London Summit 2024: Year of elections

Ellen Johnson, Content Publisher (London)

Neudata News
Post feature

“Biggest year for democracy… possibly ever?” was the question YouGov’s Patrick English posed to a busy auditorium as he opened the Neudata 2024 London Summit. The political scientist stood in front of a packed hall of data professionals at the first session of our day-long event. 

Across the world, more than 60 national elections will take place in 2024. Why this matters for investors, he said, is that some of the potential changes in government could have big consequences for markets. In the US, for example, a victory for Donald Trump could see the repeal of Obamacare. In the UK, a Labour victory could mean rail nationalisation.

“Real change could be happening in both the UK and US,” he said, adding that high-quality insights can help investors to predict and get ahead of such changes.

National elections in 2024

While a Labour win seems inevitable in the UK, the margin of victory could be decisive. English gave three potential scenarios, which he said would all have different impacts on policy, and therefore markets.

For example, if Labour wins, but not by enough to govern alone, it would need to form an alliance with either the Liberal Democrats or the SNP. The Lib Dems would likely push for electoral reform, while the SNP would probably put Scottish independence back on the table. Both could have long-lasting effects.

On the other hand, a big Labour majority would allow Keir Starmer to pursue long-term change that reshapes the country for the next decade and beyond. Data will be essential to understanding and predicting which outcome is most likely.

In the US, there is an almost entirely different data scenario. “It’s a true toss-up election,” he said. “It’s really really tight.”

Based on YouGov’s data, both Biden and Trump are polling with equal levels of support. In this case, English says data is almost more important than in the British case, as getting the latest, most accurate standing of both candidates is essential. But this comes at a price.

“Good insights cost good cash,” he said.

Indeed, rather than simply advising the gathered data buyers to rely on YouGov, English said that diverse data sources produce the best picture. But he insisted that polling data is still the gold standard. Despite the doubts placed on polls over the past few years, high-quality polling such as YouGov’s multilevel regression and post-stratification (MRP) technique is still the best way to cut through the noise.

For datasets that can help investors track elections, see our intelligence report.