Swing vote effects explored with swingometer

April 8, 2010


Maps  / 

With the 2010 UK elections coming up, the Guardian explores possible outcomes, given a certain amount of swing votes. Three views are provided: a grid map (above), your traditional geographic map, and a bar chart. You can select a region of interest, and it stays highlighted as you switch between the options.

The cool part is the swingometer, which lets you explore alternative outcomes if there were a swing towards any particular party (based on 2005 election results). Shift the black circle all the way to the red side, and the Labour party wins. Shift the circle closer to the blue section to give more votes to the Conservative party.

Thoughts? I’d be especially interested to hear from UK readers, given I have zero knowledge of UK elections.

[Thanks, @b_beesley]


  • London resident, active voter.
    It’s a good graphic, nice interactivity especially given choice of views and marginal seats.

    To answer your query about UK elections, I think it’s safe to say that the political map is vastly different to 2005 results. While the constituencies and representation obviously still stand from the voting in that year, the Conservatives are now leading in most polls. I’d say you can put the black circle somewhere on an imaginary 90 degree line, with the likely result to be either ‘hung parliament’ or ‘Conservative victory’. Will be a very interesting election.

    • Vince: What’s the 0° origin for your 90° prediction? Could you restate it in “o’clock’?

    • I’m not sure that the political map will be that significantly different to how it was at the last election. Personally I’m from yorkshire and I would have thought that most of yorkshire and lancashire were such labour strongholds that not a lot will change. Indeed this is shown by pulling the swingometer over to 3 o clock as suggested. I think that the belief that you live in a labour stronghold has a damping effect on the voting, in that you feel if you were to vote elsewhere it would be a wasted vote. I would think that a lot of people who would normally vote lib dem in yorkshire & lancashire will also vote labour just to keep out the conservatives. As you say, it’ll be an interesting election.

  • Hi all (also from Yorkshire), just to add I wrote a piece about this yesterday here http://www.visualisingdata.com/index.php/2010/04/the-return-of-the-swingometer/
    Andy Kirk

  • From the early days of television the Swingometer was a crude 2 party affair which simply infuriated anyone with even a basic understanding of electoral arithmetic. From the early 1980s, when a 3rd-force emerged which was capable of consistently touching 1/5th of the electorate and became dramatically successful at promoting tactical voting, the need for a new approach was urgent.

    The new ‘target’ swingometer is magnificent, particularly where differential regional and type of seat swings are allowed for (for example, turnout efforts in safe Labour seats will be minimal but huge in marginals whereas the Tory vote is often shown to come out no matter what).

    Well done