Now AV’s dead let’s talk tactical

Now AV’s dead let’s talk tactical

Will electors vote against the party they want to stop?

The above chart seeks to graphically represent data in Denis Kavanagh’s and Philip Cowley’s The British General Election of 2010 showing the mean vote changes of the main parties in different categories of seats based on which came first and second in 2005. In doing it gives an interesting picture of what happened with, perhaps, some pointers to next time.

The Labour vote showed the largest range with, interestingly, the biggest drop-off in support in those seats where it didn’t matter – those where the Tories were in first place over Labour in 2005. Labour supporters voting for their party where it doesn’t party is one of the factors why the electoral system seems to be biased to the reds. Notice how in that segment the LDs enjoyed their best performances.

So the main “Cleggasm” switchers appear to have used their votes in a way that didn’t impact on the outcome.

In seats where the yellows were fighting Labour there was no sign of any anti-Labour tactical voting from Tory supporters. Clegg’s party is hoping that that might change a touch at the next general election in the way it did at the Oldham Est by-election. A lot will depend on the campaign.

In LD/LAB seats both the Tories and Labour did better than average whereas in LAB/LD seats the vote share for Clegg’s party rose by only 0.4 percent – half the national average.

In CON-LD battle-grounds there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of any new tactical voting by Labour supporters to stop the blues making progress. Will that change?

The chart also suggests that the much vaunted concept of “tactical unwind” didn’t seem to happen. There was an expectation the Labour could suffer in LAB/CON clashes as a result of LD tactical voters from previous election retuning to their allegiance.

What will this all mean for 2015? Who knows but five years of coalition government, assuming that survives, might change perceptions of a hung parliament.

  • Note: The numbers are featured in a lengthy appendix in the book by John Curtice, Stephen Fisher and Robert Ford.
  • Mike Smithson

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