General Election 2015 Scotland Results

Fri 08 May 2015

In my last post and the one before I made predictions on overall vote share and seats in Scotland for the 2015 General Election. Here's how they compared with the actual result.

I predicted the SNP would get 43-48% of the vote and Labour would get 30-35%. In reality the SNP did better with 50.0% and Labour worse with 24.3%. This gave the SNP 56 seats out of 59, just above the 40 to 55 range I predicted. My "gun-to-the-head" prediction was an SNP/Labour vote share of 46%/32% with SNP having 45 seats - so quite a bit off the mark (but still better than being shot in the head).

My stab at predicting constituency results fared a little bit better, with all 46 of my highly probable seats going to the SNP. Below is the updated table from my last post showing the remaining 13 seats. They are listed with the hardest wins for the SNP coming first:

All three seats that the SNP didn't win are in the above table, with two of them being at the top of the list. Many of the SNP leads in the above table are slender, especially compared to the enormous leads in many of the other 46 seats.

There is a pattern in how my predictions missed the mark. Actual turnouts in these seats were mostly around 70% whereas I predicted higher turnouts of around 80%. In most cases my prediction of the number of SNP votes was pretty good, but I predicted too many votes going to other parties. The most obvious interpretation of this is that many of the undecided voters who had said they were very likely to vote, simply didn't vote.

Based on arguments in my previous posts, I have some reason to believe many of these non-voters were No voters who perhaps couldn't bring themselves to vote tactically or else felt the SNP surge was so large that their vote would make no difference; certainly true in Ayr and Aberdeen North. However, please regard this as informed speculation in the absence of more direct evidence. Whatever the cause, the result was that although some tactical voting did occur, it didn't have the numbers to beat the SNP lead in most seats.

If you'd like to see how I produced the prediction then have a look at this spreadsheet, available in xls format or ods format. My decisions were mostly on how to implement the method of prediction and very little guessing of numbers or percentages was needed. To do this I drew on the 2010 results, the referendum result in each region and combined them with various pre-election polls and data on the registered electorate. For example, I didn't make a prediction on turnout directly, but instead let that be implicitly determined by voting likelihood from polls together with the changes in electorate between 2010 and 2015.

Personal comment

The SNP success in Scotland was not much of a surprise. The much bigger shock of this election was that the Conservatives achieved a majority. This was not predicted by any of the polls beforehand.

I mean "shock" literally. The prospect of a majority Conservative government in Westminster and the SNP majority government in Scotland is my worst case scenario. For reasons I explain in previous posts, both parties propose policies that I believe will be deeply damaging to the economy of the UK and Scotland, and both parties now have a stronger mandate to pursue them in their respective governments.

This is democracy in action of course, and not for a moment do I question the legitimacy of the result, nor the expressed will of the people. But, given what I've learned about society and the economy since the financial crisis of 2008, I feel very pessimistic about the future of both Scotland and the UK.

Although I feel unrepresented by both governments, I think my family and I will be OK. My concern is more for those people who already have the least; they are usually the ones that suffer the most under the economic contortions brought about by governments driven by ideology.

Resigned despondency is not an option. But is there anything that I could do? I'll let dust settle, spend some time reflecting on the situation and see what floats up from my subconscious. For that to work I'll need to distract myself, so expect non-political blog posts for a while.