I’ve been catching up on sleep after the election, but this is just to add a brief, post-election round up of how the polls performed. In 2015 and 2017 the equivalent posts were all about how the polls had got it wrong, and what might have caused it (even in 2010, when the polls got the gap between Labour and the Conservatives pretty much spot on, there were questions about the overstatement of the Liberal Democrats). It’s therefore rather a relief to be able to write up an election when the polls were pretty much correct.

The majority of the final polls had all the main parties within two points, with Ipsos MORI and Opinium almost spot on – well done both of them. The only companies that really missed the mark were ICM and ComRes, who understated the Tories and overstated Labour, meaning they had Conservative leads of only 6 and 5 points in their final polls.

My perception during the campaign was that much of the difference between polling companies showing small Conservative leads and those companies showing bigger leads was down to how and if they were accounting for false recall when weighting using past vote – I suspect this may well explain the spread in the final polls. Those companies that came closest were those who either do not weight by past vote (MORI & NCPolitics), adjusted for it (Kantar), or used data collected in 2017 (Opinium & YouGov). ComRes and ICM were, as far as I know, both just weighting recalled 2017 past vote to actual 2017 vote shares, something that would risk overstating Labour support if people disproportionately failed to recall voting Labour in 2017.

The YouGov MRP performed less well than in 2017. The final vote shares it produced were all within 2 points of the actual shares, but the seat predictions showed a smaller Tory majority than happened in reality. Ben Lauderdale who designed the model has already posted his thoughts on what happened here. Part of it is simply a function of vote share (a small difference in vote share makes a big difference to seat numbers), part of it was an overstatement of Brexit party support in the key Conservative target seats. Whether that was having too many Brexit supporters in the sample, or Brexit party supporters swinging back to the Tories in the last 48 hours will be clearer once we’ve got some recontact data.

Finally, the 2019 election saw a resurgence of individual constituency polling, primarily from Survation and Deltapoll. Constituency polling is difficult (and I understand has become even more so since the advent of GDPR, as it has reduced the availability of purchasable database of mobile phone numbers from specific areas), and with small sample sizes of 400 or 500 it will inevitably be imprecise. Overall, it performed well this time though – particularly given that many of the constituency polls were conducted in seats you would expect to be hard to poll: unusual seats, or places with independents or high profile defectors standing. David Gauke’s support was understated, for example, and in Putney constituency polling overstated Lib Dem support at the expense of Labour. However, in many places it performed well, particularly the Chelsea & Fulham, Wimbledon, Finchley and Esher & Walton polls.

And with that, I’m off for a nice Christmas break. Have a good Christmas and happy new year.


2,835 Responses to “General election polling – post mortem”

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  1. Have a great Christmas Anthony .

  2. Seasonal greetings and thanks to AW again.

    It is also gratifying for many of us posters that the polls were accurate this time. While some of us didn’t get the result we wanted, and were desperately hoping the pollsters were wrong again, having a discussion site on polls would seem increasingly pointless if the polls were always wrong.

  3. BBC now reporting the breakdown of the votes in favour of Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill.

    “Perhaps unsurprisingly, 353 of them came from Tories.

    But six Labour MPs voted for the plan too:

    Sarah Champion – MP for Rotheram
    Rosie Cooper – MP for West Lancashire
    Jon Cruddas – MP for Dagenham and Rainham
    Emma Lewell-Buck – MP for South Shields
    Grahame Morris – MP for Easington
    Toby Perkins – MP for Chesterfield
    A further 32 Labour MPs abstained in the vote – despite Jeremy Corbyn telling his party to vote against it.

    They include three shadow cabinet members:

    John Trickett – MP for Hewmsworth
    Ian Lavery – MP for Wansbeck
    Andrew Gwynne – MP for Denton and Reddish”

    I wonder if the Shadow ministers will be sacked?

    Lewell-Buck also voted for the timetable motion with the government.

  4. Isn’t majority government politics boring :-)

    Merry Brexmas everyone

  5. Not much point in sacking Shadow Cabinet members now , when the leader will be gone soon . More likely they won’t be reappointed when the next unelectable to the country Labour leader comes in .

  6. Pinball666

    “… when the next unelectable to the country Labour leader comes in .”

    That’s extremely partisan – especially since we dont know who the leader will be yet.

    By all means, express an opinion on polling evidence on the electability of the new Labour leader when the time comes.

  7. Sadly, I fear PB666 may be correct.

    It seems that Corbyn and cronies are delaying matters in order to get their ducks in a row so that just their unelectable fellow travellers will be presented to members and supporters to vote on.

  8. @Alec

    As someone you thinks polls are interesting and important I am also pleased at their success this time. Some of the criticism of them on this site has been both annoying and ill informed.

  9. I’m continuing my thoughts on the economic effects of brexit. I’m assuming we are heading for a “hard brexit”, namely a free trade agreement on tariffs and quotas but not much else. This is consistent with government pronouncements so far.

    The change in trading regime is a “negative supply shock” – see the previous post

    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/10116/comment-page-25#comment-1264848

    There will be widespread restrictions for businesses trading with the EU (and, to a lesser extent, other countries that have EU trade agreements) in the form of customs declarations, checks, regulatory certifications, and in the case of some service industries, actual bans on business. Individuals will have difficulty with visas, work permits, health insurance and recognition of qualifications. It is clear that many people will be affected directly. Smaller companies and individuals will be less able to cope than large businesses that have the scale to justify new IT and admin systems.

    A second business problem is the lack of investment as new facilities cannot be justified to serve a UK market outside the EU. Thus it seems most of the motor industry, for example, will eventually disappear as models in production reach their end of life.

    Apart from all that, it seems the main channels through which everyone else will be affected are: the sterling exchange rate, and government finances.

    The exchange rate is likely to drift down to choke off imports that can no longer be afforded (due to fewer exports and lower inward investment). This is likely to be ameliorated by the sale of assets, particularly by pensioners living off internationally-invested portfolios. I’m expecting therefore that it drifts down like a deflating balloon, rather than a sharp pop.

    Government finances will be affected by lower corporate profits, particularly due to relocation of HQs to other countries to take advantage of better trading conditions there, and lower economic activity generally. A second factor will be the sharply increased costs of the civil service as armies of new regulatory bodies have to be set up. It is worth noting that Hammond’s 20bn brexit fund is already gone.

    What follows depends on the government response. The consensus is that doing nothing, or increasing government spending is likely to lead to stagflation as the excess demand forces prices higher and makes further businesses unprofitable. In this scenario (looking back at the history books to the 1960s and 70s), those most affected will be those with cash or living on fixed incomes, those on un-indexed welfare, and those that are employed but unable to bargain higher wages. The comfortably insulated will be those on indexed-linked pensions and people in internationally-competitive employment (e.g. software, non-EU financial services).

    The other possible government response will be cut back government spending. This trajectory is likely to have a less marked decline of the exchange rate, higher interest rates, higher unemployment and deteriorating public services. The early 1980s would be a good guide here (but without the positive supply shock due to the advent of north sea oil in the mid 80s). In this scenario it is hard to see how a housing market crash can be avoided. In that very interesting youtube discussion by Martin Wolf and Mariana Mazzucato “The UK economy after Brexit” someone linked to a few days ago, she emphasised how personal indebtedness is back to the levels just before the crash in 2008. So some sort of financial crisis may be on the cards too. The big losers would be the unemployed and anyone invested in property.

    It may be that the policy response is incoherent, as BigFatRon suggested: first runaway spending, followed by slamming on the brakes for an almighty recession as the conservatives’ desire for public frugality reasserts itself.

    The best that can be hoped for is that the government takes finely-tuned action to share the pain but without a crisis in either direction. But I’m not banking on it.

  10. YGs MRP in Scotland turned out extremely well, given the number of marginal seats here.

    Moray they had as a dead heat, and the final Con majority was 513 (1.1% of voters)

    East Dunbartonshire was always close, but there seems to have been a late swing away from the LDs/Swinson to SNP and Labour. SNP majority 149 (0.3% of voters)

    Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath’s circumstances were unique, and no one could have predicted Hanvey’s majority over Labour.

    The 7 Lanarkshire seats have a fraught relationship with reality. In all of them, there was a big movement to SNP from SLab not recorded in the MRP, which toppled the last 3 seats, but I wouldn’t have been surprised to see the swing go the other way.

  11. Thanks so much Anthony; really appreciate all your work.
    PINBALL
    Hello to you. I did not read your post as partisan. I think what we mean is that the group who run the Party will ensure that someone tin the Corbyn wing of the party. will become leader of the party.

    Mr Milne has already stated that he wants to get rid of ‘the counter revolutionary dogs’ from the party. If the moderates who are in the CLP’s and the trade unions quit then it will pave the way for another leader who will not win a GE.

    On twitter Mr Singh has written that many voters noticed, and did not like, the 2018 Party Conference had flags for Palestine on the conference chairs. They sang ‘From the River to the Sea’ .
    It was commented that the modern Labour leadership are uncomfortable with our flags, however.

  12. Princess et al (FPT re Labour and PR)

    Agreed, but moving to PR necessitates a huge shift in Lab thinking – away from the concept of getting an overall majority to do as they wish, to an entirely new model of seeking partners across the UK (while it exists!) to create a progressive alliance in which they will be but one (albeit large) voice.

    SLab have been unable to pull off that trick, but perhaps ELab can.

  13. I was particularly disappointed in the Kensington result, where some of the tactical voting (TV) recommendations were based on local polls that grossly overestimated the LibDem vote, causing the TV websites to make the counterintuitive recommendation to vote Libdem. In the actual result the Conservatives were 0.3% ahead of Labour, with the LibDems well behind, thus allowing the Conservatives to win the seat despite a 60% support for Remain parties. This is a case where TV based on inaccurate polls actually produced a perverse result.

  14. Chrislane1945 and PB666

    Agreed Corbyn was unelectable in 2019 and other factors contributed too.

    But in 2017 the Tories only managed largest party in spite of Labours so called unelectable left wing manifesto.

    Someone other than Corbyn in 2017 could have done even better – maybe even largest party for Labour.

    Oh, how history would be so much different now.

    Labour can do well with another leader with similar policies.

    We will see. But dont link Labours unelectability with their manifesto polling evidence suggests quite a lot of it was actually quite popular.

    It was Corbyn, Brexit and Labours difficulty with the latter that lost it.

  15. Nadolig Llawen to all, particularly Anthony Wells.

    Oldnat – adoption of full PR for the Regional Parliaments would be a big step forwards for Labour. I doubt they will in Wales and will in fact oppose any moves for more PR.

    If another Corbynite gets the Leadership of Labour , I see the likelyhood of a Blairitie defection and possible Alliance with the remnants of the Lib Dems being quite likely. There are a lot of floating voters up for grabs at the moment.

  16. Pretty much anyone would be unelectable with a manifesto the liberal media hate, given enough time for the media to trash them.

    The media hadn’t had enough time to trash Corbyn sufficiently in 2017, and maybe the media were fooled by the polls into thinking Corbyn was going to do much worse anyway.

    If not caving to the media, whoever Labour choose now, they probably have to change leaders again closer to the election. Like the Tories.

  17. When the media take a concerted stance against a particular party, that creates difficulties.

    There’s no need for any Scots indy supporter to be reminded of that!

    So, it might be to Labour’s advantage to work out how the SNP has won every election in Scotland since 2015, in the face of a hostile media.

    I don’t know how they have done it – but they have.

  18. Correction “since 2011”

  19. Has anyone seen a recording of Clive Lewis in the Commons today?
    He was being very rude indeed to Clare Perry in the Queen’s Speech today.
    I do not understand why he thinks his gestures were appropriate.

    TONYBTG.
    I think that the 2017 GE result was Labour’s fifteenth poorest results in terms of seats since the party began in 1900.

    JIB.
    I hope the bulk PLP then does have the courage to leave the wider party and then their leader will be de facto leader of HM Opposition.
    As you probably know before an early Bennite reform in 1971-1972 the PLP was in fact separate from the wider party according to the party’s constitution..

  20. @JIB

    I confidently predict that under FPTP no breakaway will succeed.

    Since a 2-party system first established itself in the late 17th century (“Court” and “Country” parties), there has never been a successful third party.

    From the accession of Queen Anne until the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, we had Tory and Whig. Then both parties reacted to the changing industrial landscape, and reformed and renamed themselves as Whig and Conservative. After the First World War, the Liberal ideology was encroached from the Right by the Conservatives and from the left by Labour, and within the period 1922-23 Labour wholly superseded the Liberals in a two-party duopoly.

    For the last hundred years this duopoly has been maintained, notwithstanding the SDP attempt to break it, and the LibDems getting up to 60-odd seats for a short while.

    In Northern Ireland, the longstanding UUP/SDLP duopoly was rapidly replaced by DUP/SF following the mid-80s Anglo-Irish Agreement.

    In Scotland, near one-party rule has been the norm since the 1920s (though prior to that it shared the Conservative/Liberal duopoly).

    FPTP is simply not conducive to any other configuration.

  21. “So, it might be to Labour’s advantage to work out how the SNP has won every election in Scotland since 2015, in the face of a hostile media.
    I don’t know how they have done it – but they have.”

    ——–

    Devolution gave sufficient insulation from Westminster that they didn’t feel they had to keep electing Labour and could pick a more Scots-focused party.

    And do they really trash Scots politicians the way they trashed Miliband with everything from his Dad to how he ate a sandwich?

  22. Today`s developments haven`t made the situation any less depressing for me.

    There was the triumphalism from Mark Francois and Boris Johnson in the HoC. The PM is now dictating to us that we haven`t to label ourselves as Remainers.

    The clear signs are that Johnson intends a Hard Brexit with workers` rights reduced and environmental safeguards slashed. He has not given any hint of respecting the democratic votes in Scotland, so we are heading for trouble.

    Then the rebellion of Labour MPs, and the emerging likelihood that another Hard-Left leader will keep the party unelectable.

    Plus the continuing austerity, with declines in NHS performance, transport failures e.g. seat booking scrapped on Scotland trains, local authority failures, e.g. no money to replace 5 bridges swept away in the autumn floods in King Edward parish south of Banff.

  23. Carfrew

    The point I made was about how a party can prosper despite their being a hostile media.

    I realise that you won’t see the Scottish editions of the London papers, Scottish TV or the Scottish based press, but yes, they have run concerted campaigns against a party that they see as threatening their interests.

    Why would you imagine that they wouldn’t?

  24. @oldnat

    Sure, they’re not keen on independence but it’s not the same as trashing the leader of Labour day in and day out.

    I just checked the Daily Record, a lengthy scroll past all the Love Island stuff and Gerrard etc. and there’s a bit of a go at Boris and Corbyn not Nicola.

  25. @MOG

    I thought that the Lib Dems had become a very promising third party under the tutelage of the late Charles Kennedy, and it was a tragedy that his illness got the better of him.

    I still do not understand why Clegg there it all away in 2010!

    The third way was alive and well up until then, and the SNP show that the apparent barriers of FPTP can be broken!

  26. Correection: Clegg threw it a away in 2010

  27. SteamDriven:

    Just checking now that we have a new thread, that you saw my message for your wife sometime yesterday.

    Escaping into leisure interests is a good relief from politics, but for us botanists, the messages are coming hard and fast – check before Dec 31 that you haven`t mislaid any record batches, and ensure ALL your records have reached the database. Then next we will be plunged into arguments just like the pollster inquests post-GEs. How to handle the extra intensity of recording, which has produced extra species occurrences and some will say proves biodiversity isn`t declining.

  28. Just checked the Herald
    One article against Nicola “showboating”, right near the bottom.
    But another about Scots seeing the truth that eludes Johnson voters, another article warning of Labour oblivion etc.

    Nothing yet about Nicola’s Dad or how she eats a sandwich.

  29. Carfrew

    I bow to your superior knowledge, for having had a quick look at the Daily Record’s coverage recently.

    We locals really don’t know much about what happens here, so your comments are really helpful.

  30. @oldnat

    Lol, feel free to use your local knowledge to show all the headlines trashing Nicola like Milibabd and Corbyn.

  31. Carfrew

    No. Honestly. I just rely on the analysis of our so-called academic media departments in our so-called universities for my previous flawed understanding.

    They use silly metrics like positioning of stories, positive-negative ratios and stuff like that.

    You should come up here and show them how to do proper analysis!

  32. @Oldnat

    You’re dodging the point. There’s no dispute the press might be more pro-Union.

    But that’s not the same as a relentless trashing of a leader, day in, day out. I pointed out in the past how just the Independent alone had several anti-Corbyn headlines right near the top on several days. That’s before you get to the Mail, Telegraph etc.

  33. Carfrew

    Of course, you are correct. Naturally, I did not intend to suggest that anything that happens in our wee polity could possibly be as bad as what happens in yours.

    In my defence, I would simply (and sadly) suggest that behaviours in your part of the world are also remarkably crude, while more subtle nuanced processes are the norm in our media.

  34. @OLDNAT

    “Of course, you are correct. Naturally, I did not intend to suggest that anything that happens in our wee polity could possibly be as bad as what happens in yours“

    —————

    Well you do seem to get as much of the Love Island stuff as we do

  35. “In my defence, I would simply (and sadly) suggest that behaviours in your part of the world are also remarkably crude, while more subtle nuanced processes are the norm in our media.”

    ———-

    And there were quite a few cuss words asterixed out too. Of course if Nicola ever had received a relentless stream of even relatively subtle attacks, you guys would not have been shy of airing that grievance!

  36. Carfrew

    Naturally no one in Scotland has ever been aggrieved about media coverage or commented upon it.

    It’s how the world is, and whining about it when you lose is what losers do.

    Finding routes around such things is what winners do.

  37. As a neutral with a foot in both camps, I have to side at least partially with Carfrew in this ding-dong.

    Nicola has not had the relentless, daily, harsh treatment given to Jeremy Corbyn and previous Labour leaders by the London media. But I agree with ON that the Scottish papers are more nuanced and less liable to invent false stories, cf. for example the DTel. claiming staged pictures in the Leeds hospital.

  38. @JIB

    “@MOG

    I thought that the Lib Dems had become a very promising third party under the tutelage of the late Charles Kennedy, and it was a tragedy that his illness got the better of him.

    I still do not understand why Clegg threw it all away in 2010!

    The third way was alive and well up until then, and the SNP show that the apparent barriers of FPTP can be broken!”

    If by “third way” you mean a genuine threat to the duopoly then absolutely Yes. If you mean the mangled politucally defensive relativism of Clintonism that left a gaping open goal for the Right, then No!

    Clegg threw it away because the Orange Bookers never understood what had made Kennedy popular. They considered after Blair’s first term, that he was straying directly onto their turf, and that all they had to do to out flank him was to keep much the same policy direction but drift slightly more to the Right (to be what they thought Blair would be had he not been restrained by his party). In doing so they effectively became National Liberals and were crushed by Blair on the one side and David Cameron’s flirtation with National Liberalism/One Nation Toryism.

    Kennedy was popular because he was charismatic social democrat with the common touch, who understood the importance of concentrating on a few coherent themes (devolution, penny on income tax, opposition to Iraq war) that wedded classic indivial social liberalism with economic social democracy; in a way that valued national state institutions and the public sector.

    Clegg focused too much on the liberalism without the social democracy.

  39. Davwel

    But then I never claimed that the processes were identical.

    What isn’t clear to me is how the London media gets away with using such obvious and blatant untruths and distortions.

    I refuse to believe that the electorates in other polities are necessarily more gullible and less aware than folk here, but those devising such tactics aren’t fools. There has to be some reasoning and analytics behind the strategies they adopt.

  40. @Oldnat

    “Naturally no one in Scotland has ever been aggrieved about media coverage or commented upon it.

    It’s how the world is, and whining about it when you lose is what losers do.

    Finding routes around such things is what winners do.“

    ———-——-

    Yes well being as I don’t vote I didn’t really lose now did I. Not like you losing the Indy Ref., which of course you have never whined about and are sooooo happy still to be involved with Westminster, which you don’t seem to have found a route around!

    There is something I’m not happy about though: how they stopped work on your Spaceport.

  41. “Yes well being as I don’t vote I didn’t really lose now did I. Not like you losing the Indy Ref., which of course you have never whined about and are sooooo happy still to be involved with Westminster, which you don’t seem to have found a route around!”

    Give this childish,immature rubbish a rest . Bad cess to you

  42. Interesting map of the top 10 richest and poorest areas in Northern Europe (via Eurostat)

    https://twitter.com/WorldwideFP/status/1207927177410469888/photo/1

  43. @OldNat

    Inner London also has some of the poorest places in Europe. Maps like this really don’t help.

  44. @DAVWEL

    ”As a neutral with a foot in both camps, I have to side at least partially with Carfrew in this ding-dong.

    Nicola has not had the relentless, daily, harsh treatment given to Jeremy Corbyn and previous Labour leaders by the London media.”

    ————

    That’s good to know. Incidentally, I see Aberdeen had a hydrogen festival last month…

    https://www.energyvoice.com/otherenergy/211336/from-granite-city-to-a-global-hub-for-hydrogen/

  45. Dolor

    I have known the inexorable sadness of pencils,
    Neat in their boxes, dolor of pad and paper weight,
    All the misery of manilla folders and mucilage,
    Desolation in immaculate public places,
    Lonely reception room, lavatory, switchboard,
    The unalterable pathos of basin and pitcher,
    Ritual of multigraph, paper-clip, comma,
    Endless duplication of lives and objects.
    And I have seen dust from the walls of institutions,
    Finer than flour, alive, more dangerous than silica,
    Sift, almost invisible, through long afternoons of tedium,
    Dropping a fine film on nails and delicate eyebrows,
    Glazing the pale hair, the duplicate grey standard faces.

    And I have read Carfrew

  46. @Sam

    ”Give this childish,immature rubbish a rest . Bad cess to you“

    ——-

    I know you have little capability of being objective but
    you might want to aim that at Oldnat, being as he levelled that immsture stuff about whining about losing at me and I just pointed out he was projecting,

  47. @Carfrew / Oldnat

    “in the face of a hostile media”

    Please total up all the pro-indy media outlets (telly, online, print – your choice), and total up all the anti-Indy media outlets.

    Then you can see it for yourself.

    The neutrals aren’t really neutral if their idea of balance in an Indy debate is to have one member from Con/Lab/Lib each and one from SNP. That’s one example.

  48. @Sam

    And your incessant toxic passive aggressive jibes via poetry are not very mature either. You don’t seem to have many words of your own.

  49. @Statty

    Once again, the pro-union bias in the media is not in dispute.

  50. RAF

    There are also streets or villages, even houses! that could be identified as the poorest or richest in Northern Europe. How far down do you want to drill the data?

    The Eurostat data refers to NUTS2 areas. There will be inequalities within all of them, but the use of that level indicates where wealth or poverty are most concentrated.

    You have your indicators of multiple deprivation down to small area analysis, just as we have SIMD. To suggest that the analysis at NUTS2 level “don’t help” because they reflect the situation at that geographic level and not the levels above or below it seems an extraordinary comment!

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