Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Conservatives Will Win Votes But Lose Seats in City Contest

Analysis of the local election voting patterns over recent years indicate that the Conservatives are likely to secure the most votes at the 2012 Local Elections to Lincoln City Council. However, the analysis also points to Labour improving their grip on the authority.

In a tough electoral situation for Lincoln's Conservatives they find themselves defending seven seats in a contest of eleven. The Lincoln Labour Party meanwhile are defending a mere three seats and the Liberal Democrats there lone representative.

The above chart demonstrates the poll of the various parties that have contested elections within the Lincoln City Council area over the past five years (the 2009 figure represents elections to Lincolnshire County Council within the city). In 2007 the whole council was up for election on new ward boundaries. The Conservatives gained six seats, with a poll  of 41% just slightly above the national average of 40% for the Conservatives, and took control from the Labour Party after twenty-six years.

In 2008 the Conservatives continued their advance, gaining one seat from Labour, this time matching the Conservative party's national average on 44%. In 2009, Lincolnshire County Council and European Parliamentary elections were held concurrently. The Conservatives polled three percentage points higher than the party's national average; whilst Labour, who's average sank to 23% nationally, polled 31% in the city.

In 2010 the main event was the General Election. Conservative Karl McCartney ousted sitting Labour Member of Parliament Gillian Merron after 13 years with 37.5% of the vote, just slightly ahead of Ms Merron's 35.2%. In the Council elections Conservative did not fair as well as their parliamentary colleague, taking 34% of the vote to Labour's 37%. This lead to the Conservatives losing two seats to the Labour Party drawing them neck and neck on 16 each with the lone Liberal Democrat holding sway. Cllr. Mrs. Helen Heath, Liberal Democrat (Carholme Ward), in the end sided with the Conservative Group on the Council and gave them a further year in office.

Last year, in 2011, Labour regained control of Lincoln City Council after a four year absence, taking one seat from the Conservatives and securing for themselves a majority of the Council. The Conservatives performed just one percentage point below the national average whilst Lincoln's Labour Party performed well locally with a 45% share of the vote, against a national average of 37%.

From the above chart it can be seen that Labour were substantially up on their 2007 poll (38%), last year (45%). Which compares with national averages of 27% in 2007 and 37% last year for Labour. Meanwhile the Conservatives have been within a percentage point of their national average in both the 2007 and 2011 contests.

The above projected vote share for 2012 gives the Conservatives the most votes with 40.7%, Labour 38.3% the Liberal Democrats 15.1% and Others 6.5%. However, it is unlikely that this will lead to the Conservatives holding all their current seats. This is not because the Liberal Democrat vote from four years ago has deserted them and gone to Labour - as is currently a popular myth; which may or may not ultimately be justified - it is that Conservative voters are expected to switch to Labour. Labour may only be up by about four percentage points from the Conservatives since the seats were last contested, but it has a big impact; allowing the Labour Party to gain one seat from the Conservatives in the Castle Ward. The other factor is that Cllr. Mrs. Heath is retiring - citing family problems. She has always had a strong personal following in the Carholme Ward and has substantially above other Liberal Democrat candidates in the ward. But here too this is likely to fall to the Labour Party.

So here is the expected outcome on Thurday, 3rd May 2012 of the Lincoln City Council Local Elections, based on an averages projection.

The Conservative held seats in Birchwood, Bracebridge, Glebe, Hartsholme, Minster and Moorland remain  blue. The Liberal Democrats lose Carholme to Labour and have no representation on the council.  Labour also pick up the seat in Castle ward from the Conservatives- vacated by Cllr. Alistair Williams, who is retiring, as he no-longer lives in the city; the Labour Party also retains the seats currently held in the Abbey, Boultham and Park wards. This gives Labour a strong majority of five (Labour 19 seats to the Conservatives 14).

However, the above, first projection is based on a simple average principle. If however the result is projected using a more complex calculation including disparity from national poll average and data available regarding the current opinion poll ratings of the parties the result will be much more dramatic. The result: A bloodbath for the Conservatives and a dramatic win for the Labour Party.

The chart above demonstrates the change to the parties projected poll using the alternative method described above of calculating the result. Whilst such a large upsurge in support for the Labour Party and the collapse of the Liberal Democrats' share of the votes seems unlikely; it would be a blood bath for the Conservatives which would make the lead in the Lincolnshire Echo the following week.

The Conservatives would, on this projection, only hold the seats currently held in Brichwood and Hartsholme. The Liberal Democrats still lose Carhome to Labour and have no representation on the council. Labour however not only hold the seats in the Abbey, Boultham and Park wards, but pick up the seats in Birchwood, Castle, Glebe, Minster and Moorland wards.

This optimistic projection would give Labour a strong majority of thirteen (Labour 23 seats to the Conservatives 10).

As with all projections, prognostications, psephology and soothsaying - a moment of caution: The only poll that matters is the one on polling day. As noted on this site yesterday. The lack of feet on the ground from the Labour campaign could significantly impact on these projections; and could give the Conservatives a significant advantage.

No comments: