Earlier this week, the Cambridge News published the results of a survey about how (and whether) people are likely to vote in the election for Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Here’s a look at what they found.
First, though, it’s worth stressing that this survey probably won’t be as accurate as a properly conducted opinion poll. The News surveyed 986 randomly selected visitors to its website, so many of the respondents will be from Cambridge and the surrounding area, and fewer from Peterborough and the north of Cambridgeshire. Also, they probably don’t reflect the demographics of the whole electorate very accurately. Opinion polling companies apply geographic and demographic weighting to try to reflect the whole of the electorate they are covering, and those following British Polling Council rules publish full data tables so you can check their sums. Even then they don’t always get it right, of course. On the other hand, the News survey is still a lot better than self-selecting online “polls”, which tell you little more than which party’s activists have most time available to click on websites. These are known as voodoo polls and should be ignored completely.
On to what the survey found. Here’s the headline result, giving the overall level of support for each Mayoral candidate:
The News found that 30.6% of respondents said they wouldn’t be voting, though if turnout is really anywhere near 70% I will be very surprised. Amongst those voting, the three main parties are fairly close together, with Lib Dem Rod Cantrill enjoying a small lead. I can only apologise to Independent candidate Peter Dawe and English Democrat Stephen Goldspink for lumping them together under “Others”, but that is how the data was presented in the News article. Here are the numbers again, excluding those not voting:
The News also gave a breakdown of the figures across different districts, at least for the leading candidates. Here are the numbers for Cambridge City:
As usual Cambridge is a Labour/Lib Dem contest, with the other parties a long way back; the level of Conservative support is well below even their pitiful showing in the 2015 General Election.
The picture is better for the Conservatives in South Cambs, where James Palmer leads the field by a short head from Rod Cantrill, with Kevin Price still in contention.
The Conservatives have a more comfortable lead in East Cambs, with Labour a long way back – though the News admits that this is based on a small sample of respondents.
Finally, here are the issues that voters are most concerned about, according to the survey. The total is more than 100% because people could choose more than one issue.
The NHS is top of the list by some way, though it isn’t a specific responsibility of the new Mayor. Indeed of these issues, only transport is an area that the Mayor is primarily responsible for. Perhaps surprisingly, housing doesn’t feature on the list, even though it’s another key part of the Mayor’s remit. Perhaps it wasn’t listed as an option on the survey.
I haven’t seen any similar survey results for Peterborough or the north of Cambridgeshire, and it’s important to remember that voting patterns there will probably be quite different to those in Cambridge and the surrounding area – so this survey on its own isn’t a reliable guide to the likely outcome of the contest. However, it does give some indication that the Lib Dems are serious contenders with Labour for a place in the top two. Rod Cantrill will be reasonably pleased with that.