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Labour landslide at UK election; Biden drops in US polls after debate

  • Written by Adrian Beaumont, Election Analyst (Psephologist) at The Conversation; and Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, The University of Melbourne

The 650 United Kingdom House of Commons seats are elected by first past the post (FPTP), in which the candidate with the most votes wins the seat.

At Thursday’s general election, Labour won a landslide[1]. After declarations from 645 of the 650 seats, Labour had won 411 seats (up 210 since the 2019 election), the Conservatives 119 (down 249), the Liberal Democrats 71 (up 63), the Scottish National Party (SNP) nine (down 38), independents six (up six), the far-right Reform four (up four), the Greens four (up three) and the Welsh nationalist Plaid Cymru four (up two).

Vote shares for national parties were 33.8% Labour (up 1.6), 23.7% Conservative (down 19.9), 14.3% Reform (up 12.3), 12.2% Lib Dem (up 0.6) and 6.8% Greens (up 4.1). The crash in the Conservative vote helped both Labour and the Lib Dems to gain seats, while Reform was inefficiently distributed. Labour had less vote share than the combined total for the Conservatives and Reform (38.0%).

In my election day preview for The Poll Bludger[2], I said that final polls gave Labour about an 18-point lead over the Conservatives, but Labour only won by ten. Despite this, Labour still won a seat landslide.

The Conservative seat number was well below the 165 they won at their previous nadir in 1997[3], while Labour’s seat total was just below the 418 they won then. This will be the lowest vote share for a party that formed a majority government, beating Labour’s 35.2% in 2005[4].

At the 2019 election, Labour had won just one of the 59 Scottish seats. With 54 of 57 Scottish seats declared[5], Labour has 37 (up 36), the SNP nine (down 38), the Lib Dems five (up three) and the Conservatives three (down one). Vote shares are 36% Labour (up 17), 30% SNP (down 15), 9% Lib Dem (steady) and 12% Conservative (down 12).

The Conservatives have governed in the UK since winning the 2010 election, and in 2019 Boris Johnson led them to a thumping victory. I wrote last week[6] that the Conservatives had led in the UK national polls under Johnson until late 2021, and did not crash into an uncompetitive position until after he was replaced in September 2022.

In a YouGov poll[7] a week before the election, PM Rishi Sunak was at net -57 approval and the Conservatives at -56. But there was little enthusiasm for Labour, with leader Keir Starmer at -20 net approval and Labour at -12. This probably explains the combined low vote share for the major parties. The turnout of 60% (down 7.6 since 2019) also implies unenthusiastic voters.

Biden drops in US post-debate polls

The United States election will be held on November 5. In last week’s article that was published the day before the debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, Biden had gained to be just 0.1 points behind Trump in the FiveThirtyEight national poll[8] aggregate.

Biden has now dropped 2.3 points behind Trump, trailing by 42.1–39.8 with 9.7% for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. This is the largest lead for either candidate since the aggregate began in March.

The well-regarded Siena poll for The New York Times gave Trump a five-point lead with likely voters if third party candidates are included, and six without, a swing to Trump of 2–3 points since the pre-debate Siena poll.

In the Siena poll[9], 74% said Biden was too old to be effective, up five points from the pre-debate poll, and 50% said his “age is such a problem that he is not capable of handling the job of president”. Biden will be almost 82 by the election, while Trump is now 78.

I said last week that the national popular vote doesn’t determine the president. Instead, each state has Electoral Votes (EVs) that go to the state’s winner, and it takes 270 EVs to win. There have not been many state polls since the debate, but it’s likely they will follow the national trend.

To win the presidency, Biden probably needs to win the national vote by two points as there is skew to Trump in the EVs. So he’s now effectively four points behind.

There are still four months to go before the election. While Biden could recover, it’s much more likely that he has further bad moments that remind voters of his age. There has been recent speculation that Biden could withdraw[10] from the contest. Democrats would then need to select a replacement at their August 19–22 convention[11].

Candidate withdrawals in French election may block far-right from majority

The 577 French lower house seats are elected by a two-round single-member system. The first round was held last Sunday, and I covered the results for The Poll Bludger[12]. The far-right National Rally (RN) and allies won 33.2%, the left-wing alliance of four parties (NFP) 28.1% and President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Ensemble 21.3%.

Candidates advance to the runoffs this Sunday if they win at least 12.5% of registered voters or finish top two. High turnout meant many third candidates qualified. But a large number of candidates have withdrawn to avoid splitting the anti-RN vote, as the runoffs use FPTP. Polls taken since registration[13] for the runoffs closed Tuesday have RN well short of the 289 seats needed for a majority.

References

  1. ^ Labour won a landslide (www.bbc.com)
  2. ^ The Poll Bludger (www.pollbludger.net)
  3. ^ previous nadir in 1997 (en.wikipedia.org)
  4. ^ 2005 (en.wikipedia.org)
  5. ^ Scottish seats declared (www.bbc.com)
  6. ^ wrote last week (theconversation.com)
  7. ^ YouGov poll (yougov.co.uk)
  8. ^ FiveThirtyEight national poll (projects.fivethirtyeight.com)
  9. ^ Siena poll (www.nytimes.com)
  10. ^ speculation that Biden could withdraw (abcnews.go.com)
  11. ^ August 19–22 convention (www.thegreenpapers.com)
  12. ^ The Poll Bludger (www.pollbludger.net)
  13. ^ Polls taken since registration (en.wikipedia.org)

Read more https://theconversation.com/labour-landslide-at-uk-election-biden-drops-in-us-polls-after-debate-234067

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