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10:53 am: lizards chart


This shows the combined voting share of Labour/Conservatives, in the general elections and European elections since 1979 (when direct European elections started). Blue is general, Red is Europeans.

There is a notable tend, in that while the Lab/Con share for European elections starts higher than generals, it ends up much lower. For European elections from 1979-1994, large single-member constituencies were used, making the system even less proportional than the system used for general elections.

There's a consistent downward trend for the European elections, but it starts seriously dipping below the general election figures in 1999, the first time PR is introduced. The next time round in the Europeans the combined vote share of Labour and Conservative drops below 50%, and falls even further in 2009. Doesn't it look like voter behaviour is aware of the electoral system and changes accordingly (if with a little lag)? Yet the media appears to treat these vote shares as comparable.

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From:katsmeat
Date:May 10th, 2010 10:01 am (UTC)
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This is something of an aside... but I was struck by how this plot

http://stats.grok.se/en/201004/Nick%20Clegg

Seems to exactly mirror 'Cleggmania'. Though possibly with a slight lag.
From:thatmakesmemad
Date:May 10th, 2010 10:06 am (UTC)
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ITS A MEDIA CONSPIRACY DAMMIT !!!
The media tends to ignore voter turnout figures in elections in the same way as the parties do ("The electorate have spoken !!!" yeah sure less than 50% usually) so you have to dig them out.
Likewise they like to talk about swings all the time even in situations such as the European elections recently where the BNP won a couple of seats due to a collapse in turnout of voters for the other party and no change in votes for the BNP.
It's a sign of poor journalism.
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From:pjc50
Date:May 10th, 2010 10:23 am (UTC)
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Also ignoring Northern Ireland in its entirety; I was unaware of various interesing things there until I read nwhyte on the subject.

The European elections show a large bleed from the right of the Conservative party to UKIP, who came second in seats in the most recent European elections.
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From:abigailb
Date:May 10th, 2010 10:28 am (UTC)
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Also the Lib Dems have polled consistently lower in the two most recently European elections than they did in the nearby general elections by an amount roughly equivalent to the Green vote.
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From:matgb
Date:May 14th, 2010 01:11 pm (UTC)
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One point with that is that turnout with the Euro elections is always significantly lower.

I'm very wary of making direct comparisons; UKIp get a high vote share, but they take some votes from each of the main parties (especially true in Devon,half their votes come from people that vote LD in the General).

There's evidence that people that vote LD are simply less likely to vote in Euro elections; the party's avowed enthusiasm for "federal Europe" puts off a lot of supporters.

Whereas the Greens, knowing it's a PR election, campaign heavily, so their supporters turnout en masse.

The old idea that low turnout affects each party proportionately no longer applies; that was definitely true of Labour in 2009, but appears to have been true of the LDs as well.

I haven't crunched the numbers properly yet,will do so when the dust has settled, but very interesting idea, thanks.
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From:matgb
Date:May 14th, 2010 01:12 pm (UTC)
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*and I meant to say UKIP voters are more likely to turnout, and some of them don't turnout for the General election.
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From:abigailb
Date:May 14th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
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I take your point that the figures aren't comparable (after all, apart from anything else, people are being asked a different question). I note turnout has remained surprisingly consistent in European elections (being 32% in 1979 and 34% in 2009), though.
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From:matgb
Date:May 14th, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC)
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Yup, went up when they did an all postal ballot in some regions, but then steadied off.

But, there's some evidence that the bigger swings are voting to not voting, and vice versa. So while turnout is the same, different people vote each time.

I don't think enough studies have been done though, certainyl none I've got access to, might ask a friend who still has JANET access to do some digging, it's close to his PhD field anyway. But not immediately.
From:thatmakesmemad
Date:May 10th, 2010 11:57 am (UTC)
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Hopefully the Northern Ireland results won't be significant in forming a coalition as the last thing they need is the DUP teaming up with a weak government as they did with John Majors.
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From:friend_of_tofu
Date:May 10th, 2010 10:52 am (UTC)
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It's quite clear that voter behaviour changes significantly depending on the system and the purpose of the vote being cast; I agree with you that projecting FPTP votes to show what they would look like under alternate systems is essentially meaningless.
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From:jisha78
Date:May 10th, 2010 04:49 pm (UTC)
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Very interesting stuff.
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