Target seats: how did Labour and the Conservatives perform?

In last week’s election, Labour gained 36 seats (while losing six), and the Conservatives gained 20 (while losing 33). But how did each party perform in its ‘target seats’?

What is a target seat?

Here we define target seats as those which had the smallest majority after the 2015 General Election.

They aren’t necessarily the easiest seats for each party to win – there is no obvious measure of this – or the seats into which the parties directed their resources. But they are the seats where the lowest number of voters needed to change their minds in order to win the seat.

How did Labour perform?

Labour won 13 of its top 20 target seats (on the above definition). The chart below shows the top 50 targets, of which Labour won 20.

Labour also won 16 seats outside its top 50 targets. The largest four majorities that Labour overcame were in Scotland, and all gains from the SNP. The largest was Coatbridge, Chryston & Belshill, which had a majority of 11,501 in 2015 but went to Labour on Thursday. In England, the largest overturned majorities were Canterbury in Kent (9,798), and Battersea (7,938) and Kensington (7,361) in London.

There were Labour targets with a Conservative majority of under 1,000 which, against the national trend, did not change. These were Morley & Outwood, Thurrock, Telford, and Bolton West.

 

How did the Conservatives perform?

The Conservatives won fewer of their top targets than Labour. They won three of their top 20 target seats, and eight of their top 50 (shown in the table below). There were nine seats with Labour majorities of less than 1,000 that were not gained by the Conservatives – including City of Chester, which had a majority of 93 in 2015.

The Conservatives had more success outside their top 50 targets, with a further 12 gains. This is largely due to their success in Scotland. The Conservatives overturned five SNP majorities of over 10,000 votes. They overturned one English majority of over 5,000, gaining Mansfield from Labour.

We will publish our General Election 2017: results and analysis briefing paper shortly – keep an eye out for updates with further analysis.

Picture credit: We don’t get the target by Kafeole –  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)