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Will voter anger underpin turnout?

May 30th, 2009

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Why I’m revising my betting profile

I’ve been getting reports on postal voting in several parts of England where there are concurrent local elections taking place on Thursday and the pattern is that the turnout is higher than normal at this stage.

This seems to suggest that my earlier forecast might not be on target after all and that if it is less than 30% it will be in the high 20s. As I set out I was betting heavily on a sub-30% figure but was covering the punts with bets on William Hill markets with wagers on the 30 – 34.9% segment at prices from 11/4 to 5/2. I’ve now stepped up my positions on the latter bet.

Maybe the heavy focus on political news in the past three weeks and the high levels of voter anger could see more rather than less of them at the polling stations on Thursday?

There are two very different segments amongst Thursday’s voters. Those who have concurrent local elections and those that do not. Where there’s the former there’s usually a much higher degree of on the ground campaigning as incumbent councillors try to hold on to their positions and allowances while their opponents try to take their seats. With the latter the regions are usually so vast that there isn’t much of a linkage between those standing on party lists and the voter.

My turnout call was based on the fact that there are far fewer voters in the latter category than there were in 2004 and there is no all-postal voting which boosted turnout in four of the mega-English regions then.

If we can extrapolate the postal turnout data that is coming in then it does suggest that where there are concurrent elections then the numbers are holding up – hence the reason for my betting adjustment.

Is the information that I’ve got consistent with what other PBers are seeing?

Populus poll methodology
I've been in touch with the boss of the firm, Andrew Cooper, the way the Euro voting intention question was put - which is different that what they've done in the past.
He responded: "The European vote intention question was: 'which party will you vote for at the European Parliament elections next week - will it be (rotate order) Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem, SNP (Scotland only), Plaid Cymru (Wales only), Green, the UK Independence Party (UKIP), the British National Party (BNP) or another party?' If respondent says 'another party' there is second short prompt list including Libertas, no-2-eu and one or two others, and then 'or another party - or are you undecided which party you'll vote for?'
The party rotation is in two parts - first the three main parties in rotated order, then the others in rotated order.
We asked European voting intention at the very end of the 10 minute interview and Westminster voting intention at the very beginning.

Mike Smithson






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