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Can You Predict The Election Results?

Going with your gut feeling simply won’t cut it anymore. Every answer at the door, the tone of your voice over the phone, campaign emails you open, party badges you wear, all of this will be analyzed. This information will help predict the next winner in an election.

Political Election pollsters and peoples opinions on them have endured much media scrutiny over the last decade. Data analysis came to the fore thanks to Obama’s win in ‘08 and Nate Silver's algorithms for polling forecasts made him a household name, but what happens when it all fails? Nate Silver was wrong about the UK Elections in 2015 and he was wrong about Donald Trump. Big losses like this not only damaged his credibility, it also made us question if you really can predict election results anymore.

Luckily, we can still get pretty damn close. Campaign teams who operate a smart campaign should be able to make a close enough estimate to how their candidate will do.

Attempting To Predict Election Results:

Registered voters

The first figure you need to be aware of is the number of registered voters in your ward or constituency.

Votes you need to win

This all depends on what electoral system is in place of course, is it First Past the Post or Proportional Representation?

First Past the Post is the electoral system used to elect the UK parliament. Under First Past the Post voting takes place in constituencies that elect a single MP each. Voters put a cross on a ballot paper next to their favored candidate and the candidate with the most votes in the constituency wins. All other votes count for nothing. This means that the person with the most votes wins.

Proportional representation, on the other hand, can be a little bit tricky for people to comprehend. To understand the system, there are first three things that need to be clear:

All constituencies are multi-seat constituencies. Each elect between 3 and 5 candidates depending on population size. Voters choose from a list of candidates and the 3-5 who get the most votes are elected. A party can have more than one candidate in a constituency
The larger parties almost always do. This means that the parties are not only competing against each other but that there is competition between candidates within parties too.

Every voter has a single, transferable, vote. This means they vote for candidates in order of preference, giving a number 1 to their favorite, 2 to their next choice, 3 to the next and so on. They are not obliged to vote for more than one person but can if they wish to indicate their preferences in numerical order right down a list of 10 or more candidates.

Due to this, there is usually a quota put in place so if the quota to be elected is 7,359, anyone meeting that number of votes will be elected.

Prediction for Proportional Representation

Case Study: Example Ward

3 Seat Constituency
Councillor Jim Murphy is running for re-election

  • Area: 10,000 registered voters
  • Quota based on previous Election: 1,564
  • Overall turnout based on the last few elections: 66%
  • Doors knocked on: 6,000
  • Overall Approval rating based on 6,000 doors: 72%

This constituency is broken down into 5 districts, A, B,C,D & E.

To figure out specifically where Jim’s main votes were going to come from, taking into account voter turnout, we estimated that a large chunk of hs votes would come from District D. Living in this specific district , it made sense that his stronghold would be here.

District D is where Jim did a large portion of his canvassing , having knocked on 2,000 doors and receiving a 73% first preference rating. We calculated this approval based on a five-star rating and survey answers.

Turnout in this area is particularly high with 88% of people showing up to vote in previous years.

So factoring in all this, we estimated that Jim could count on roughly 1,284 first preference votes from this district.

In District E, Jim, and his team canvassed 1,000 houses and also received a very high approval rating, a massive 88%, but due to the low turnout of 30%, Jim could only estimate that he would receive 264 votes.

In the end, we have calculated that Jim should meet the quota comfortably if the data is to believed, with around 3,014 votes. The quota is 1,564.

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