Polls had suggested a hung parliament with a large SNP presence and the potential for a Labour-SNP deal. But all that changed with the exit poll which put David Cameron’s Conservatives just seats away from a majority. Then as the results came it became clear that the Conservatives were going to get there and eventually they did.
But why? Many have suggested that there was a late swing towards the Conservatives due to fear of a Labour-SNP arrangement - one where the SNP would “call the tune”.
According to the Daily Record, new research by pollsters Survation indicates that this could have been an important factor that swung it for Cameron in the end.
Survation reinterviewed people it had questioned before the election to see if they had voted for who they had originally intended to vote for.
The data does not directly show that voters switched due to a Labour SNP deal, but the fact they switched implies this was likely the case, especially as emphasising such a deal was key to the Conservative campaign in its later stages.
- 87.5% of those intending to voted Conservative actually voted Conservative
- 84% of those intending to vote Labour actually voted Labour
- 74.6% for Lib Dems
- 82.5% for those intending to vote UKIP
Out of all the parties the Conservatives kept the highest percentage of those who were intending to vote for them.
Furthermore, of those who had intended to vote UKIP almost 8% ended up backing David Cameron, whilst just 2.6% switched to Labour.
In addition to this, 6.1% of those intending to vote Lib Dem voted Conservative ahead of the 4.7% who backed Labour.
According to this two things were crucial to a Conservative victory: the fact David Cameron’s party had the highest retention rate of voters and the fact that they took voters from the likes of UKIP and the Lib Dems in the final days.
As stated fear of a Labour-SNP deal was not exclusively polled but there is a strong case to make that this had a major role in switching the minds of these voters.
For instance, according to the Chief Executive of Survation, (speaking to the Daily Record):
“We know that people were concerned about the SNP. Liberal Democrat and UKIP voters were particularly strong in their view that an SNP-supported Labour government would be ‘illegitimate’.”
He did also say that other factors were important.
The study is a fascinating insight into the final days of the campaign, but raises a very important bigger point. Polling indicating a hung parliament may have strongly influenced the outcome of the election. In the end voters make up their own minds, but polling is there to measure opinion not influence an entire election.