Saturday, May 4th, 2013

miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
I am utterly sick of people attempting to read in the entrails of the local election results what might happen in the general election in 2015. Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of why such efforts are fruitless bullshit:
  1. People vote differently in local and general elections. Recognising that the local council has very little power any more, people take council elections far less seriously. This means that turnout is derisory and the result is thus distorted by the people who DO turnout being either seriously committed to one party or another, or wanting to "send a message" by spoiling their ballot or voting for a party they know cannot win.

  2. Local elections were not held in every parliamentary constituency. This means that any extrapolation to a national result is "projection" - i.e. guesswork

  3. Time will pass between now and a general election. Political change tends to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, but sometimes there IS a revolutionary change, and none of us knows what will happen in the next two years. The old adage that a week is a long time in politics still holds true in many cases.

  4. Data which applies to our electoral system is incomplete, verging on non-existent. The only polling data we have which is reliable at constituency level is from previous general elections. No polling company holds/collects data at constituency level, and most of them hold/collect data at a national level. This is USELESS for predicting the results of a general election under the first past the post electoral system, where every single constituency has its own idiosyncracies. We will never get a British Nate Silver or change the woeful quality of political analysis in the media unless this changes.

  5. The pundits in the media are crap. Relying on the proclamations of media pundits is an exercise in futility when none of them even acknowledge that they are guessing from incomplete data.
I'm sure there are other reasons that could be added to this list, but you get the idea. Basically, if anyone tells you that they can predict what will happen in May 2015 after this week's local election results, your bullshit detector should be pinging off the top of the scale.

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Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.

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