Ready for the next election, 2023/2024

FAQ

Frequently asked questions

How are the results calculated?
Why are the results different to another tactical voting site I saw?
But what about polls?
What about historical general election results?
What about Leave/Remain votes in the EU referendum?
What about the surge of local support for such-and-such candidate?
What about a formula with all of the above?
I don't want to vote for the party you've recommended
The Tories don't stand in my constituency
I think you've got it wrong!
Who runs this site? Who funds it?
Can I help?

How are the results calculated?

The basic method is as follows:

  1. Look at the result of the most recent general election in the constituency.
  2. In Tory-held seats, recommend a vote for the second-place party – for example, Hastings and Rye or Cheltenham.
  3. In seats where the Tories are in second place, recommend a vote for the party that currently holds the seat – for example, Central Ayrshire.
  4. In seats the Tories are unlikely to win (ie. where there is no right wing party in first or second place), we point out that there is probably no need for tactical voting here – for example, Bermondsey and Old Southwark.
  5. There is a special case for 'at-risk seats' where the Tories are in a credible third place, and a divided vote could let them 'come through the middle'. In these seats, we recommend voting for the incumbent.

We may make specific, manual adjustments for other unusual seats, such as seats where there are independent candidates or electoral pacts. We have also previously switched to 'Not Sure' in some cases where other tactical voting sites were clashing with our advice, to try to increase the overall level of consensus. These reasons will always be stated clearly on each page.

Have a look through the constituency A-Z to see the results in different kinds of constituencies.

Why are the results different to another tactical voting list I saw?

There are many different ways that you could potentially work out the 'best' tactical vote in each constituency, and many different factors to take into account. Each list and site circulating uses a slightly different method, but we believe ours meets these key criteria:

What's important here is that we didn't decide these results seat by seat – the same method is applied across the board. We apply any changes to the method to all constituencies, not one rule for some and a different rule for others.

But what about polls?

We do not base our recommendations on polling. We understand why people send us polls, especially particularly striking ones – but a striking poll is even more likely to be an outlier. Polls fluctuate all the time and especially during an election period.

Some people claim that you can now use 'super-accurate' MRP polling to predict voting and so make the right tactical voting calls – but this led to chaos in 2019, as every time the polls moved, tactical voting sites based on polling changed dozens of recommendations from one party to another, and then sometimes back again!

Stability over time is important in tactical voting recommendations, to be able to campaign and spread the word, but polls are inherently unstable. It is no good recommending one candidate in a seat for weeks and then switching it just before election day – the huge confusion caused only makes tactical voting more difficult.

What about historical general election results?

The common theme in messages of this sort is that they want us to look at 2010 and make a Lib Dem recommendation – but 2010 was a high water mark for the Lib Dems that they have not come close to since. The Lib Dems picked up 23% of the vote in 2010 – the biggest vote the party had gained in any general election since its formation (as the successor to the SDP-Liberal Alliance) in 1988. A high vote in 2010 does not make an area a 'historical heartland'.

Apart from that: come off it. 2010 was a very long time ago now.

What about Leave/Remain votes in the EU referendum?

The referendum was held before the last general election, so the Remain-Leave affiliations are already well represented in that data.

What about the surge of local support for such-and-such candidate?

We're not going to change recommendations based on anecdotes from campaigners about how well a particular candidate is doing or not doing – we believe our recommendations need to be based on hard data about actual votes, not speculation. While we understand that people want to offer their local experience, accepting it would open us up to lobbying from local party campaigners as well as arbitrary decision-making.

Many emails we receive in this vein are even signed as being from local campaigners for particular parties. We will never take this 'data' into account.

What about a formula with all of the above?

It's tempting to imagine that some kind of 'super-formula' with as many data points as possible would give more accurate recommendations – but there is no evidence for this. Including – for example – the previous five general elections would most likely make your results less accurate, not more accurate. Worse, the weighting and adjustment factors in such a model would make it difficult to replicate and therefore easy to manipulate to give a particular set of results, especially in any attempts to incorporate 'local factors' (ie. anecdotal evidence). Our simple method, in contrast, can be reproduced by anyone who wants to double check it.

The 2019 general election result – held along the same constituency boundaries with largely the same electorates – is by far the best base for comparison. We made the same argument in the 2017 general election (in relation to 2015 results) and it turned out that our recommendations were the most accurate. Some other sites used methods were more complicated and so appeared more 'sophisticated', but ended up skewing their results and introducing errors.

I don't want to vote for the party you've recommended

The point of this website isn't to list who we'd like to win in each constituency, but who we believe is most likely to defeat the Tories – the best tactical vote. It will be no use to anyone if we advise tactical votes for candidates who are a long way behind on the basis of wishful thinking from supporters of one party or another – we have to stick to what the data tells us. Of course, if it needs to be said, your vote is still entirely your decision.

The Tories don't stand in my constituency

We're only aware of this being the case in Northern Ireland seats. In that case, we have considered which parties would and would not support a Tory government in a confidence vote. This boils down to tactical voting against the DUP, which propped up the Tory government through a confidence-and-supply arrangement.

I think you've got it wrong!

Let us know on feedback@tactical.vote if you see a result that you think is wrong. If you make an argument that's covered in the FAQ above then we won't change the result, but in the past people have spotted errors caused either by software bugs or recent changes in the situation in the seat, so do tell us if something doesn't look right.

Who runs this site? Who funds it?

This is a project from @votetools, a collective of coders and volunteers formed during the 2017 general election. We are funded by donations to our crowdfunder, which we plan to relaunch between now and the election.

Can I help?

If you can afford to donate even a small amount once the crowdfunder relaunches it would be very helpful. Donations will be spent on improving the site and promoting tactical voting as widely as possible.

You could also volunteer your time. Whether your skills are in coding/tech, design/illustration or media/social media, we'd love to hear from you - email feedback@tactical.vote