around the summer of 2013, and that Yes has been rising ever since.

If we were to draw a trend line through the results since August 2013, these adjusted figures would lead us to expect a very respectable Yes victory (55% to 45%), and Yes should overtake No in polls adjusted this way around mid May (the trend line isn't shown on the graph).

On the other hand, if we adjust Panelbase, Angus Reid and ICM to force them into line with Ipsos MORI, TNS BMRB and YouGov, the trend line leads to the conclusion that Yes will lose by a bawhair (49% to 51%).

And finally, if we adjust all the other polls to bring them into line with Panelbase, it looks like Yes will win by a landslide (58% to 42%) and that Yes will overtake No as early as late February.

To summarise, if Ipsos MORI, TNS BMRB and YouGov are right about the proportion of Yes voters, we should expect a very close referendum result if the current trends continue; if ICM and Angus Reid are right, we'll see a solid Yes victory; and if Panelbase are right, we'll get a Yes landslide.

There's a lot of work still to be done for the Yes side, but it's very clear why the No campaign is starting to panic.

The victory forecast

Nostradamus statue
Nostradamus statue, a photo by farrokhi on Flickr.
Keen readers of this blog might recall that I wrote the following back in March:

The effect is that according to current trends, Yes will overtake No on the 1st of September 2013, and by the time of the referendum, there will be more than twice as many Yes voters as No voters.

Last Sunday, which was the day I had predicted the tables would turn, the only new opinion poll was one from YouGov that found a huge lead to the No side (but at the same time virtually unchanged compared to their previous polls); however, I must admit to feeling a bit anxious that my prophetic skills weren't quite as sharp as I had hoped,

However, Monday morning I woke up to this press release from the SNP:

The most recently sampled independence referendum opinion poll puts support for Yes a point ahead of No -- at 44 per cent to 43 per cent, with Don't Know at 13 per cent -- as we enter the month of a year to go until next September's vote.

It's somewhat frustrating being off by a day, but I still think it was a pretty decent prediction.

Perhaps this would be a good opportunity to update my prediction. Are we still on track for a 2-to-1 Yes victory?

The trends lines and the newest polls.
The trends lines and the newest polls.
If we do the same as in April, drawing a trend line through all the recent opinion polls, things aren't looking too good at the moment; however this is heavily influenced by Sunday's YouGov poll and Tuesday's TNS one.

If we ignore the YouGov poll (there were multiple problems with it, as described here and here), and if we adjust the TNS poll to take the 2011 Holyrood votes in account (see this post by Calum Cashley), we're still on track for a big Yes victory, although it probably won't quite reach 2-to-1 territory.

I would have liked the polls to be converging at this point, but they clearly aren't, so instead of producing a plot with new trend lines, I've added the newest polls to the old graph with the old trend lines. (I've added both the original and the adjusted versions of the TNS poll.)

It's clear that the No vote share isn't declining quite as fast as I predicted back in April, no matter which polls we look at. However, the Yes vote share is potentially rising faster than predicted (if we look only at the most optimistic polls).

Until we get to a point where the opinion polls start converging again, I think this is the best we can do. It's definitely looking like a decisive Yes victory, but perhaps not quite as big a landslide as I thought in April.