General Election 2017 projection and prediction, 4 May update

By Jeremy Blackwell

I will have an update on my projection and prediction every week on Thursday until Election Day. I will keep it short and mostly point to the changes since the last update. At the end of each update I will also discuss some specific points like ‘seats to watch’.

How did the polling data evolve?

The complete crosstabs for some of the weekend polls were late showing up. And there were two Tuesday polls to add. But the main trends have not changed significantly since Monday. For better visibility I have hidden the small dots that represent individual polls. The large dots on the left side are the actual 2015 results.

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The rolling average barely changed with the new polls in:

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How does it change the projection and prediction?

First the updated SLLM (Safe, Likely, Lean, Marginal) projection and winner’s margin. The margins have marginally changed but the SLLM projection is the same. The number of projected seats by party hasn’t changed since Monday. The SNP are still holding a commanding majority of Scottish seats, even with their vote share almost 7% down from 2015.

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And then you have my updated projection compared with two other models (Electoral Calculus or ScotlandVotes) and my updated prediction. I also found another interesting site, Iain Dale’s seat by seat predictions. I will include his predictions only this time because he bases them on a qualitative analysis, not polling. So they will not change over time. Interestingly, the number of seats he predicts for each party is almost the same as mine. But he allocates individual seats somewhat differently.

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Conclusion: with no change from the end of last week, the situation in rather positive for the SNP. Let’s wait now for Council elections results. Gains and losses in areas covered by marginal seats will be interesting to analyse.

And now a new feature…

Seats to watch

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

If you are going to watch some seats then BRS is the obvious first choice. It was the closest SNP gain in 2015 (328 votes and 0.6% after a recount). In 2015 Conservatives made it clear they intended to unseat LibDem MP Michael Moore, a former Scottish Secretary, who they thought had been ‘too soft on independence’. But it backfired and the SNP’s Calum Kerr gained the seat by a hair against the Conservatives’ John Lamont.

This time we’ll see a Kerr-Lamont rematch. Or rather that’s what statistics say. The LibDems seem to have not totally given up on that seat as their candidate is Catriona Bhatia, deputy leader of the Scottish Borders Council, ironically in a coalition with the SNP. She certainly has high name recognition and that could boost her candidacy, but obviously odds are heavily against her.

Labour have made the strange choice to nominate Ian Davidson, former MP for Glasgow Govan, Glasgow Pollok, and then Glasgow South West, until he was unseated in 2015 by the SNP’s Chris Stephens. Davidson will stand here as the sacrificial lamb as Labour received less that 5% of the BRS vote in 2015 and can’t hope to do better this year. Besides, some of Davidson’s offensive behaviour and comments in the past may very well come back to haunt him.

Conservative candidate John Lamont has been the MSP for this area for the last ten years, representing the Scottish Parliament constituencies that broadly overlap BRS (Roxburgh and Berwickshire and then Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire after boundary changes). He did pretty well in all elections (41% in 2007, 45% in 2011, 55% in 2016). The first time he unseated a LibDem MSP. Then he defeated SNP Minister Paul Wheelhouse twice and with increased margins.

He resigned his Scottish Parliament seat to stand in the General Election, though he is under no legal obligation to do so. Three other Conservative MSPs are standing in the GE and have not resigned their Scottish Parliament (SP) seats. The big difference is that the other three are list MSPs while John Lamont was a constituency MSP. So his resignation has triggered a by-election for the Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire SP seat. Which SP Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh (formerly a Labour MSP) kindly agreed to be held on the same day as GE. This is a calculated risk from Lamont, gambling that he will gain the Westminster seat and Conservatives will hold the Holyrood seat. On current polling it might pay off.

Finally Calum Kerr, the sitting SNP MP. His victory in 2015 was a surprise as all ‘predictor’ sites had the seat going to the Conservatives. At the time my model also had BRS going to the Conservatives. Since then Kerr has become one of the SNP’s frontbenchers as Environment and Rural Affairs spokesperson. And he receives nothing but praise on social media. But that alone doesn’t win an election. Current polling trends go against SNP holding a seat that was so close two years ago. Especially as a fair amount of ‘Unionist tactical voting’ is to be expected.

I rate it Conservative gain from SNP
Projected: Conservatives 42% (+6%), SNP 36% (-), LibDems 13% (-6%), Labour 4% (-1%)

Next week: East Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire

Saor Alba gu bràth.

Jeremy Blackwell, 04 May 2017

Jeremy BlackwellJeremy Blackwell is an analyst and statistician living and working in Edinburgh. You can follow him on Twitter at @WeAreThe59.

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