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UK Elections: Final Predictions
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Sceptics say the best way of predicting tomorrow’s weather is to say it will be the same as today. Predictive models struggle to beat that pedestrian approach, which one could label a rolling null hypothesis.

Today, Wednesday, pollsters are predicting how voters will behave tomorrow, Thursday 12th December, election day. That ought to be fairly easy. Polling has been carried out every month, and more intensively over the last 6 weeks of the campaign. Among those people willing to divulge their opinions, and likely to vote, the pattern is pretty clear: probably some sort of Conservative majority over all the other parties combined.

This is the stage at which pollsters are looking carefully at their predictive models, aware that an accurate result will gain them commercial advantage in the years to come. Are you part of a business anxious whether consumers will buy your new product? Why not test it by giving the contract to the pollster who got the General Election right?

Naturally, pollsters would like some wiggle room. Yes, they will be tested on their final prediction, but if necessary, they can look back a week or two at their previous predictions, and tell some sort of post hoc story: “we got it right the week beforehand, but gave a little too much emphasis to factor Y. We have learned our lesson, and will include Factor Y in our survey work on your product”.

More wiggle room comes from the dual nature of their predictions: calculating the popular vote (reasonably easy) and calculating how that will translate into seats won in 650 constituencies under the harsh first-past-the-post system (much harder). If something is good enough for horse-racing, it should be good enough for judging politicians, but one vote can make a difference, and some margins in the 2017 were no more than 20 votes.

The YouGov MRP model is based on the largest poll, involving 105,612 interviews. This is a good number, given that most polls are in the 1,500-2,000 range. They say of their model:

It works by modelling the relationship between respondent demographics (age, gender, class or past vote) and their vote, and how this changes in different types of seat (region, marginality or incumbency). This model is then applied to the demographics and political circumstances in each seat, projecting results in each of the 632 constituencies in Great Britain.

In fact, this is the familiar Multilevel Regression and Post-stratification approach to produce estimates for states and congressional districts in US elections, and parliamentary constituencies for UK elections.

The idea behind MRP is that we use the poll data from the preceding seven days to estimate a model that relates interview date, constituency, voter demographics, past voting behaviour, and other respondent profile variables to their current voting intentions. This model is then used to estimate the probability that a voter with specified characteristics will vote Conservative, Labour, or some other party. Using data from the UK Office of National Statistics, the British Election Study, and past election results, YouGov has estimated the number of each type of voter in each constituency. Combining the model probabilities and estimated census counts allows YouGov to produce estimates of the number of voters in each constituency intending to vote for a party. In 2017, when we applied this strategy to the UK general election, we correctly predicted 93% of individual seats as well as the overall hung parliament result.

Without labeling them as 95% confidence limits, they admit that their predictions about the number of seats won by the major parties covers a wide range, and there could be no majority (Hung Parliament) or a larger majority Conservative majority. Could be. To get an outright majority, the winning party must get 326 seats, since none of the other parties are willing to help the Conservatives, the front-runners.

YouGov’s latest and final general election MRP model shows the Conservative Party headed for an overall majority. Predicted vote shares in our final poll:

Conservatives 43%, 339 seats
Labour 34%, 231 seats
Scottish National Party (Scotland only) 41 seats
Liberal Democrats 12%, 15 seats
Brexit Party 3%, 0 seats.
Conservative overall majority of 28.

If this turns out to be true, the Conservatives would win 339 seats (22 more than they took in 2017) and a vote share of 43%, their best performance since 1987. The actual number could range from 311 to 367 seats. However, drilling down into the detail, applying general results to individual constituencies is an error-prone procedure, even before tactical voting is factored in. The Labour vote is strengthening later than it did last time, but is still on an apparent upward trend. The lower estimate of the projected Conservative majority may turn out to be closer to the actual result.

Please note that a failure to predict a specific constituency does not invalidate the overall prediction. An intelligence test can predict who will do well on average, but there will be individual exceptions.

So, that is the overall picture about what will happen tomorrow. Other predictive sites (Electoral Calculus) have come to slightly different conclusions, suggesting a Conservative majority of 46.

For those of you who think that we are being manipulated by outside forces, this election is a test case. You have a chance to tell us, with your inside knowledge, what the actual outcome will be. Let me hear your predictions before 22 hours, on Thursday 12th December.

For the record, I have no such insight. The few people I know who could claim some inside knowledge believe that the Conservatives will not obtain a working majority, and that we will be in the limbo of a hung Parliament again.

 
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  1. LondonBob says:

    Can’t help thinking the insiders are diehard remainers engaging in wishful thinking. Some talk of of Cons trying to combat complacency, so maybe an element of that.

    I forecast a majority of fifteen.

  2. LondonBob says:

    Well done to the Israeli embassy, their incessant anti-semitism guff has bored us silly, reminded us of Corbyn’s strong points, namely that he isn’t corrupt nor has he supported all the daft wars we have engaged in, and that he is the anti-establishment candidate.

    • Agree: Miro23
    • Replies: @Miro23
  3. Some Guy says:

    Apparently Jews in the UK are strong supporters of the conservatives, even in 2015 when the Labor had a Jewish candidate for prime minister: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Jews#Politics
    Not sure whether the polls had representative samples, but still interesting.

  4. Jim Smith says:

    Majority of 30. Because that’s a nice round number and I like it. 50 would be preferred.

  5. dearieme says:

    I have no idea what will happen. I have no idea whether there is such a thing as “inside knowledge”.

    I do think, however, that Korbyn should shave off that feeble beard and grow a proper toothbrush moustache.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  6. Ystradgynlais, Powys, the core Labor area of the Brecon and Radnorshire constituency, an ex mining town in what is otherwise the most rural constituency in Wales. My home town is in the rural part. B&R is a Lib Dem seat with a wafer thin majority over the Conservatives. Labour is #3 with 5%. Plaid Cymru and Greens have withdrawn to favour the Lib Dems. The Brexit Party has withdrawn to favour the Tories. I went canvassing today, Wednesday, one day before the vote.

    Male, Labour Leavers are defecting to Tory (in a Welsh ex mining community).
    Female, Labour Remainers are defecting to Lib Dems.
    Welsh speakers (plentiful here) Lib Dem.
    Working class English settlers who might be Labour elsewhere are Tory.
    Other Labour groups are still pondering their options.

    Only Lib Dem posters are visible on the council estates. No Labour. no Tory posters whatsoever anywhere in town. If they are Tories they are quiet about it.

    Issues: Brexit, child poverty-high birth rate locally (LDs have by far the best package on this – the top LDs intellectually are all women), the inadequate performance of the Welsh Ambulance Service (under Labour who run the Welsh Government. NHS is a negative for Labour in Wales). Mental Health Reform, an issue the Lib Dems are driving doesn’t figure.

    Prediction: Really tight. The constituency has a large military component in other towns. Soldiers of all classes are actually as angry that Corbyn is even in the running as public sector workers seem to be about Johnson’s total lack of integrity.

    Prediction about UK. Single figure Tory majority or hung parliament. The Tory lead is eroding fast.

    Bedtime now. Delivering leaflets at 5:00 am.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  7. Miro23 says:
    @LondonBob

    Well done to the Israeli embassy, their incessant anti-Semitism guff has bored us silly, reminded us of Corbyn’s strong points, namely that he isn’t corrupt nor has he supported all the daft wars we have engaged in, and that he is the anti-establishment candidate.

    This is really good. I believe that the British have a strong innate sense of fair play – hence the outrage at Prime Minister Blair tricking the UK into the Iraq war with WMD lies.

    Now they can see the same Zio-Glob team continually smashing and smearing Corby. According to their media, he is now an IRA terrorist, a radical Muslim terrorist, an agent of supposed terrorist Putin and the greatest Anti-Semitic threat to world Jewry – take your pick.

    The British public is disgusted with the whole thing – and with Boris Johnson’s schoolyard antics and endless opportunistic lies. If Corbyn is the anti-establishment candidate then good luck to him.

  8. anon[759] • Disclaimer says:

    Collapse of the Tory vote
    They’ll lose 20 Seats, and Labour will form minority Government.
    The betting odds are ridiculous: we saw the same in the May 18 Australian Elections where Labor were allegedly 5/1 on and the Liberals 5/1, yet nobody could get a bet on, the Labor vote collapsed, and the Liberals romped home.

  9. dearieme says:
    @dearieme

    Or would an effulgent Uncle Joe moustache be more fitting?

  10. Nodwink says:

    Hopefully the Tories fall agonizingly short of a majority, I say 323 seats. Corbyn has never lost an election he’s contested, with the closest being the hung parliament of two years ago.

  11. @Philip Owen

    I should also note that the private soldiers and NCOs on the extensive military bases are very anti Corbyn. Some older men also volunteer their army service in Noorthern Ireland as a reason to not vote for Corbyn’s Labour.

  12. I have no idea at all. I don’t trust the polls. For years the Conservatives outperformed polling predictions (said to be due to shy Tories who didn’t want anyone to hear who they voted for. Now? Who knows? I wouldn’t dare say I was voting Labour in some previously Labour heartlands of the north given the posts I see on my Facebook page.

    Corbyn and the crazed anti-semites who have so much sway in the Labour party disgust me so I hope he takes a bashing.

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
  13. LondonBob says:

    Actually think a Conservative landslide is more likely than a hung parliament.

  14. no clue

    what i do know is that it will result in about as much of a positive impact on the country as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic

  15. Blake says:

    Hope this is wrong.

  16. Exit polls are predicting a Conservative majority of 68.

    I guess people lie to pollsters. This should be known as the “Trump Effect.”

  17. Just going by the pictures at the head of the article, Boris Johnson wins.

    Who would you want ruling you?

  18. @Jay Ritchie

    ‘Corbyn and the crazed anti-semites who have so much sway in the Labour party disgust me so I hope he takes a bashing.’

    This is bizarre. You might as well announce they’re crazed pederasts. You’ve got as much evidence to support that accusation.

    I think they’re Satanists. Prove me wrong.

  19. Smith says:

    LOL this is hilarious in retrospect (retro as in mere hours).

  20. Hail says: • Website

    the Conservatives….could range from 311 to 367 seats.

    a vote share of 43% [projected]

    As of this writing, I am seeing the Conservatives have 363 seats on a 43.6% vote share.

    The margin-of-error cushion got the seat call correct, and the vote share guess (43%) was just about exactly right. Good work, YouGov, at least on the most important question of how may seats the Conservatives would get.

    YouGov did slightly less well on guessing Labour. Actual result I am seeing as of this writing is Labour at 32.2% for 203 seats.

    YouGov prediction: 34% for 206-to-256 seats. Below margin of error on seats.

  21. Hail says: • Website

    the Conservatives have 363 seats

    There are 650 UK Parliament seats, minus the 7 Sinn Fein’ers elected who refuse to take their seats = 643 defacto seats, implying 322 are needed for a majority. If Boris has 363, he can afford to lose as many as 41 dissenters (11% of his party’s freshly elected MPs) before his majority is broken, if it comes to that (yet again).

  22. dearieme says:

    I suppose it’s a little inaccurate to compare the Corbynistas to the Bolsheviks. After all the Bolsheviks contained a disproportionately high number of Jews. A better comparison might be late-stage Stalinism when the old mass murderer was adopting anti-Semitism as his policy.

    I’m still appalled that anti-semitism, anti-semitism for God’s sake, should be used as a political platform in Britain in my lifetime. Anti-bloody-semitism! And still millions voted for them. Jesus wept. Shall we go back to burning witches too?

    The safety of British Jewry has been put in danger by the Israeli/Zionist attempt to pretend that all criticism of the Israeli government’s policies and actions is necessarily anti-semitic. Presumably much of the public sees through this twaddle, but then wrongly supposes that all other claims of anti-semitism are twaddle too.

    Oh well. On a different note: when will the Conservative Party decide that an independent Scotland might be in its interest? When will someone start stirring the pot on this one? For instance, if Scotland votes for independence in the referendum of 2022 (say) but the three southern seats vote against, should the latter secede from Scotland and remain in the UK? That would be the UK of Southern Scotland, Northern Ireland, England & Wales. Should Orkney and Shetland be allowed a three-way referendum – Scotland, UK, Norway? Should Berwick-upon-Tweed then be allowed a two-way referendum: part of E & W or reunited with Southern Scotland? Oh the fun and games.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  23. dearieme says:

    Aha, I’ve found this in the Tel:

    “In an eerie echo of the 2014 independence referendum, the SNP ended up with 45 per cent of the vote and the three Unionist parties almost 55 per cent.” So the result of an independence referendum might still be “no”.

    Does anyone know what share of the vote the Conservatives got in England and Wales?

  24. Labour took at least 6% from the LDs through tactical voting and still lost massive share. LD vote went up modestly. In Brecon and Radnor where I campaigned, a neck and neck contest in August turned into an easy Tory win over the LDs. I think that there actually was a reaction against the Tory candidate in August who had been found fiddling his expenses (albeit in a trivial way). This new Tory candidate is a rather heavy woman in her forties. All her election leaflets showed a 10 years younger woman who was of healthy weight. That will boomerang.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  25. dearieme says:
    @Philip Owen

    That will boomerang. Or win her the sympathy vote of every ageing woman who finds it hard to shed the pounds.

  26. @dearieme

    There is precedent. In local government reorganisations since 1974, parishes have been moved across the English-Welsh border, indeed, the whole former county of Monmouthshire was until 1974 uncertainly located.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  27. dearieme says:
    @Philip Owen

    E & W though is one legal jurisdiction. It might be hard for the far south of Scotland to be the only part of the UK running on Roman Law rather than English Common Law. But problems are made to be solved.

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