Article for YouGov by Peter Kellner – 2nd May 2013

Starting in the early hours of tomorrow morning, we shall be bombarded with analyses of the local election results. Are the gains and losses for each party above, below or on a par with expectations? Is Ed Miliband on course to become Prime Minister? Has UKIP overtaken the Liberal Democrats?

This blog will offer a few tentative projections, based on YouGov surveys since the weekend of more than 5,000 voters across Britain, including almost 2,000 in areas holding local elections; but first, some qualifications.

As far as the national picture is concerned, vote share matters more than seats gained and lost. (Seats are, of course, vital for the control of each council.) As usual two sets of national figures will be produced: by the BBC tomorrow, and by Plymouth University’s election experts, Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher, in the Sunday Times. These two sets of figures will frame most of the discussion about winners and losers.

The trouble is, constructing these national projections is no simple matter. We can’t just add up the votes cast, for the elections are skewed towards the relatively prosperous, Conservative-voting parts of England. No elections are being held in London or Scotland, and very few in Wales or England’s big provincial cities.

In our poll, Labour enjoys an 8% lead over the Conservatives across Britain as a whole; but in the areas holding local elections, the Tories lead by 7%. Any attempt to project the raw results to Great Britain as a whole must allow for this bias…click here to continue to the original article

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