In the super-marginals main party GOTV operations will give them a big advantage

In the super-marginals main party GOTV operations will give them a big advantage


How UKIP & the Greens are likely to be squeezed

Those who have been actively involved in elections will recognise what is going on in the picture above. As voters arrive at the polling station they are asked by the two ladies with the rosettes (tellers) for their polling number which is printed on their polling cards.

These numbers then get taken to local committee rooms where they are keyed into computers which check them against canvas and other data so the party officials know who has voted and who not to bother any further on the day. This allows all the effort into getting out to vote those on the party lists who have not yet been to the polling station.

    With IPads and smart-phones this process gets more sophisticated at each election but the objective is the same – to make sure that there is the maximum level of support from those whom it is thought are supporters.

In May I know that the CON/LAB/LD machines will be operating distributed phone-banking so that activists not in key marginal seats can support the efforts where it matters either from a local centre or their own homes. Alongside the phone effort volunteers on the ground will be knocking on doors of those yet to vote to reinforce the effort. In each of the key marginals the main contenders will have hundreds of volunteers working on the process.

This should be driven by quality data which will have been built up over the years and where the three older parties have an edge in the seats that matter to them. A key aspect is knowing which people on the electoral roll have a record of actually voting – data that is made available after each election in what is known as the “marked register”.

Everything the campaigns do in the key seats is designed to ensure that the most marginal voters turnout out in the marginals and why turnout weighting, when those polled are asked to rate the chances of them voting on a scale of 1-10, might be less relevant as a means of measuring them.

Certainty to vote weighting is fine for the country as whole but in the key battlegrounds we have to assume that the party Get Out The Vote operations (GOTV) will get more people out. This is hardly surprising because after all the whole point of the high octane highly intensive campaigning is to ensure that more of your potential voters actually do so.

All this means is that the headline poll numbers from the marginal seats might not be giving us the full picture and why the “all giving a party preference” might be a better indicator. It also means that parties not putting the same effort in or have the same expertise are likely to do worse than those that do. This is why I think that the UKIP and GRN surges will matter less in the main battlegrounds.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble

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