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Local and general

Lewis Baston  |  27 February 2015

Every general election is decided in the marginal parliamentary constituencies. The public, and sometimes even political insiders, have the impression that the main parties command armies of campaigners which can be directed with precision. In the imagination, we have Lynton Crosby and Greg Cook playing first world war generals and moving model armies around a …

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Carry on polling: can George Osborne keep it up until May?

Lewis Baston  |  5 January 2015

Before Christmas, I wrote a piece for Conservative Home about the polling landscape six months out from the general election and what one can tell about the situation from historical precedents. The findings were not entirely encouraging for Labour: Labour oppositions tend to poll worse in the election than they do in the polls at …

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Dark vistas

Lewis Baston  |  11 November 2014

Next May’s election may resemble that of October 1974, believes Lewis Baston Time is running out for two polling phenomena which many have been expecting to kick in before the next general election. The first expected pattern was that the support for insurgent parties would fade as the choice of governments started to loom larger …

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One week to go: by-election analysis

Lewis Baston  |  2 October 2014

There are two parliamentary by-elections next Thursday. The vacancy in Clacton is caused by Douglas Carswell resigning from the Conservatives, joining the United Kingdom Independence party and now seeking ratification of his defection from the electorate. The Heywood and Middleton vacancy has arisen because of the death of Labour member of parliament Jim Dobbin. Clacton …

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Your guide to interpreting tonight’s results

Lewis Baston  |  18 September 2014

Nobody is venturing an exit poll for the Scottish referendum. We will have to find out the result the old-fashioned way. The reason for this requires some explanation. British pollsters have, over time, fine-tuned their skills in exit poll predictions in general elections. The painstakingly thorough (and expensive) poll in 2010 was extraordinarily accurate, and …

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Is it worth campaigning in the summer?

Lewis Baston  |  1 August 2014

The ‘dog days’ or ‘silly season’ are nearly upon us. The prime minister has had his reshuffle, restoring the sensible pattern of John Major’s premiership that new ministers should be given the summer to read themselves into the new job and know what they are talking about by the time full-scale politics resumes, and that …

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The benefits of disreputable psephological habits

Lewis Baston  |  13 June 2014

It is time to confess one of my disreputable habits. Every time local elections come round, I cannot resist sitting down by my computer and adding up the ward-by-ward results by constituency and working out who ‘won’, at least in the marginal seats that make the difference. The Fabian Society has published this, for the …

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Time’s arrow and the pre-election polls

Lewis Baston  |  25 April 2014

Imagine, for a moment, that there was no Fixed Term Parliaments Act. How would we be assessing the political situation in the late spring of 2014? By past standards, we are very late in the parliament, and everything would be seen in the light of election timing. Would the prime minister go for it in …

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Avoid psephological apophenia!

Lewis Baston  |  14 March 2014

One of the problems of writing about opinion polls is that the more startling, extraordinary and news-worthy a poll finding is, the more likely it is to be wrong. The fact that most of them are commissioned by the media accentuates the tendency to highlight the sensational results, particularly the ones your own media organisation …

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How will the Lib Dems actually do?

Lewis Baston  |  31 January 2014

Public opinion, at least in terms of voting intention, has been unusually stable during this parliament. There has barely been any change in the main parties’ ratings since the middle of 2013, when Labour’s lead over the Conservatives narrowed and Ukip support subsided a bit from its peak just after the county council elections in …

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