Mapping voting patterns and demographics…
May 2, 2012
Tomorrow’s a voting day for many councils in the UK so I thought I would investigate voting patterns according to our demographic classification, P2 people and places.
I downloaded data from the Electoral Commission for the 2010 general election. After a tedious process of standardising the names of constituencies, I coded each constituency with counts of adults in P2 branches.
Using the excellent statistical package R, I used a linear model to find out which groups were strong supporters of which parties. I found this:
Groups that tend to support Conservatives:
Groups that tend to support Liberal Democrats:
Groups that tend to support Labour:
As expected, groups that supported the Conservative party tended to be the wealthier ones, the groups that supported the Liberal Democrats were in the middle range of wealth and those who had supported the Labour party tended to be poorer.
Using these demographic groups I drew three maps of North West England showing the local authorities with concentrations of all likely supporters for the respective political parties.
Largely speaking the results were as expected e.g. South Lakeland containing many aspiring groups have a Liberal Democrat slant and so currently they have a Liberal Democrat council.
Of course this may very well change when voting takes place tomorrow given the indications of the opinion polls. Two exceptions stand out: Liverpool and Bury.
Success for the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool at council level may be put down to the well-documented difficulties with the Labour council in the past.
In the case of Bury, the fact that there is currently a Labour council may be explained by a weakness in my analysis:
While there are significant numbers of demographic groups that lean towards the Conservatives, there are also significant numbers of demographic groups that tend to support the Labour party. The latter are very vociferous in their support and therefore intense political activism amongst Labour supporters may outweigh sheer numbers of demographic groups who have indicated a preference for a Conservative government. This is something I will aim to explore more closely in a future post.
Anyway… It will be interesting to see what happens in South Lakeland tomorrow.
Posted by Geoff Beacon, Chairman at Beacon Dodsworth.
Note: It can be frustrating to individually manipulate parliamentary constituency names from the ONS to get them to match the descriptors from the Electoral Commission. If you would like a table to match these data and do some of your own analysis then get in touch. We’d be happy to help!