What went wrong

In the fullness of time I am sure much more will be said about why the polls overestimated the level of Lib Dem support at the election, but there was an interesting nugget from Andrew Cooper of Populus on More or Less on Radio 4 earlier. Populus’s final poll, conducted on the Tuesday and Wednesday of election week, had the Lib Dems on 27%. However, according to Andrew in the fieldwork conducted on Tuesday the Lib Dems were in the high twenties, in the fieldwork conducted on the Wednesday they were on 24%. That looks like evidence of late swing – that the polls weren’t wrong, people just changed their mind right at the end.

However, there is also some evidence that casts doubt on late swing. Because they published in the Evening Standard on Thursday and had a later deadline Ipsos MORI’s final poll of the campaign had the latest fieldwork of all the pollsters – all their fieldwork was conducted on Wednesday… yet they still had the Lib Dems at 27%.

Also illustrative is Ipsos MORI’s post-election poll. Most companies use some form of past vote weighting, so their post-election polls will be calibrated to the new results and won’t really be directly comparable to pre-election polls. Ipsos MORI however don’t use any political weighting, so their post election polls should be conducted in exactly the same way as their pre-election polls. In their post-election poll for the News of the World MORI asked how people had voted in the election on May 6th, and found figures of CON 35%, LAB 31%, LDEM 28%. No sign there of a big drop off in Lib Dem support compared to pre-election polls.

Of course – we know all about the problems of false recall, there may be people claiming to have voted Lib Dem who didn’t actually do so, so this isn’t conclusive either, but it isn’t screaming out late swing.

410 Responses to “What went wrong”

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  1. No sorry, I got that backwards, the postal voters would have to have been more genuinely LD to balance out such an error.

  2. Lighthearted Dave&Nick “Coronation Mug” at
    h ttp://www.bobpiper.co.uk/173.jpg

    Should move the polls a point or two. Not sure which way.

  3. COZMO “Coronation Mug”

    Ah, beautiful. But I’m sure both DC and NC will deny being a coronation mug.

    It could be a valuable collector’s piece sometime soon.

  4. @Mike N
    Hmmm – – -but is it a right-handed mug or a left-handed one? Or maybe it should have two handles? ;)

    While things are quiet could someone give us newbies a driving lesson on how to do the full range of smilies ?

  5. Cozmo

    : + ) = :)

    ; + ) = ;)

    : + P = :P

    : + 0 = :0

    : + ( = :(

    I don tkno whow to do the sun shades one :(

  6. @Eoin
    Much appreciated. Always thought the shades were a bit special and mysterious !!

  7. They invole and 8

    Maybe 8 + ) = 8)

  8. 8+0 (This is Amber Star’s one) = 8)

    (remember to put a space after text)

  9. @Eoin
    8) 8)

    Well done – doubly mysterious !!

    :P :) :( :O

  10. And remember to shift the 0 :(
    What I really need is a smiley with a blush

  11. Yes Billy the blush would come in very handy :P

  12. YouGov site has a survey up about “how long do you think the coalition will last ?”

    It shows answers to same question on 13 May then 20 May (fieldwork date)

    13 May
    Less than a year – – 28
    1 or 2 years – – 34
    3 or 4 years – – 15
    5 yrs or more – – 10
    Don’t know – – 13

    20 May
    Less than a year – – 23
    1 or 2 years – – 38
    3 or 4 years – – 13
    5 yrs or more – – 12
    Don’t know – – 13

    Not sure why it’s not on UKPR, maybe hot off the press. Send me loads of frownies if I have messed up !! :(

  13. Eoin, how come I never heard John McDonnell before?
    Came over quite well on Any Questions. He says at best he has about 15 nominations so far.

  14. Cozmo,

    Any clue in the fact that neither DC or GO have moved into Downing Street? ;-)

  15. @Billy Bob
    Any clue in the fact that neither DC or GO have moved into Downing Street?
    Fair question :) Maybe a rota system ?
    Dave Mon – Wed – Fri
    Nick – Tues – Thurs – Sat
    Rent the place out for tourism on Sunday ?

  16. @Billy B,

    He has all the policies to make a perfect leader but zero charisam. He is not a unifyer either…

    Maybe we should get him to write a red manifesto?

    With Ed B as leader :)

  17. Yougov
    “how long do you think the coalition will last ?”

    Breakdown by party allegiance:-

    CON – LAB – LIB

    Less than a year – – 12 – 42 – 14
    1 or 2 years – – 33 – 43 – 40
    3 or 4 years – – 23 – 3 – 13
    5 yrs or more – – 20 – 4 – 16
    Don’t know – 12 – 8 – 17

  18. Cosmo,

    Was wondering if Cam and Co were just hoping for a bounce in the polls so that they could do without Nick. However, Lab rises in the polls, DC loses authority in his party, GO loses ‘control of the economy'(Amber), The coalition agreement looks like a ‘wish list’ (Laszlo), GO and DC adopt the fish out of water strategy in Europe.
    Perhaps we need a facebook group to try to persuade Gordon to stand for leadership of the Labour Party. His closing statement in the debates “These two are not ready for government” keeps ringing in my ears. :(

  19. @ Cosmo

    These are interesting figures. Thanks.

    Do LibDem supporters think that they would be booted out or they want to leave (though it would not make much sense)? Would be interesting to know.

  20. Cozmo/Billy B,

    It is quite clear from Comzo’s stats that yellows do not want a 5 year deal.

    whether they like it or not that is what they are going to get. They will to live will be sapped from them.

    Labour will have a poll lead by Spetember 30th, if not by the emergency budget.

    The realignment in UK politics will be the reversal of 1983 SDP- Lib allaince.

  21. Just getting back to the subject of the thread (apologies!) there have been quite a few comments about Labour and Cons, if you read Anthony’s summary properly and look at the numbers it appears the Lib vote haemorrhaged (sp.?) to ‘Others’ – confounding some of the theories re being confronted with 2 real parties to govern etc etc.

    The BNP theory someone posted on here (re N-E region) would seem to confirm this too.

    Does anyone concur?

  22. @ Billy Bob

    Financial Times a couple of month ago was rather sharp on the conservatives’ economic policies (they did not care with LibDems’). Then they pledged to the Tories (was somewhat strange, though understandable). Then in today’s FT they are back where they were two months ago. It’s far the most critical set of articles (having a go at a number of ministers) in the printed media although FT Saturday is always a bit off the line (though Wolf’s article yesterday was also along these views) and of course no desire is shown for Labour-like policies.

  23. @Billy Bob
    ”Was wondering if Cam and Co were just hoping for a bounce in the polls – – – etc”

    IMO it was an unavoidable scramble which made it difficult to plan far ahead. Main objective – get into No. 10, which has been achieved. Control the castle first then work out a more detailed plan. I do think it is a wish list. Had to have something to put in the shop window. Labour found at times that Government is more about ‘events’ than forward planning and I expect that the new team will have their share of unforeseens. Until we have the ‘emergency budget’ it’s a phoney period IMHO. They may regret using the word ‘emergency’ though if they are seeking to send out the right messages ? ;)

  24. Eoin, a commentator this morning was suggesting that the dynamics of the contest might favour one of the Eds ‘coming through the middle’ to defeat DM. We may have to reconcile ourselves to him though. He does have ‘clout’. I liked his 01.10.09 speech (Milliband calls Tories schoolboys on youtube) to conference. He does have a bit of fire in his belly at times.

  25. @ Cosmo

    I like “something to put in the shop window”, though I think it’s more like the wallpaper that people use to put up around Christmas time around here (NW).

    I’m quite sure that the Civil Service has already prepared a draft budget – but they have not prepared it for a coalition… Now they have to go through point by point and not only one party has to approve them, but two. Not an easy one. Though they could just take out the draft budget submitted to the governent in April, dust it and present it as something new.

    I agree with you on regretting the word. If it’s emergency, it has to be deep and hurting. If it is not deep and hurting, they cannot really blame Labour. Another tricky situation.

  26. Laszlo,
    I did think at one time that the FT might support Labour going into the election. Will make a point of looking at today’s edition when I get the chance. Influential.

  27. @Eoin, Laszlo, Billy Bob
    ”It is quite clear from Comzo’s stats that yellows do not want a 5 year deal.”
    Yes it seems that way. If you take the two year point as a milepost then blues are evenly divided either side.
    45% expect up to two years. 43% expect 3 to 5 years.
    54% LibDem expect up to two years with 29% expecting more.
    Lab supporters 85% expect no more than two years – but that could have more to do with sticking pins in voodoo dolls than anything else ! ?

  28. @Billy B,

    If DMiliband is top dog reds will not weild power for a decade. He is ideologically much to close to Cameron and Clegg. He is stylistically much too close to DC and NC. His Pragmatism, smarm/charm is also very similar.

    even if he conjured a Lib-Lab deal then the policies would be virtually identical to what we are about to have.

    We would have three leaders in a Somme-like encounter for no mans land.

  29. @ Billy Bob

    Just for a flavour:

    Front page: “Prepare for age of austerity, says Laws”
    P2: still on Laws: “Hatchet man’ gets set to cut with care; “Decision-making will be tough’, ‘Climate projects face axe from Cable’ (this is quite something. a sixth of the 6 billion would fall on his department), ‘Treasury to have a in defence review’; ‘Public finances show ray of light’
    P4: ‘Con-Libs yet to agree on Royal Mail sale details’; ‘Labour kept poverty in check, says IFS’;

  30. @ Cozmo

    Well, there is a bit of witchcraft in it (Labour) :-) I’m quite sure.

    But looking at the face of our local LibDem councillor… (but they also lost the city here, so it could influence that look)…

  31. @ Eion Clarke

    After listening EB on the radio that Billy Bob suggested, I started to think that he could try… He seems to have the skills to deal with the fact that everybody thinks he is divisive. His closeness to Brown would be less of a problem – his critique of the last few years would be more convincing (if he was to engage in such a critique) almost wrote: authentic.

  32. Eoin, I know I will not change your opinion of DM but we need some pragmatism here, perhaps he could smarm/charm Murdoch, even The Guardian or Independant would have helped. Think of how Labour would have done this time with just a little bit of media support. If none of ‘them’ would countenance GB, another TB might be the only option

  33. @Billy Bob,

    Laszlo makes an excellent point. After reading nad listening to what Balls has had to say I am becomming more convicned by him.

    he loyal,

    his graduate tax idea is cracker.. his committment to mothers and children is crucial (sure start/ tax creds). his support from the Unions is welcome and his Foreign policy is fresh.

    He could build a coaltion of young, working class and women…

    And would his wife not make the best PMs wife ever?

    As a couple they would be unbeatable.

    There- my colours are nailed to the mast :)

    Did you know the independance of the Bank of England was his idea and not Brown’s?

  34. Eoin, excellent post, off out now, can I call you Eoin/Juan? EB/YC, woohoo! :)

  35. Anthony Wells

    I am getting a message that there is a dubious ‘add on’ to this site that is shutting down explorer. Probably something my end, but thought I would let you know.

  36. @Billy B,

    enjoy the sun :) My work prevents me from embracing the great outdoors probably until the sun is on its way down.. grr..

  37. @ Billy Bob

    Oh, I thought it was another site (Guardian actually).. But yes, mine froze this morning too (and once yesterday). Did not manage to close Explorer, but managed to freeze it.

  38. @ Eoin
    “You have got closer than anyone to identifying the Lib Dem problem, certainly on this blog at least.
    Univeristy areas have the lowest turnout of all the districts in Britain.
    I live in a Uni District… our turnout was 30%. I myself did not, and will not ever vote.
    I think we all accept that uni folk are fairly liberal minded- lending themsleves to be well disposed to yellows.
    Thus, even if they say they will vote- the art of doing it rarely materialises.”

    An interesting point.
    I wonder, do May GEs tend to have lower turnout than at other times of the year for the 18-24s? How did their turnout in 2001 compare to 1997 and 2005? I would not be surprised if this were the case. I know quite a few students who planned to vote but didn’t for various reasons directly and indirectly related to their exams.

    If part of the electoral reform deals is making early May the only time when GEs happen could this be argued to indirectly marginalise student voters?

  39. @ Eion

    Could the PM’s wife be an MP? I would not like if the PLP lost her. She was one of the few really convincing people coming out in the media before and during the campaign.

    As to EB. I agree with the list. He could even have the media playing a different game (even if it’s hostile).

  40. @ Owain

    Where are these industrious students (my students will take the exam from next week only… marking, sigh). But I agree, students, for various reasons (communiting is one of them) are not reliable voters even though they are probably the most politicised stratum.

    I’m not sure about their natural voting tendency for the yellows. They probably do not follow the general/national tendency, but I doubt that their liberal values would translate to voting for LibDems.

  41. IMO, Ed B would take leader if he got it – but perhaps what he is really after is shadow Chancellor?

  42. @ Laszlo
    “I’m not sure about their natural voting tendency for the yellows. They probably do not follow the general/national tendency, but I doubt that their liberal values would translate to voting for LibDems.”

    Yes, not necessarily their core vote, but polling prior to this GE showed the LD surge was quite strong among the 18-24s.

  43. @Owain,

    I do not think there is anyone who would disagree with the statment that compulsory voting would benefit yellow…

    the problem with measuring the turnout issue is that every election since I can rememebr has been may/june.

    We could runa comparison with turnout of those age groups say in Ireland or France? Or even the US which has a Novemebr poll date…

    Another issue with the youth vote is that there are a bunch of would be yellows who wanted to vote but didnt. The explanation for which is quite sociological but let me try and explain…

    It is about the formation of group identity. Well rared sons and duaghters of tories.. made their way to UNi. They formed freidnships with Comp Kids who got to UNI on hard graft but are from perhaps a traditional labour origin. Som einternationla studnets especially form the US are also quite potentially fairly Liberal. The fusion of these three groups would have yielded potentially the following..

    a bunch of students with a good sesne of active citzienship a conscious sense of civic duty and a fairly toerant outlook on differnet classes and customs…

    The probelm with this type of group identity is that it is short lived… exam stress, financial stress, parental exertion of control when term time ends all of the effect of rendering that moment of fusion or enlightenment as part of a youth experience or for want of a better phrase ‘growing up’. And whilst it seemed right, felt good it was short lived.

    Almost akin the the 1968 Trotskyite or Maoist social movement groups…

    Does that make sense?

  44. @ Owain

    Yes, and it could be plausible.

    I was not clear enough. I don’t think that even if they voted, their liberal values are translated to votes to yellows (against red or blue).

  45. For anybody who is interested, Labour Leader backing so far:

    David Miliband 38 (estimates 100)
    Ed Miliband 18 (estimate not known)
    Ed Balls 20 (estimate not known)
    Andy Burnham 13 (estimate not known)
    John O’Donnell 3 (estimates 15)
    Diane Abbott 0 (estimates 33+)

  46. It makes sense, but I’m currently more interested in the possible role of exams on student turnout.

  47. Amber,

    It will boil ddown to a straight shoot out between Ed B and D M.

    The Diane’s and O’Donnell’s of this world will back Ed as will the Unions.

    The question is, what will th emembership decide?

  48. A few PMQ questions for Harriet to lob over to DC –

    1. Does the Prime Minister think that is perverse that he is in coalition in this place with a party which is enthusiastic and positive about Europe whilst his party is part of a grouping in the European Parliament which is dominated by a bunch of anti-Europeans laced with a smattering of racists and homophobes.

    2. Does the Prime Minister agree with me that British development workers have made a major contribution to the development of female education in Afghanistan and will he continue to support this socially important work?

    3. Given that the Liberal Democrats achieved 60% of the votes of the Conservatives in the General Election, does the Prime Minister agree with me that the fact that the Liberal Democrats only have 25% f the senior posts in the government is blatantly unfair?

  49. re the student low turn out, the impression I got was that (I’m at uni in Norwich) the large majority was split relatively evenly between Green and LibDem.

    However there were far more green posters than orange ones in windows, and post election there was far more apathy amongst Lib supporters than Green ones.
    That could just be because of the actual results though – the libs doing very poorly whilst the greens have something to celebrate.

    Anyway, as I said, just my impression, but the greens seem to have mobilised the young vote far more than the Liberals.

  50. I don’t really care who differential student turnout affects most, I’m just concerned that the trend of always having May elections may marginalize them, particularly if this coalition entrenches that in law.

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