Did the reds really come to the aid of the yellows?

Did the reds really come to the aid of the yellows?

2010 General Election – vote change by tactical situation

Winning/second party 2005 CON vote change LAB vote change LD vote change
LAB/CON (213) +4.5 -7.0 +0.6
CON/LD (81) +4.1 -6.8 +0.5
LD/LAB (16) +4.0 -4.0 -0.9
LD/CON (45) +3.7 -4.7 -0.4
CON/LAB (128) +3.6 -9.9 +3.3
LAB/LD (107) +3.0 -5.2 +0.4
All seats (629) +3.8 -6.5 +0.8

Why did the election see so little new tactical voting?

The above table is based on data from Denis Kavanagh’s and Philip Cowley’s The British General Election of 2010 which was published a week and a half ago. The numbers are featured in a lengthy appendix by John Curtice, Stephen Fisher and Robert Ford.

This seeks to look at the mean vote changes of the main parties in different categories of seats based on which came first and second in 2005 and in doing so gives an interesting picture of what happened with, perhaps, some pointers to next time.

The Labour vote showed the largest range with, interestingly, the biggest drop-off in support in those seats where it didn’t matter – those where the Tories were in first place over Labour in 2005. Notice how in that segment the LDs enjoyed their best performances – where it had no impact on the overall election outcome.

In seats where the yellows were fighting Labour there was no sign of any anti-Labour tactical voting from Tory supporters. In LD/LAB seats both the Tories and Labour did better than average whereas in LAB/LD seats the vote share for Clegg’s party rose by only 0.4 percent – half the national average.

In CON-LD battle-grounds there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of any new tactical voting by Labour supporters to stop the blues making progress.

The table also suggests that the much vaunted concept of “tactical unwind” didn’t seem to happen. There was an expectation the Labour could suffer in LAB/CON clashes as a result of LD tactical voters from previous election retuning to their allegiance.

What will this all mean for 2015? Who knows but five years of coalition government, assuming that survives, might change perceptions of a hung parliament.

Mike Smithson

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