With so much potential tactical voting the overall national party vote shares won’t mean as much

With so much potential tactical voting the overall national party vote shares won’t mean as much

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Tomorrow is about seats not national vote totals

There’s lots of talk at the moment about the electoral “system being bust” and “no longer fit for purpose”. What is being pointed to are possible disparities between national aggregate vote shares and the total of MPs each party ends up with on Friday morning.

Yet as we’ve seen strikingly in Monday’s ICM Hallam poll or last week’s Ashcroft survey in Jim Murphy’s Renfrewshire East a very large slab of electors on Thursday will not be voting for the party of their choice but seeking to ensure a specific outcome in their seats.

The readiness of Hallam CON voters to switch to Clegg to stop LAB is a good pointer to other LD defences as well as what might happen North of the Tweed. There the scale of the potential switching by those in favour of the union could be signifcant and the SNP might not sweep up quite as much as some polls have suggested.

The huge differential in 2010 LD voting patterns highlighted in last week’s ComRes poll of English LAB-CON battlegrounds is another pointer. The overall closeness of the election appears to be causing people to think more closely about how best they can use their vote.

    Because it is clear that many are not voting for their allegiance winning the national aggregate vote will mean less. The election is about seats.

If the Tories are not the national vote winners you can see them pointing to places like Hallam and Scotland to suggest that those figures are less meaningful in the likely post-election legitimacy debate.

This is a direct product of first past the post. If people want to make their vote count then they might vote differently so adding up national vote totals doesn’t tell you as much.


Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble

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