It will soon be exactly one year since Elections in Wales was launched on an unsuspecting and defenceless world.
Since then I have been pleasantly surprised, even amazed, at the level of interest that the blog has attracted. We’ve set monthly records for readership and page views in eight of the last eleven months, and have passed 30,000 total page views.
Diolch o galon, i chi i gyd, am eich cefnogaeth a ddiddordeb. Thanks very much to all of you for your continuing interest and support. It might be, to misquote one of my favourite films, that the electoral politics of one little nation don’t amount to a hill of beans. But, as Leslie Nielson went on to say, this is our hill, and these are our beans…
I will actually be away for a few days when we celebrate our first birthday. (Though I expect to receive reports of the nation united in rejoicing, large and emotional crowds throughout Wales etc etc). However, I thought it might be of interest to some of you – and particularly those of you who have joined us over the last year – to share with you some of the most popular posts over the last twelve months. So, in no particular order…
Slightly to my amazement, one of the most popular posts I did in the first year concerned a survey question wording experiment. Trying to Get it Right reported findings of a mini-study that I ran with YouGov, where we were seeking to puzzle out why some recent YouGov polls in Wales had been showing surprising results for the regional list vote in National Assembly elections. The results we got back amazed us, and many of you clearly also found it interesting.
A second very popular post involved me playing my regular role of Mr Spoil Sport. (This is a role I started fulfilling rather early in life. I still remember when, as a young boy, I found out that Father Christmas wasn’t real. I eagerly shared this news with all my friends at school that day, who I thought would want to know this – only to make some of them cry, receive a bollocking from our teacher, and find that I ended the day with rather fewer friends than at the start). In this particular instance, I suggested that question-wording effects meant that the apparently striking findings of a constitutional preference question in the annual BBC/ICM poll were, in reality, maybe less interesting than they initially seemed.
Three other very popular posts (Part One is here; Part Two here; and Part Three here) looked at the history of one-party dominance in Wales. Sustained period of dominance by a single party have been a consistent feature of political life in Wales throughout the democratic era – and, I have argued at various times, a persistent pathology in Welsh political life. These pieces outlined the story from the 19th century until more-or-less the present day.
Another rather popular post was one analysing the electoral system used to choose the majority of Welsh councillors. This system – a multi-member version of First Past the Post – is, to my mind, a strong contender for the title of The worst electoral system in the world, managing to retain all of the weaknesses of First Past the Post without any of its redeeming features. Sadly, there currently seems little eagerness to get rid of it within the ranks of Wales’ still-dominant political party.
Finally, I as a taster before the night of the European election results, I ran a short piece seeking to explain the mathematical formula under which the seats in Wales – and the rest of Britain – would be allocated. The Fabulous Mr D’Hondt was a 19th century Belgian mathematician, and evidently one with a sense of humour…
Happy reading. I’ll be back soon, with my psephological batteries fully restored, I hope.