These ridiculous swings are becoming normal…

Another Thursday night, another fascinating set of local by-election results. The most eye-catching was at Brinsworth and Catcliffe (Rotherham) which the Lib Dems took from Labour on a 38.3 per cent swing. The ward isn’t entirely typical of the area, but there’s a limit to how much of an explanation is – and that limit is quite a bit less than 38.3 per cent.

In another (slightly messy) Rotherham ward, Labour recorded a big increase in vote share to gain it from UKIP, while the Conservatives held a safe ward in East Staffordshire.

Elsewhere in Staffs, but in a very different by-election, Leave.EU circulated what it described as a “poll” from Stoke Central showing UKIP leading the race to succeed Tristram Hunt. The problem is, we only got very sketchy information about it, and the journalists that called, tweeted and emailed didn’t (as far as I know) get a response. Therefore I wouldn’t put any weight on the numbers.

Certainly the methodology sounds highly non-standard, mentioning “social media analysis” as part of it (which is fascinating, but it’s not something that’s been rigorously tested because there haven’t been many elections during the social media era). Also, there’s the additional challenge of doing this for a single constituency. I’d be impressed if they genuinely got the 4,000 random sample they mentioned all in Stoke Central…

Today we’ll hopefully get a real poll – YouGov’s weekly release for the Times has been a bit erratic in its timing the last couple of weeks, so we’ll see if it’s back to its previous Friday slot.

But in any case, this is well worth a read – an interview with LSE’s Eric Kaufman on cultural values and right-wing populism, topics that can’t be studied enough right now…

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