Checking for voter bias

In Birmingham, candidates, News on May 21, 2018 by dadge

When the results were coming in for the Birmingham city council elections I perceived that South Asian and female candidates were doing worse than average. So I thought I’d do a quick analysis of the data. I looked at cases where a party had two candidates in a ward, one of whom was female and one male, and also where a party had two candidates, one of whom was South Asian heritage and one was not.

Of the 51 instances of the first type, women got more votes on 22 occasions and men on 29 occasions. The total numbers of votes were:

female 89,962

male 92,726

Therefore in female-male matchups, women did on average 3% worse than men.


Of the 18 instances of the other type, the candidates of South Asian heritage got more votes 6 times and the other candidates did so 12 times. The total numbers of votes were:

South Asian 18,939

Other 19,906

In these matchups, South Asian heritage candidates did on average 5% worse.


I’ll leave it to the mathematicians to decide whether these differences are statistically significant. And even if they are, it’s really necessary to do a similar analysis of other years’ and other cities’ results.

Of course there are several factors involved in explaining why two candidates from the same party gained different numbers of votes. One is recognition/experience. Another, believe it or not, is alphabetical order. But this initial analysis hasn’t dispelled my initial perception.


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