We now have results from every constituency but Thirsk and Malton, where the election was delayed because of the death of a candidate. The final results in Great Britain are CON 37%, LAB 30%, LDEM 24%, Others 10%. Seats are Conservatives 306, Labour 258, Liberal Democrats 57, Others 28. The MORI/NOP exit poll, despite initial scepticism when it showed the almost total disappearence of the Lib Dem surge, turned out to be pretty much spot on. However, this means the final polls tended to call the Lib Dems wrongly.

CON LAB LDEM Other Av. Error
ICM 36 28 26 10
-1 -2 +2 0 1.25
Populus 37 28 27 8
0 -2 +3 -2 1.75
Harris 35 29 27 9
-2 -1 +3 -1 1.75
Ipsos MORI 36 29 27 8
-1 -1 +3 -2 1.75
YouGov 35 28 28 9
-2 -2 +4 -1 2.25
ComRes 37 28 28 7
0 -2 +4 -3 2.25
Opinium 35 27 26 12
-2 -3 +2 +2 2.25
Angus Reid 36 24 29 11
-1 -6 +5 +1 3.25
TNS BMRB 33 27 29 11
-4 -3 +5 +1 3.25
RESULT 37 30 24 10

(UPDATE – This table includes only those companies who polled in the final 48 hours before the election – genuine eve of election polls. Three companies polled during the campaign, but did not produce eve-of-election polls. RNB, BPIX and OnePoll all carried out their final polls on or over the final weekend of the campaign, meaning that strictly speaking they cannot be compared to the final result. For the record however RNB did very well indeed with figures of CON 37%, LAB 28%, LDEM 26%, BPIX had CON 34%, LAB 27%, LDEM 30%, OnePoll produced a horrific CON 30%, LAB 21%, LDEM 32%. These three pollsters were also the only ones in the campaign not to fully disclose methodology and data tables, so we can draw little in the way of conclusions on what they got wrong or right)

ICM was the closest to the final result, and was within 2 points for every party. Almost all the pollsters were within the margin of error for the Conservatives and Labour (the exceptions being TNS and Angus Reid) and for the first time in decades pollsters were underestimating Labour support! The average error of all but two of the pollsters was within the margin of error. However, this disguises the issue of the Liberal Democrats: every single pollster over estimated their support, by between 2 points and 5 points. Something was wrong here (interestingly enough, the closest poll of all was the penultimate YouGov poll that showed the Lib Dems down at 24, which at the time looked like a rogue to me when Wednesday’s poll showed them bouncing straight back. Perhaps it was indicating something after all).

Before the election most of the comments here expressing scepticism about the polls were people saying they were underestimating the Conservatives (on average they did slightly, but not by much. ComRes and Populus got the level of Tory support spot on), or that the polls couldn’t cope with the huge surge of new support for the Liberal Democrats from new voters and were underestimating it. Reality turned out to be the opposite – the Lib Dem surge was an illusion, that vanished when people arrived at the ballot box. We’ll get a better idea over the next few weeks as pollsters look at their data and recontact people they interviewed before the election to see how they actually voted – the basic question though will be whether the Lib Dem boost was a genuine surge of support that reversed at the last minute – after all, a lot of respondents were saying they might change their mind – or whether it was never really there to begin with and the pre-election polls were wrong.

Ben Page and Martin Boon have both already commented to Research Live – Ben says “On our final poll for the Evening Standard on Wednesday, we had 40% of Lib Dems saying they might change their mind. We’ll all want to look and see what we can do about soft support for the Lib Dems, we’ll have to find a rational and reasonable way of dealing with it rather than just saying Lib Dems tend to overstate. We will all be looking at certainty of vote, voting history – the surge was partly younger people – and late switching, things like that. The Lib Dems were most likely to say they would vote tactically. So the support was there but it didn’t actually manifest itself in votes on the day – Lib Dem support was slowly deflating after initial Clegstacy and on the day fell further.”

Martin said “There are some sizeable average errors out there and we all do need to take a look at our methods. Clearly all polling companies have overstated the Lib Dems, so there has to be something consistent going on. It would be a little bit premature to consider the reasons for this but it’s up to the opinion pollsters to see why it might have been the case. We’re always testing our methods and this is the best time to be looking at methodologies, assumptions and techniques in order to improve them in the future.”

The first part of the post mortem really needs to be for pollsters to re-contact people they interviewed in their final polls – did people who said they’d vote Lib Dem change their minds at the last minute (in which case it’s late swing), or did they not vote at all (in which case, perhaps pollsters need to work on more sensitive methods of predicting likelihood to vote) or will they claim they did go ahead and vote Lib Dem, meaning there was a sampling problem – if so perhaps it’s down to the Lib Dem support being the least well correlated with past vote or party ID. Did don’t knows split disproportionately against the Liberal Democrats? One possiblity that strikes me is whether it could essentially be the opposite to the spiral of silence, a spiral of enthusiasm perhaps! Political pollsters are used to worrying about people being embarrassed to admit voting for unpopular parties, and have come up with ways of dealing with it, but having it suddenly become hugely fashionable to support a party is a new problem. At least it’s one that is unlikely to re-occur too often ;)

Once I get a nice spreadsheet of results I’ll also be interesting to see how accurate the marginals polling was too. Right now, however, I’m going to catch up on some sleep. I expect there will be some polls in the Sunday papers asking exactly who the public think should be the new Prime Minister – so until then…


726 Responses to “An early post-mortem”

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  1. CB,

    in reality, Clegg has now seen the state of the Country’s finances, and is willing to sacrifice party ideology for a stable Govt.

    I agree on Osbourne, I would like to see him out.

    Do you think if Cameron had put Ken Clarke as shadow chancellor instead of Osbourne, then Conservatives would have won a majority?

    Clarke is one of those rare things, a Tory MP who is liked (almost loved), by the wider cross party general public. Might have helped dampen the anti-toff vote, that was still pretty big (just check facebook etc).

    rich

  2. -I have no doubt that Clegg will do a deal without PR

    -I have no doubt that Cameron would offer PR if it was all that was left to him.

    Both IMO want this deal so much they will do anything.

  3. By the way, in relation to Alex Salmond’s offer of a coalition, how did Salmond think it would work?

    The SNP and PC have previously said they won’t vote on devolved matters where they relate to England.

    That would mean Lab/Lib could not pass legislation on devolved matters unless the Tories agreed or the SNP and PC went back on their word.

    It’s insanity.

  4. Last Fandango

    http ://news.bbc.co.uk/news/business/market_data/currency/default.stm

    Here’s a link if you want to educate yourself in currency for the lay man.

    I trade currency every day of the week as part of my job.

  5. @All

    I have decided to make a valedictory post.

    To those who are fearful of the future, I have this to say (and apologies to anyone who finds it patronising):

    The Cartesian paradigm we live in is only a limited version of reality.

    The only one you need to look to for the universe you desire is yourself (not politicians, not the media, not anyone).

    If you find that hard to swallow, consider Eastern philosophies which can be summarised as follows:

    You are riding on an elephant which you want to guide in a chosen direction. Occasionally it will take a different direction. Trust it. It is taking you to the right place, where you will find millions of others who have already arrived there and have uncommon wisdom (google capra uncommon wisdom).

    In fact it is all the same thing – the elephant is just the part of you you have not discovered.

    My best wishes to all of you in your future lives and thank you again to Anthony for allowing me to share the space. It has been lovely to be with you.

  6. @The Last Fandongo,

    you could hold the same views and present them with equal passion but there is little to be gained from use of the word “rubbish”.

    I value Jack’s contributions and do not want him to be intimidated from posting due to your insensitivites.

  7. @The Last Fandango,

    I agree with your last two posts.

    At last, somebody who understands the link between our spiralling debt and the likely future cost to ourselves and our services.

    rich

  8. LD coalition with Con would be betrayal of LD ethos and policy unless referendum on PR guaranteed.
    Surely LD triple-lock system means that NC will be unable to do a deal without that guarantee. And Tory yesterday’s men [ e.g Tebbitt, Rifkind ] wouldn’t countenance referendum. Con minority govt with supply and confidence arrangement seems only way out. While that goes on there can be realignment of anti-Tory LD/Lab and Con govt brought down at an appropriate time.The hidden problem is that neither Lab nor LD have any funds to run a new election campaign in the near future.

    and @Greengrass. Spot on!

  9. On the successive elections point:

    In the 20th century, 3 times elections happened within 12 months of each other: 1910, 1923/4, and 1974,

    The double election of 1910 should perhaps be disregarded as it was caused not by unstable government, but by a constitutional crisis. At any rate it saw the Liberals/Irish re-elected.

    Both 1923/4 and 1974 were caused by the same situation as we have now: no long-term working majority. Each time the first election was held on general politics, but the second election became the largest single party saying “hung parliaments don’t work, give us a majority.” And both times, the electorate agreed, leading to a Conservative win in 1924 and a Labour win in 1974 part 2.

    If we broaden it out to 18 months, that also brings in 1922/23, 1929/1931 and 1964/66. 1931 can be said to fit the same pattern, except that Ramsay McDonald did a Lloyd George on the Labour Party. 1966 is the same pattern too – it wasn’t a hung Parliament before, but it wound up giving Wilson a good majority. 1923 is a completely different pattern though – it wasn’t caused by instability at all, the Conservatives had a huge majority prior to the election, but they called one because they wanted to introduce protectionism, and felt constitutionally obliged. The electorate said no, resulting in a hung parliament, with Conservatives as largest party, leading to a quick election in 1924 as mentioned above.

    Obviously history is only partly a guide – even 1974 is a very long time ago. And there were individual circumstances to each election. But I think there’s a working premise here that in the past, the electorate have not liked hung parliaments and when given a second election, act to strengthen the largest party. So on past history, a second election would favour the Conservatives.

  10. Well Jack on that basis you can tell me precisely what the 5 year sterling/euro high is (1.52 if I remember) correctly and explain how the current rate at close yesterday (1.16) is within 4% of it.

  11. @CB / Pam F,

    Out of interest, what do you think Clegg can actually do??

    If Labour had 15-20 more seats, I suspect the deal would be with you, but he clearly doesn’t think that any deal with Lab will have a strong enough majority.

    rich

  12. @Eoin

    Jack’s comment about the £ being within 4% of its high against the euro is simply wrong.

    It is a basic factual error. Or alternatively it is a deliberate falsehood.

    If Jack is indeed a currency trader then I find it hard to believe he could make a factual error of this magnitude. Unless of course he isnt a very good currenct trader because he cant do percentages.

  13. Richard: Join the strong opposition parties,

  14. @Eoin

    I think you have your figures wrong.

    In 2005 Labour polled 9.56 million (not 8.77 as you said).
    In 2010 Labour polled 8.60 million.

    That’s a loss of ~960,000 votes, and on an increased turnout. Ignore Northern Ireland, and every single party gained votes, except Labour and Plaid Cymru. I think they would struggle to present themselves as the party of “change” or “the future.” But you never know.

  15. TLF

    What has an exchande rate of 5 years ago got to do with May the 6th.

    There is a global economic crisis, nothing to do with our little domestic thing here.

    GB£ is caught in the cross fire of a flight to safe havens of the jap Yen.

    The year low for the Euro is 1.06 you are right currently 1.16

  16. Follow the money?

    Electoral reform or reform of party financing?

    PR for voters – or PR for government funding of political parties?

    An added incentive for Clegg – access to all those wealthy, Tory party donors?

    Clegg knows who funds the Labour party & they haven’t shown much interest in backing him. Perhaps only the unions – with their large donor base – can make Clegg an offer he won’t refuse?

  17. @Eoin (4.06)

    Eoin,
    While you may be right about Lab, imo no-one joins LDs to boost their ego. Until now it has just been hard work with little reward except in some local areas.

  18. Long term rates obviously matter – you must know this!

    They reflect the fluctuation in purchasing power between currencies over time.

    Check this ECB graph out:

    http://www.ecb.int/stats/exchange/eurofxref/html/eurofxref-graph-gbp.en.html

    The £ is 33% off its all time high and 20% off its average.

    You said the £ was within 4% of its high. If you had meant its YTD high or its 52 week high then, as a currency trader, you’d know to specify that.

    The whole Asian debt crisis was cause by the change in the exchange rate of the local currencies against the $ over a period of years. This stuff really matters.

  19. I assume that if ther’s some sort of accommodation between th \Cons and the LIbs and there’s a Queen’s Speech without a committment to a referendum on changing the voting system, the Labour opposition will table an amendment to insert a referendum clause and then what will the Libs do?

  20. For the sake of clarity – My last post was NOT intended to be a slur on Nick Clegg.

    There has already been comments on this thread that LD – & also Labour – could not afford to fight another election any time soon.

    Labour have long relied on union funding – which members can opt out of but not state a party preference.

    Only the Tories, who had a financial advantage in the last election & would have a greater advantage in the next, find politics affordable.

    How is this situation in any way democratic?

  21. I do think (joining in that the value of the euro in pounds) is only important to those to whom it matters. As long as the pound is on the cheap side, then UK jobs are less threatened. That’s the only advantage of not joining it and in the long run a poor one.

    The only sticking point for any coalition is PR and I don’t see the Tories conceding although they would be better off in the long run doing so.

  22. @Eoin

    Btw, I apologise if I was being insensitive.

    But it is incredibly frustrating when people brush off very serious economic issues through misunderstanding or misinformation.

    This is really important stuff that affects your well being, my well being and that of everyone else on this site.

    Being blase about was exactly how the Latvians ended up in the mess they are in. I really dont want that to happen to any of us – regardless of our political differences.

  23. should have read
    I do think (joining in) that the value of the euro in pounds is only important to those to whom it matters.

  24. Don’t go Greengrass

    We need your espangnolism!

  25. @Howard

    But it also makes € denominated debt obligations much more onerous (and plenty of UK companies have € borrowings) and € priced imports more expensive.

    The first affects solvency, the second domestic inflation. It matters to us all.

  26. @Amber Star (5.14)

    “Only the Tories, who had a financial advantage in the last election & would have a greater advantage in the next, find politics affordable.

    How is this situation in any way democratic?”

    Amber,
    A cap on party funding is one of the key points in the LD policy on electoral reform.

  27. @Howard:

    So you are saying that the pound in my pocket will not be devalued?

    Hmmm…

  28. @Salem

    It will be devauled – because of inflation.

    Inflation is way above the BofE’s target.

  29. Why does the time coalition forming takes elsewhere not matter a toss, but here threatens financial armageddon?.

  30. @Howard

    Because that form of political instability isnt expected of the UK and so isnt reflected in the price of our debt.

    If this is the way it is going to be going forward then that’s fine but the markets will have to adjust the terms to reflect the new reality.

    And it wont be an adjustment in our favour.

  31. Of course devaluation leads to inflation and all sorts of other disadvantages, which is why we would be better off ion the Euro.

    Ask Kentucky if it would rather have a Kentucky dollar.

  32. @Howard,

    Because in other systems you don’t have people saying the party X “can’t” do a deal with party Y – leading to a lack of confidence that any government can be formed at all.

  33. A thought and I would appreciate feedback.

    Tories rule out PR
    NC says they will support Tory minority government on most key issues including economy
    LDs or whoever introduce a bill re PR (private members bill?)
    Lab/LD rainbow coalition vote through PR bill.

    Is it possible? If so then all sides win to a certain extent.

  34. 2 Coalition deals on the table.

    National Interest includes electoral or is it political reform?

    The Lab/Lib deal is more difficult deal without the nationalists in support.. Is Education and tax reform on the table with Labour.

    I can’t imagine that GB is an easy to deal with.

    These things normally take a few weeks to resolve.

    All the leaders have weaknesses with their parties. Clegg is strongest position with his party.

    It hinges on a referendum as opposed to immediate legislation with the 2nd biggest party.

    I can’t see that a coalition with Labour is outside the National Interest.as far as the markets are concerned.

  35. Well. we’ll see but the market has known we were bound for a coalition for the best part of a month.

    As I wrote last night GB and Ad are still in charge what’s wrong with that?

    They are the best choice anyway as they’ve proved over a decade.

  36. I just had a thought.

    Clegg acted unconstitutionally. Whatever he thought the “moral” right was, it wasn’t his call.

    Why didn’t the Queen put him right?

  37. @Howard

    Re Kentucky dollars, even the Lib Dems now concede that UK entry into the euro would have been a disaster.

  38. @The Last Fandango (5.26)

    “And it wont be an adjustment in our favour.”

    Are you saying that, for instance, Germany pays a higher rate on its debt than the UK.

  39. Neil A
    But the people who deal with the money (all over the world, not just here), really don’t give a monkeys, they know there will be a Government and they know that will have do what is needed -hobson’s choice awaits it.

  40. @Sue Marsh: How has Clegg acted unconstitutionally? He hasn’t “acted” at all yet.

  41. @ PETER BELL

    Thank you for replying to my party funding point. As soon as I posted the first, I realised it could be misconstrued… I’m glad you held fire until you read my second ;-)

    I think you may have highlighted the piece of electoral reform that is really being opposed by the other party/ parties 8-)

  42. Would snp vote on a queens speech, could Tory
    abstaining force new election. I just can’t see a liblab minority
    coalition working for any great period of time,
    can see a new election pretty soon if the libcon’s can’t sort it out.

  43. Howard

    ‘GB and Ad…are the best choice anyway’

    Unfortunately not enough voters saw the truth of that statement.

  44. tLF

    do you not think that the BoE has wanted a competitive exchange rate?

    GBP fell aprox 33% in 1992 and that led us out of that recession.

    The issue is sovereign debt bond buyers buying ours?

  45. @SueMarsh:

    Firstly, Clegg is not acting unconstitutionally. Clegg doesn’t have to listen to anything Brown has to say. Brown has the advantage of incumbency, not of first refusal. If Clegg wants to talk to Cameron and work out a deal, he can. What Brown has the constitutional right to do is stay in No 10 until it’s clear he has lost the confidence of the house – and that’s exactly what he’s doing.

    @Fandango:

    I was making a joke. In 1967 when Wilson devalued sterling, he famously justified it by saying “the pound in your pocket will not be devalued.” It was instantly (and rightly) greeted as nonsense.

  46. @Howard,

    Not all of the UK politicians are committed to doing what the international financial community believes is needed. In fact, the Labour party is gearing itself up to describe “what’s needed” as deliberate policy of ideological slash and burn that’s all the Tories’ fault and nothing to do with them.

  47. @TLF: As a LibDem, I’ve always been dubious about joining the euro. It’s not good for an economy that’s out of sync with Germany.

  48. @ SUE MARSH

    Clegg acted unconstitutionally. Whatever he thought the “moral” right was, it wasn’t his call.
    —————————————————
    This is another thing that has been miscontrued by those who are ‘slagging’ Gordon Brown.

    Clegg & Cameron did not need the Queen’s permission to negotiate. They needed Gordon Brown’s – & of course it was given. His ‘making the civil service available’ was exactly the ‘permission’ needed.

  49. The markets are clearly in turmoil over Greece and Europe. The bond markets opened during the election and admittedly they did plunge when a hung parliament looked inevitable, but the main problems out there are Greece led as financiers well know.

  50. AMBER STAR:

    I heard on the BBC election coverage that Labour still have money saved for another election as they realised there may be one soon. I vaguely recall it was Andrew Neil that said it. If he did, I wonder which source gave him that info.

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