Seminar: Elections, polling and social data
Date: 11 September 2013
The 2015 general election will take place after five years of Britain’s first post-1945 coalition government. The Liberal Democrats have lost many of the protest votes they previously won, creating knock-on relative vote-share changes for the Conservatives and Labour. The European election in May 2014 may feature another surge in voting for UKIP, following the pattern of the 2013 local elections. The Scottish independence referendum in late 2014 may also have electoral impacts in England and, indeed, Scotland.
Opinion polling and exercises to generate Parliamentary constituency predictions from now till May 2015 will analyse shifts in public opinion and, separately, attempt to project seat-by-seat results. Britain is, over time, taking a series of steps from being a ‘two-party’ to a ‘multi-party’ system. The vagaries of analysis and prediction are likely to become more challenging. As the UK vote becomes increasingly fragmented, simple relationships between national vote shares, ‘swing’ and seat numbers become less linear.
The seminar explored the challenges facing polling companies as Britain continues its long move towards a multi-party democracy with a first-past-the-post voting system for MPs. The seminar also considered the increased availability and potential use of Census and other demographic data as the analytical basis for a more precise understanding of the ways in which changes in the population impact on voting patterns.
Nick Moon, Managing Director, GfK NOP Social Research
Joe Twyman, Director of Political and Social Research, YouGov
Jane Green, University of Manchester/British Election Study
Ben Lauderdale, Methodology Institute, London School of Economics