Wednesday, 17 June 2015

General Election 2015: General: (1)

I like data.

I like messing around with numbers and statistics and seeing how changing one small thing can have ripple effects that are often completely counter-intuitive.

As for elections, I love them as well. And with me going a bit mad when I did, it gave me the perfect opportunity to give it a good fucking going over. In particular I thought it would be a good time to have a look at the micro-parties and the number of voters they can attract and why, plus I wanted to get an idea of the proportion of people who would deliberately spoil their ballot as a protest, rather than simply abstain.

Except I just assumed my data was right on the night and it turns out it wasn't, I had all my electorate numbers mixed up and all sorts and am still trying to sort them out now. Did you know the actual electorate isn't confirmed until the day of the election? I didn't until this year, I thought it was decided well in advance by the Boundary Commission (which it is geographically), but the population within those boundaries is updated right up until election day...who knew, eh? Makes sense I guess.

Anyway, I'm now trying to get a grip on the spoilt ballots. It's a fucking pain in the arse, because while they're counted, they're never reported and you have to trawl through all the individual council websites to try to find them from the actual declarations. AND on top of that, some councils keep record of the number of ballot papers issued, but not a record of those returned, so it's all very confusing when the figures don't add up as they should; sometimes non-returned papers are recorded, sometimes they're not. Some don't bother mentioning the minor parties, some do, some don't give a figure for the active electorate, some do, some do give an electorate figure but no turnout figure, some do it the other way around and so on AND SO ON. I've had to infer a few, but with the sorts of numbers we're talking about (typically around 150-200 per constituency) that shouldn't make a deal of difference.

Mind you, I would like to get it as right as I can. I've split the Independent/Other votes into sections too (e.g. localism, electoral reform, etc.) and want to try to get a handle on that too.

While I'm still messing around trying to compile the data (did I mention that not all sources are consistent? No? It doesn't help) I don't want to post anything definitive. But I'm pretty confident that a party consisting of those on the electoral register who didn't vote, that party, yeah that party would win a majority pretty much every time.

[Edit: just done a quick & dirty run through and if a new parliamentary party had been set up at the last election and had 50% of non-voters randomly allocated to it in each constituency, it would have had over 7 and a half million votes and would be the third largest party by voter preference. But under FPTP, it would have just 5 seats.]

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