As well choosing their representatives on Cambridge City Council, Cambridge voters were also helping to elect a Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough on May 5th. Here’s a look at how the PCC vote went in Cambridge and across the county.
There were four candidates in Cambridgeshire this time. Conservative Jason Ablewhite started as the favourite, but faced a strong challenge from Labour’s Dave Baigent. Lib Dem Rupert Moss-Eccardt was the only candidate from the previous PCC election to restand, and former County Council leader Nick Clarke flew the flag for UKIP. Unlike the local elections, the PCC elections use the Supplementary Vote system. This means that voters can cast a second-choice vote, which is counted if their first-choice candidate doesn’t make it into the top two.
Here in Cambridge only the total vote for the whole city was announced at the count, but the City Council’s Electoral Services department have kindly sent me a ward-by-ward breakdown of the vote – you can find it here, with the second round numbers here. Here’s what the first-round votes in each ward look like as a graph:
I’ve listed the wards in descending order of the Labour vote share, which as you can see was pretty substantial throughout the city. In fact Labour “won” every ward in Cambridge in the PCC vote with the exception of Trumpington, where they were narrowly beaten by the Lib Dems. It’s notable that Dave Baigent did particularly well in his home ward of Romsey – despite being one of the more closely contested wards in the council elections, his Romsey vote share was higher than in several safer Labour wards. Lib Dem Rupert Moss-Eccardt mostly recorded second places, with stronger performances in the wards where the Lib Dems were campaigning more heavily in the local elections. The Conservatives finished second only in Coleridge and Cherry Hinton, otherwise coming home third, and UKIP’s Nick Clarke managed the dubious distinction of finishing fourth in every ward of the city. UKIP’s strongest – or rather, least weak – performance was in King’s Hedges.
Of course it wasn’t just Cambridge voters taking part in the PCC election. The candidates had been whizzing around the county campaigning in all six districts, and the electoral pattern was pretty varied. Here are the total votes cast in each district in the first round of voting:
Note that this graph shows the actual numbers of votes in each district, not percentages – in East Cambs and Fenland there were no local elections on the same day, and the turnout was substantially lower. Although Labour’s Dave Baigent recorded a substantial lead in Cambridge, Conservative candidate Jason Ablewhite topped the list in every other district, with results ranging from neck-and-neck in Peterborough to more than two-to-one in Huntingdonshire. Lib Dem Rupert Moss-Eccardt did reasonably well in South Cambs, but clearly didn’t appeal as much to Fenland voters, while UKIP’s Nick Clark scored highest in Peterborough and Huntingdonshire. Amongst other things, this graph demonstrates vividly just how different the level of Conservative support is in Cambridge compared with the rest of the county – in Cambridge, Labour got more than three times the Conservative vote, whereas the Conservatives finished first in every other district.
When all the first round votes were added up, the overall picture for Cambridgeshire was this:
This gave Jason Ablewhite a lead of 9,188 votes at this stage, with 36.2% of the vote against 31% for Dave Baigent. Since no candidate had 50% of the vote (always a wildly unlikely prospect), at this point the second-choice vote came into play. The bottom two candidates dropped out, and their second-choice votes were transferred to the two remaining candidates. Here’s how that played out in Cambridge:
These are the second-choice votes of Cambridge voters who cast their first choice vote for the Lib Dem or UKIP candidates – about 80% of them being Lib Dem supporters. There were thus more votes to transfer in the wards with more Lib Dem support, and as you can see, they went predominantly to Labour.
Once again, the picture in Cambridge was quite different from Cambridgeshire as a whole. Here’s how the second-choice vote went across the county:
While Dave Baigent gained a 2,665-vote advantage from the Cambridge second-choice votes, East Cambs was nearly neck-and-neck, and all the other districts favoured Jason Ablewhite. In total, the second round was very nearly a dead heat, with Dave winning just 87 more votes than Jason. So when the votes from the two rounds were added together, this was the final result:
Here the lighter colours show the second-choice votes. Jason Ablewhite was elected for the Conservatives with a majority of 9,101 votes. In percentage terms, he won 53% of the final-round vote versus 47% for Dave Baigent. While this is a pretty close result, it’s not that far from the 2012 outcome, a Conservative victory by 55.7% to 44.3%, meaning Dave added 2.7% to Labour’s previous vote share.
The next Police and Crime Commissioner elections are due in May 2020, and it’s very likely that they’ll have a much higher turnout than this year’s 30.6% – because a General Election is due to be held on the same day. I suspect this factor will favour the Conservative candidate, but if a week is a long time in politics, four years is an aeon.