Feeds

Election algorithm gives Tories sunnier outlook

Still short of a majority though

High performance access to file storage

As the election campaign hots up, could a model built to demonstrate the benefits of the Python programming language hold the key to a successful election forecast?

The Tories almost certainly hope so, as one feature of VIPA - Voting Intentions Predictive Analysis – is that it consistently predicts a better outcome for that party than other electoral predictors available online. Unfortunately for them, even the more optimistic forecasts set out by this model suggest they will end up just 5,000 votes short of forming an administration on May 7.

VIPA is built using the Resolver One spreadsheet-style desktop application.

Analysts can use this software as a simple means to generate Python code, a powerful and open-source alternative to Visual Basic, which is instantly executed to display results – or they can add to this generated code by inserting their own Python instructions at different points in the program.

VIPA is the brainchild of Resolver Systems director Robert Smithson and Giles Thomas. Smithson’s choice of politics as the focus for Resolver’s demo system is that much less surprising when one realises he is also the son of Mike Smithson, creator of the PoliticalBetting site for those interested in insightful political analysis and gambling on possible political outcomes.

The main difference between the VIPA model and other election predictor schemes is that its forecast rejects the concept of a Unified National Swing (UNS), which is used by most predictors in one form or another, and assumes the same swing in votes from party to party in every constituency.

Instead, VIPA factors in not just the swing to or from a particular party, it also uses data drawn from recent Guardian / ICM polls (pdf) to determine the precise shift likely between each party. Since the composition of votes at the last election varied by constituency, this leads to some very different predictions when contrasted with the UNS approach.

Most significantly, VIPA has tended to produce slightly better forecasts for the Tories. Thus, as recent polls have shown the Tory lead narrowing, two of the main online forecasters have shown the Tories remaining stuck in second place when it comes to seats.

A recent ICM poll predicts the Conservatives will receive 36.5 per cent of the national vote, Labour to get 31.9 per cent and Lib Dems to receive just 20.6 per cent.

According to UK Polling Report, this is disastrous for the Tories, putting them on 273 seats, leaving Labour on 291, and giving the Lib Dems 54 seats.

The result from Electoral Calculus is little better putting the Tories at 273, Labour 287, and Lib Dems on 57.

With the same figures, VIPA gives the Tories 310 seats. Labour 270 seats and Liberal Democrats 41.

The end result leaves the Tories just 16 constituencies short of an overall majority – or scrabbling around for a further 5,357 votes in the most marginal constituencies, including Morecombe, Warrington South and Leeds North-West.

Is this bad news for David Cameron? Possibly not. We spoke to Robert Smithson, who expressed rather more confidence in his predictive algorithm than in the accuracy of current polls. He believes that Labour support is overstated, and believes the true gap between Labour and Tories is of the order of 10 points.

Ever a betting man, Smithson added: "If someone would give me decent odds, I’d be prepared to venture a wager on Lib Dems out-polling Labour." ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed
Windows 7 making some gains on XP Death Day
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.