it doesn’t add up

I was watching the BBC News this morning and the head guy from IPSOS Mori was on talking about the election polls.  For the first time I heard anyone mention margin of error which is actually pretty important with this kind of 1000 people snap sample stuff.

The margin of error is + or – 3%.

That means that the polls could be as much as 3% out either way.

He also talked about as many as 4 in 10 people (40%) in marginal seats still being undecided.

That also means that no-one has any idea who will win.

He also mentioned how the current polls would translate into seats:

  • Conservatives on around 43% would get around 260 seats
  • Labour on around 28% would get around 260 seats
  • Liberal Democrats on 29% would get around 90 seats.

Is it just me or is there something very wrong with our electoral system?

7 thoughts on “it doesn’t add up”

  1. It doesn’t add up, but what seems to be being ignored in all outcry about the seemingly unfair system is the relationship between the individual mp/candidate and their constituency.
    Whatever system we have must keep this link. I know I for one have voted for the person and not their party because I thought they were the person to represent the area.

    Just thought I would through that into the mix.

  2. I think you’re right about people representing an area but I think the Scottish Parliament elections have got that about right. Areas with lists. That means that if your MSP of choice is say a Green you can also approach your Labour, Tory and Lib Dem MSPs from the list to support your cause. More chance of getting something done about it and after all… they are all supposed to represent you, no matter who you voted for.

  3. Got to remember the polls translated into seats is based on a uniform swing across all constituencies based on theoretical results from the last election (England and Wales have been totally redrawn). What we really need is Single Transferable Vote and then things might be a bit fairer in the “Ultra-safe” seats, but until that happens, I keep encouraging people to vote tactically, but even then, my vote is still going to be wasted!

  4. What really hacks me off in all this is the ‘disaffected voter’ who chooses not to vote. These sad and lazy people will end up with the government they deserve… Or am I really too cynical ?

  5. Niall: You’re right, but the uniform swing example shows just how mad the system is. STV would be great.

    David: I think that if you want to protest then you should spoil your vote. They get counted so we know the level of protest. Not bothering could be down to it really not making a difference if you live in an ultra safe seat like mine or that people really don’t understand politics because it has become so removed from them. I’m not sure if the leaders debates have helped with that or if they have totally disengaged people from their local candidates.

  6. We have a similar issue in our US presidential elections based on ‘winner takes all’ state by state approaches that create the spectre of a popular vote-count loser winning more “electoral votes” than his opponent. George W. Bush’s first victory as president came despite the majority favoring Al Gore.

    Our Senate and Congressional elections, by contrast, are entirely regional, so that the issue is completely different.

    I hope that the Liberal Democrats realize that what matters is not nearly so much how many ministries they hold as a coalition minority partner, but instead that electoral reform should be their main agenda out of this election.

  7. I guess that in constituencies like ours if we vote other than Labour is might appear to be a waste of time. Not making a difference. But that would still be a denial of the privilege of voting.

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