Now that the dust has begun to settle on what was in many ways a shocking election result, I thought the best place to start my series of post election round-up posts was with a reflection on my own final prediction. Let’s start with where my predictive wizardry proved most potent, before moving on to where it flopped. (Full results for the election available from the BBC.)
What Did I Get Right?
Impact of Minor Parties – In the constituency vote, I predicted that 99.5% would go to the SNP, Labour, Tories, Lib Dems and Greens. With 0.2% for independents, 0.2% for others, and 0.1% for the Christians amounting to 0.5% overall, I was spot on. Likewise, in the regional, I called a 98% share for the above parties plus UKIP and RISE. Solidarity managed 0.6%, Christians 0.5%, Women’s Equality 0.3%, Independents 0.2% and Others 0.4%, for a total of 2%.
Few SNP List Seats – I only predicted list seats for the SNP in two regions. I said Central rather than South, but nonetheless, it proved quite accurate to state that in the vast majority of regions across the country, the SNP were unlikely to pick up enough list votes to elect any MSPs.
No Seats for UKIP and RISE – As expected, neither of the newcomers (yes, yes, SSP aren’t, RISE are) had much of an impact on the result. For UKIP, their best result of 2.6% in Highlands & Islands fell far short of what Coburn needed to enter Holyrood. Meanwhile, 1% for RISE in Glasgow was pitiful.
Greens in Fourth – Didn’t quite get the numbers right, but the Greens did indeed overtake the Lib Dems to become the fourth largest party, with 6 seats in total.
Lib Dems Static – I expected the Lib Dems to win 5 seats, just as they had in 2011. Although I wasn’t quite right with their vote share, I did state that I wasn’t expecting them to have attracted many new voters. With 7.8% (down 0.1%) in the constituency and 5.2% (same as 2011) in the regional, they really didn’t go anywhere nationally this election.
Labour’s 24 Seats – Although the spread of seats was off, I correctly predicted their overall number. I also came pretty damn close on the regional vote share, my 19.25% barely exceeding the 19.1% they achieved.
Tories Take Eastwood – I was consistent throughout the campaign that the Tories were on track to take Eastwood, and this proved correct.
What Did I Get Wrong?
SNP Majority and Constituency Sweep – With 63 seats on the day compared to my prediction of 71, the SNP not only didn’t increase the majority, they actually lost it. As part of that over-estimation, I expected them to win a lot of constituencies they didn’t.
Labour in Second – I refused point blank to believe the Tories were going to come second. I conceded the possibility, but consistently rejected that it would happen on the day. It did.
Labour Constituency Wipeout – Clinging on to East Lothian and Dumbarton, plus gaining Edinburgh Southern, means Labour managed to save a little bit of face in what was otherwise a very poor election for them.
No Lib Dems in Lothian, No Mainland Constituencies – With a win in Edinburgh Western, the Lib Dems did indeed make a return to the Lothian region, and combined with a shock victory in North East Fife, they party has a constituency foothold on the mainland once more.
No Tory Constituencies Outside South and West – Ruth Davidson scored an impressive win in Edinburgh Central, and there was a surprise North East win in Aberdeenshire West that see the Tories expand their base of constituency MSPs for the first time since 2007.
Glasgow and Central Don’t Vote Tory – My regional weightings of party support suggested even on a good result, Glasgow and Central would likely return just one Tory MSP. In fact, Glasgow returned two and Central a whopping three.
Two Greens for Glasgow and Nine Nationally – Unfortunately, despite early confidence from sampling, the Greens did not manage two MSPs in Glasgow, and poor results for a number of excellent women candidates didn’t quite see the party with 9 seats overall. With 6.6% of the vote, they also came in a fair bit below the 7.5% I predicted.
Why Did I Get It So Wrong?
There are three prongs to this. First, the polling just wasn’t accurate enough. The SNP and Greens didn’t live up to theirs, whilst the Tories actually exceeded expectations. Although I used a little bit of gut-feel, at the end of the day, even my final prediction was fuelled largely by polling.
Then we have the unexpected constituency results. I’d heard whispers that the Lib Dems were confident of Edinburgh Western before polling day, but almost everything else was a surprise. I certainly didn’t expect them to win North East Fife, I expected Labour to lose East Lothian and Dumbarton, and the Tories certainly weren’t on my radar outside of South and West.
Finally, there’s the simple fact that my model did indeed prove to be a bit off. It’s always going to be tough to predict how national swings will look at a more local level, so I’m glad I tried something a bit different. I’ll take a more in-depth look at my calculator in another post, and see what happens when I plug the national results into it.