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. Patience everyone. Our news media is still getting used to the idea that decsions to not need to be made in hours but can be better made over days or weeks

  2. Aha Amber, thanks for that.

  3. I hope GB is sat back this evening relaxing with a we dram in the bosom of his family. NC can come to him when he’s good and ready.

  4. @Amber Star: Clegg & Cameron did not need Brown’s permission to negotiate, just to use civil servants. All 3 are behaving in a mature & responsible manner IMHO. It’s very refreshing.

  5. Just belatedly joining in this thread briefly.

    The suggestion, still being given weight by some on this thread, that Nick Clegg is left in any position to insist on his pre-election key policy of PR or other reform to voting system, is incredible, people are in cloud-cuckoo land.

    I understand the disappointment i=of those on this thread that were hoping for substantial reform of the voting system. But it just isn’t very likely.

    Clegg is greatly weakened by the election outcome. If his party had taken a slightly higher share of the vote and closer to 100 seats at the expense of Labour, as some polls were showing, then he would have had at least some bargaining power for their key demand even though the Tories loathe it.

    Now, as it is, he will consider himself fortunate to still be able to increase LD’s influence in Government in spite of showing at election. To insist on deep electoral reform any time soon woulde make Clegg look like a stubborn schoolboy again.

    I also believe he is astute enough to know this, and simply try and increase his party’s appeal for the time being throuigh constructive working with the Tories for the national good.

  6. “Clegg & Cameron did not need the Queen’s permission to negotiate. They needed Gordon Brown’s – & of course it was given.”

    This is not correct. Clegg & Cameron didn’t need anyone’s permission to negotiate. And it would be outrageous if they did. MPs do not need permission from the executive to discuss anything – if they did, we really would be living in a dictatorship. Clegg and Cameron can talk to each other about whatever they like, from ministerial appointments to whether they think Fulham will win the UEFA Cup on Wednesday. But that’s all they can do – talk – because they can’t capital-A Advise the Queen. They cannot form a government until Brown resigns or loses a confidence vote.

    A lot of people on this website seem very confused about this.

  7. Lib dems in opposition to a tory minority govt could propose PR and put labour on the spot to vote for PR.

    It doesn’t matter who is in govt if they have a majority for PR.

    But in reality 90 percent of labour mp’s are against PR so I don’t see how it could pass.

  8. @ Derek Pierson

    Theoretically, they did need GB’s ‘permission’; & will need his ‘permission’ to form a government.

    Please note the ” around permission in each of my posts to show that it would not, necessarily, have withstood a legal challenge by LD/ CON.

    GB is behaving in a conciliatory & appropriate way.

  9. @ Derek

    I meant to say:

    Agree with you that GB is behaving in a conciliatory & appropriate way.

    Hence no need for legal shenanigans ;-)

  10. @Howard

    “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.”

    What a laugh. AD is probably OK – you can’t blame him for everything bad about the last 13 years.

    But GB? He has overseen the biggest waste of the population’s money ever with New Labour’s utterly inefficient way of running the public services by throwing money at them.

    Unlike some, I don’t have a problem with higher taxation in principle for the general good of the nation, including hose least well-off – I have a dose of mild socialism in me!

    However, the sheer waste of our money over 13 years is enough to make a grown man weep every day.

    Why do you think that there was the biggest swing to the Tories for many years – there central theme is about changing the way our services are run.

    The NHS, for example, (for all the good it does) needs its management overhauling from top to bottom and opened up to competition and incentives for trusts/companies to provide the best and most efficient services.

  11. @Howard

    The scot and welsh nationalists don’t even vote on england issues.

    A lib dem/labour govt would need maximum attendance.

    I read that Clegg was worried a brown govt proposing electoral reform would be rejected.

    Brown can only offer AVS which would have given labour 20 more seats and lib dems 8 more seats this election and tories 20 less seats. This will get creamed in the right wing press.

    Lib dems also need to think of their voters in the southwest if they prop up labour. Those seats labour isn’t even a player.

    Clegg has no good options. He would have to prop up Brown because Brown isn’t going to remove himself and then have someone who didn’t stand for leader.

    So he will be propping up a leader with 33/63 approval ratings.

    I have read there are five or ten mp’s from labour and lib dems who would break from labour and libs dems from a deal of brown and labour being propped up.

    They would need to get this right because they could lose an electoral reform referendum with brown proposing it.

    8 out of 10 voters in a poll said party with most votes should form the next govt so I don’t see how Brown could sell electoral reform AVS to keep labour in power for a fifth term.

    They would also need to get this right because if the govt collapsed the next election the tories could get a workable majority from the half of lib dem voters who don’t want them propping up labour and a third who would rather see them go to the tories.

    Tories could easily pour resources into 40 seats and get a workable majority from where they are now especially with brown and labour for a fourth term.

  12. @RICHARD O

    I think the torys would have got LESS votes with Clarke, he is a classic memorial of the old Tory guard.
    This business with the markets is an over reaction, it is the Tories worrying people with the plight of the top 1% again.

  13. @ Howard

    I share your sentiments re: Gordon Brown. A very wise decision on his part to remove himself from Westminster & spend the weekend with his family.

  14. @BT SAYS (5.46)

    “Clegg is greatly weakened by the election outcome. If his party had taken a slightly higher share of the vote and closer to 100 seats at the expense of Labour,”

    In a fair electoral system the LDs would have taken a lot more than 100 seats. If I remember correctly someone earlier calculated about 145.

  15. @Amber:

    Legal challenge? Are you kidding?

    In this country, we do not have a written constitution, and the courts have consistently ruled that constitutional matters are not judiciable (i.e. the courts will leave them to the politicians). Whether this is a good thing or not is up to you, but let’s please get things clear.

    The situation is as follows:

    1. There are almost no set rules – in the words of Captain Barbosa, “it’s more what you’d call guidelines.” This is not the USA, there are no legal challenges to be made.

    2. MPs are completely independent of each other, and can, collectively or as individuals, form whatever groupings they like. If the Lib Dems agreed a deal with the Conservatives, that bloc of 363 MPs, would have no more and no less status than if they were all Conservative, or if they were all Independents.

    3. If the Queen gets capital-A Advice, she has to obey it. Only the sitting government (in this case Brown) can Advise her. So if Brown forms a deal with Clegg, he can tell the Queen to appoint Clegg to be Home Secretary (say). if Cameron forms a deal with Clegg, he cannot tell the Queen that, he has to bring Brown down first.

    This is the extent of Brown’s advantage. This and only this.

    4. If the government loses a vote of confidence in the Commons, the Prime Minister must resign. At that point the Queen would invite a new person to form a government.

    I hope this helps.

  16. Ash/Amber it was certainly mentioned. We planned our budget with it in mind here, anyway.

  17. @Salem

    Well put

  18. The issue is which Government can be formed that has the confidence of the House.

    GB advises whether he can or can not.

    Then the Queen invites someone who can.

    If no one can command the confidence of the House of Commons then we have a new election.

    I’m not sure that Cameron can form a minority government without giving some sort of assurance that he won’t be voted down in the Queen Speech, or is it a question of daring the other parties to vote him down.

    Of course you have a civil service team attached to each political party trying to smooth the process either to Coalition or Minority Government.

  19. Amber
    I also hope DC spent quality time with his wife after dragging a pregnant woman around the country like some fashion accessory. Her loyalty in doing so was misplaced in my view.

  20. Ultimately, the Sovereign has supreme authority on the constitution, so if the Queen decides to dismiss Brown tomorrow morning, she is perfectly entitled to do so. I hope she does. Unfortunately our current monarch has demonstrated that she lacks the courage to make difficult decisions when it matters. Prince Charles might be more decisive here.

    As for the current discussion I have little confidence that a formal dela can be made between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives, given the hostility from most of the latter party towards PR. They seem to be going through the motions, nothing more. A Lib Dem-Lab-Nationalist pact would seem more logical, but Brown is the obstacle. Clegg will not deal with Labour while Brown is in power, as this would make the Lib Dems nothing more than a crutch for a beaten political leader. However, if Brown resigned tomorrow and was followed by Milliband as a ‘caretaker’ leader and PM, then all is possible. There is some hostility within the Labour rank and file to PR, but nowhere near as much as there is within the Tory party.

  21. @PeterBell

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


    No, I am not.

    Assessing the credit of a country is complex and takes into account many things. Germany is assessed on its own facts – and many of those facts are clearly very superior to ours.

    One of the things the markets have liked about the UK is its reliable (up to now!) political system. They have forgiven us other sins because of our system. If we change our system then the markets will obviously need to take that into account. My personal view is they wont think it a change to the better but I could of course be wrong.

  22. @Marcus Antonius

    “They seem to be going through the motions, nothing more. ”

    That wasnt the impression Radio 4 just gave on the 6pm news

  23. I can’t see why Brown cannot stand down as PM in a deal and remain Leader while another is chosen (or not).

    It’s quite normal elsewhere that someone other than partyy leader becomes PM.

  24. @Howard,

    I’ll forgive your remark about Sam Cam as you’re a LibDem not Labour, but let’s be honest, the cynical and overt political “wife-usage” was all Brown.

    And Sam is not so pregnant that you need to feel sorry for her. Just a tad patronising/sexist if you don’t mind me saying..

  25. TLF

    Good post. Not least inmportant when finding a ‘shelf’ for money is what rate of interest is being offered. At the moment, the ECB is offering 0.5% extra than teh BOE.

  26. ‘Her loyalty…was misplaced’

    especially as she votes Labour. Lol!

  27. Neil A

    This handholding parading sickens me. Senora Gonzales does nothinmg of that I am pleased to say.

  28. I think the LibDems would be crazy to support the Cons without a cast iron guarantee of at least a referendum on PR.

    If Clegg doesnt get it, then he should get into bed with Brown and accept his offer. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Lib Dems to get electoral reform and be more than a bunch of wall flowers.

    @Eon Clarke

    Well done for predicting the softening of the Lib Dem support. I know you had a lot of stick forr it.:-}

  29. Howard

    I can not see why Brown can’t give notice on his impending resignation. If he decides that is the best way forward for the country and his party.

    I think Darling would be a better care taker PM in a rainbow coalition.

    Milliband will have to stand against HH, Balls and all in September I would imagine.

    Fraught with difficulties tho

  30. “I’m not sure that Cameron can form a minority government without giving some sort of assurance that he won’t be voted down in the Queen Speech, or is it a question of daring the other parties to vote him down.”

    This would be entirely up to the Queen. It would be at this kind of situation that the Queen’s reserve powers really would come into play.


    There is no reason for the Queen to dismiss Brown at the moment. In fact it would be a massive breach of convention. Clegg and Cameron have no deal agreed, and their negotiations could easily fall apart. Now, if Clegg and Cameron announce a deal but Brown won’t stand down and says he’s going to dare them to vote down the Address, THEN the Queen should dismiss him. But that’s still a long way off.

  31. Neil A
    I don’t know whether you rtealise this but the beatles generation would not be seen dead holding hands with a woman (even our loved one) nor the said women vice versa.

  32. Political Smartmarkets [ad on this page] have NC as 66.6% for next Home Sec; Osborne at 47%. Do they know something we don’t?

  33. @Howard,

    Well I don’t have any problem with public displays of affection – I was educated at a progressive school (Hell, we shared baths with children of both sexes).

    But using your wife as a political tool is a habit that ought to stop. I don’t mind it so much when it’s like the Clintons – two politicians in one marriage working as a team. But for a woman to play the simpering “softener” to her man is pretty retrograde. Although I have to say Sarah Brown is a PR lady and is nobody’s fool, and Brown is unlikely to have suggested it himself. I smell spin-doctoring at work.

  34. Val to eOIN
    ‘Well done for predicting the softening of the Lib Dem support. I know you had a lot of stick forr it.’

    I too so predicted and I have been able to bask in his glory but we were both way out on Lab and Others.

    I thought the minors did all right and one MP to show for it. Now that was really a performance under FPTP.

  35. @ Fandango

    As the financial markets’ views are the only ones’ that count, maybe we should become an oligarcy and leave the choice of Govt to them.
    What do the voter’s know? Why bother to have a democracy?

  36. Neil A
    Agreed but in your last you do not mention Mrs Cameron. If you think the same about her then you are consistent.

  37. NC should jump at the chance of becoming Home Sec… the traditional stepping stone in a glittering political career.

  38. @Howard

    Well I predicted a Cam majority of 10-15 so what did I know?

    By the way, I agree with you about Brown and Darling – I think we could do a lot worse. And who knows, maube the markets would agree. :-)

  39. @Howard,

    Yup I include the Camerons in that. Although I do think SamCam got involved as a direct response to the success Team Brown was having with Sarah.

  40. I do think the wives becoming a factor increases the ‘bar’ on a potential PM being single, gay, divorced, widowed etc.

  41. The TV people have hired in weekend teams who are standing around aimlessly in the Whitehall area.

    While they are doing that has anyone read any insight of the very variable swings that were recorded. I have noted some examples but wonder if any trend emerged (e.g. incumbency). I am not convinced there were.

  42. Glyn

    Huhne at Transport, Cable at Treasury but which job? That’s the wispers.

    4 year deal shared agenda in the national interest

  43. Why does everyone talk as if NC has somehow dictatorial powers over what to do? He does not. If the party does not support a deal, it cannot go ahead. Is that not clear to people? My reckoning is that the grassroots Lib Dems will not support a deal which does not have at least a national referendum on PR.

  44. I mean 6.6% against Evan Harris. \what on earth did he do to deserve that?’

  45. @ HOWARD

    While they are doing that has anyone read any insight of the very variable swings that were recorded.

    Anthony has an entire thread about it – Some stats from the GE; or isn’t that what you are looking for?

  46. @ Valerie

    “What do the voter’s know? ”

    Well if they have followed the GE debate in any detail, they will know :-

    UK is borrowing £160 BN pa at present.
    All political parties plan only to halve this in a parliament……so we will add £500 BN + to our presnt debt over that parliament.
    Institutions who lend money-to individuals or states-constantly make judgements about the credit worthiness of their borrowers.

    If they have a mortgage or a credit card, these things will be a matter of personal experience.

    “Why bother to have a democracy?”

    To retain the ability to throw out useless governments-obviously.

  47. JackJ

    Haha I love that ;-) Think of the two most poisonous chalices.

  48. AMber – no they are just regional were they not

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