Union Elections 2017: Post-Election Analysis

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That’s it, the Union Elections are finally over! The fluttering posters, references to hotdogs and communism, and bombardments of Facebook page invites can stop. We have a new sabbatical team for 2017-18. Though how expected were the results, and how accurate were the forecasts? Wessex Scene investigates. 

This year saw a turnout increase of 8.2% from last year’s spring elections. The greatest proportion of voters were freshers, contributing to 32% of the vote. The polls were tight and some positions achieved predictable results, while others took us completely by surprise. Let’s look at the Exit Polls, and see how they compare to the actual results to try to establish how the candidates won.

 

Union President

Our exit poll predicted that Henry Lane would win the Presidency by 29% of the vote, followed closely by Flora Noble with 25% and Alex Hovden with 22%. I think we must first admit that the exit poll may have produced some anomalous data with Henry Lane, as our beloved comrade did not win the Presidency but instead came second to last, above re-open nominations (RON).

Discounting the anomaly,  we can see that actually, when we compare the percentages of the results for candidates at the point of elimination, that the race between Alex and Flora was actually substantially closer. Alex was leading in the first three rounds of elimination, and it was not until the final round, when people’s second and third preference votes made more of an impact, that Flora finally managed to secure the Presidency. This leads us to infer that Flora received a substantial number of votes as a second choice candidate alongside those placing her first choice, something which proved essential in securing her Presidency. Alex held a strong base backing, but where Flora was able to succeed him was where the electorate felt her ideas were good enough to rank her in second or third place on their ballot sheets.

 

VP Democracy and Creative Industries

Our exit poll suggested that this was very much a one-horse race. Greg Williams was leading on 63% compared to his next closest rival, Evelyn Reilly with 23%. exit polls can often be the subject to inaccuracy as everyone who lived through 2016 will tell their children and grandchildren. Predicting results in an alternative voting system using a First-Past-The-Post exit poll method can lack validity and, as such, these polls should be read critically.

The actual result which we found was substantially different and uncomfortably close. Greg’s lead was more marginal than we predicted in the first round with a 3% lead. A lead which transformed by the third and final round to a loss by 0.28%; that equates to just 11 votes. Evelyn Reilly had managed to secure the VP DCI position by an incredibly narrow margin which indicates the same themes as those seen in the Union President contest, but to a much greater extent. Evelyn’s victory was secured by holding a strong basis and particularly being a second choice for a number of voters on the ballot sheet. The fact that the margin was as close as this epitomises how harsh and cut-throat elections can be.

 

VP Engagement

Moving on from areas where our exit polls had produced misleading results, let’s turn to one where the Wessex Scene exit polls were very accurate. Our exit poll predicted a margin between Dan Varley and Thomas Gravatt of 4%. The actual results reflected this gap, with the final round showing a gap of 4.28%. In this, there is little analysis that can be done that goes beyond our poll.

 

VP Sports Development

VP Sports Development was another incredibly contentious position. With debates surrounding views on ‘Lad culture’ and Women’s hour in the Gym, this quickly became one of the most interesting points of this year’s election. Our exit polls predicted that Stephen Gore would win with a 59% majority compared to Ben Parker’s 33%. The polls were able to predict the result but over-estimated the extent of the margin, much like Union President. The final round saw a margin of just 1.18% between Stephen and Ben. Again, it seems that this was closer than originally thought and perhaps reflects a disparity between the participants in Wessex Scene‘s exit polls and the rest of the electorate.

 

VP Welfare

For VP Welfare our exit polls again predicted this to be a one-horse race, with Sam Higman gliding into the Vice-Presidency with 54% of the votes compared to Leyla Elsey’s 31%. While Sam did eventually secure the position, it was by a far more narrow margin than this suggests. Our polls were accurate in suggesting that Liam St Dennis would be eliminated first in the count.

The margin between Sam and Leyla in the final round however was substantially closer. The difference between the two was 1.78% of the vote, which again suggests that this was more of a two-horse race than our exit polls had us believe. This is not quite the volte-face that VP DCI turned out to be, but still suggests that polls cannot be treated at face value.

 

VP Education

This result was incredibly unsurprising. Our exit poll suggested that Samuel Dedman would win by 89% of the vote to RON, and the results reflected this. A higher proportion was given to RON in this result, suggesting a slight discrepancy but not one that really impacted the results.

 

VP Student Communities

Again, the story here is similar to education above and there is little to really expand upon. When you have strong candidates who run for uncontested roles, they are almost certainly going to win.

 

Conclusions

There are some clear conclusions which can be drawn from this. Firstly, the Alternative Voting system that our Students’ Union deploys allows for a wide range of student views and perceptions to be captured, resulting in narrower results that can have margins which are astonishingly close. This is symptomatic of countries such as Australia, where Alternative Voting is used for national elections. Secondly, the exit polls, while indicative, cannot always give an accurate answer as to the results and must be read critically by everyone, especially when only a small proportion of the electorate participate in these polls.

More articles in Union Elections 2017
  1. Candidate Interview: Samuel Dedman, VP Education
  2. Candidate Interview: Simon Pinney, Union President
  3. Candidate Interview: Thomas Gravatt, VP Engagement
  4. Candidate Interviews: Greg Williams, VP Democracy and Creative Industries
  5. Candidate Interview: Dan Varley, VP Engagement
  6. Candidate Interview: Sam Higman, VP Welfare
  7. Candidate Interview: Kirby Moore, Union President
  8. Candidate Interview: Ben Parker, VP Sports Development
  9. Candidate Interviews: Flora Noble, Union President
  10. Candidate Interviews: Stephen Gore, VP Sports Development
  11. Candidates Interviews: Alex Hovden, Union President
  12. Candidate Interview: Amelia Ng, VP Democracy and Creative Industries
  13. Candidate Interview: Arun Aggarwal, VP Student Communities
  14. Candidate Interview: Leyla Elsey, VP Welfare
  15. Candidate Interview: Henry Lane, Union President
  16. Candidate Interview: Evie Reilly, VP Democracy and Creative Industries
  17. Candidate Interview: Liam St Dennis, VP Welfare
  18. Union Election: Rumoured Candidates
  19. Union Elections 2017: Who’s Running?
  20. Union Elections: Candidate Interviews with Wessex Scene Published
  21. Voting for Union Elections is Now Open
  22. Voting For Union Elections Closes Today
  23. Union Elections: Meet the Candidates 1 – Liveblog
  24. Union Elections: Meet The Candidates 2 – Liveblog
  25. Union Elections 2017: Post-Election Analysis
  26. Union Elections 2017: Exit Poll Results
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