The Outcome

  • David Butler
  • Michael Pinto-Duschinsky


Polling day was fine everywhere and voting passed off without any serious incident. The ORC forecast of a 1% Conservative lead which appeared in the evening papers did not seriously disturb the betting odds and when the polling stations closed at 10 p.m. a Labour victory was expected by virtually everyone on the government side and by most leading Conservatives.1 At 10.30 p.m. it became known that a survey of voters emerging from the booths in the arch-typical constituency of Gravesend2 indicated a 4.4% swing to the Conservatives and at 11 p.m. the first result at Guildford showed a 6% swing; the next few results all showed a similar movement and when the two Wolverhampton constituencies each showed a 9% swing, it was plain, although no seats had yet changed hands, that the Conservatives would win the election.3


Opinion Poll Party Leader Vote Intention Late Swing Real Disposable Income 
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  1. 1.
    See Nicholas Deakin and Jenny Bourne, ‘Powell, the Minorities and the 1970 Election’, Political Quarterly, Oct.-Dec. 1970, pp. 399–415.Google Scholar
  2. 1.
    Joe McGinniss, The Selling of The President (Andreutsch, 1970).Google Scholar
  3. 1.
    See C. A. E. Goodhart and R. J. Bhansali, ‘Political Economy’, (Political Studies, March 1970).Google Scholar
  4. A note of caution is necessary. The earlier finding that movements in the polls corresponded most closely to changes in unemployment was contradicted in the late 1960s. The Labour recovery took place amid high unemployment. However, other economic indicators, possibly more relevant to the conditions of the late 1960s (such as real disposable income), continue to reveal a close correlation. See S. Brittan, Steering the Economy (Penguin, 1971), p. 409 and also his article ‘The Political Parties, the Classes and the Economy’, Financial Times, May 14, 1970.Google Scholar
  5. 1.
    More generally see P. M. Williams, ‘Two Notes on the British Electoral System’, Parliamentary Affairs, Winter 1966–67, pp. 13–30.Google Scholar
  6. 2.
    This evidence is supported by Deakin and Bourne who identify rather fewer Powellite Conservative candidates on an impressionistic basis and also find no difference in the performance of these candidates compared to the national swing. See N. Deakin and J. Bourne ‘Powell, the Minorities and the 1970 Election’, Political Quarterly, October-December, 1970 pp. 399–415.Google Scholar
  7. 2.
    For a discussion of this in earlier elections, see D. Butler, A. Stevens and D. Stokes, ‘The strength of the Liberals under different electoral systems’, Parliamentary Affairs, Winter 1968, pp. 10–15.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Butler and Michael Pinto-Duschinsky 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Butler
    • 1
  • Michael Pinto-Duschinsky
    • 2
  1. 1.Nuffield CollegeOxfordUK
  2. 2.Pembroke CollegeOxfordUK

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