Craigentinny/Duddingston (Edinburgh) By-Election Result

Background

November’s Scottish by-election bonanza continued this week with Edinburgh’s Craigentinny/Duddingston ward. The SNP councillor elected for the ward in 2017 resigned due to ill-health, prompting this vote in what was the SNP’s second strongest ward in the city by percentage terms at that election.

With recent polling tending to have the SNP up and Labour down, I thought this was likely to go the SNP’s way despite a relatively close contest in the 2017 re-calculation.

First Preferences

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That was the right call, though I was somewhat surprised at the overall shape of results. First preferences in full:

SNP - 2920 (39.0%, +1.8)
Conservative - 1420 (18.9%, -4.8)
Labour - 1205 (16.1%, -7.2)
Green - 1185 (15.8%, +4.1)
Liberal Democrat - 631 (8.4%, +4.2)
Independent - 93 (1.2%, +1.2)
Libertarian - 42 (0.6%, +0.6)

Though the SNP did increase their vote share and hold a clear lead, I had expected it to be something more along the lines of +5% or more, given the 10.5% and 6.7% increases in the other two by-elections recently. Instead, the big gains went to the Lib Dems who doubled their vote share, and the Greens who were up by almost as much as a % and closed to within 20 votes of a heavily depleted Labour.

Labour’s huge decrease in support meant that what had been nipping at the Conservatives’  heels for second in 2017 became a more distant third. The Conservatives had a big dip themselves, but it wasn’t quite as harsh. These positions didn’t hold all count, however.

Transfers

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Looking now at the transfers, and taking us up to the final stage 6 (changes vs final head-to-head stage in 2017):

SNP - 3818 (50.9%, +8.3)
Labour - 2085 (27.8%, -9.7)
Non-Transfer - 1593 (21.3%, +1.4)

At stage 5, Labour pulled narrowly (0.8%) ahead of the Conservatives, ensuring this remained an SNP vs Labour contest. This was where the SNP registered real change versus 2017, managing to cross the 50% quota without needing to eliminate Labour. What had been 5% between them in 2017 at this point became 23.1%.

The by-elections keep coming next week, with three wards going to the polls. We’ll be watching a close Con vs SNP race in Clackmannanshire East, plus two North Lanarkshire by-elections. The Thorniewood ward is a Lab vs SNP tossup, whilst I expect Fortissat to favour Labour. I’ve taken the day as a holiday from work just so I can cover them all! 

In-Depth Data

As this was a machine count, there was a whole bunch of juicy additional data available. I’ve been quite bad at coming back and adding these recently because the data isn’t always released particularly quickly. I’m going to try and get in the habit of doing results posts on Monday or Tuesday nights to give time for data release, rather than the Friday rush I’d settled into.

Anyway, the first of our fun bits of extra data is looking at where each party’s second preferences go. Remember we can’t learn this just from transfers, because as soon as you eliminate someone, they can’t get any second preferences they are down for when anyone else drops out later.

Some of the stuff here is quite normal – for example, the fact that Green and Lib Dem voters are more likely to use later preferences than SNP, Labour and especially Conservative voters. Every time I’ve done one of these charts, that has been an evident trend. A strong SNP-Green mutual transfer is also very common, as is a more unidirectional Conservative to Lib Dem transfer.

The relatively even splits of Labour and Lib Dem transfers are quite interesting – there’s a solid mutual transfer component between those parties, and they are both also quite positive on the Greens. However, Labour were more likely to favour the SNP over the Conservatives, whilst the opposite was true for the Lib Dems.

Then we can look at how support was distributed throughout the ward. Note that the map of polling districts is just the 2017 map again, because there were no changes to what party led which districts.

Though the headline figures are different, the pattern of support is broadly similar. The SNP have their strongest support in Restalrig and Lochend, as do Labour, whilst the Conservatives are strong enough in Craigentinny that they had the lead there. Green support further solidified in the Meadowbank area as well as part of Duddingston.

The Lib Dem figures are somewhat interesting in that the EE14M district covering the north of Restalrig was their second worst in 2017 yet has ended up one of their strongest this time. And despite postal votes accounting for around a third of the total in the ward overall, they were nearly half of the Lib Dem vote.

The by-elections keep coming next week, with three wards going to the polls. We’ll be watching a close Con vs SNP race in Clackmannanshire East, plus two North Lanarkshire by-elections. The Thorniewood ward is a Lab vs SNP tossup, whilst I expect Fortissat to favour Labour. I’ve taken the day as a holiday from work just so I can cover them all! 

If you find this or other Ballot Box Scotland output useful and/or interesting, and you can afford to do so, please consider donating to support my work. I love doing this, but it’s a one-man project and takes a lot of time and effort. All donations, no matter how small, are greatly appreciated and extremely helpful.
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1 Comment

  1. It is interesting to look at the Preference Summary; not for who was second preference, but who was LAST. 678 people filled out the whole ballot paper, and of these, 318 put the Tories last. Next was the SNP with 143 who expressed extreme distaste for them.

    Perhaps it might be illuminating to compare the main parties with (1st + 2nd prefs) – (7th +6th). This would be a measure of how liikely voters are to vote for a different candidate in a TOTM (top of the midden) election, if it is perceived to be close.

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