Monday, March 16, 2015

Maybe the polls are right and there will be an SNP landslide

Back in January I suggested that the results of May's general election might be more boring than a lot of people expect.

To an extent I was right. The Green surge seems to have come and gone, while no one now expects Ukip to win more than a meagre handful of seats.

However, the prospect of an SNP landslide now seems stronger than it did at the start of the year.

I based my scepticism then in part upon an analysis by Iain Dale, who had looked at each constituency and then made a forecast.

In January he wrote:
Others are projecting that the SNP could win upwards of 40 of Scotland’s 59 seats. I regard that as completely fanciful and it shows why making any sensible prediction has to be done on a seat by seat basis. 
In truth, when I did my Scottish predictions I had the SNP on 13 seats. I went back and looked at some of their other target seats and bumped them up to 18. How on earth they could win much beyond that is beyond me.
Now Iain has revisited his predictions and now forecasts that the SNP will win 42 seats.

Looking at his new predictions, the doubts he and I shared at the start of the year are reawakened. To get them up to 42 seats he has the SNP coming from fourth place to win in more than one constituency.

Yet we should remember that the opinion polls are usually right.

As Mark Stuart writes on the University of Nottingham's Ballots & Bullets blog:
And yet as I caution against predicting an SNP landslide at Westminster, my mind is cast back to the months before the 1997 General Election when no-one could quite believe that New Labour would win a landslide, despite poll after poll presaging it. After all, the polls had been famously wrong in 1992. 
But myself and Professor Philip Cowley summoned up the nerve each to place a small £5 bet on a spread of an overall Labour majority of 161-180 at odds of 12-1. A tense night followed because if anything Labour pushed to the upper end of our forecasts. Labour ended with an overall majority of 179, and I reinvested my winnings in a copy of The Times Guide to the House of Commons.
As we are now so close to polling day, it is hard to resist Stuart's conclusion that "it should be slowly sinking in that the SNP may be about to win a landslide".


Edis said...

Which is why we are likely to see tax concessions for North Sea Oil companies in the budget on the 18th.

Protecting a lot of Scottish jobs. Paid for by UK taxpayers as a whole. And rubbing in the point about the wild optimism of the economic forecasts from the Scottish Government pre-referendum.

David said...

Superfluous 'not' in first line.

Jonathan Calder said...

Thank you, David