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Opinion polls... Can't even be close to right.

(12 Posts)
Spinflight Mon 04-May-15 17:35:10

Well every commentator and journalist tells us that this is the most difficult election to call in history, and in the same breath tell us what will happen due to opinion polls.

Since 1950 the lab + con voteshare has been in steady historic decline from 98.5% down to 65% in 2010.

Now almost every single poll, whether commissioned by a tory paper or a labour one, seems to buck the trend, generally claiming voteshares of 67-70%, which frankly just doesn't sit well with the mood of the country or the reaction the leaders get in public. Add in the massive loss of Labour votes in Scotland and it becomes difficult to accept the findings of any of the polls.

Election forecast strangely predict a 71% chance of this vote share being lower than any previous election, whilst still putting the lab + con average on much greater than 65%.

Manipulating polls is clearly in the interests of the 'narrative'. Individual seats are rarely ( about a dozen cases) won by a constituency vote of less than 33%, hence if a party is polling under that nationally it makes the notion that they are going to win hundreds of seats statistically unlikely.

Also the polls are selective, generally using newspaper readership as the criterion. Hence x many Guardian readers plus Mirror etc are used to represent likely labour voters.

Trouble is paper rounds are thin on the ground as newspaper readership has been in freefall for at least 15 years and tallies rather well with the overall lab + con voteshare ( most households took more than one in the 50s). Nowadays less than a third of households regularly buy a paper and the respect accorded to journalists is not that different from the public perception of a paedophile or politician.

This is flawed to begin with, though the polls will then weight the results by past election performance. So the lib dems, despite regularly being beaten by Elvis impersonators and "save the Church Road bus shelter" candidates since 2010, are given credit for their 20+% 2010 result. The Greens on the other hand ( Gawd knows which newspaper they think Greens read) are weighted by their 1%.

When it comes to UKIP it appears to be outright bias rather than statistical anomalies in sampling. Indeed the concept of a UKIP surge seems to be more to explain the deliberately low weight given to them during a campaign than an actually event on the ground. Reckless and Carswell won big despite polls showing they were losing.

It is interesting to note that of the 27% and 36% who tribally voted Labour and Tory in 2010 around a seventh ( 9% overall) are likely dead. Also the turnout ( 65% in 2010) is historically on the rise which isn't explained by young voters and likely isn't people who regularly buy papers.

Isitmebut Tue 05-May-15 14:06:20

The opinion polls are heavily influenced IMO by the following;

1. The more parties there are, the more negative campaigning and outright lies there are against the government of the day, as in the past, if any government had inherited such an unbalanced economy and debt was bringing a country out of a recession they didn’t cause – and doing better than the rest of Europe to boot, they’d get more recognition for doing that in the polls.

Labour in 2010 refused to give their manifesto spending/cuts/new taxes detail, decided on Day One to oppose everything in parliament, while UKIP who produced in the last election a manifesto Farage called “drivel” (but still got nearly 1 million votes on it) – but BOTH have made it their political business every day for 5-years via the social media (they gain ever more access to), to talk down the progress made by the government, neither’s manifesto had the first idea, never mind capable, of delivering.

Moreover, for some unfathomable reason, of the 12-17% saying they will currently vote for UKIP, they are on an ex Conservative 2-3 to 1 Labour ratio, which neither reflects Labour’s past more accommodative policies on the EU/immigration, or the Conservative’s scepticism of the EU since the 1990’s to DELIVER what UKIP want on the EU e.g. a UK Referendum – never mind their shared low taxation policy similarities vs higher taxation Labour.

2. The impatience and rise of the ‘want it now’ society who don’t understand there is no magic wand to transform their fortunes (and prejudices) overnight, as in 2010 we were where we were, especially when still recovering from the worst recession in over 80-years and ‘the money had all gone’.

Hence 5-years later, many now trust those in power back then to ‘now’ DELIVER the magic solutions, even though they propose more of the 1997 to 2010 same – democratically deciding those problems are now ‘later’ problems, for future generations to sort out, via even more cuts and even more taxes, than now.

3. The UK is not alone in wanting it ‘now’, far left and far right parties are seen as the solution to deliver it across Europe, which is reminiscent to Europe in the 1930’s, the only difference being Europe 7-years after the crash is STILL growth flat lining, have twice our unemployment level and flaying around looking for reforms and private sector driven growth solutions, the UK has put in place after the past 5-years.

'A grave moment for France': National Front sweeps to victory in Paris leaving Socialist government fighting for life - and in Germany a neo-Nazi is elected for first time in decades”

•FN leader Marine Le Pen heralded victory for 'sovereign people of France'
•Results so far guarantee FN around a third of France's 74 seats
•Prime Minister Manuel Valls described result as 'a shock, an earthquake'
•President Francois Hollande holds 'urgent' talks with ministers after poll
•Germany faces having first far-Right candidate in decades
•Anti-Islamic party wins more than a quarter of vote in Denmark
•Radical left and far-Right in Greece both perform well
•Beppe Grillo's Five Star movement beaten into second place in Italy

In Summary; if the UK electorate woke up to the enormity of our 2010 problems, worse than Europe on many i.e. the size of our annual deficit/overspend and lack of housing versus theirs, even the ‘want it nows’ would see they have more chance of achieving it under the current government, than changing back to those who LOST around 7% of economic output in 2008/9 and forgot to build homes – or see a far right UKIP is the answer to any other vote, than those in Labour protesting against Labour’s record.

Democratically a multi party system can say ‘I agree with Labour, lets have more of the 1997 to 2010 same’, and when it all goes boobs up they’ll make up a template with the policy missing and say “we made mistakes on ……..” and expect to be forgiven - so we can all argue the current voting system is ‘not fair’, or wonder why the polls are a mystery – but for some that can see past the “drivel”, its even more frustrating.

figroll Thu 07-May-15 10:14:33


prh47bridge Thu 07-May-15 17:56:13

Election forecast strangely predict a 71% chance of this vote share being lower than any previous election, whilst still putting the lab + con average on much greater than 65%

Not sure why you think that is inconsistent. The polls predict that the LabCon share will be around 65%-70% of the votes actually cast. So if only 1,000 people vote but between 650 and 700 of them vote LabCon the polls will be correct.

Manipulating polls is clearly in the interests of the 'narrative'.

No pollster would be interested in manipulating polls. The political polls are their shop window. Their bread and butter is the market research they do for their clients. If they were found to be manipulating opinion polls it would be seriously damaging and possibly fatal to their core business.

generally using newspaper readership as the criterion

No idea where you get that from. There isn't a single opinion poll that selects based on newspaper readership.

the polls will then weight the results by past election performance

True but you misunderstand how that weighting works. Pollsters ask people how they voted at the last election as well as asking how they intend to vote at this. If they find they have too few people who voted LibDem, say, they will weight their responses upwards regardless of which party they say they are voting for this time. So if all the 2010 voters say they will vote Labour this time it will be Labour that benefits from the weighting.

Reckless and Carswell won big despite polls showing they were losing

Try again. The polls consistently showed that both would win. Just as the (anti-UKIP according to you) polls consistently showed that UKIP was going to win the European elections.

prh47bridge Fri 08-May-15 10:58:23

And now we know. LabCon vote share around 67.5%. So whilst the polls understated the Conservatives and overstated Labour the total share was about right. UKIP 12.6%, slightly better than the 11-12% predicted by most polls but worse than the 16% predicted by Survation.

blissofsolitude Fri 08-May-15 17:24:04

Well I voted and everyone else who I spoke to yesterday had a similar opinion.

Labour supporters who identify with labour and usually vote labour, who actually thought the Tories have done a good job and feared the weak leader and policies of the current Labour Party. They remembered the hell of the recession and seeing their neighbour rake in thousands in benefits.

Therefore voted Conservative confused

People just could not make their mind up! Or they changed their mind at the last minute.

hackmum Fri 08-May-15 19:13:12

"They remembered the hell of the recession and seeing their neighbour rake in thousands in benefits."

Because they were too stupid to spot that there'd been a global recession caused by a greedy banking sector that had nothing to do with the Labour government?

And simultaneously too stupid to spot companies like Vodafone or wealthy non-coms evading billions of pounds of tax, but instead getting exercised because somebody they know is getting a few quid off the state?

I tell you what. When you can't get an operation on the NHS because the new private contractor is only taking on lucrative patients; when your child can't get a school place because the new privately-run academics only want the rich, clever kids; when you can't get a housing association home because the Tories have sold them all off; when your mentally ill relative can't get treatment because there are no longer mental health professionals around to treat people; when you can no longer get statutory maternity pay or a disability allowance - when any of that happens, please don't come whining on here. Remember it's what you voted for.

prh47bridge Fri 08-May-15 19:57:48

hackmum - One of the things that really puts me off Labour is when their supporters trot out this kind of rubbish. Disagree with the Tories by all means but don't trot out scare stories like the NHS being given over to private contractors who pick and choose which patients to treat. It won't happen. On the NHS specifically, only one party has ever in the history of the NHS cut its funding. Which party do you think that was? I'll give you a clue. It wasn't the Conservatives.

No, the Labour government didn't cause the global recession (nor did greedy bankers actually but let that pass). Labour's overspending made sure the recession hit the UK worse than many other countries.

namechange0dq8 Fri 08-May-15 20:18:49

when your child can't get a school place because the new privately-run academics only want the rich, clever kids

I always wondered what the left-wing equivalent of "Labour are all communists who want to give the country to Russia" was. Now I know.

blissofsolitude Fri 08-May-15 20:45:40

Don't insult people by calling them stupid because you're losing and argu...oops! You've already lost!

hackmum Sat 09-May-15 11:17:36

"Don't trot out scare stories like the NHS being given over to private contractors who pick and choose which patients to treat. It won't happen."

And you know this because...?

It's already happening, of course. Take Bedfordshire, where they decided to outsource elective orthopaedic surgery to a private contractor - nice and profitable, of course. Meanwhile, the NHS gets lumbered with the expensive orthopaedic trauma patients.

prh47bridge Sun 10-May-15 23:53:46

That isn't what the article to which you link actually says. And even if it did, the NHS would still be offering orthopaedic surgery to all patients free at the point of delivery.

The decision to outsource any NHS service is taken by clinical staff, not politicians. In this case it seems the service was outsourced in order to save money. If it actually ends up costing the NHS money it was a poor deal. If, as intended, it saves money it was a good deal.

But to go back to your original question, I know this because any government that attempted to change the NHS so that it only serviced lucrative patients would be political suicide. Similarly I know that it would be political suicide for any government to allow academies to only accept rich, clever kids and would go directly against the Conservative party's principles - not that it was the Conservatives that introduced the pupil premium, so schools get more money for taking on disadvantaged kids.

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