back to article Lies, damn lies and election polls: Why GE2015 pundits fluffed the numbers so badly

Whatever you may think about the outcome of last Thursday’s General Election, there is one issue on which public, politicians and pundits alike seem to be broadly united: how badly the opinion pollsters fared. They got it very wrong! Egregiously so, according to the editor of the Market Oracle, an online financial forecasting …

  1. Pete 2

    Measure what you value ...

    ... don't value what you measure.

    > This put Tories and Labour within a whisker of one another around the 34 per cent mark.

    But that's an irrelevant statistic. Who wins a First Past the Post election (as we have in the UK, designed primarily to produce clear, if somewhat less than truly representative, outcomes) is the party with the most seats, not the most votes.

    The system is supposed to be highly sensitive (there's only 1 winner, whether the majority is 1 or 10,000) to small differences in numbers of votes between the most voted for and the next candidate.

    Everyone: the pollsters, the media who commissioned them and the general public all know this. So to huff and puff and say "well, we were almost right with a measurement of something that's useless" is a ridiculous defence.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Measure what you value ...

      It may be an irrelevant statistic, but it is what the sample measures, then they try to extrapolate from that to number of seats. This works if there is a uniform national swing, but in this election, there wasn't a uniform national swing, or even a uniform regional swing, there were 650 different elections each with swings going all over the place. In one seat there might be a swing from Labour to SNP, and also swings from the other unionist parties to Labour. In another seat there might be a swing from Lib Dem to Labour and another swing from Tory to Lib Dem. Elsewhere you might have swings involving UKIP and the pro-EU parties.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: there is a uniform national swing

        The outcome of the election DOES show a uniform national swing: away from Labour and toward Tory. There's no way around that fact.

        If there were a bunch of swings as you describe, they would have been offsetting with no noticeable change in the national election. At the very least you would have had a situation where the nominal majority needed to form a coalition with another party. That didn't happen.

    2. choleric

      Re: Measure what you value ...

      "Who wins a First Past the Post election (as we have in the UK, designed primarily to produce clear, if somewhat less than truly representative, outcomes) is the party with the most seats, not the most votes."

      The UK's FPTP system was not so much "designed" as evolved and developed over a long period of time (centuries).

      The clear outcomes you refer to are a byproduct of the system rather than the goal of it.

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Measure what you value ...

        Constituencies always elected members to send to parliament. That has never changed. What changed was the gradual introduction of the party system. We had one group of MPs that supported William of Orange in the English Civil War. The other side called them "Whigs". Another group supported King James, and the other side called them "Tories". The Whigs eventually became the party now known as the Liberal Democrats, and the Tories eventually became the party now known as the Conservatives, but are still frequently referred to as Tories. The Labour Party arrived on the scene much later on with the extension of voting rights to the working class.

  2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    "shy tory"

    In the US we speak of "voting-booth candidates". Years ago, Jesse Helms was a couple of times polled as losing his senate seat from North Carolina, but then won handily. Then Marion Barry, who had been videotaped consuming crack cocaine, was elected mayor of Washington, DC, despite polls showing him doing badly. In both cases the voters polled presumably answered according to the tone of the question rather than according to their true intentions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "shy tory"

      I don't know in the US but I think here people are less and less likely to respond to pollsters. I think people used to feel special because someone asked what they thought but now-a-days, probably thanks to the ad men, people are just fed up with being pestered.

      1. auburnman

        Re: "shy tory"

        City life steels you against interacting with strangers on the street. After a certain amount of practice in dodging nutters, drunks, chuggers, chavs and possible muggers, pollsters become just another obstacle to dodge.

        1. Dazed and Confused

          Re: "pollsters become just another obstacle to dodge."

          It's a good idea to give the drunks a wide berth but you can happily take the piss out of pollsters and the million and one marketing zeebs that life throws in your path.

      2. RegGuy1

        Re: "shy tory"

        Well, take this morning. 10:00. The phone rings. The same as the bloody thing does every morning around this time. I occasionally answer it -- i did this morning. 'Sir, we are undertaking a survey...'

        At this point I politely inform them I'm not interested and hang up.

        In the past I have gone along with these, sometimes offering offering incorrect answers ('did you shop in JJB sports...' -- why yes I did, cleverly not telling them I'm really a fat bastard and wouldn't be seen dead within 500m of such a store).

        Strangely over then next few days I then received additional phone calls trying to sell me sports gear. Co-incidence?

        So no, I don't do surveys, because in this post Thatcher world, every twat wants to sell me something.

        1. Ray Gratis
          Megaphone

          Re: "shy tory"

          "The phone rings"

          Well, get a call-blocker like the rest of us!

          Tight b*stard.

          1. Long John Brass Silver badge

            Re: "shy tory"

            But wait! There's more!

            For $9.99 you can get your very own call blocker

            Call now on 0800 fck you for details

          2. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: "shy tory"

            Tight means not plugging the phone in....

    2. Marshalltown

      Re: "shy tory"

      In the US there was at one time a very strong tendency to tell pollsters to get lost. My dad used to remark when asked for a political view that "there's a reason for secret ballots." His rule was that one should never discuss politics or income in polite company.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "shy tory"

      The media were pretty anti-Tory this time around. Look at the SNP "GET THE TORIES OUT" campaign and various Socialist Worker placards. You'd be risking a kicking to admit to be voting Tory - I don't think that Labour voters faced that level of intimidation, well since Blair/Brown left at least.

      1. John H Woods

        Re: "shy tory"

        "The media were pretty anti-Tory this time around" --- AC.

        They most certainly were not. Most of the mainstream press came right out and said who they were supporting: e.g. read http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/election-2015-these-are-parties-britains-newspapers-are-endorsing-1499763

        1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

          Re: "shy tory"

          @John H Woods

          The newspapers are allowed to be biased, and they are generally honest about their bias. The BBC is supposed to be not biased, and therefore hides its bias.

          BBC election night began at 9.55pm, and for a few minutes they were relishing the prospect of a Labour coalition. Then they were stunned by the exit poll, and more or less behaved themselves.

          However, in 1992 they did not admit until the following morning that the Conservatives had actually achieved a majority of parliamentary seats. Same again this time.

          1. Why not OTP?

            Re: "shy tory"

            Don't know about 1992, but in 2015 they had *not* in fact won a majority until the morning results were in. Nevertheless as the exit polls were revised the BBC coverage made it clear that a majority was likely.

      2. Pav
        Trollface

        Re: "shy tory"

        You're pretty much always risking a kicking admitting to being a Tory in Scotland

      3. Esme

        Re: "shy tory"

        I dunno about that. I thought Labour had lost the fight before the election, the minute I heard Milliband rule out any possibility of an alliance with the SNP. I didn;t expect the SNP would do as well as they did, but the referendum on Scottish devolution showed that the SNP was clearly making ground. So, with Labour having rejected any alliance with an obvious natural ally, and the polls all predicting no overall majority, that hands the election lock, stock and barrel to the Tories. Or so it seemed to me. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of those 'shy' Tories mightn't have been undecideds that simply decided here was no longer any point voting Labour after Milliband shot himself in the vote re the SNP.

        For myself - a pox on party politics. And the jerrymandering that's taken place over the last 40 years. Next election I'm voting for the individual I feel is nearest my ideal of (a) being an honourable person and (b) that I think will do best for the area that I live in. And if there aren't any I think sufficiently trustable, then for the first time in my adult life, I simply won't vote.

    4. mir

      Re: "shy tory"

      Interesting bit of analysis over at (the admittedly right-wing) Order-Order, suggesting that the Tory vote share was pretty much what was expected, but the labour vote share was low - not so much "shy tory" as "lazy labour"*, according to them.

      *your offence at this term may vary depending on your particular favourite flavour of blood sucker.

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: "shy tory"

        "....depending on your particular favourite flavour of blood sucker."

        At some point in our ragged political past over 'ere north of the 52nd, we had a municipal candidate with the unenviable name of Leech. First initial was B.

        Was never quite sure if the loss was due to any of the combinations you can mangle that name into.

      2. Wiltshire

        Re: "shy tory"

        You're correct, Order Order did mention that, but they were reporting Ipsos MORI, who have a different theory: that the numbers were skewed by "Lazy Labour" supporters not bothering to vote.

        The final MORI poll suggested 12.5 million people would vote Tory, just ahead of 12.2 million voting Labour.

        On the day, 11.3 million voted Tory – but some 3 million Labour supporters went missing.

        Where did they go?

        MORI chief Ben Page says: “we think not voted. Predicted turnout 82% day before. Was only 66%”

        Their analysis suggests it was young left-wing voters not turning out on the day that explains the difference.

        As most of the twitterati that follow Russell Brand are young (and, it seems, gullable), it seems they followed Russell Brand's earlier (and much tweeted) advice to not vote. Or perhaps they did not bother to register to vote, and by the time Brand had changed his mind, it would have been too late for these youngsters to change their mind as well, and register. They would have disenfranchised themselves.

        Which might be a useful lesson for them in believing what a media clown had said.

    5. captain veg

      Re: "shy tory"

      I don't much like this term. Shyness tends to stop people doing things rather than keeping their activities secret.

      So I suggest Conserfurtive.

      -A.

  3. Chris Miller

    3% margin of error

    Is correct for each individual poll, but if you take a 'poll of polls' average of 9 (allegedly) independent polls, you should be able to get a result with 95% confidence of being within 1%. The fact that the poll of polls was still badly wrong strongly suggests that some kind of systematic error is taking place. Indeed, one pollster (Survation) have already apologised, because their poll on the day before the election gave almost the correct result, but they suppressed it because they thought it must be wrong, as it didn't agree with everyone else!

    It's not the case that 'First Past The Post' renders opinion polls irrelevant, they just require to be applied with care (under the assumption that any swing will be roughly consistent at a national level).

    1. Jane Fae

      Re: 3% margin of error

      Think you'll find the poll of polls was giving far better than 3% margin, which is why the percentage issue was/is systemic...

    2. Pete 2

      Re: 3% margin of error

      Although the pollsters claim a 3% margin, that is clearly shown to be false. You just have to look at the results of the various polls, where the spread from one poll to another was much greater than 3%. When Sky News was broadcasting before the election they had a rolling graphic on the screen that summarised the most recent polls. Looking at the numbers as they went by, one could see that few of the polls were within 3% of each other.

      It would be easy to dismiss the spread by saying that the polls were taken on different days. However, if there really was so much variation: one day to the next, then the pollsters were measuring a quickly changing variable to too high a degree of accuracy. The poll might have been accurate to the stated degree, but its shelf-life at that accuracy was so short that it was probably obsolete before it was even published.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: The poll might have been accurate to the stated degree

        Not a Brit so I can't confirm your observation about the poll differentials, but assuming what you said is true, that means they should have been aware of a systemic problem. The truth is, most people's opinions won't vary that wildly that quickly. While there are multiple possible reasons, the bottom line is that you should already know you have at least one systemic problem.

    3. Tony W

      Re: 3% margin of error

      The Survation apology is very revealing - it shows that polling is far from being the scientific process that they like to pretend. Anyone who trusts Survation after this is clearly not interested in the truth, unless they can regain some credibility by promising to publish whatever they find without fear or favour.

    4. RegGuy1

      Re: 3% margin of error

      Err, not so fast ther Mr Miller. How do Survation know they got the correct result? It could have been an outlier. The fact that it mached the real outcome is not the same. Opinion could have changed since the poll was taken and the actual vote was taken.

      So it could just be luck that the two match -- the Survation poll may have been measuring a different distribution than what happened on the day, because all those don't knows may have made their minds up in a different way to how Survation thought. We have no idea, and never will know how near the Survation poll was to the real distribution of voting intention *at the time the poll was done*. That's NOT the same as the distribution of votes a day or so later in the voting booth. The two are NOT the same.

      Polls are only snapshots.

      1. Cari

        Re: 3% margin of error

        It could be an outlier, or maybe they took into consideration the same factors the bookies did when working out the odds.

        From what I could see leading up to the election, the only places that were so wrong about predictions, were the left-wing media, its readers, and the polls.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: Err, not so fast ther Mr Miller.

        You can dance around it all you want, but an outlier that more closely matches the actual results is not an outlier. It may have been an outlier from their targeted distribution amongst the voters, but that only corrects a systemic problem.

        The claim that people haven't made up their minds/are changing their minds quickly is blowing smoke up your arse. They don't. It may be polite to accept that fiction in most social situations, but polling isn't one of them.

  4. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    We don't vote for parties...

    which renders the whole thing of opinion polls somewhat pointless.

    We vote for a local representative, whom we feel best suited to represent our local issues. It is only because these representatives claim a party affiliation that the party can claim any kind of majority.

    So even if we are a rabid party member, and vote for the party of our convictions come what may, we're *still* only voting for a local member. To be honest, I'd like to lose the party thing completely; it skews any semblance of sanity from the system and requires our carefully selected candidate to follow the party line, come what may. Let's see more loose coalitions!

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: We don't vote for parties...

      The trouble is, as BOTH sides of the water proved hundreds of years ago, is that people NATURALLY form cliques or blocs. George Washington himself expressed it AND was right about the whole thing (he was against parties, too). BUT the behaviour is basically human nature and practically inevitable because parties represent strength in numbers: gangs for lack of a better term. George ended up being labeled a Federalist against his wishes.

    2. Grikath

      Re: We don't vote for parties...

      or from the article: "In one sense, no. We get the government we vote for."

      Because you don't. Locally maybe, but on a national level the local-representative election system the UK uses will heavily skew the seat distribution on even minor differences in voting totals. Because the local winner takes all, and only needs a marginal victory to take that victory, the system ensures that a "majority" national government representation will always be an actual minority by votes.

      Because the difference needs only be so small locally, it's also very hard to accurately poll for or model outcome, unless you have limited (bi-partisan) options and/or a very conservative voter base that's not likely to switch, because you cannot use national totals to predict the outcome for a single constituency. Which as far as I can tell happened here more than pollsters getting Wrong Answers. They simply applied the data wrong.

      The system in place in the UK works fine for a bi- or tripartisan setup, but this election was typical for having five major players, each with their own major issues and programs. And that's where things went wrong, because anyone who's done any system analysis can see the the "dilution" of votes would mean that massive amounts of voters would basically get shafted, as their representations in votes would never stand a chance of being materialised in the house of commons.

      The worst hit, and potentially the most dangerous artefact of this, is UKIP, who did get a fair share of the vote, but lost out in the dance-of-chairs. Like them or not, it is terribly dangerous to ignore a set of sentiments that, by votes and by distribution, is a serious nationwide affair that now has no representation in government, and as such no release valve. Even if UKIP does not survive this, the sentiments will not disappear and it will bite peeps in the back the next few years.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: We don't vote for parties...

        "The worst hit, and potentially the most dangerous artefact of this, is UKIP, who did get a fair share of the vote, but lost out in the dance-of-chairs."

        Although I do understand your point and where you are coming from, is it fair to foist a second placed UKIP candidate as MP onto a constituency which voted for eg Labour or Tory?

        I'm not sure what the answer is...

        1. keithpeter
          Windows

          Re: We don't vote for parties...

          "Although I do understand your point and where you are coming from, is it fair to foist a second placed UKIP candidate as MP onto a constituency which voted for eg Labour or Tory?"

          There is another way.

          Scottish assembly has roughly 75% seats awarded by FPTP in constituencies and the other 25% based on a regional list transferrable vote system. Your vote basically gets used twice. I can't get the data broken by constituency so I can map it into the 9 English government regions (each with their own list) yet, but rough estimate on that through on England results as a whole would suggest something like 14% of 150 seats allocated to the regional lists or 20 seats in total. Better than 1 but not the full proportionality.

          Do you think 20 seats would be enough of a 'pressure release valve'? Certainly give the kippers a voice.

          Irony: the party now in power is the one least likely to consider radical change in the voting system (and the Labour Party never really explored that either when they had the chance).

          Disclaimer: unshy labour voter

      2. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

        Re: We don't vote for parties...

        @Grikath

        Yes, yes, but then you look at the alternatives, of which the most important is the European Parliament.

        There, one votes for a party list. There is no way of voting against a particular candidate unless you also vote against his or her colleagues. Voting against is a very important facility.

        1. Vincent Ballard
          Coat

          Closed lists

          Being able to vote against a particular candidate may be nice, but the real downside of closed party lists is that it makes the candidates much more worried about pleasing the party hierarchy than the electorate. If each of the main parties can pretty much guarantee 3 seats out of the 10 going in a region, you want to suck up to the person who decides which names go in the first 3 slots. Open lists all the way.

      3. nijam

        Re: We don't vote for parties...

        > Because you don't. Locally maybe, but on a national level the local-representative election system

        > the UK uses will heavily skew the seat distribution on even minor differences in voting totals.

        > Because the local winner takes all, and only needs a marginal victory to take that victory, the

        > system ensures that a "majority" national government representation will always be an actual

        > minority by votes.

        That is true of PR to exactly the same extent as it is true for FPTP.

        How so? Because, at the end of it all, there is only a single government, and only a minority of voters voted for it* (as opposed to any other potential goverment). PR just gives a different kind of minority goverment and - no surprise - is supported mainly by parties who believe they'd do better than they do under FPTP.

        * Unless you live in a single-party state, then all the votes cast will be for the governmment.

    3. Tom 13

      Re: Let's see more loose coalitions!

      So you want to turn Britain into Italy or worse Greece? Sounds like a very, very bad plan to me, and as noted above, I'm not even a Brit.

  5. Titus Technophobe

    Labour

    as people went to vote they remembered Tony Blair, and Gordon Brown thought ah that David Miliband ... would be much the same.

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Labour

      as people went to vote they remembered Tony Blair, and Gordon Brown thought ah that David Miliband

      Well done for paying attention to who was in the red corner...

      1. Titus Technophobe

        Re: Labour

        I didn't take much notice of the Blue corner either .. just thought that Ed Cameron was less like Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.

  6. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    "Shy Tories"

    There is no such thing as a 'shy tory'.

    What there are, are a large number of "deeply, deeply ashamed Tories". They know that what they do (i.e. vote Tory) is incredibly selfish, shameful, anti-social and just downright WRONG. But they are too frightened and ashamed to admit it. A bit like strangling kittens or enjoying a loving relationship with a goat, which many of them do as well. But it's not the sort of thing one admits to the neighbours. They're all right jack.

    Time to end the secret ballot and make people admit to their disgusting and vile practices so that they can be rightfully punished.

    Oh yes, and bring in proper PR.

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: "Shy Tories"

      You may find it easier to have the Tories as nasty and Labour or whoever as a paragon of virtue, but it doesn't in any way reflect reality.

      I'm a Conservative voter ( of the socially progressive, libertarian, small state variety ). I believe the state should leave us alone while not spending too much. I think bribing the electorate with more spending is reckless and crass. Low business rates, for example, is responsible because it encourages employment. Unpopular with lefties because it helps big business, but it's a practical, sensible, thing to do.

      I acknowledge that Labour generally aim to do the best they can for the country so I don't vilify them when I believe they're wrong, only for things such as trying to wage class warfare and outright lying ( take the "bye bye NHS" type comments over the last few days from their supporters ).

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: "Shy Tories"

        What makes you think I count the incompetent Stalinists in the Labour party as 'paragons of virtue'?

        Bring in proper PR now - but still ban evil devil-worshipping Tories from voting - you know it's the right thing to do!

        1. Brian Morrison

          Re: "Shy Tories"

          Not 'proper' PR please, the only way of implementing it that I'm aware of is the party list approach where the party, rather than the electorate, decides which of the candidates will be elected.

          AV is probably the best approach for a general election, it's the simplest way of allowing a second choice for your vote without descending into the madness of STV.

          1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

            Re: "Shy Tories"

            STV isn't madness - STV with multi-member constituencies (6 or 7 MPs) gives pretty good proportionality while keeping out the more rabid nutters, and also tends to produce MPs who are more representative of the population: if a party has four candidates in a constituency they can't ALL be white middle-aged males, and the voters decide then which one they prefer, rather than the local party executive. Also keeps the link with a geographical area, and avoids the party list nastiness.

      2. Loud Speaker

        Re: "Shy Tories"

        You are of course, completely wrong. Everybody knows Gordon Brown can spend their money much more wisely than they can!

        A true socialist worker says "Fight for the right to be exploited!"

      3. Schultz
        Trollface

        "I'm a Conservative voter (of the socially progressive, libertarian, small state variety)"

        Maybe you should find another Conservative of the socially repressive, authoritarian, Big-Brother state variety and together you could form a party.

      4. I am not spartacus

        Optional

        "You may find it easier to have the Tories as nasty and Labour or whoever as a paragon of virtue, but it doesn't in any way reflect reality.

        Nastiness is not so much the issue, so much as 'Would you be ashamed to admit it?'; many people will divide this in to different sub-groups, 'Would I be ashamed to admit it to my neighbours?', 'Would I be ashamed to admit it to my work colleagues?', 'Would I be ashamed to admit it to my friends?', and so on, and give different answers to the different questions, but the fact is that if you would be ashamed to admit it, there has to be some chance that you would suppress the shaming fact in a poll response.

        "I'm a Conservative voter ( of the socially progressive, libertarian, small state variety ).

        While it may not be relevant, when I re-read this response, it sounds to me like 'I'm an Apatosaur, one of the most socially progressive and least Euro-sceptic, of the Dinosaurs'. allowing that there is a degree of misrepresentation here, maybe you feel that dissembling or suppressing the response now has its attractions?

        1. Tom 13

          Re: Optional

          Nastiness is the issue. Problem is you're framing the question wrong:

          "How nasty do I think my neighbors who profess to be Labour are?" is the correct formulation.

          - Not nasty at all and willing to respect my opinons.

          - Nasty enough to call me names every chance they get.

          - The really nasty sort who will vandalize my property and beat the crap out of me when they can.

          - The extremely nasty sort who will kill me in my sleep then blame it on my party.

          Given about 40% of El Reg posters seem to fall in the name calling category, it does seem reasonable to expect most conservatives to not be open about it.

      5. Adam Inistrator

        Re: "Shy Tories"

        If you want to summarise Lab and the Cons use my phrase "Daddy makes it and Mummy spends it". I leave you to work out who is who.

      6. keithpeter
        Windows

        Re: "Shy Tories"

        "I'm a Conservative voter ( of the socially progressive, libertarian, small state variety )."

        Excellent. Now who owns most of the docks in the UK? And who owns most of the power stations? Who owns most of the telecoms companies, and the Royal Mail? And the small company that produces radio isotopes for use in hospitals and your dentist's x-ray machine (an early privatisation)?

        When you roll back the state, other corporate bodies (I'm thinking of Thomas Hobbes' powerful image here) tend to fill the vacuum. Individual share ownership hasn't really happened has it? The UK's best export at present appears to be rent/profit.

        Now: can you get rid of OFSTED and just 'let the market decide' in education please? Could save a cool half billion that way, and stem the tide of head teachers taking early retirement.

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          Re: "Shy Tories"

          Government is terrible at running enterprise. Telecoms companies is the perfect example to make my point, unless you want to go back to renting a phone from the post office with no choice in provision.

          Get rid of OFSTED? They are what allow the market to perform. That school is terrible so I'm not sending my kids there - it works much better when independently audited than when based on rumour. I take it that you're a teacher of some sort by that remark - every other industry has checks that the workers are effective. I don't see why teachers think they should be exempt from this.

      7. Disintermediation

        Re: "Shy Tories"

        Wow @disgustedoftunbridgewells I wish I had written that.

    2. Cari

      Re: "Shy Tories"

      Do you come in HD? I've been looking to replace my TV with something a bit better.

    3. auburnman

      Re: "Shy Tories"

      I don't know if you're joking or not - I sincerely hope you are - but the secret ballot is a keystone of proper Democracy. Just imagine the gaming of the system that could occur if your political affiliation was forced into the public domain.

      Fancy working in the capital? You'd better be blue through and through because the money markets love the Tories, and now they can quietly check on you.

      As for PR that was unfortunately voted down in the referendum a few years back (The death knell of Lib Dems in my 20-20 hindsight opinion.)

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: "Shy Tories"

        "As for PR that was unfortunately voted down in the referendum a few years back"

        No it wasn't, we've never had a vote on PR, we had a vote on AV which is very definitely *NOT* PR.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: "Shy Tories"

          Quite. Proportional representation is exactly the opposite of the system we have now: vote for a party instead of a local representative. Remind me again to whom I should complain when I am unjustly jailed, or something similar?

        2. auburnman

          Re: "Shy Tories"

          My mistake; I didn't mean to imply the referendum had been on PR, but rather we had the chance in recent history to signal that we wanted something other than FPTP. With it being voted down the govt can claim that the public is happy with the system we've got.

      2. bep

        Proportional representation?

        I don't think you want that. Looking on from far away Australia, I have to observe that, while our system is far from perfect all the other systems seem even further from perfect. I frankly don't believe that 'first past the post' even counts as democracy if you have more than two candidates. Try preferential voting, it can't be worse than what you have now.

      3. Roj Blake Silver badge

        Re: "Shy Tories"

        "As for PR that was unfortunately voted down in the referendum a few years back (The death knell of Lib Dems in my 20-20 hindsight opinion.)"

        Except of course that PR wasn't an option on the referendum's ballot paper.

        AV is not PR.

      4. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: "Shy Tories"

        The belief that the UK has ever been offered a PR option is very strong. There was no vote on PR. There was no option for PR. The Lib Dems fluffed that, along with pretty much every other thing they could in their desperate bid to actually matter for once.

        Alternate Vote (which there was a referendum on, and rejected) is a majoritive voting system, just designed to more accurately reflect people's choices from a multiple options. It is pretty much the same as straight majority votes if you only have 2 options, but if you have 4+ then they are relevant. It means that even if your first choice candidate is not going to win, your vote can still influence who does. So your vote for your local Lib Dem, who isn't going to get in, but you would prefer say Labour over Conservative over UKIP.

        None of the major parties wants to give PR, in any form, a chance. Since it will almost always result in coalition governments, and those are bad for those versed in the party political system. It also almost always leads to fracturing of the larger parties, which again is not something that those who have spent years playing the party system are keen on.

        The fact that a referendum on AV got passed off as one on PR, and is widely accepted as such, is a great trick pulled off by those who prefer the party system (and FPTP) over getting anything slightly more representative.

        In NZ there is MMP (half PR, half FPTP) for electing the 99-105 MPs, and STV for local council. You can witness the incredible bitching from the ex-councillors who lose their seats from STV who would have won under FPTP, becasue of the number of people who effectivle voted "anyone but them".

        Check out: http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/voting-systems to see some reasonable explanations of different systems, and the flaws and advantages in each.

        For my UK vote, during my lifetime it has never mattered. My constituency has returned 50%+ for the Cons every election :)

        1. Tom 13

          Re: it will almost always result in coalition governments

          It might be bad for those in the party, but an examination of actual coalition governments shows it almost always works out even worse for those who aren't: Italy, Greece, even your own country for the last few years.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Shy Tories"

        The referendum was for A.V. not P.R.

        1. Titus Technophobe

          Re: "Shy Tories"

          I would admit to voting for the Tories.

          I don't have any particular political bias one way or the other .. they both seem as bad as each other. I think for me it was the thought that we would get another Labour government in the style of the last few. Where the policy seemed to be to give as much money to people who were on benefits so they would carry on voting Labour.

          This was a major contribution to the deficit and doesn't do a lot for those of us who work, have to pay for our own housing and so on.

    4. Velv Silver badge

      Re: "Shy Tories"

      Ashamed to admit it, or actually frightened for their lives? And your post just proves my point.

      ALL parties now have an element of fundamentalist following that are not afraid to abuse anyone they think disagrees with their viewpoint. Being in Scotland I've noticed it most with SNP followers, from the purely shouty, through the vile to the utterly aggressive. Following canvassers for other parties around the street and shouting abuse when people answer their door. There's free speech and then there's intimidation. (And I repeat, it's across all parties)

      I doubt anybody who voted Tory is ashamed of their belief in that being the right vote for country. But they are frightened of the potential backlash from everyone who doesn't think it's the right thing. It's the principal reason voting is anonymous, and the reason it must remain anonymous.

    5. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: "Shy Tories"

      Worryingly Pen-y-gors comment is one of the politer ones against this gov winning that I have seen. So far all the ranting and raving has come from left leaning people even before the election but certainly after it. The electorate has chosen. PR would possibly be an improvement but the tories undoubtedly won.

      Pen-y-gors statements against tories voting and publicising peoples votes so they can be punished does relate to a comment I made on another topic- "Too far left or too far right you still end up in the same place."

    6. fruitoftheloon
      Stop

      Pen y gors: Re: "Shy Tories"

      Pyg,

      That is a load of gonads!!

      I mean, who would have thunk it eh? Loads of voters have opinions that differ from yours...

      Ooi how do you think the UK would have fared in five years time with Ed and Nicola running the country?

      I am not being sarcy and would genuinely like to have a better understanding of your worldview.

      Regards,

      Jay

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pen y gors: "Shy Tories"

        Ooi how do you think the UK would have fared in five years time with Ed and Nicola running the country?

        The UK would be disintegrating, the economy would have tanked, the England+Wales dog would be fed up with being wagged by the SNP tail, and UKIP would be on their way to winning the 2020 election.

      2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Pen y gors: "Shy Tories"

        "Loads of voters have opinions that differ from yours..."

        True, but they're obviously completely wrong, as any fule kno. Lots of people believe that climate change doesn't exist and that God created the world in 4004 BC, but they are wrong. Same thing with voting Tory. Opinuions are not always correct (except mine of course, most of the time)

        1. Cari

          Re: Pen y gors: "Shy Tories"

          Pen-y-gors: Thumbs up for beautifully capturing and expressing the authoritarian mindset of an "anti-Tory". You are so convincing!

          I'll have to give you a B grade though, for implying your opinion is wrong some of the time. That little slip in arrogance kinda gave the game away.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Shy Tories"

      If Labour hadn't flung themselves to the left and kept telling us who they are going to mug next, perhaps they might have attracted some of those centrist votes that clearly went the blue way.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Shy Tories"

      I thought the story was about the statistics and not the politics. If you do not agree with the politics then it is your right to vote against it BUT we live in a democracy, which means the majority rules. So on that basis being “incredibly selfish, shameful, anti-social and just downright WRONG” is what the majority wish to be.

      Anon because people have the right to be.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Shy Tories"

      Time to end the secret ballot and make people admit to their disgusting and vile practices so that they can be rightfully punished.

      Oh really? You wouldn't stomp your socks in sandals so hard if you were honest enough to acknowledge the absolute total horror New Labour let loose on the treasury in the years that people like you kept them in power. In my opinion, they absolutely looted the treasury and government equity for anything that wasn't bolted down firmly. They sold the nation's gold at the worst possible time - so someone made a fortune of that. They came up with the brain dead idea to tax the pension funds, so now people have a reduced pension (because the gains from that were wasted). They were responsible for the highest ever spend of any government on consultancies (let me translate that for you, it means for every person working, the tax payer paid about 5x of what a well paid civil servant would have costed), they got in bed with companies which is why Blair was to be found at the introduction of Windows 2000 in Reading - a place any UNbiased government official would never be, and why the UK government which had just embarked on an Open strategy (eGIF et al) suddenly found itself having to make it all Microsoft which is why nothing has really worked since.

      Yes, here is the IT angle: government IT was firmly heading the Open Source and interoperability route when New Labour came in and threw it out because it didn't make it possible to build lots of nest eggs for people. An Open strategy set by those "evil" Tories. IMHO< that's also why they went along with Bush on this War on Terror - again lots of opportunities to grab handfuls of cash from treasury without anyone asking pesky questions. Did you really think all that surveillance was for our good? It was only to make sure they had an early heads up of who was on to them.

      The whole country is still paying for the havoc that New Labour caused, and my hope is that the election went this way because maybe, just maybe, some people have woken up to that fact, and not just because one of them thought it funny to write "that letter" (although that pretty much sums up the argument for the lot).

      Want some more evidence? Answer this question: which PM had to start a private bank to keep his loot?

    10. LucreLout Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: "Shy Tories"

      What there are, are a large number of "deeply, deeply ashamed Tories".

      I'm proud of voting Tory. I don't do it out of self interest (working in the City, it's easier to make out like bandits under labour than anyone less incompetent), but out of a sense of social conscience. The working classes from which I hail always, always, suffer more due to labour governments bankrupting the country than I suffer.

      They know that what they do (i.e. vote Tory) is incredibly selfish, shameful, anti-social and just downright WRONG.

      Only it isn't, and you should be deeply ashamed of yourself for such a pathetic and transparent attempt at politicking. Only, you won't be, because labour voters have no shame.

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Shy Tories"

      Back in the Thatcher days, I never once encountered someone who actually admitted to having voted for her. Someone must have, but damn if I ever met them...

      1. Titus Technophobe

        Re: "Shy Tories"

        Back in the Thatcher days .. I never voted for her, nor in fact John Major.

        That said a term of Tony Blair from 1997 convinced me that maybe these sort of politicians aren't the best people to run the country.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Shy Tories"

        A down vote? I assume we've just encountered someone who actually voted for the witch...

    12. Mnot Paranoid
      Mushroom

      Re: "Shy Tories"

      I could not have put this any better myself.

      However, the "shy Tory" will also have to keep its little mouth shut when there's chip and pin at the GP surgery to pay for their consultation and all the other horrors emerge over the next five years.

      Karma's a bitch, ain't it?

    13. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

      Re: "Shy Tories"

      @Pen-y-gors

      What's more, make them vote in Welsh, for their sins. Except in Wales, where they would have to use Gaelic.

      Latin would be a very civilised voting language. Graduates of Oxbridge would be allowed to use it, as it was a traditional entry requirement there.

    14. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Shy Tories"

      So the nation votes in a government and that makes the voters all goat humping kitten killers? What's more likely the majority is evil or that you are a donkey's behind? Screaming about it is very antisocial and signature socialist. Want the counterview: socialism and childishness go hand in hand as you want the world to work your way without actually having the maturity to make it happen with persuasion and reasoned debate. It's all screaming the "right answer" that you "own". That creates a skew in polls as people cannot be open about their intentions as they get shouted down by aggressive idiots. Fortunately you are in the minority.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "the general public know this"

    "Everyone: the pollsters, the media who commissioned them and the general public all know this"

    I don't think many of the general public DO know this.

    You do, I do, some others doubtless do, but everyone who relies on the papers and the broadcasters as their main source for news is going to be sadly misled.

    "So to huff and puff and say "well, we were almost right with a measurement of something that's useless" is a ridiculous defence."

    That's very true. But how to stop the ridiculousness?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "the general public know this"

      You CAN'T. They WANT the ridiculousness because it's considered positive reinforcement so they'll go looking for it, whether it's good for them or not. Kind of like getting hooked on television: something a few sci-fi writers touched on.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As with any survery

    I lie through my back teeth. Possibly one answer in 20 might be reasonably correct. I even lie about my age.

    I was stopped by a pollster in 2010. He asked who I was voting for. The answer was Monster Raving Loony despite no one from that esteemed party standing where I vote.

    Who I vote for is my business and no one else's thank you very much.

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: As with any survery

      "Who I vote for is my business and no one else's "

      True, although you could just tell the pollster that, rather than lying.

      Since these opinion polls seem to affect the campaign significantly and turn out to be inaccurate at best, why not just add them to the list of behaviours that is already banned or strictly regulated during the election campaign?

      It's already banned to try to influence people in the polling station, or to attempt to reveal how someone voted (exit polls notwithstanding), why not ban polling during the campaign?

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: As with any survery

        why not ban polling during the campaign?

        Some countries do, France won't allow publication of polls in the last two weeks of an election. The Internet makes a nonsense of it though, people just go to non-French websites & read the polls and speculation there.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: As with any survery

          And it's actually illegal in America to squelch campaign speech unless it's an outright lie (but try proving it during the campaign season), because they feel it's better to allow the mudslinging than to squelch the dissemination of campaign facts critical to a rational election. Frankly, I don't think you can win either way. You wind up either with a clueless public or a brainwashed public, neither of which is desirable.

        2. Tony Haines
          Devil

          Re: As with any survery

          //why not ban polling during the campaign?//

          //The Internet makes a nonsense of it though//

          Okay, one possibility - we go with it, and game the crap out of all polls on the internet.

          It'll give MI5 something savoury to do for a change.

  9. The last doughnut
    Facepalm

    There is another interpretation. The media need to sell a story and the best election story would be something like "Election too close to call - say pollsters".

    And does the media ever properly explain how polls are conducted and what statistical methods are used? They don't usually even state the size of the sample.

    The Scots independence referendum polls were accurate to the eventual result right up until 2 or 3 weeks before the vote, then suddenly they were declaring it undecided. And look at the outcome of that.

    Even worse, the parties fight their campaigns according to what the polls are saying. Look at how that worked out for Milliblub.

    1. dogged

      > And does the media ever properly explain how polls are conducted and what statistical methods are used?

      Lord Ashcroft does.

    2. veti Silver badge

      I've been looking for this comment.

      Think about the economic incentives here. Pollsters get paid when someone commissions a poll. That "someone" is usually a media outlet.

      Media outlets get paid when they generate traffic. They generate traffic by telling an exciting, tense story.

      So both these groups are incentivised to make the result look closer than it is.

      I'm not suggesting they'd commit deliberate fraud to that end. But I'm sure that there are things about their methodology that they're not addressing, because it would be against their own short-term self-interest to do so. Survation's admission seems to confirm that.

      The greatest evil in the world is advertising. If we could just find a way to end that, once and for all, then maybe our media would start to work for us.

      1. DocJames

        Survation's poll would have put them on the front page of every paper, even if the Guardian would have been complaining about it (you'll note, despite the Tory claims of left wing bias, the others would all have been gleeful). I don't think the example of how they suppressed their poll supports your argument that they are all short termists.

        (Obviously they're short termists. They couldn't just wait until May 8th; had to try and predict the future.)

        OTOH, I like your final point.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Yes, Survation would've got a lot of publicity... but the likely effect of that would've been to make other news outlets less likely to commission them. (If they hadn't happened to be right, which for all we know was more by luck than methodology - they were probably the one-in-20 outlier that hits the extreme end of the 3% error margin. The methodological element that we do know about was their active decision to suppress the result.)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shy Tories

    Not just since 1992. In the 40-odd years that I've been voting there has been a consistent social pressure not only to not admit to voting Conservative but also (and particularly in Wales) to claim to have voted Labour. This double-deceit might go some way to explaining why the pollsters are wrong.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Feckless Labour

      Probably down vote bait, but if you stand in the street canvassing at 3pm on a Tuesday and catch a 20 something male on his way from the bookies to Bargain Booze for more Special Brew you are likely to record a Labour vote intention. Possibly UKIP, but certainly not Tory ...not since Thatcher.

      Then you catch a lady of a certain age, blue rinse, pearl twin set. Likely a Tory vote there. Possibly UKIP again, but not Labour. Not since Blair resigned.

      So, one Tory, one Labour? But WHO is more likely to wake up sober enough to remember there actually is an election and where to vote?

      I contend that "Shy Tories" is only half the equation: there is also a likely predisposition among the feckless, disorganised and unreliable to declare Labour voting intentions but fail to follow through.

      1. lorisarvendu
        Pint

        Re: Feckless Labour

        "...on his way from the bookies to Bargain Booze for more Special Brew you are likely to record a Labour vote intention. Possibly UKIP, but certainly not Tory ...not since Thatcher."

        I resent that implication! I have to get my Special Brew from Bargain Booze now that ASDA have stopped stocking it...and I voted Lib Dem!

        (I've always wanted an excuse to use that Beer icon!)

      2. Tom 13

        Re: a likely predisposition among the feckless, disorganised and unreliable

        The thing is, we have many decades of polling research and that's something that has been studied and for which they have correction factors.

        I'm not certain of the exact lay of the land on your side of the pond, but on our side of the pond there is a general consensus that on those occasions where the polls were greatly wrong about the election it has been because the polling companies generated the wrong target sample population. Essentially you want your sample to match the actual voting population. But the voting population varies from the general population. So based on the previous election outcomes the pollsters say something like "20% of the voting population is hard Rep, 22% leans Rep; 25% leans Demt, 20% is hard Dem and the rest are undecided." Then they try to match their sample to those numbers. If the sample for some reason shows say 25% hard Rep, they adjust their prediction by weighting that element less. This works so long as you have the right numbers for the next election. But if it turns out that the voting population has actually shifted to 25% hard Rep, you're predictions are screwed.

        In other words, any time there is a real, fundamental change in the electorate, even a small one, the polls are actually useless.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Shy Tories

      All the literati agree with each other that only the sort of simpletons* who read The Daily Mail would ever vote Tory. That's the sort of societal pressure even campaign donations on my side to the pond can't buy.

      *Frauds who are in it only for personal gain excepted of course.

  11. Cari

    Perhaps the pollsters would get more accurate results if they also took into consideration the number of people who lie and say they voted, or will vote, Labour?

    The animosity towards the Conservatives and their supporters and voters, particularly from left/ liberal media and the left-wing - particularly Labour voters - is more than strong enough to keep not only Conservative voters silenced until it's all over, but anyone else not voting in line with the Labour hive-mind. Live in a staunchly Labour area but voting Green or Lib Dems? Better keep quiet else you'll have to listen to some over-zealous Labour supporter (the kind with at least four "Vote Labour" signs in their front garden and windows) berate you over how you're voting the wrong way and may as well not vote at all, for all the good it will do.

    I've seen so much unwarranted hate and vitriol these last few weeks, coming almost exclusively from very vocal Labour supporters. If the pollsters actually watched the electorate when they engage publicly, and if the left stepped out of their media echochamber, perhaps they'd be as surprised about the results as the bookies and the rest of us, which is to say "not at all"

    I feel bad for all the Labour supporters that treat their opposition like human beings, because the small minority in their number are really doing them all a disservice.

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      Hate and Vitriol

      There was plenty of that going the other way too!

      And also the less obvious trying-to-be-subtle spreading of rumours, lies, or just plain old FUD.

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      We used to call that the 'silent majority'

      Its a good enough explanation as any but in this case I think you'll find that the election engineering as exemplified by that Aussie consultant (the one with the odd name....) may be the key to how this turned out.

      Politically engaged people -- the sorts with four signs in their front garden -- do tend to get a bit over enthusiastic but its not an especially Labour trait. Where I live its the relatively tiny number of rather loud Tea Party types that are a bit of a pain, not the least because they keep on insisting that anyone who doesn't see things their way is obviously unpatriotic.

    3. tom dial Silver badge

      Extremely careful and much costlier pollsters (mostly academic) ask each respondent a number of questions, some and occasionally all of them different from "for whom do you plan to vote?" From the answers, and a theoretical model they then use to make predictions (although the primary goal is to improve the behavioral model and better understand the sources of voting and other political behavior. Along with this they also use a process (somewhat disrespectfully called "farmerizing" when I was in graduate school long ago) to word the questions for clear comprehension by those with no more than about an eighth grade (US) education level. Polls like that are less likely to be gamed (we thought at the time) and might be more likely to give valid predictions The procedure also may allow them to detect and better discount responses that are untrue or ambiguous. It has been noted, however, that projecting the outcome based solely on responses of a sample to the main question is not much less accurate (if it actually is), especially if adjusted based on even quite simple demographic models.

      However, with legislatures selected from single member districts with a plurality requirement for election, a national sample is very likely to be inadequate in some cases, including what seems to have occurred in the UK last week, where a narrowly based regional party - the SNP - did major damage to a national party - Labor - that depended a lot on the region. In such circumstances, polling organizations probably would do better by using district polls to project the outcome in each district, and combine those results to project the national legislature composition. This article and others I have seen do not suggest that they did this, perhaps because of the associated cost.

      Single member plurality-win districts have a strong tendency to suppress national parties such as the Liberal Democrats and UKIP with relatively small memberships, while allowing strong regional parties like the SNP and sometimes relatively strong national parties like the Conservatives or Labor to elect disproportionate numbers. That may be good or bad, and depend on ones party allegiance and the details.

      1. DocJames

        Lord Ashcroft

        did exactly as you suggested - he polled individual constituencies. Didn't actually do it on a national level (UK politics has too much money in, but not so much that a pollster can manage 650 statistically valid polls - as you suggest nobody can afford it) but concentrated on what were thought to be the interesting "swing" seats.

        Still found much the same as everyone else. He's a Tory (to be more precise, he resigned his Conservative seat in the House of Lords because he was more interested in the statistics of polls - my kinda politician) and his polls did find slightly more leaning to the Conservatives, but still well within the now-famous Margin Of Error.

        FWIW, the SNP rise has been predictable and predicted for a while. The unionist parties (read: everyone but SNP) in the referendum got destroyed; it was only FUD from the last couple of weeks that won it convincingly. A convincing win (either way) was much better IMHO, but after the referendum the prompt abandonment of Scotland and its interests meant most people felt the SNP were probably right. The other relevant issue it raised was that ordinary people suddenly realised they could find things out for themselves - remember the reason Nick Robinson was castigated for something or other* was because 10 000 Scots** had already watched the actual event he described for the 10 o'clock news on youtube, and some decided that his reporting was biased.

        * I can't remember; shows how trivial these political campaigns often are

        ** assumption, based on the fact it was probably of no interest to anyone else

        1. keithpeter
          Windows

          Re: Lord Ashcroft

          Good catch with Ashcroft's constituency based polling. More detail here...

          http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/what-we-got-wrong-in-our-2015-uk-general-election-model/

          Anyone got the results as a CSV file or R data frame yet?

    4. veti Silver badge

      The trouble with that is, if you just take, say, 5% of the respondents who tell you "Labour" and assign them to another bucket instead - how the hell can you justify your methodology as anything more than "totally making it up as you go along"?

      The best-case result from that would be one pollster applying a factor of 5%, another 6%, another 3%... and over time, one of them would come out closer to correct than the others. But of course the "correct" factor probably varies over time too, so basically you'd be back to square one.

      No, I'm sure there's a methodology change that would correct the problem, but "just switching a proportion of the results because you assume one side is being under-represented" isn't it.

    5. LucreLout Silver badge

      I've seen so much unwarranted hate and vitriol these last few weeks, coming almost exclusively from very vocal Labour supporters

      I've seen this too. Surely it is an issue that needs addressing within the confines of the law, because it simply isn't acceptable behaviour. Relying on a sense of decency to prevail doesn't seem to work well with labour voters, and yet almost no other party is similarly afflicted. It is the politics of the rabble.

  12. Graham Marsden
    Unhappy

    The problem is not the polls...

    ... the problem is the fudamentally broken electoral system which is First Past the Post.

    With FPTP it doesn't matter if 80% of the people voted for other candidates if one person gets 20% and the rest get 19%, 19%, 19%, 19% and 4%, the one with the 20% "wins".

    One way to fix this would be to keep FPTP for electing your local candidate, but having the Lords elected with, for example, an Alternative Vote or Proportional Representation system such that the "Revising House" is not automatically under the control of whoever manages to stuff it with more of their cronies.

    Of course such a system is not of benefit to the Tories or Labour...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The problem is not the polls...

      The Tories have actually been looking into such a system for the Lords, according to the BBC. Of course, there are still the existing Lords to contend with. A man who willingly cedes power is rare, and wresting power from one tends to get ugly.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a 48 year-old writes

    One thing I have suspected (can't prove it, but this is politics, so I don't need to) is that the UK has a tendency towards Conservative government ... it's the natural party of power.

    I don't know if this is a reflection of some Anglo-Saxon desire for authority, or just that older (rich) people tend to vote more ..

    Whatever. It means Labour et al, have to work extra hard for votes.

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: a 48 year-old writes

      "the UK has a tendency towards Conservative government"

      I (almost the same age as you!) have come to the same conclusion

      " ... it's the natural party of power."

      Not sure about that bit but it does seem to be the default option for many people.

      Myself not included - I remember Maggie! Of course some people will say the opposite for precisely the same reason!

      1. Red Bren

        Re: a 48 year-old writes

        "the UK has a tendency towards Conservative government"

        Is this just a reflection of human selfishness, or getting more right wing as you get older? You start off young and poor so you vote Labour, but once you start climbing the economic ladder, you don't want to pay to support the less fortunate below you so you vote Tory?

        1. Cari

          Re: a 48 year-old writes

          I would propose it's more growing up while Labour are in power, and finding when you leave school or university your future prospects are far bleaker than the generations that voted them (Labour) in.

          I was in highschool for the '97 election, and been a graduate for 2 years by the '10 election. Even before I was old enough to vote, it was obvious that Labour (or " New Labour") did not have the workers' and lower classes' best interests at heart, and they were only getting in because of the generations of voters that are stuck in the glory days, or who have indoctrinated younger generations into believing the glory days of Labour are still here.

          1. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: a 48 year-old writes

            Carl - I remember just how shit it was to have one parent working and the other on domestic duty when the kids came home, owning a house and having a lot of money left over. Leaving school and going to a relatively free university education and walking straight into a well paid job.

            Its so much better that my children dont have much of a chance of any of the above after the tory years and the tory-lite years.

            At least they can have aspirations rather than actual chances.

            1. lorisarvendu

              Re: a 48 year-old writes

              "the UK has a tendency towards Conservative government "

              Well I'm a 53-year old and I've noticed this too. I kind of put it down to the fact that a Government stays in until it becomes obvious that they've f****ed things up, and then the Opposition gets elected. Labour Governments just appear to screw up on average one term earlier than Tory ones.

              Since 1970 we've had 27 years of Tory Government and only 18 years of Labour. Even if you disregard Edward Heath's tenure, to avoid unfairly bookending with two Conservative terms, you still get 18 years of Labour versus 23 years of Tory between 1974 and 2015. Plus of course technically we're heading for another Tory term, eventually making that 28 years.

        2. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: a 48 year-old writes@Red Bren

          Is this just a reflection of human selfishness, or getting more right wing as you get older? You start off young and poor so you vote Labour

          Not for me, no. It is precisely to the benefit of the young and poor that I vote conservative, even if they don't see it the same way yet.

          It is always the poor that inevitably suffer most when labours fiscal profligacy and incompetence drive us to the brink. I will be fine whomever is in power, and can readily export my family if push comes to shove, but in the really real world, money must be earned before it is spent, and it is the private sector economy that pays for literally everything else. Poor men struggle to implement great visions, and so it goes with nations.

          1. Awil Onmearse

            Re: a 48 year-old writes@Red Bren

            "Not for me, no. It is precisely to the benefit of the young and poor that I vote conservative, even if they don't see it the same way yet."

            I'm sure the young and poor might easily mistake you for a condescending bastard, though.

            "It is always the poor that inevitably suffer most when labours fiscal profligacy and incompetence drive us to the brink"

            Oh FFS, I'm certainly no fan of Labour in it's corporate-lizard form, but in all fairness this last Tory regime has been the most profligate in UK history, borrowing more money than ALL previous Labour administrations combined. Get a grip.

        3. Tom 13

          @ Red Bren

          Quite the opposite. As you get older you come to recognize and regret the greed and avarice you shamelessly showed in your youth, and seek to protect those who have actually worked and done things that are useful to society.

    2. Jane Fae

      Re: a 48 year-old writes

      Nope. Don't think the UK has a natural tendency towards conservatism.

      England might have. But it is less pronounced than it looks. Just that for most of the last century the progressive vote has been split Lib/Lab.

      Whereas 1906! Now that was a REAL result... :)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: a 48 year-old writes

      "the UK has a tendency towards Conservative government "

      Maybe.

      "it's the natural party of power."

      Depends. If you mean the constituency boundaries in the last few decades have conveniently been adjusted such that there's an in-built tendency for Tory MPs to get elected, then you'd be right.

      "Whatever. It means Labour et al, have to work extra hard for votes."

      They have to work extra hard for MPs, as well as for votes.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: a 48 year-old writes

        The "natural party of government" is an effective piece of Tory branding, no more. It appeals to the old-school authoritarians who to this day comprise a large chunk of its bedrock.

        It's just as meaningful as it sounds.

    4. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: a 48 year-old writes

      It's more a case that traditionally the left-of-centre vote has been split between different parties.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shy Tory

    shy during the before polls, but apparently not the exit polls?

    1. Brian Morrison

      Re: Shy Tory

      I was asked, but declined, to take part in the exit poll. It was done with a ballot sheet that was then to be detached and folded before being placed in an exit poll box.

      Even the person asking individual electors to take part would not know how they marked this 'ballot' so no need to be 'shy'...

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Shy Tory

        Indeed. I will not reply to a pollster, without exception.

        I see nothing good from a poll, and plenty of bad; wait until Friday morning like the rest of us have to and the answer will be clear.

    2. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Shy Tory

      "shy during the before polls, but apparently not the exit polls?"

      Exit polls are conducted differently.

      Normally you're asked who you're going to vote for.

      But on election day the pollster gives you a ballot paper outside the station and you pop it into a ballot box, just like you've already done a minute or two before.

      Therefore, exit polls have the advantage of anonymity.

      1. auburnman

        Re: Shy Tory

        That could be what's causing the errors then; if you put me in a simulacrum of the real polling booth/situation, with a polling slip reasonably equivalent to the real one, but it's not the actual vote and there are no real consequences for whatever I write, I'd be fairly tempted to tick UKIP/BNP/whatever for a laugh.

  15. All names Taken
    Alien

    Power structure preferences

    The voting system preferences are not arrived at by whim or fantasy?

    I'd guess that an analysis of votes cast for independence in Scotland would carry on a first past the post model.

    So why is first past the post model good for some things and not good for others?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Power structure preferences

      I'd guess that an analysis of votes cast for independence in Scotland would carry on a first past the post model.

      Nope. It was a simple yes/no question, Yes for independence got 1,617,989 votes, no got 2,001,926. It doesn't align with the per-region split of 4:28, but both ways gave a substantial vote against independence.

  16. TheProf

    Up the Pole!

    Have I got this right?

    Each Tory MP got in with 34,244 votes.

    The single UKIP MP needed 3,881,129 votes, the Green MP needed 1,154,562 votes.

    The SNP MPs needed 25,972?

    It's not opinion polls that need changing it's the whole electoral system.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Up the Pole!

      So you would think, but the problem is that there is no silver bullet. Every electoral system you can think of suffers the problem of having some form of unfairness somewhere. IOW, SOMEONE'S going to lose out. As noted, First-Past-the-Post is a form of winner-take-all that tends to naturally polarize politics. But this polarization makes government more focused. The more parties get involved, the more likely you end up with an inability to agree: the "Hung Parliament", if you will. Plus there's the matter of representation. Each form of political subdivision has its pros and cons, and no one can really claim to be better than the other: a system based on population skews against rural areas with lower populations while one based on geography reverses the skew. And trying to find the happy medium runs into the problems of (1) people moving and altering the population distributions, and (2) the perennial problem of redrawing the lines to reflect these changes, as in humans draw the lines (or perhaps make algorithms to help draw these lines), but humans are inherently biased, which means the lines can easily get biased. In short, elections inevitably get messy. The only thing going for it is that it's the least messy of all the options out there.

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Up the Pole!

        Well, the Brits seem to have this fear of a "hung parliament", while for example Germany can live with it just fine. With the result that every vote counts, not like the UK where million of votes for UKIP, Lib Dems and Green party just don't count.

        Anything must be better than a system where UKIP has almost three times as many votes as SNP, Lib Dems have almost twice as many votes, and Green party has almost the same number of votes, and neither got any meaningful numbers in parliament.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Up the Pole!

          You'd think, but the system as is (which is also very similar to how Americans vote their Representatives) offers one key advantage: local representation. IOW, each region has a specific someone to talk to. Any system that doesn't do a winner-take-all style will create multiple representatives for a given region; this by its very nature diffuses the representation and makes this group less accountable locally.

          So you can't win either way. The current system encourages local and concentrated representation, but a proportional system means it's hard to say just who's to blame when something goes pear-shaped in your region.

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: Up the Pole!

            The key advantage of FPTP is that it's actually possible for even quite exalted MPs to lose their seats. (Ed Balls, I'm laughing at you.)

            Any system with a party list - basically makes that impossible.

            Here in New Zealand we have constituency MPs and party lists, the idea being that if you're under-represented at a constituency level, you get 'top up' MPs allocated from the list. The loophole here is that there's nothing to stop you being both a constituency candidate and a list candidate. So when Winston Peters lost his Tauranga seat at the last general election, he carried right on being an MP because he's at the top of his party list.

            Which got downright weird when he stood (and won) as a by-election candidate in Northland. Then, because he's now a constituency MP, the next person on his party's list got into parliament instead. Peters himself is still there, he's been there all along, but now he's no longer a list MP so that slot goes to another, completely unrelated person. I don't know how many Northlanders even know the name of the person they effectively voted into parliament - s/he certainly wasn't on their ballot paper.

            Fair it may be. Transparent it isn't.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Up the Pole!

      Not quite right. The single UKIP MP needed 19,500 votes to get in. The other 3.8 million votes were spread across 549 other consitituencies, none of which individually were high enough for the UKIP candidate there to win.

    3. Jane Fae

      Re: Up the Pole!

      Correct...but twas ever thus. Just that this time round, UKIP, by being so broadly dispersed, has provided one of the most extreme examples of the system working badly ever.

      Prior to that, twas probably the Liberal vote in 1974 (Feb), when 6 million votes got them just 14 seats.

    4. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Up the Pole!

      There's a blog post on how just 900 votes (in specific constituencies) would have changed the outcome of the election.

    5. dogged

      Re: Up the Pole!

      It's fairly obvious that Scotland is grossly over-represented.

  17. Tom from the States

    One polling firm had it right but was too chicken to publish the results.

    "We had flagged that we were conducting this poll to the Daily Mirror as something we might share as an interesting check on our online vs our telephone methodology, but the results seemed so “out of line” with all the polling conducted by ourselves and our peers – what poll commentators would term an “outlier” – that I “chickened out” of publishing the figures – something I’m sure I’ll always regret."

    http://survation.com/snatching-defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory/

    1. Jane Fae

      Re: One polling firm had it right but was too chicken to publish the results.

      Maybe. Personally, i suspect they WERE an outlier and they did get it wrong. Its just that their getting it wrong actually happened to be closer to the right result than the mainstream right results. :)

  18. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    US poll system is broken

    Well, the US poll system is totally broken. Imagine how inaccurate your results would have been if the poll was conducted like "So, are you voting Conservative or Labour?" "No, I'm voting UKIP." "Oh, so undecided then eh?" That is the situation in the US. You would have ended up with a poll then claiming Conservatives and Labor at 50/50, and had polls off like 15 percentage points instead of just 3.

    There have been elections where (at least on a local level) 3rd-party candidates have won an election but showed 0 in the polls (because of course, they only asked if they were voting Democrat or Republican, and would not even record any other choice), and numerous other cases where a 3rd-party candidate would get 15-20% or more of the vote but 0 in the polls. (Although typically 3rd party totals are closer to 5%.) The two times I've been polled, the first time the person simply admitted they had no choice for any 3rd party and hung up on me; the second poll the automated system said "dial 1 for republican, dial 2 for democrat, dial 9 for someone else" and then (when I dialed 9) said "your choice is invalid" and hung up. Usually if they don't simply fail to register a choice (making the poll invalid already) they follow this fantasy that 3rd-party voters are merely "undecided" and inaccurately record their choice as "undecided."

    You then have people who (I don't understand this) based on seeing these invalid polls, think they are "throwing away" their vote if they vote for who they want, feeling forced to vote for a member of the main 2 parties even if they think both are a real piece of crap.

  19. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Poll effect

    I wonder, we may never know, whether a great many potential LibDem or Labour votes were diverted by the threat of those close opinion polls in England and the overwhelming showing for the SNP leaving them holding the balance of power and pulling Labour's strings - as they claimed they would be. Which left voters going into the booths and choosing to vote for the safer choice of a Tory party that won't be dependant on the Scottish MPs.

    In effect the SNP shooting their own fox.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Poll effect

      As it happens, it turns out that Labour's own polling company had seen this very thing, according to today (Tuesday's) BBC web site.

      To the extent that they are even suggesting that polls showing Labour being behind in the last few days would have been to their benefit.

      As it goes, then, there does seem to be a strong suggestion, at the very least, that the polls had an effect on the outcome

      It was a Heisenberg election.

      (Ok technically for the purists, it's the Observer Effect, but why spoil the image).

      With Mr. Cameron as Schroedinger's PM.

    2. DocJames

      Re: Poll effect

      The SNP pulling Labour's strings? Just like the Lib Dems have with the Tories for the past 5 years?

      I agree it may well have been a major factor, but don't think this was based it reality: remember, we're talking about politics here.

  20. Disko
    Black Helicopters

    representation

    isn't happening either way is it...

  21. davenewman

    Registration bias

    There is one new factor this year, that the pollsters may not have taken into account.

    There were heavy drops in registration this year, as individual voter registration started in Great Britain.

    In Oxford, even after a big registration campaign, 6% fewer people were able to vote than last year. In student areas registrations were 30% down. And in areas where large numbers of people move out and in to private rented accomodation, some 20% weren't registered.

    Unless the polling surveys ask people if they are registered to vote, they will not have taken account of a registration system designed to disenfranchise people who are not settled, long-term residents: the natural Conservative voters.

    1. JimWin

      Re: Registration bias

      No - the registration process was to ensure that each voter was who they were supposed to be, with the aim to reduce electoral fraud. Many more people are now mobile within the UK and also Europe and beyond. The electoral register is there to establish the who, where and status for each voter.

    2. Cari

      Re: Registration bias

      "In student areas registrations were 30% down" -

      I wonder if that means universities have stopped putting their students on the electoral register without the students knowing.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Registration bias

        You miss the point.

        They can't do that anymore.

        It's individual registration now.

      2. StephenD

        Re: Registration bias

        Yes, it means exactly that - students had to register themselves this time, but didn't previously (at least not in the early 90s at any rate).

        When I was at uni, I was on the electoral roll at home and at university, through no action of my own (the 'home' registration because my father completed the household information; the 'university' registration because the university/college did; in neither case was it discussed with me in advance).

        I never voted twice, but presumably could have with pretty minimal chances of being caught, and it seems likely that some students did exactly that.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: I never voted twice, but presumably could have with pretty minimal chances

          Yep. That is why leftists on both sides of the pond oppose anything that will remove duplicated voters in the system. As for myself, I've never checked but could be registered in as many as 5 locations. Like you, I've never cast more than the ballot I'm allotted where I actually reside.

    3. Jane Fae

      Re: Registration bias

      oh...do you have a source for this?

      Not doubting you: just something i am interested in.

  22. phil dude
    Pint

    Oxford West....

    if you want a summary of why this election was so badly predicted look at Oxford West. At the last election an MCR full of students (110?) voting Lib Dem, would have prevented a Tory seat. Look now and the Lib-Dem vote collapsed, and there are 3000 UKIP votes.

    So split vote, Lib-Dem collapse,SNP being put in total charge. It is possible the Scottish folk will get punished by the Tories, and as predicted without Labour in Scotland , Tories will rule.

    However, it is not surprising.

    Politicians of all stripes sell out to the highest bidder, and the proles have no purse...

    P.

  23. PNGuinn
    Joke

    Bloody Beancounters

    So they ask a bunch of people a few loaded questions. Add fudge and fiddle factors. Treat the parties as cost centers etc.

    YOU'RE NOT COUNTING BEANS. You are dealing with SHEEPLE.

    Get yourselves a bunch of border collies. Job done.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An excellent summary ..

    .. for what happened with the finance industry.

    Over the years, polling organisations have identified what they consider to be the most significant sources of skew and they have developed a range of corrections to apply to their raw data. The problem? First, the nature and direction of the correction required can only be fully understood after the event: so every election forecast is built with one eye on the rear-view mirror.

    Worse, as the outcome from your predictive tool is increasingly based not the data going into it, but the transformations applied to that data – the “fudge factors” – the integrity of the tools themselves begins to be called into account.

    That's probably the most concise summary of what went wrong with banks - you just have to add that, unlike pollsters, they are not seeking to correct that as we bailed them out instead.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I always vote by post

    ...so escape the pollsters entirely.

    But if I voted in person, I'd either lie to the pollsters or tell them where to get off because I can't stand nosiness.

  26. MonkeyCee Silver badge

    SNP destroying Labour

    My opinion of the Scottish independence vote was it was the best piece of political engineering achieved by the Conservatives for many years.

    If Scotland went independent, their electorates would no longer be in the UK parliament. mainly causing losses to non-Con parties, ensuring a Con majority for years. Or a major shift in other parties to mirror main Con party lines.

    If Scotland stayed in the union, then it would lead to Labour losing some seats, assuming Lab campaigned for the union.

    So win-win either way.

    UKIP leaching Lab votes helped too.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Ashamed Labourite"

    I've been a "Shy Tory" for years, driven to it by sneering leftie "friends" purveying the myth that to be Tory is to be nasty. But recent events have convinced me it is the left who should be ashamed and the Tories who should be proud.

    The left want to spend other people's money on "people like them". Of course, redistribution of wealth, to a degree that does not inhibit enterprise, is necessary to prevent the harm that can be caused by the abuse of capitalist power. But spending money rightfully belonging to the next generation is an even worse abuse of power since the next generation have no voice of their own whatsoever, and is a shameful distortion of honourable left wing ideals. Yet this is what, starting in 1997 when Gordon Brown abandoned conservative spending plans and started borrowing as though there was no tomorrow, the Labour party did and want to continue.

    So what happened in the recent election is that some on the left, aware of the problem and feeling this shame, lied about their voting intentions. The pollsters got it wrong because although their fudge factors took account of the "Shy Tory" it took no account of the "Ashamed Labourite".

    1. captain veg

      Re: "Ashamed Labourite"

      > starting in 1997 when Gordon Brown abandoned conservative spending plans and started borrowing as though there was no tomorrow

      Au contraire. In 1997, to the dismay of many of his Labour colleagues, Gordon Brown stuck to the Conservative spending plans for the next 2 years. The Conservatives subsequently admitted that they themselves never had any intention of doing so.

      -A.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: "Ashamed Labourite"

        Au contraire. In 1997, to the dismay of many of his Labour colleagues, Gordon Brown stuck to the Conservative spending plans for the next 2 years.

        Government spending, sure. Have you never heard of PFI, whose purpose it is to take public spending off-book, so you can say "Hey, we're not spending much", all the while pushing the problems, oooh, 18 years down the line?

        These bankrupt hospitals, they all had large injections of PFI cash post 97, and we're still paying for it.

        1. captain veg

          Re: "Have you never heard of PFI"

          Of course. Invented in 1992 by John Major's government. Yes, it was a major failing of Brown's that he didn't sweep them away, but this revisionist history that Labour alone broke the economy by overspending is entirely counter-factual.

          -A.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    or...

    Shock horrow, people hate pollsters and are lying to them.

    I do every time...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: or...

      >or...

      >Shock horrow, people hate pollsters and are lying to them.

      I >do every time...

      True, but why 3% more this time than last time.

  29. captain veg

    first identified in the 1992 general election

    "one of the largest fudge factors was that of the “shy Tory”: first identified in the 1992 general election"

    I remember well the 1992 election. Then, as now, the only plausible explanation of the outcome is massive infiltration of polling stations by MI5.

    -A.

  30. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Banks were just greedy and incompetent

    "That's probably the most concise summary of what went wrong with banks - you just have to add that, unlike pollsters, they are not seeking to correct that as we bailed them out instead."

    Well, with the banks it was and is sheer greed. For example, with CDS (Credit Default Swaps) -- the person who originally designed the modern CDS flat out told the banks they were using them wrong and would lose their shirts eventually.

    With a CDS, a bunch of loans and mortgages are clumped into this security, the seller sells it off, and receives a monthly payment from the buyer. In return, the seller will pay the buyer IN FULL for any loans within the CDS that are defaulted on (i.e. whoever made the loan stops paying it off). The developer of the modern CDS flat-out TOLD the banks that a CDS with, say, 10% default rate over 100 years, that it's not going to be 1/100th the defaults per year but rather much lower defaults most years and much much higher other years, that the defaults would come in big clumps. Well, the first bank he worked at eventually fired him for being a buzzkill, raked in cash for a few years, then when EXACTLY what he said would happen happened, they then lied and claimed they'd had NO WARNING this could possibly happen; and instead of letting the incompetent banks go bankrupt and moving their bank accounts to competent banks (plenty of banks DID NOT participate in this incompetence), the Feds wasted money bailing them out. You know what a few of these same banks are involved in now? CREDIT DEFAULT SWAPS, again!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Banks were just greedy and incompetent

      You say it "is" pure greed and talk about the banks as though the bad behaviour of 2008 all is happening now or happened last year. It happened last decade. Banks have quite a turnover of people and ideas and business objectives and risks and strategies. I moving into banking at the turn of the decade. This year I was approached and interviewed by a PhD student studying the culture of banking. I told him that the office is stuffed full of new folks hired after 2010 and earnest young 20 something's who were at uni when the peak of the bad practices. We get compliance training rammed down our throats every quarter and earnest videos of the CEO telling us to "do the right thing". I don't know anyone who isn't proud of the firm they are in and the job they do.

      The more techie of us also note that the top ten strategic risk register puts fines from regulators as number one and things like date centre outages only just scrape into the top ten. Bankers really do now believe earning an honest buck is far better than cutting any corners and getting fined a hundred million bucks. They have reined in their desks. The "Wolf of Wall Street" types got bored at the beginning of the downturn and left to setup hedge funds as they simply couldn't opperate in a big firm any more. They are long gone by the time the firms were looking to lay them off or sack them. What's left is a load of normal people in a particular industry working hard under new rules in a new environment.

      The bogeyman banker of the left is a fiction. A straw man to frighten the no-nots to vote for the protection of the radical left. It's a worn out idea as shown by the election result. As long as the left keep it alive they are going to continue to get lame duck leaders like Ed Red who are out of touch with the voters.

  31. TomPhan

    More or Less on Radio 4

    The most recent episode of More or Less is about the statistics for the election. It should still be available on the Radio 4 site.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poll samples too small!

    With 650 consituencies, the only way to get accurate polls is to massively increase the sample. If you ask 6500 people, that's only 10 per constituency (if you even bother to select people from each).

    The number needs to be a lot higher, and no algorithm or other corrections can possibly make up for the lack of sample size.

    Unless you ask a significantly higher number of people in each constituency, the polls are only going to give you an overall percentage of votes, but no clue as to which arses (pun intended) may actually fill the seats in the House of Commons. And as long as you haven't established which candidate will end up having a seat, you know nothing about the distribution of MPs (which is the only thing that really matters in the UK), and hence your polls are useless.

  33. Ralph Online

    Much of the "science" of market research is built on the election polling industry - all going back to George Gallup as far as I understand.The dismal performance of the pollsters in GE2015 makes me wonder whether market research should now be rebased on weather forecasting - after all the science, or at least the mathematical models they have, seems to be improving!

  34. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Headmaster

    Holographic

    Because the polls could be likened to a holographic projection? Or like cotton candy covered in gravy and sold as roast beef? Because there never was any there, there? Because the polls were designed to create the image of a majority?

  35. Santonia

    Reality check please

    What seems to be being missed is the actual, genuine, real, mathematical change in votes and how disproportionately that has affected the final outcome.

    The Tories gained just 0.8% increase in vote share (2010 to 2015), with Labour outperforming them with a 1.5% INCREASE in vote share. This could be summarised as - not a great deal of difference for the 2 main parties between 2010 and 2015. However, due to our utterly outdated FPTP system this means that there has been a major shift in final Seat distribution. This point is constantly missed. Ultimately, the system has created this result, not really the electorate.In short: Cameron failed to convince any meaningful number of additional voters that his programme of systematic destruction of the UK was a good idea, likewise Milliband was unable to convince any more voters that his version of austerity was much different to the current one. Lies, damn lies and statistics - sums up UK politics.

    On this point:

    "With 650 consituencies, the only way to get accurate polls is to massively increase the sample. If you ask 6500 people, that's only 10 per constituency (if you even bother to select people from each)."

    Err no, you only need poll the 50 - 100 seats where any kind of change is likely. There is literally zero point in polling people in Sunderland or Guildford, for instance, about their voting habits as those seats will 'never' change. Focus on the few that matter. And Scotland.

  36. Disintermediation

    Why should I give a monkeys peanut the polls were wrong?

    What gives? Why is this important? Rather than the media reporting on the policies they reported on the predicted result. The actual result is news but they led with predictions of the results; which is now clearly exposed as a bad joke not good journalism.

    It seems that it's a big media event that the polls were wrong, Yet the polls are themselves a media event. If you see media events themselves as not news worthy then this is "not news" about the "not news". Even if you think the opposite then it's "news" about the "news" so once again a media event not of interest to anyone other than journalists.

    Can we get a story about journalists being embarrassed and apologising for serving up all this drivel as being news worthy? Or how about an investigative journalism piece exposing how journalists are manufacturing news by buying polls and ignoring the real story of the election campaign? Or even a soap opera about an honest journalists being seduced by a heartless statistician would be less of a waste of time than all this navel gazing about polls.

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