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Vote 2010: the election barometer

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 19 April 2010

Liberal Democrats on top as election turns into three-horse race. Professor Leighton Vaughan Williams, of Nottingham Business School's Political Forecasting Unit looks behind the figures.

There is one new poll out today, by YouGov for the Sun, and it shows the Liberal Democrats leading the race for votes, with Labour trailing in third place.

This confirms the trend picked up in polls taken just before and just after the first election debate.

Polling Commentary
There is one national poll out today.
YouGov/Sun: Lib Dem 33, Con 32, Labour 26

Fieldwork for this poll was conducted over the weekend, and shows 68 per cent expressing themselves as certain to vote.

Delving into the detail also picks up one very interesting statistic. When YouGov asked their sample whether they supported changing the voting system so that parties are represented in parliament broadly in line with their national vote, 54 per cent were in favour and only 16 per cent opposed. This is an important finding in that it suggests that the exhortation to the public to vote for strong one-party rule is falling on mostly deaf ears.

As things stand, however, elections are held on the basis of the "first-past-the post" system. Taking the YouGov figures and assuming a uniform national swing, Labour would on this basis win 247 seats in the House of Commons, the Conservatives 239 seats and the Liberal Democrats 132 seats. This would leave Labour 79 seats short of an overall majority.

The Political Forecasting Unit 'polling tracker' currently has the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats tied on 32 per cent, with Labour on 28 per cent. Reproduced as a uniform swing across the country, this would put Labour on 268 seats, the Conservatives on 233 seats and the Liberal Democrats on 118 seats. The markets agree that no one party is likely to win a majority in the House of Commons.

Political Forecasting Unit's (PFU) poll tracker paints a broadly similar picture.

Put simply, the tracker is based on the most recent surveys by different polling organisations, and is adjusted so that the more recent the survey the more weight is attached to the vote shares. There is also some statistical smoothing which has the effect that outliers or vote shares that diverge most from the general consensus are allocated less weight.

Election barometer
The Political Forecasting Unit’s 'election barometer', designed to capture the changing state of the race as it unfolds through the campaign, shows Labour with most seats, on 268, with the Conservatives on 233 and the Liberal Democrats on 118.

An analysis of the money bet in political betting markets also suggests that no party will secure a majority of the seats in the House of Commons.

Daily poll of polls
Liberal Democrat: 33 per cent
Conservative: 32 per cent
Labour: 26 per cent

PFU polling tracker (recent polls, weighted)
Conservative: 32 per cent
Liberal Democrat: 32 per cent
Labour: 28 per cent

Outcome (Based on polling tracker, assuming national swing reproduced in every constituency)
Conservatives: 233 seats
Labour: 268 seats
Liberal Democrat: 118 seats
Other: 31 seats
Labour short of an overall majority by 58.

Where the money is (Analysis based on money wagered on the election in political betting markets)
Conservative: 308 seats
Labour: 225 seats
Liberal Democrat: 82 seats
Other: 35 seats
Conservatives short of an overall majority by 18 seats.

% chance of Conservative overall majority: 36.3 per cent;
% chance of Labour overall majority: 3.5 per cent;
% chance of Liberal Democrat overall majority: 2.0 per cent
% chance of No overall majority: 58.2 per cent;

(Chances based on odds from betting exchanges)

Professor Leighton Vaughan Williams is Director of the Political Forecasting Unit at Nottingham Business School.

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