Politics, polling and psephology

Polling and analysis of voting behaviour

Sally Gainsbury

There has been speculation recently that the government is planning to divert millions of pounds in NHS funds from deprived urban areas in the north, to leafy, Conservative voting constituencies in the south.

This stems from health secretary Andrew Lansley’s recent comment that “age is the principal determinant of health need” and that distribution of the £100bn budget for the NHS in England should “get progressively to a greater focus on what are the actual determinants of health need.”

Somewhere along the line, those comments were interpreted by a generally cheesed-off medical profession that Mr Lansley intends to introduce an “age-only” NHS allocation formula, switching substantial NHS funds from, generally younger, Labour-voting constituencies in north to the octogenarians who thrive in the Conservative-voting villages of the south.

It’s a good story, which might even contain elements of the truth, but the reality, as ever, is a little more complicated.

At present, five separate allocation formulae are used to divvy up different bits of the £100bn NHS pot to different areas of England. The largest share – the hospital care budget – is divided up using one formula, while four others – mental health, GP prescribing, health inequalities (more on that in a later post) and maternity – are each allocated using their own separate formula. (Think for a second about the demographics driving the demand for maternity services as opposed to, say, hip replacements, and you will grasp why this makes sense.)

Health economists and statisticians frequently tweak and argue over these formula in order to move, hopefully, ever closer to the Holy Grail: a distribution of health resources which is fairly distributed on the basis of health need. Read more

Martin Stabe

With more than a year’s worth of of data from our exclusive business sentiment poll, the FT/Economist Global Business Barometer, now available, some interesting longitudinal patterns are becoming apparent for the first time.

Most notable among them is the steady erosion over the past year in executives’ perceptions of the “business friendliness” three of the world’s biggest developing economies, India, China and Brazil.

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Martin Stabe

What we’re reading today in the world of statistics, open data and data journalism:

We like a good political choropleth around here, and Sunday’s European election extravaganza did not disappoint in the psephological cartography department.

A good map of the Greek results can be found at igraphics.gr, Le Monde has the obligatory map of the French presidential election par département, and Michael Neutze’s site Wahlatlas covered the results in the German state of Schleswig-HolsteinRead more

Keith Fray

Amid talk of how governments should measure ‘happiness’, we should perhaps note that ‘misery’ – at least economic misery – may have recently peaked.

This week’s releases of inflation data in the UK and US, and labour market numbers for the UK should see the ‘misery index’ continue to fall in both countries.

This index – simply the unemployment rate plus the annual rate of inflation – has seen a modest revival of interest among economists in recent years. Read more

The 2012 US presidential election is the first time that candidates have benefited from super-Pacs, which bring in millions of dollars that can be used to support someone’s campaign through advertising. The Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010 loosened the restrictions on who can give how much to political action committees, giving rise to what has become known as “super-Pacs”. Direct donations to the candidates’ campaigns can only be up to $2,500. Donations to super-Pacs are often 10 or 100 times more than that.

The proposals for reducing the number of Scottish MPs in Westminster by seven seats, put out to consultation today by the Scottish Boundary Commission, does the Government no favours.

The FT’s initial analysis of the Boundary Commission for Scotland proposal (which can also be seen on our interactive map) suggests both Coalition parties are likely to lose out, with the only Scottish Tory and three of the 11 current Scottish Liberal Democrat MPs likely to lose their seats as a result of the boundary changes.

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