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How Close Will the 2018 Elections Be

In this (second) part of our analysis to determine which seats can be designated as “safe seats”, we will look back at the results of the 2013 elections and ask: how hard would it be to beat the incumbent in 2018 based exclusively on how convincingly he/she won in 2013.

This is the classic “swing” concept in electoral analysis - in a 2-party system and a long voting history, beating an incumbent (who had won more than 50% of the vote) would require some of the voters to change their voting preferences and swing the other way or for independent/undecided voters to rally behind the challenger for the result to change. Swing seats (opposite of safe seats) are those that can easily swing either way due to razor-sharp margins or large representation of undecided voters.

We ran the numbers on Pakistan’s more convoluted (than 2-party) electoral landscape, and our analysis of incumbent winning in the past elections indicated that a 26% cut-off for victory margin indicates a strong likelihood of being safe against future swings. In our Absolute Scale post, we had discussed that winners won convincingly in general (with tens of thousands of votes and about an average 20% margin).

Big Wins

79 (about 30%) of the 272 seats fall in this category (victory margin in 2013 was greater than 26%). We broke these 79 seats along party lines to see how the parties’ share in these 79 seats compared to their overall 2013 performance. PML-N’s strong showing was reflected in these numbers as the party with a disproportionately higher number.

To show how these seats are distributed across the country geographically, we plotted them on a map.

Let us know what you think about which seats (or political parties) are safe and which ones aren’t? Do you think that would change in 2018 elections?

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