The perils of each percentage point.

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greenM&M.jpgOver the weekend the SNP kindly provided me with the final breakdown of the Holyrood poll they gave to Political Betting

Curiously, their release says Others: 14%, although the maths suggests 15%. A rounding issue, you say? 

Well, the full numbers show us and the other "others" adding up to 16%. Make of that what you will.

SNP: 36%
Labour: 28%
Tory: 16%
Liberal: 14%
Other: 7%

SNP: 30%
Labour: 26%
Tory: 17%
Liberal: 12%
Green: 7%
SSP: 4%
Solidarity: 1%
Other Other: 4%

Where we are, each percentage point means an awful lot - 6.7% in 2003 returned seven Green MSPs, but 4% last time took us down to 2 MSPs. Each additional percentage point on this poll would add one or sometimes two more Green MSPs. Run through Weber Shandwick's helpful but clunky predictor, the seats would look like this (usual "bit of fun" caveat applies):

SNP: 45 (-1)
Labour: 38 (-8)
Tory: 22 (+5)
Liberal: 15 (-1)
Green: 7 (+5)
SSP (!): 2 (+2)

Shades of 2003 in there, then: a bit more rainbow, both the main parties going down, plus the Tories breaking away into a clear third place.

There are plenty of other caveats, though. First, it looks a bit implausible. My instincts are normally wrong with these things, but I struggle to see the Nats going down in the current climate, while Labour's vote barely correlates with their competence and so remains more robust than you might expect. 

Up to 22 is a lot for the Tories, who would need to take Eastwood (sorry Ken) and additional list seats in Central, Highland and Islands, Lothians and Northeast. And 2 SSP MSPs again? I just don't see it in 2011. 

Next, the boundaries have changed, and the predictor works on the old ones. In some cases this works with those predictions. Eastwood is being chopped up, making Ken Macintosh's job all the harder and another Tory more likely, and the'yre also helped in the Northeast by the changes. Beyond that, it's too speculative for me. I'll let the inimitable MacNumpty, master of boundaries, have a go if he feels like it.

My second favourite game with these polls is Fantasy Coalitions. Assuming those numbers, here's how to get to 65. 

1. SNP/Labour. Don't think we're ready for the Grand Coalition.
2. SNP/Tory. A narrow 67, but the only plausible two-party majority. Even less likely assuming a Cameron government at Westminster.
3. SNP/Liberal/Green. Honestly, if we were going to do this I think we'd have done it in 07.
4. Labour/Tory/Liberal. The Younionisht Conshpirashy writ large!
5. Labour/Tory/Green. If the CDU/CSU, FDP, Green coalition in Germany had happened, it would have been the Jamaican coalition, and a total nightmare besides. This would be a Holyrood Gambian coalition, and equally unpalatable.

My money would be on a continued SNP minority government with those numbers, though, with the Tories perhaps in some kind of confidence and supply arrangement. 


nice one. I'm enjoying the coalition specualtion. I agree minority SNP Govt is more likely if they have the largest number of MSPs. I wonder if Labour would try it if they happen to win out in 2011?

As for the SNP seats going down, I can see it.

If the Green share of the 129 goes up to 7 then it is the SNP whol will suffer most as a result, even if they do keep their share of the regional vote.

The Nationalists need to convert their high FPTP national share into actual seats but there aren't too many constituencies that spring to mind as easy wins.

On the other hand, the party doesn't have the trick of 'Alex Salmond for First Minister' to fall back on this time so an SSP MSP here and a few Green MSPs there and the SNP are neck and neck with Labour again.

Fun stuff, I'm sure you'll agree.

Thanks Jeff, I don't think anyone else reads my blog anymore, so your comments are appreciated!

Actually, if you look at the change, it looks most likely that it's Liberal votes we're taking as usual. Yet still their seats remain relatively safe. I feel another post coming on...

Awwww James, come on, I'm still reading your blog! I found that Calculator a lot of fun- you're right how a couple of percentage points can make a difference! A couple of additional percentage points, with a favourable political spread and the Greens are in double figures...

I still read it man...

And I do love your parliamentary arithmetic/ coalition building. Typically tremendous analysis.

The Gambia has what's been ranked as the best flag in the world. See:

You know it makes sense.

That is the most deliciously random comment I've ever had here.

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This page was published on September 7, 2009 8:49 AM.

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