Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Pendle Theory (UK election Preview IV)

As I said in my first preview posting, there are very few districts where there is a true three-way race (I've seen lately, the neologism--new word--for it is a "truel", or three-way duel). But I did find some.

Out of the 650 constituencies, I identified the one which appeared most like the national percentages in the 2005 election, and, to make things a bit more valuable for projection purposes, the boundaries of the district were not changed.

The constituency is called Pendle: it is in the county of Lancashire, in the northwest of England. It is a somewhat rural area near a heavily-populated strip, (near Manchester, Burnley, Blackburn). It is most known for a witchcraft trial in 1612, in which 10 were hanged (what, no burnings?)

The 2005 percentages (from Labour 37.1%; Conservative 31.8%; Liberal 23.2; Other 8.0%. The projections, from the same source: Conservatives 35.1%, Liberal 27.9%, Labour 26.7%, Other 10.4. These projections are very, very close to those I'm seeing for the national popular vote.

The idea of looking at such a bellwether is to see whether the national opinion shifts are fully reflected in such a race (as opposed to, say, the Liberal Democrats improving a lot in districts where they have no chance to win, of which there are many). A theory that I subscribe somewhat to is that they may actually improve more in such a race--but remember that Labour has the incumbent.

I saw that the Pendle Council is offering to shoot out its results on Twitter and Facebook this year, so I've "friended" them, and will be looking for some results on Thursday.

If you don't like my choice of Pendle, here are some other three-sided constituency races worth looking at: Blackburn, Bristol Northwest, Leeds NorthEast, Northampton North, and especially Watford and Ealing Central and Acton.


Anonymous said...

Pendle shifted strongly to the Conservatives: a win by 38.9 to 30.9 for Labour. The Liberal Democrats disappointed at 20.2, going down by 3%. The candidate for the LibDems was named Anzal Anwar; I wouldn't want to suggest anything, but I do think the ethnic impact of South Asians voting and running for office has been understated in the lead-up, and will be noted frequently in the results.

Chin Shih Tang said...

Pendle came in pretty early (a good three hours ago), and strongly for the Conservative candidate. The percentages were 38.9 Conservative, 31.9 Labour, and 20.3 Liberal Democrats. So, the LibDem candidate actually went down from 2005. Now, did the fact that his name was "Azwal Anwar" have something to do with that?

Regardless, it showed the size of the surge for the Conservatives, and the weak showing of the LibDems (compared to what was expected).

At this point, though, the LibDems, though with a poor showing, are in the position of PM-makers, possibly for both parties. We're still waiting for most of the London districts to report. I'm going to bed soon, because who knows how long this will take?