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. TOH
    You have to put yourself in Old Nats shoes to understand his antipathy towards the English political classes. As an Englishman born in the Middlesex Hospital and brought up in the outer Middlesex suburbs I can see the injustice of the current situation and how overbearing the English are in the Union. I can see how that would play very badly with Scots and that English politicians appear to either not understand, or treat the Scots with disdain.

    I suspect a large number of Scots feel exactly like the people from the north of England and the Midlands about the way the UK government has let those areas fester in decline. Weirdly, somehow, a large proportion of such folk have recently been persuaded that the decline they are angry about will be reversed by the very political party who have been in power for most of the last 30 years. I can’t see the Scots making the same sort of decision.

  2. TOH

    If you don’t understand how anti-European you are I would be amazed. Having made my point, happy to leave it there.

  3. The Other howard,
    ” “Sovereignty is the full right and power of a governing body over itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies. In political theory, sovereignty is a substantive term designating supreme authority over some polity.”

    By any measure we are regaining substantial sovereignty as we leave the EU.”

    No Howard. The UK cannot operate free from outside interference. Even if we banned all trade, allowed no migration, still the world would impact us as global warming moves along. As we quietly starved because we cannot grow enough food.

    The UK has no choice but to trade to make its way. If we trade we have to have international agreements. These restrict our sovereignty. The real question is whether restrictions on the UK will be greater as a member of the EU or less as a member.

    The answer is less as a member. because membership grants us control over the other 27 members. We will end up doing what they want if we cease to be a member.

    Thats the reality Howard, leavers are creating the opposite of what they claim to want.

    All conservative PMs since we joined have accepted this principle. Both May and Johnson have simply sought to make the best of the situation as we leave (if they are finally forced to do it), but in their agreements already made accept the UK will be a client of the EU.

    We joined because we had to control the EU, and we have been rather successful in doing that. The problem now is not that we do not control the EU, but that politicians in power have chosen actions which a faction in the Uk dont like, and have persistenly pretended negative outcomes are the EUs fault, when they were intended results of UK policy.

  4. PETE
    This can’t be true? Say it ain’t so Johnson
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/01/14/fears-grow-vauxhalls-uk-car-plant-work-shifted-germany/amp/?fbclid=IwAR3q_mO5gusa4j0iFrUULnYlPkdcwBVWjC2Ia9zyeVJE3Mmd-gNZaadUYGI

    Relax , we can be charitable, they need it more than we do

    THE German economy has narrowly avoided falling into recession, but remains “very weak” according to experts. This week it emerged that the UK economy, after shrinking in the second quarter, had anaemic growth of 0.3% in the third. That was about the worst performance for a decade as Brexit woes bit. But the UK is still doing better than Germany, which reported today that the economy grew by just 0.1% in the third quarter.

    While that defied expectations that the EU’s biggest economy would fall into recession, it was hardly regarded as good news for the ailing eurozone. Claus Vistesen, chief eurozone economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said that while there is no technical recession, Germany is “most definitely a very weak economy”.

    Germany’s powerhouse manufacturing sector, in particular its car industry, is being biffed by weaker foreign demand and tariff disputes between America and China. Economy minister Peter Altmaier said: “We do not have a technical recession, but the growth numbers are still too weak.”

    The scope of the problems facing Germany was highlighted by news that Mercedes-Benz plans to axe 1000 jobs in a bid to cut €1 billion from its wage bill by 2022. It plans to slash investment in its car plants.

  5. Danny @ 7.31 am

    Spot on – thank you.

    And I am tired of BBC interviewers like Sarah Montague falling for the Johnson spin, and treating it as gospel truth.

    According to them, the shadowy stuff now presented in the new Agriculture Bill is the greatest reform since World War 2. Which actually overlooks the reform when CAP was up.

  6. Isn’t the problem with the English their perceived attitude of ‘we’re biggest, so you do as we say’, which in an enlightened age is not a good way to run a union. It allows the bullying trope to grow, which more and more people react against.

    If the UK government were seen to be considerate towards all the polities and carry them with them, rather than work against them, then the union could prosper. Too many English still think we’re at the beginning of the 19th century, rather than 21st and have no ability to see themselves as others see us.

  7. SDA

    “I suspect a large number of Scots feel exactly like the people from the north of England and the Midlands about the way the UK government has let those areas fester in decline.”

    While some no doubt do (and I don’t know much about the economic position of the Midlands) the data suggests that our immediate neighbours to the south has been the most disadvantaged and ignored within England – and certainly much worse than Scotland.

    Administrative, then legislative, devolution has allowed a level of decision making in Scotland that has provided a significant protection against the dominance of Whitehall.

    It’s not clear to me why the North of England has been politically supine for so long, but perhaps the lack of any clear political identity through institutions like the Council of the North meant local rivalries, rather than common identity dominated,

    “Divide and rule” is a very old technique, which Whitehall has used for centuries. Like Scotland, the North of England enthusiastically embraced the Empire, though the lack of institutional structures meant it was less able to exert the political muscle that Scots used to exploit the opportunities.

    Post Empire, with no political or administrative focus for “the North”, it would have been almost impossible to resist the centralisation of power in Whitehall that accelerated after WWII. I’d suggest that the abolition of the Council of the North in 1641, and the failure to demand its reinstitution following the 1707 union was the root of the demise of the North.

    Incidentally, the antipathy isn’t towards the “English political classes” but the “British political classes”. I’ll leave ToH to his inability to understand the difference.

  8. Fred,

    “ Relax , we can be charitable, they need it more than we do”

    Value of U.K. manufacturing; approx £400bn
    Value of German manufacturing; approx £1,600bn!!!

    Peter.

  9. As one tweet put it –

    Turns out that deal isn’t oven ready.

    In fact he doesn’t know what he wants to cook, has no recipe nor bought the ingredients and hasn’t the foggiest how to prepare it anyway.

    https://www.ft.com/content/37f78b38-36b3-11ea-a6d3-9a26f8c3cba4

  10. PETER CAIRNS (SNP)
    Fred,

    “ Relax , we can be charitable, they need it more than we do”

    Value of U.K. manufacturing; approx £400bn
    Value of German manufacturing; approx £1,600bn!!!

    Peter.

    The economic value of manufacturing to the UK is being underestimated in official statistics, potentially by as much as half, presenting significant issues for policymakers, according to a new report from the University of Cambridge.

    If the way manufacturing-related activities are counted does not change, the UK could be missing significant opportunities to build world-leading industries
    Jostein Hauge
    In the context of Brexit, the authors say it is vital that UK negotiators seeking new trade agreements are equipped with a solid understanding of manufacturing’s importance to the economy.

    The report, ‘Inside the Black Box of Manufacturing’ by Dr Jostein Hauge and Dr Eoin O’Sullivan from Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing, was carried out for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The authors say that the current value placed on manufacturing activity is based on outdated and inaccurate methods of counting and that the economic value of manufactured goods increasingly depends on activities that are officially categorised as belonging to other sectors of the economy.

    Irrespective Germany has more problems than the UK

  11. Danny

    “No Howard,…………….”

    I totally disagree with you as usual, no point in continuing the discussion. We live on different planets.

  12. So if real UK manufacturing by an alternative measure is worth up to £600bn a year, one has to assume that German manufacturing by the same methodology should be worth up to 2,400bn. However you slice it our manufacturing is 25% of Germany’s and if their manufacturing is suffering, ours will too.

  13. SOMERJOHN

    “If you don’t understand how anti-European you are I would be amazed. Having made my point, happy to leave it there.”

    What is your evidence for that statement. I accpet that i am anti-EU, that is not the same thing.

  14. @TOH

    And being anti-Westminster, or anti-British (political entity) is not the same as anti-English.

    I could give a [bleep] about England and the people in it (not all are English). The only time I have any antipathy towards them is when they enable governments like the one we have now. It tends to last about the same time as it takes the good voters of England to realise that the latest version of Con or Lab is no better than the last.

  15. STATGEEK

    @”. The only time I have any antipathy towards them is when they enable governments like the one we have now. ”

    So its just English Tory voters you don’t like then.

    Are the under 18s OK for you?

  16. TOH (to ON): If you don’t understand how anti-English you are I would be amazed.

    What is your evidence for that statement?

  17. I do realise that the following is satire, but it does have some truth to it (IMO). :)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vh-wEXvdW8

  18. STEAMDRIVENANDY
    So if real UK manufacturing by an alternative measure is worth up to £600bn a year, one has to assume that German manufacturing by the same methodology should be worth up to 2,400bn. However you slice it our manufacturing is 25% of Germany’s and if their manufacturing is suffering, ours will too.

    That is not what that report says , Interestingly the GDP for both countries GDP per capita [+] 2018 47,662$ against 42,580$ is not a mighty variance.

  19. @Colin

    No, it’s voters of Con or Lab, from any part of the UK, enabling never-ending divide and rule governments.

    When you understand that fully, you might try resisting the urge to come up with your last statement. Just because I feel antipathy towards one section of the UK at certain times doesn’t mean that antipathy is limited to only said section.

    It’s not what I say, but how you interpret it. ;)

  20. STATGEEK

    @”No, it’s voters of Con or Lab, from any part of the UK, enabling never-ending divide and rule governments.”

    Isn’t it the Scottish Government which wants to “divide & rule” ?

  21. Fred

    You did not provide a link to the report in your post and only mentioned UK manufacturing, so I assumed the report was only into the UK position. It’s fairly reasonable to assume that if two EU member countries publish manufacturing figures they’ll both use the same methodology to arrive at their results. Therefore if the UK figure is under reported, then it’s likely those of Germany, France, Spain, Italy etc, etc are under reported in the same way.

    Your GDP figures suggests a 12% variance per person.

    The population difference is 26%

    So taking the bulked up UK figure at £600bn and increasing by 12% gets you £672bn and multiplying by the additional 26% of German population that becomes £847bn, which is just over half of what Germany actually manufactures.

    So it seems to me the GDP figures have to be wrong, or one or other of the output figures are incorrect.

  22. @Colin

    As opposed to UK governments who suggest we unite, as long as we agree with the current government in power?

    At least Holyrood has the potential for compromise, and consistently forms governments of coalition (via its voting system’s benefits or limitations, depending on one’s point of view). Westminster is designed to be confrontational. It’s very seat layout is indicative of this.

    From left to right: Germany, France, Italy, USA, Japan, Scotland, UK – https://ibb.co/CzggSvm

    In fairness, there will be others that have a HoC-esc split design, but I didn’t find any that looked as the HoC looks. I picked the G7 as a quick guide and that’s what I found. Canada’s parliament is a little odd. It looks almost like a church. However, the members are spread out, so there won’t be the cosying up and braying in the same way.

  23. The Other Howard,
    “I totally disagree with you as usual, no point in continuing the discussion. ”

    Ah, but the interesting question is which one of us will prove to be correct.

  24. @TOH – can’t have it both ways I’m afraid. If you’re asking for evidence that you are anti European, you need to provide evidence that @Oldnat is anti English.

    For what it’s worth, I just think you’ve got it wrong. I’ve never seen @Oldnat as being remotely anti English. He is very happy for England to get on and do whatever they want in England. He is very critical of Westminster, and the anglocentric nature of the UK government. That’s an entirely different thing.

    I would also agree that you are not anti European, but highly critical of the EU. That is something I will back you up on.

    I never call on posters to apologise to me when I have been offended, but I really think in this case you should consider an apology and withdrawal to @Oldnat. You’ve made a mistake, which you don’t like when others do the same with you. Sauce, goose and gander, I think.

  25. No sign yet of the Brexit confidence surge in the December retail sales figues. Another pretty shapr fall, which seems quite general across all sectors, again including food, which always suggests consumer stress.

    This is the fifth month in a row that sales have fallen, and it really looks like the consumer is drawing in the horns.

    Bad news for an economy so consumer spending dominated.

    Will be interesting waiting for the next figures on business confidence. Was the sharp December post election boost like the huge fall in July 2016 – a one month wonder?

  26. Alec

    Thanks, but I neither request nor wish for any apology from my fellow horticulturalist.

    For the scientists on this board who still wish to push the frontiers of human knowledge, I have bad news for you.

    Boris Johnson says that there is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to do that, so unless you apply for, and are appointed to, the post of Chief Executive Officer at UK Research and Innovation, then no pushing of the frontiers of human knowledge will be permitted by anyone else until after your death.

    Sorry to disappoint you all, but Johnson is very determined that such phraseology must be interpreted literally, so you might be better to go off and learn Ancient Greek, or the medical techniques of Hippocrates.

    https://twitter.com/10DowningStreet/status/1218072410479570944

  27. @Danny

    “The bottom line here might be less environmental control. The EU subsidy has always been a carrot approach to encourage farmers to use best practice so as to qualify for the subsidy. I suggested in the past that post brexit we might see voters switching to a new cause, and it might be the greens. These changes might end up pushing voters their way.”

    Money for old rope, that is the CAP.

    Good riddance. Payment for outcomes is the way forward and that was never happening under Brussels control.

  28. LAB leadership election was RLB’s to lose and looks like she’s following Corbyn GE’s performance and intent on losing it ;)

    PS Great to see I was wrong about Boris going ‘Soft’ if he won a large majority and very much hoping Starmer (a dull white male from London) wins LAB contest.

    If LAB elect a dull white male from London then happy to firm up 400+ seats for Boris in 2024 (possibly next time I post) – quite a few more seats in the Red wall that CON can win next time!

  29. Trevors

    I’m fairly sure that your “dull white male from London” line on Starmer mean that he is the candidate you’re most worried about. Useful information!

  30. @OldNat,

    Surely once in the lifetime for the successful applicant doesn’t necessarily imply the entirety of their remaining lifetime?

    Taken literally it would seem to mean the government would never appoint the same person twice.

  31. Neil A

    Are you seriously doubting that “once-in-a-lifetime” can conceivably mean anything else?

    Johnson (and many more in his party and others) have been absolutely specific, that no other interpretation is remotely possible.

    No. Time for you to go and study the methodologies of earlier times.

    A monograph on the efficacy of the ducking stool in extracting confessions might be appropriate .

  32. This thing about tolling Big Ben.

    I’ve not read much about it but it seems to me that whatever the public subscription reaches, the government can step in and sub it up to the required sum and just announce that the funding appeal was a massive success.

    I am also surprised that nobody has set up an appeal to pay to ensure the bell isn’t rung on the relevant day.

    In a sense paying towards the bell tolling is a sort of tax on Leavers, given that the government could fund it anyway.

    There again one Big Ben tolling will be rather funeral, compared to a joyous peal , but Remainers might feel the former is more apt for the circumstances.

  33. STATGEEK

    @”As opposed to UK governments who suggest we unite, as long as we agree with the current government in power?”

    Um-thats how it works in a democracy. The voters decide who they want in government -then they govern the whole country.

    @”so there won’t be the cosying up and braying in the same way.”

    Yes -I know what you mean. The SNP benches in our Parliament are rather prone to that sort of thing.

  34. Norbold

    Are you saying that SNP aren’t actually on the list now???

  35. Colin,

    “Um-thats how it works in a democracy.”

    No, that’s how populism works; We won so we were Right!

    In a democracy you agree to abide by the result, but your still free to say it was a bad choice.

    Rule by majority consent is fine, rule by decree isn’t!

    The Government has every right to implement its policies but that doesn’t make its policies right.

    The last few years since Brexit really has seen us regress to an age of “Might is Right” where the losing side is expected to adopt the ideology of the Victor and not to willing do so is seen as tantamount to Treason!

    Peter.

  36. R&D @ Norbold

    It’s a list produced by police in southern England, so the SNP will be on other lists – just not that one.

    Socialist parties are on the list – so the Labour Party will be relieved that they can’t be.

  37. PETER CAIRNS

    @”In a democracy you agree to abide by the result, but your still free to say it was a bad choice.”

    Indeed-as I said to STATGEEK-the winner of the election rules for the whole country.

    …..until the next GE.

    Glad we can agree on this fundamental principle.

  38. Colin

    “the winner of the election rules for the whole country.”

    2 errors there –

    The inclusion of “for” in your phrase means it is not necessarily accurate, and may be wholly inaccurate.

    The UK government rules on some issues for all UK, on some issues for parts of the UK, on many issues just for the English polity.

  39. @Trevor Warne (“LAB leadership election was RLB’s to lose”)

    Surely this is a site for discussing polls. Shouldn’t we therefore make some sort of effort to base what we say on actual facts?

    What is the factual basis for asserting that it was hers to lose?

    Given that in December, before the contest started, YouGov already showed Starmer in the lead, and given that in July a previous YouGov poll suggested Starmer was the frontrunner ( https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2019/07/22/corbyns-reputation-takes-big-hit-labour-members-mo )… there is no objective basis for asserting that it was ever “RLB’s to lose”, only the lazy assumption that whoever McDonnell or Momentum backed should automatically be regarded as the frontrunner.

  40. Seems that Labour folk in rUK are just going to have to wait to be told by SLab what their policy is to be on Scotland.

    https://www.thenational.scot/news/18168932.richard-leonard-says-indyref2-will-decided-scottish-labour/

    The new leader (whoever that is) must stop pretending that they have any control over the structure of the UK that SLab demands.

  41. Interesting article in the Economist looking at global efforts to circumvent the dollar hegemony in international transactions.

    It seems that since 9/11, but particularly since Trump’s election, the US has weaponised it’s dominance of the global financial infrastructure, using sanctions as a key foreign policy tool.

    This can be highly effective, in terms of crippling targeted companies or even entire national economies, but they are now doing so much of this, against so many targets, that efforts are now underway to bypass the mechanisms the US can control.

    The Economist is clear that these are long term shifts, and while there are signs of the dollar weakening as the main global trading platform, it will be a long term move, but it should be a sobering thought for American leaders, and those who wish to ride their coat tails.

    Without the dollar hegemony, the US economiy becomes far less resilient. If Trump’s ultimate legacy is to make the US financial system much more agressively political and less reliable, then his legacy will be to weaken the US and destabilise it’s economy.

    It would be a classic lesson in how not to wield power.

  42. Boris Johnson is expected to formally open trade talks with the US before he begins discussions with the European Union.

    According to the Telegraph.

  43. ON

    “Socialist parties are on the list – so the Labour Party will be relieved that they can’t be.”

    :D

  44. JIB

    “According to the Telegraph.”

    Following the sad death of Derek Fowlds, this clip on the Press has had a lot of repeats.

    The comment on the readers of the Telegraph seems apposite.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGscoaUWW2M&feature=youtu.be

  45. @Oldnat

    Perhaps a well-demonstrated “Get back in your box” from UKLab is just what Slab needs to finally realise their place in the world. I doubt many of them will leave the party or do anything. Subservience is a tough habit to crack.

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