Sunday, May 26, 2019

Some benchmarks for the SNP's performance tonight

It's almost terrifying to consider the impact that the results of the low-turnout election we'll see tonight could have on our future.  Think of the transformative effect of the English local elections earlier this month - by historical standards the Liberal Democrats didn't actually do all that well, but because they were the only one of the main London parties that made gains, the momentum generated was all for them and the political weather was decisively altered.  In one fell swoop, Change UK was effectively taken out of the game.  In the early 80s, the late and disgraced Liberal MP Cyril Smith argued that his party shouldn't be seeking to cooperate with the SDP, but rather to "strangle them at birth".  A few decades on, it looks like the Lib Dems have heeded that advice in a strikingly similar situation.

The biggest impact of a surprise result tonight could be on the prospects for a no deal Brexit.  The main reason that no deal has suddenly become acceptable language for Tory leadership candidates to use in polite company is the surge for the Brexit Party in the polls.  But if the Brexit Party underperform expectations tonight, and particularly if the Lib Dems do well, the internal mood within the Tories could swing back in the opposite direction.  We already know that turnout has risen more in English local authority areas that voted Remain, so that's not an entirely implausible scenario.  European elections have a history of throwing up major shocks, perhaps because there's so much scope for differential turnout to come into play.  The 1999 outcome, with a clear Conservative victory and several seats each for UKIP and the Greens, stands out as a result that was way outside the parameters of what most commentators thought was possible.  I wouldn't be totally amazed if we see a very close run thing in the popular vote between the Brexit Party and the Lib Dems tonight.

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm getting slightly jittery about the Scottish result.  It was a bit troubling to hear the estimates that the overall turnout in Scotland, along with the increase in the turnout, was lower than in England.  Turnout was never going to be super-high, but a tolerably high figure would probably have suited the SNP better.  And you might think that the English pattern of turnout going up more in strongly Remain areas would also apply here, but I'm not so sure.  The voting patterns in the EU referendum were so different in Scotland, with socio-economic groups that went heavily to Leave just over the border in north-east England going the opposite way here, partly because pro-Europeanism is so closely associated with support for an independent Scotland.  One possibility is that there may be a difference in turnout between leafy, affluent Remain strongholds and the more working-class areas that voted strongly Remain, and if so, that could favour the Lib Dems more than the SNP.  The good news, though, is that the D'Hondt formula favours larger parties, and it may be possible for the SNP to take a third seat even if the polls have overstated their support (although they'd still need to exceed the 29% of the vote they took last time).

Here are a few benchmarks to look out for...

2 seats: This would keep the SNP on the same number of seats they've had continuously since 1994, and would technically equal their all-time high.

3 seats: This would beat the SNP's all-time high, and would also be the highest proportion of Scottish seats that any party has won since proportional representation was introduced twenty years ago.  (Labour took three seats in 1999, but there were eight Scottish seats back then rather than six.)

29.0% of the vote: This would equal the SNP's performance of five years ago.

29.1% of the vote: This would equal the all-time high for the SNP (and for any other party in Scotland) since proportional representation was introduced.

32.6% of the vote: This would equal the all-time high for the SNP in all European elections.  But it's arguably an unfair comparison, because that figure was recorded in 1994 under first-past-the-post, which is a system that incentivises voters to back larger parties.

36.9% of the vote: This would equal the SNP's performance at the last Westminster general election.  It's a real 'apples and oranges' comparison, but you can guarantee the media will still attempt it.

I'll also be keeping an eye out for any sign of the ex-YouGov propagandist Peter Kellner on the BBC's results coverage.  I've told this story a number of times, but at the last European elections (held just a few months before the indyref) Kellner wrongly announced to viewers that Labour had emerged victorious in Scotland, at a stage in the evening when it was already pretty obvious from the average swing that the SNP were going to hold on for the win.  He never corrected that rather convenient error or apologised for it, and it was quite some time before Alex Salmond was able to point out that the SNP were in fact on top in the popular vote.

There has been some talk (mainly from Iain Dale and Daniel Hannan) that the Tories might be wiped out completely across the UK, but I can't see that happening.  Even if they have a spectacularly bad night, they should hold on to the odd seat in larger regions.

74 comments:

  1. A friend was working in a polling station in Perthshire on Thursday and she said the turnout excluding postal votes was 40%. Other boxes were higher. That is higher than I had expected and in an area with a good SNP vote.

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  2. Replies
    1. In 2014 (apart from Western Isles) all were declared by 11.30 p.m. There is a suggestion that turnout is a bit higher this time so that might slow it down a bit.

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  3. The postal vote has me worried. Again.
    Someone on Wings said that at one polling station the turnout was 38%, but almost 30% of that was postal voting.

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    1. How can that person know what the postal vote returns are? That 38% figure has been bandied about as the turnout figures for Scotland. Maybe Chinese whispers. Wait until each council declare their turnout figures. A lot of people listed as postal don't actually vote, elderly, too ill etc.

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  4. Highland Council turnout is 43.2% up from 36.3% in 2014. So turnout should be up everywhere else.

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  5. What are the thoughts on the Britain Elects forecast Here - https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D7gvjD0W0AMDNDt.jpg:large Saying 2 SNP only, I would be a wee bit down with that :( I know its just a forecast though. How do they get these figures folks?

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    1. Their figures are derived from sub-samples from UK polls.

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    2. It's educated guesswork. There weren't that many Scottish-only polls to go on, and the SNP has a history of under-performing (relative to polls) in low-turnout elections, i.e. the EU and locals.

      2 seats would be fine, as long as they're clearly in first. 3 seats would be great, as that would mean something well above 30%.

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    3. Thanks Marcia, much appreciated. I admit to hoping for less Tories overall and perhaps 1 more seat for SNP.

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  6. Thanks for that, I seemed to have posted same time as you and missed your post. Makes perfect sense!

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  7. Aberdeenshire turnout up 6% at 38.6%. This area always has a lower turnout than anywhere else for any election.

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  8. Edinburgh turnout 50.2% - compares with 41.6% last time.

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    1. turnout seems to be up in every council area. West Dunbarton up 5%. The councils now coming in thick and fast.

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    2. Could this favour the SNP? Possible anti-brexit vote?

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  9. Renfrewshire turnout 40.3%
    Dunno how that compares with previous.

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    1. I couldn't find the 2014 result on their website but the local SNP say it is up.

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    2. Renfrewshire was 37% in 2014. The pattern seems to be increases everywhere, but bigger increases in areas where the Lib Dems have done well either recently or historically (Edinburgh, Highland, Aberdeenshire, Borders)

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    3. I'm sure if enough people vote Lib Dem in Scotland, England will duly take note, agree to cancel brexit, then apologise for all the worry it's caused everyone recently.

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  10. The reports from North Lanarkshire - "early indications are that it is going to be a good night for the SNP." Now to watch TV.

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  11. South Ayrshire turnout 40.8%

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  12. Inverclyde turnout 37.39%

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    1. 35.2% last time. I think that's the smallest increase so far.

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  13. Please please please let the SNP get 3 seats.... Otherwise the press will be feasting on the results for ages.... Crowing over an alleged "blow to the Nats".....

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    1. It's hard for the SNP to win a third seat without either a) getting 40% or more (unlikely in a PR election) or b) the opposition splitting perfectly behind them. To get a third seat before someone else wins one, you have to win more than three times as many votes as they do.

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    2. Er...that's slightly misleading. There are plenty of scenarios where the SNP could win a third seat without taking 40% of the vote, and we saw some of those scenarios played out in recent polls. Don't get me wrong, though, the SNP have a hurdle to clear to get the third seat. Not long to wait to see which way it goes.

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    3. That's what I meant by a) OR b). If you get 40%, you'll probably win three seats, even if the other votes aren't that fragmented. But if you get nearer 30%, then you need the other votes to be perfectly split to win three.

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    4. I still think you're giving a slightly misleading impression. The de facto threshold for a third seat is well below 40%. If they do get 40%+ (and I don't think they will), they wouldn't be too far away from a fourth seat.

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    5. When do they come in for Scotland?

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  14. Turnouts:
    East Lothian - 42.9% (+7)
    Dumfries and Galloway - 40.6% (+3.9)
    Renfrewshire - 40.3% (+3.2)
    Stirling - 46.7% (+8.6)
    Dundee - 35.7% (+3.9)
    East Dunbartonshire - 47.1% (+8.7)
    East Renfrewshire - 48.4% (+5.3)
    Highland - 43.2% (+6.9)

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    1. Encouraging on the whole, although the big increase in East Dunbartonshire and the small increase in Dundee might support my theory that the Lib Dems will benefit the most from differential turnout.

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    2. While I'd obviously rather the SNP or the greens win a seat over the Libs, all seats won by 100% remain parties helps the independence cause. After all, the only link this election has with independence is what it maybe indicates in terms of support for the EU in Scotland.

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    3. I wish that were the only link, but the biased media mean there's more to it than that....

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    4. I have also felt that we need:
      a) SNP to get close to 40% share & 3 seats - last time was 2 seats and 29%, so progress is established. Maximum is 2 seats and 29.1% share.
      b) Turnout in the 35%-40% - this lends legitimacy to the results (average is less than 30% in the Euro elections 1999-2014).

      If the LibDems do well i.e. more than 1 seat then it will just be spun by the traditional media as Scotland wants Remain just like ruk and will serve to vindicate LD's pro-People's Vote/No Indyref2 stance.

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  15. In all seems the majority of Scots did not turn out and vote. The Nat sis will claim any vote is in their favour even the referendum they lost in 2014. They seem desperate to make Scotland a Colony number in the EU. Number 28 or 29. The name Scotland will disappear.

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    1. Katie-Mary HimmlerMay 27, 2019 at 12:39 AM

      I said spoons and you said spoons so that means we both said spoons. Another way, I said glove and you said glove so that means we both said glove.

      Do you bloody well get it at long last or do I have to mention trays, walnuts or scaffolds? Jeezus!

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  16. SNP first in the Borders. That's encouraging. Heartland Fluffy.

    SNP - 28.4% (+7.7)
    Brex - 19.0% (+19.0)
    Con - 18.9% (-11.6)
    Lib Dem - 18.2% (+1.5)
    Green - 7.9% (+0.4)
    Lab - 2.8% (-7.5)
    ChUK - 1.9% (+1.9)
    UKIP - 1.8% (-10.6)
    Inds x 2 - 1.1% (+1.1)

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  17. Borders and Dumfries and Galloway are heavy Tory, so I hope this is good. D&G is the real Fluffy heartland, I suppose. But it's usually all very anti-snp, anti-indy.

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    1. And Ruth Davidson ran this EU campaign entirely on "No Indyref ever".

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  18. Britain Elects projection:

    SNP 2
    Labour 1
    Tory 1
    LibDem 1
    Brexit 1

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    1. Based on the results so far, SNP should win at least three. Brexit should win at least one. Other two seats are a toss-up, depends on precise arithmetic.

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    2. Pretty sure that was their poll plus postal vote projection .

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  19. The overwhelming majority of Scottish voters did not turn out and vote for SFEUP. Scottish Fascist EU Party.

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    1. Cordelia's raging because its beloved Yakult-Lennon got gubbed.

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  20. Results so far:
    SNP win Scottish Borders SNP 28.4%
    SNP win Renfrewshire SNP 41.6%
    SNP win West Dunbartonshire SNP 45.5%
    SNP win South Ayrshire SNP 34.2%
    SNP win Perth & Kinross SNP 35.7%
    SNP win West Lothian SNP 39.9%
    SNP win Aberdeen SNP 34.6%
    SNP win Dundee SNP 46.1%
    SNP win Highlands SNP 37.3%
    SNP win East Ayrshire SNP 41.1%
    SNP win South Lanarkshire SNP 40.7%
    SNP win Inverclyde SNP 45%

    (Hearing Libdems have won in Orkney)

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    1. This is looking really good, right?

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    2. Well, it looks like we might get a results map of Scotland that the BBC won't want to show. I hope it means 3 seats rather than 2. I don't know how the maths works out.

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    3. Lib Dems have won Shetland as well. I think the only mainland regions that might be close are East Rens and Dumfries & Galloway.

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    4. Not announced yet, but Glasgow North West looking at 40% + SNP.
      SNP win North Ayrshire 41.5%
      SNP win Edinburgh 33.4%
      Tories 4th in Ruth Davidson territory.

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    5. East Renfrewshire:

      SNP: 33.5%
      Tories: 17.4%
      Lib Dems: 16.2%
      Brexit: 11.8%
      Labour: 8.4%
      Greens: 7.5%

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    6. SNP win Dumfries & Galloway 27.6%
      Tories 21.1%
      Brexit party 21.8%

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    7. Glasgow
      SNP 43.8
      Labour 15
      Greens 12.1
      Brexit 9.8
      Lib Dems 9.2
      Tories 6.2
      ChangeUK 1.6
      UKIP 1.6
      Independents (x2) 0.4

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  21. Watching Beth Rigby on Sky Live.... God I love how she talks.... "losin"..... "takin".... I mean, I'm not bein ironic.... I could listen to her for hours....

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  22. BBC predicting
    SNP 3 seats
    Brexit 1
    Libdems 1
    Tories 1

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    1. That’ll do. They seem pretty certain. 😎

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    2. Aye, there's enough councils in to be pretty certain about the seat division, and the Tories are a few points above the level needed to win the final seat (ahead of a fourth SNP seat).

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  23. Sorry to see David Martin lose his seat but that is politics.

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  24. The SNP has won the biggest share of the vote in 28 of the 30 council areas to have declared so far, with the Lib Dems first in both Orkney and Shetland.

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  25. Massive sigh of relief, over the moon..... If I've understood this correctly, snp have surpassed all the benchmarks identified by James..... Fabulous....

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  26. Will not be long until the Mep spongers are history. Surprised how you Nat sis get your gratification over poll results. There are stranger people so do not worry girls.

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    1. Poor Cordelia and its impotent rage.

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  27. I'm glad the Greens never got one. I personally can't stand them.

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    1. I'd rather have had a Green than a Tory!

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    2. I'd rather have the tory - can't stand the Greens. They are too far to the left, too holier than thou.

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  28. The most poignant vote for reality was the Lib Dem vote that switches between the Tories and Labour right factions. The Tea Ladies Party! Keep Labour and the working classes from our doorstop.

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    1. Poor Cordelia. So angry and confused.

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  29. So with about 40 percent of the country bothering to vote its essentially a 3-3 draw between nationalists and unionists in electing people who'll all be fired in 6 months. Not the most exciting night we've had in politics in recent times.

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    1. Or rather an epic win for Remain in an EU election.

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    2. But that 'epic win' (I think your phraseology is a bit over the top) only comes from adding in the Lib Dem. They support the maintaining of both unions.

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