16 September 2015

A great use of visual analysis

I've always fancied myself to be a visual - even symbolic - thinker, and am always looking for ways to express ideas and trends in that manner, as words can often fail to express what is really going on. I recently came across some work that someone did to explain what happened in the 2010 UK general election as voters shifted allegiances among the three main parties.

For example, here are the shifts by constituency between the Conservative and Labour parties, using Butler swing analysis:


You can plainly see that Labour support was eroding almost everywhere in the country. The black constituencies are those held by the Speaker of the House (whose campaign is generally not contested by the other parties), and one where the vote was delayed due to unforeseen circumstances. The constituencies in Northern Ireland are not shown, as the politics there are quite different from those in Great Britain itself.

This analysis can be extended to assess the relative strengths of other parties, such as the shifts between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats:


Here you can see that the results are more mixed, and hence more interesting. But here is the comparison between Labour and the Liberal Democrats:


When you compare the first and third charts, you can see that Labour support was vanishing across a wide swath of England and Wales, with votes moving to the other two parties. This greatly explains the outcome of that election.

I've taken a look to see if anyone worked up a similar analysis for the 2011 Canadian general election, but nothing is available. Technically, it should not be that difficult to work out, as Elections Canada does provide lots of baseline data online. This could prove to be a useful exercise.

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