Post 2015 election dissection

Blog/2015/June/Post 2015 election dissection

So it's a month later, the dust has settled from the general election and it's time to look at the event through the lens of corpus data.

The result - a slender Conservative outright majority - was not quite what was expected by the pundits and all the parties. The expected coalition failed to materialise as the Liberal Democrats faced public wrath for the perceived shortcomings of the coalition and the SNP drove all before them in Scotland. UKIP and the Greens meanwhile saw massive increases in their share of the vote deliver them only one seat each, putting the issue of electoral reform on the minds of everyone except the Conservatives.

Following the party leaders in the run-up it was Ed Miliband and David Cameron who made the running. (It is likely that Nicola Sturgeon would have been far more prominent in a Scottish only sample, this is UK-wide) No surprise there, despite being told that we are now in a multi-party system it seems old habits die hard. If you look at the two-week period before the poll you might be forgiven for expecting Ed Miliband to win, given that he remained in the lead for the majority of that period. However there is an interesting parallel with the 2010 election, in which Gordon Brown had most frequency in the same period only to be pipped at the last by a victorious David Cameron.

Looking at the corpus data though it is doubtful that before the event it would have called an outright victory. One might have expected that it could have gone either way. Who knows, had Nicola Sturgeon suffered an uncharacteristic gaffe or Nick Clegg pulled a rabbit from the hat for the Liberal Democrats it might have done. But before any Conservatives become too triumphant it is worth remembering that a majority of 12 MPs represents only 1.8% of the total. In other words from the point of view of someone casting the runes, a result well within the bounds of statistical error and a result that makes John Major's 22 seats in 1992 look like a decisive landslide.

One thing is certain though, with a slim majority and the backbenchers - John Major's famous "bastards" - at war with each other this parliament is going to be very interesting and entertaining for news-watchers.

Tags for this post: election,psephology