Tactical voting - Will you vote for second-best if you have to?
Voter volatity data shows how Brexit may be the decisive factor
© Brexit Facts4EU.Org
94% of voters identify as Leavers or Remainers. Only 62% identify as Conservative or Labour
Almost half the UK electorate (49%) didn’t vote for same party during the three general elections in 2010, 2015, and 2017. The elections of 2015 and 2017 saw the highest levels of voter volatility since the Second World War.
Predicting this election result is only for the brave
Only a very brave person would predict the outcome of the coming General Election on 12 Dec 2019. Below we give readers some interesting background information which may help to identify some key catalysts.
Brexit Facts4EU.Org has reviewed the latest authoritative research on voter behaviour, from the ‘gold standard’ British Election Study (BES), to the work of Professor Chris Hanretty at Royal Holloway (Univ of London), to the work of Professors Geoffrey Evans, Professor Jane Green and others of Nuffield College Oxford, and to the academic papers of the Social Science Research Network.
The 2017 election saw highest levels of switching between Conservatives and Labour since records began
Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary
What we can learn from the 2017 General Election – a summary of facts
- 12.5% of all Conservative voters defected to Labour
- 9% of all Labour voters defected to the Conservatives
Smaller parties always struggle to retain votes from one election to the next
The largest switch in 2017 was from UKIP to the Conservatives, which won them the election. In 2017, small parties lost many of their 2015 voters:
- 47% of 2015 Lib Dem voters defected in 2017
- 78% of 2015 UKIP voters defected in 2017
- 88% of 2015 Green voters defected in 2017
What about the Brexit factor?
The Leave/Remain Brexit factor was enormous in the 2017 election
- 31% of Conservative Remain voters defected in 2017
- 28% of Labour Leave voters defected in 2017
- Of 2017 Conservative voters, 72% voted Leave
- Of 2017 Labour voters, 68% voted Remain
- Of 2017 Lib Dem voters, 80% voted Remain
[Note: We will be writing about the latter statistic above in a further article.]
Translating electoral facts into possible 2019 election results is impossible
Above we have given percentages of voter numbers. The key thing, as all readers will know, is that any General Election is not decided on national percentages, but on how these votes are distributed in each constituency. This is what determines the outcome of any election.
For example – and quite extraordinarily – Theresa May managed to secure the largest percentage of votes cast in the 2017 election since 1983, and yet she lost her overall majority in Parliament.
“A key driver of vote choice will be how competent each party is perceived to be on Brexit”
“We do expect to see big shifts defined largely by Brexit”
- BES report, Oct 2019
We are indebted to all those academics who have studied the results of elections and referenda in such detail. In our article above we have analysed their research and have tried to identify some of the most interesting facts for readers.
Our overall conclusion is that this election will be won by the smartest political operators. We believe that any parties which understand the local-level nature of this fight will do well, because the maximisation of resources and the winning of each target seat has never been more vital.
This of course raises the question of the Brexit Party, and how it chooses to fight. We understand that Nigel Farage will be announcing the party’s intentions tomorrow.
P.S. It’s 31 October! Happy Brexit Day! Oh, wait......
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[ Sources: The British Election Survey | Prof Chris Hanretty, Holloway, London University | SSRN ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.
Brexit Facts4EU.Org, 31 Oct 2019
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