Craig Paterson poll analysis: Five predictions for the unpredictable #GE2015


CommonSpace poll analyst Craig Paterson takes a look at the latest data with just a day to go until the General Election

OVER the last 24 hours I have seen my fair share of people predicting the outcome of this election, whether it’s on a UK-wide level, a Scotland-wide level or even on a seat-by-seat basis.

Well I’m not going to predict a seat-by-seat outcome for Scotland because regardless of what the polls say, it is still just too unpredictable.

I will, however, stick my neck out and make some predications that may not go down too well.

Eight “eve of election” polls are coming out today and I will have a rundown of them all on CommonSpace tomorrow. My guess is the polls will have moved a little towards the Tories, but will still be showing no clear winner.

Let’s take a look at where the polls stand at the moment. Six sets of poll results were released yesterday and they gave varying answers. The average of them all is as follows:

CON: 33.7 per cent

LAB: 33 per cent

LIB DEM: 9.7 per cent

UKIP: 13.2 per cent

GREEN: 4.8 per cent

So it’s still neck and neck, but we’ve got a divide in opinion and methodology opening up. The online pollster vs the telephone pollster. One online pollster has Labour ahead by one point and the other three have it as a tie, while the telephone pollsters have the Tories ahead by between two-three per cent.

A lot has been made of this during the election and I have been meaning to address it. I will save that for after the election, when we know who was closer to the true result. Personally, I prefer telephone polling, it’s usually more accurate as it captures those voters who are not so internet-savvy.

So, onto my predictions.

The SNP will not sweep the board

The SNP will not get 59 seats, nor will it get 50. In fact, my feeling is that they will range somewhere between 30 and 40 seats. We still have around 30-40 per cent of people undecided according to some polls, add into this the potential scale of tactical voting.

It makes it hard to see the SNP pushing on to take 50+ seats. My feeling is that the vast majority of undecided voters are probably deciding how best to dent the SNP. I concede that some will vote SNP but if they haven’t made their minds up to vote for them by now, what’s stopped them?

SNP supporters should not feel deflated at this, it will still make the SNP the third-largest party and the landscape of British politics will have changed forever.

Jim Murphy will retain his seat

Jim Murphy, the man who would be king and a major target for SNP supporters all across the world never mind just in Scotland, will hold on.

Tory tactical votes and a strong incumbency factor will help Jim to victory in East Renfrewshire. SNP activists may be bitterly disappointed, but Murphy will still be leading an admittedly mortally wounded party up here in Scotland.

No more Panda jokes

The Tories have been a joke in Scotland for a long time but they have been quietly rebuilding, and in this election, thanks to the collapse of both the Lib Dems and Labour, they look set capitalise.

They look likely to pick up at least one more seat (Berwickshire) maybe even another two – Dumfries & Galloway and Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine, although it is probably still unlikely. The only thing that has been predictable about this election (in a Scottish contest at least) is that the Tory vote will hold or vary by +/- one per cent.

The largest party

I have been saying it for a while with no great satisfaction, but the Tories will be the largest party. They look set to lose maybe 10-20 seats to Labour but will pick up around 10 from the Lib Dems.

The Tories seem confident that they have done enough work to hold off the vast majority of Labour advances. David Cameron has spent the last day in the south-west targeting Lib Dem seats rather than defending Labour facing marginal seats.

This coupled with Labour’s now increased rhetoric against the SNP and the prospect of any deals with them tell me that the Tory message is clearly having an effect. Indeed, Ed Miliband is spending his final day in these seats trying to win them over.

Another election within 18 months

A crisis is brewing about legitimacy and constitutional reform, and regardless which of the “big two” end up with the most seats it looks unlikely that any coalition will be as stable as the last.

Another election looks almost certain now. Unless, of course, there is a majority government. Could it happen?

With such an unpredictable election it’s going to be a long night. My take on things is that we will see it pan out a little like this.

CON: 285-295 seats

LAB: 265-275 seats

LIB DEM: 25-35 seats

UKIP: 0-2 seats

GREEN: 0-1 seat

SNP: 30-40 seats

OTHERS: 18-21 (Includes NI seats and PC)

Any combination of these could mean any combination of outcomes. The most likely I think will be a Tory-Lib-Dem deal of some kind.

Around 3am in the early hours of Friday morning is likely to be when a whole host of interesting seats declare – Jim Murphy, Douglas Alexander and all the Glasgow seats.

If the SNP take all these, then they may well take 50+ seats in the end, and I’ll be more than happy to have got it wrong.

After such a long time, the wait is almost over.

Picture courtesy of Henry Faber