+++ Exclusive general election prediction: too close to call

With new polling figures in, the general election prediction model we covered in November and December has churned out a new prediction for the next general election – and it’s a striking one:

New prediction: Conservative lead of 6% but Labour largest party with 299 seats (27 short of an overall majority)

December  prediction: Conservative lead of 9% with 315 seats (11 short of an overall majority)
November prediction: Conservative lead of 10% with 322 seats (4 short of an overall majority)

The academic team who have compiled the prediction say,

The race remains too close to call under reasonable scenarios, either favorable to the government or the opposition. The election of a hung Parliament cannot be discarded at this point.

Background to prediction

In November Lib Dem Voice published the first of our exclusive general election predictions, based on the work of a group of academics who have analysed polling data (not just party support levels) in the run up to previous British elections:

Their predictive model works on a three-month lagged structure; i.e. their model uses current information and says “if a General Election were held in three months time, here’s what the result would be.” That is because according to their work, looking at previous general elections, the situation in terms of figures such as leader ratings and government satisfaction three months out from polling day has provided a reliable guide to what then happens on polling day….

The forecasters explain: “These forecasts are based on the Ipsos MORI polling data gathered mid-October (16-18). The key variables from which our votes and seats forecasts are derived are the average approval rate of the government and PM (27.5) and the approval rate of the leader of the opposition (49.0) measured three months before an hypothetical election.”

But with the most likely election date being May next year, there is yet time for those ratings to change before we get to three months out from the election and the point at which the prediction gets ‘frozen’.

Further details of how the prediction is calculated are in my November post.

Thanks to Richard Nadeau and colleagues for providing the predictions.

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This entry was posted in General Election and News.


  • Andrew Suffield 8th Feb '10 - 10:56am

    Labour was polling around 30% when they won the *last* election. It’s not exactly news that our electoral system is broken.

  • Tom Papworth 8th Feb '10 - 5:23pm

    “Conservative lead of 6% but Labour largest party…”

    Will everybody who claims that Al Gore should have been presient in 2000 come out to insist that the Tories be allowed to form a government?

  • Tom – unless there was widespread evidence that Labour won by corruption and cheatiing I don’t think the two scenarios would be quite the same. Frankly, if there is a situation where one party wins more seats with fewer votes then it serves them both right for supporting such a daft electoral system with such tenacity for 90 years. It did happen once before, in 1950 or 1951 (I don’t have my reference books with me).

  • This is the worst possible scenario in terms of dilemmas for the Lib Dems. The Conservatives would have the moral right to try to form a government in terms of share of vote, but the system artificially makes Labour the largest party and so the natural first potential partner to form a government in practical terms. The muddier the waters like this, the more the potential for the Tory and Labour spin masters to cause mischief.

    Nick Clegg needs to do some advance positioning on this one – warning about the danger of the Tories or Labour trying to play the same infantile old politics of grabbing power, refusing to negotiate to form a coalition government and engaging in deliberate wrecking tactics.

  • Malcolm Todd 9th Feb '10 - 8:48am

    “Will everybody who claims that Al Gore should have been presient in 2000 come out to insist that the Tories be allowed to form a government?”

    The basis for that claim was that there was considerable evidence of corruption and partisanship in the conduct of the election in Florida, which gave Bush his constitutional victory. The fact that Gore won more votes overall gave a greater moral strength to the case, but it was not the basis on which Bush’s election was widely considered illegitimate.

    “Frankly, if there is a situation where one party wins more seats with fewer votes then it serves them both right for supporting such a daft electoral system with such tenacity for 90 years. It did happen once before, in 1950 or 1951”

    It was 1951 – the last time a party (the Tories) won a majority despite having fewer votes than the main opposition. But in fact, the situation you describe – one party winning more seats with fewer votes – happened much more recently, In Feb 1974. (In fact, I think it also happened way back in 1929.) Although Labour didn’t get a majority then, and had only four more seats than the Tories, they were rather meekly ushered into power. The situation would be different in 2010 if we saw a similar outcome: a government party that loses a large majority is arguably in a weaker position to claim a mandate than an opposition that doesn’t quite gain a majority. But there’s no wealth of precedents.

  • The scenario envisaged would be as tricky for Libs as could be. An unpopular government still has most seats, but more votes for the Conservatives. Clegg et al should make it clear that the only possible strategy under the present system is to engage first with the party with most seats, but to add that the system and the minority government would lack convincing authority.

    Clegg has to repeatedly set out key principles (which he and others have done to some extent) otherwise the damage will be severe.

    Clegg has a major weakness as leader in that he does not have a recognisable specialist issue. I am sorry that he has not taken up electoral reform with more vigour, in fact at times he appears embarrassed to mention it. He really has to take up the running otherwise in such an event he will be swamped by a cacophony of competing voices and for the Libs an important opportunity will be muffed.

  • steven baker 24th Mar '10 - 10:09am

    Some interesting scenarios have been suggested and predicted based on polls. But if the Liberal Democrats perform well in many of the new seats where the previous sitting member was implicated in the expenses scandal then the result might even baffle the pollsters.From what I have seen this is an election that will be more issue based than ever before with the emphasis on the unemployed,the pensioners and the lower paid working people who will genuinely want to know what the parties can offer them in these precarious times. The character and integrity of the new candidates will come in for serious scrutiny and some of the old party allegiances might be shelved in favour of who can offer the better policies for those affected by recession more so than ever before.

One Trackback

  • By Politics Summary: Tuesday, February 9th | Left Foot Forward on Tue 9th February 2010 at 9:06 am.

    […] system, the election result depends on only “250,000 voters in marginal seats”. A Liberal Democrat Voice analysis of the latest polls predicts a hung parliament with Labour the largest party on 299 seats […]

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