Do Parliamentary by-election results foretell general election outcomes?

Depending on the results in Tiverton & Honiton and Wakefield this week, that could be a question that’s very much on people’s minds, especially that of Conservative MPs.

Here’s some useful data on that from Will Jennings (full piece, which is well worth a read, here):


As he writes:

Historically, by-elections have offered a yardstick for the future electoral prospects of governments. Every government tends to lose support in by-elections, but those that repeatedly lose badly tend to fare worse at subsequent general elections.

He also adds:

A defeat in Tiverton & Honiton would be catastrophic. As well as signalling the depth of disillusionment with the PM and his party, it would further establish the trend of the Lib Dems inflicting damaging losses on the Conservative Party.

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One response to “Do Parliamentary by-election results foretell general election outcomes?”

  1. Might need to factor in length of time between general elections 2015; 2017; 2019 were very close together as were 1974 twice and 1964 and 1966. This left less time for by-elections. Normally there are fewer in early stages of a parliament.

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