Jon Mellon and Chris Prosser from the British Election Study team have written a new post and paper on the emerging evidence from the BES data on what went wrong with the polls. Last month they wrote a piece, which I covered here, on some of the potential causes of error they could use the BES data to look at. Now the BES post-election data is out they’ve done so, and come back with some findings.

Firstly, late swing – the BES data finds virtually no net change at all between how people said they would vote pre-election and how they reported having voted after the election. The BES team conclude from this that late swing is unlikely. We’ve now got published re-contact data from the British Election Study, ICM, Opinium, Populus and Survation, only Survation found any obvious evidence of late swing in their re-contact survey.

Secondly, Shy Tories. This is essentially the most difficult potential cause to evidence – if people lie before the election, and lie after the election and we can’t check their actual ballot papers, how do you detect it? You need to look for circumstantial evidence. The BES team have compared levels of Tory support in their polling in different types of area, on the assumption that if people feeling embarrassed to admit voting Tory really was a problem it would be less of an issue in heavily Tory areas than in areas where no one else voted Tory. They did not find this pattern. They also have some experimental data about question order and priming, one suggested solution to the polling error. The first three waves of the BES, conducted back in 2014, randomised where it asked the voting intention question – at the start, or later in the survey. Asking it later in the survey only made a minimal, non-significant change to the Tory vote (while it doesn’t say so in the article, the full paper also makes clear it doesn’t change the Labour vote either!)

Thirdly the BES team looked a bit at sampling, specifically around age, looking at an issue Opinium have already commented on at the BPC inquiry meeting. All pollsters weight by age using various age bands such as 18-24, 25-40, etc, etc. But are people evenly distributed within those bands? Within the top age group, for example, the BES found that people over the age of 80 were underrepresented and people in their early 60s were overrepresented. Whether that makes any different to the results they can’t yet say, as it may be countered by other things like political weighting.

Finally, and most importantly, they wrote about turnout and suggested that people may have been overestimating their likelihood to vote, and that the people who were actually less likely to vote were increasingly skewed towards Labour. Currently this pretty circumstantial evidence – we don’t know if people lied about voting in the general election, but there’s evidence to suggest they might have. For example, a small proportion of people said they had already voted by post before most of the ballot papers had even been sent out, in areas where there were not any local elections this May there was still a chunk of people who reported having voted in their local elections. At the moment, these people who look as if they might be lying disproportionately break to Labour, so would explain some of the error. In their article Jon and Chris instead try modelling people’s likelihood to vote based on their demographics and characteristics of their seat, and that increases the Tory lead by 1.8%. They conclude that turnout, people saying they’ll vote when they won’t, is a major factor behind the error, thought they conclude that it’s one pollsters can probably address quite easily through a better turnout model.

Two caveats though, before you think things are solved. One – at the moment we’re going on indirect evidence of people overstating their likelihood to vote. In the fullness of time the BES are going to do a validation exercise of their data (that is, checking respondents names against the marked electoral register) so they will be able to conclusively prove whether or not there are a significant proportion of people who told pollsters they voted, but lied about it. Secondly, Jon and Chris estimate that getting turnout wrong probably explains about a quarter of the difference between the final polls and the election result, which would still leave us another three-quarters to explain…

Meanwhile there have been two new Scottish polls in the last week – both show the SNP still on course for another landslide at the Holyrood elections next year.

Survation for the Scottish Daily Mail have Holyrood voting intentions of
Constituency: CON 14%, LAB 20%, LDEM 7%, SNP 56%, Others 4%
Regional: CON 12%, LAB 19%, LDEM 8%, SNP 45%, GRN 11%, UKIP 5%
(Tabs here)

TNS have Holyrood voting intentions of:
Constituency: CON 14%, LAB 20%, LDEM 5%, SNP 60%, Others 2%
Regional: CON 13%, LAB 21%, LDEM 5%, SNP 51%, GRN 7%
(Tabs here)


301 Responses to “More BES findings on What Went Wrong”

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  1. @Craig – “Perhaps those MPs believe in democracy, and not for a narrow bunch to effectively screen out a particular type, disenfranchising the Left in the process. I’m not sure why you’re attributing it to a desire to hurt someone else’s prospects?”

    Presumably that’s the left that can join the Labour party, back a left wing candidate for their constituency, then get them elected at a general election, and then persuade sufficient numbers of their MP colleagues to put them onto the leadership ballot? Can’t quite see where the disenfranchising bit comes from?

    I attribute the nomination of Corbyn by some as an attempt to hurt other candidates as this is what some of those backing him said at the time.

  2. @Somerjohn – ““Germany has been beastly to poor, plucky Greece. The bailout cannot work and the EZ will fail…….”

    Actually, what many of us have been saying is that Germany is being beastly to Germans – that’s the bit you don’t seem to be getting.

    In this, we are backed up by the IMF, who have repeatedly warned the EZ right back to the first bailout, that the German governments failure to enact debt write offs in this particular situation will mean further bailouts will be needed and that this will cost creditor nations more money.

    I’m not quite sure why so many people struggle to get this.
    It’s really not about letting Greece off with anything – it’s about saving creditors from themselves.

  3. ALEC

    @”You may have a Grecian blind spot”

    Now that’s what I believe is known as Chutzpah :-)

  4. Alec: ” the German governments failure to enact debt write offs in this particular situation will mean further bailouts will be needed and that this will cost creditor nations more money.”

    I don’t dispute the need for debt write-offs, but I entirely understand that these aren’t politically deliverable by the German and other creditor governments in view of the strong objections of their respective electorates (that’s democracy for you).

    What I have been saying is that when – if – the Greek government is seen to be genuinely delivering on its commitments to reform, then that is the time to talk about write-offs. And all this should be done within the context of a New Deal.

  5. @Alec

    Yeah, the same left who can also expect a left-winger not to be screened out in what is meant to be an internal election. You only need attend a husting to see Corbyn holds considerable support within the party – to let a few hundred rule him or any other holding similar positions is unthinkable – and exactly where the disenfranchising comes about.

    The trouble with relying on left-wing candidates winning is that the last election of our prospective candidate the literature posted had them all sounding identical, you wouldn’t be able to tell a Corbynite from a Kendallite and it’s only when they’re running in campaigns like these, backing their favourites, that you actually get to understand their positions.

    Who said that? Post some quotes please, as this sounds very interesting.

  6. SOMERJOHN

    @”when – if – the Greek government is seen to be genuinely delivering on its commitments to reform”

    There is an awful lot to get through their Parliament :-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-33474605

  7. Colin – Empty vessels can be filled.

  8. @Alec

    “…The 35bn is money already agreed to be allocated to Greece, for a specific purpose (growth inducing infrastructure investments)…The point to bear in mind here is that no one has ‘given’ Greece anything…”

    Those two sentences contradict each other.

    “…Greece hasn’t refused to repay anything…It has been unable to make some repayments…”

    Those two sentences contradict each other.

  9. Martyn

    No they don’t.

  10. Wolf

    Wheyyy, revising history time!

  11. @” no one has ‘given’ Greece anything…”

    In 2011,as part of the first Bailout, Greece’s private lenders received a 50% haircut of what they were owed by Greece reducing Greece’s debt by €100bn (£70bn; $110bn).

    This was a gift to each Greek citizen of , around 10,000 euros .

  12. @”The 35bn is money already agreed to be allocated to Greece, for a specific purpose (growth inducing infrastructure investments)”

    This is outside ( in addition to ) :-

    86 bn euro Bailout from EZ/IMF over 3 years to repay existing debt & interest , recapitalise banks.

    50bn euro from privatising Greek State Assets to a Trust Fund for recapitalising Banks ( 25bn; )reducing Debt ( 12.5 bn) ; investment (12.5 bn )

    12bn euro Bridging loan from EZ to meet ECB liquidity support repayment in August.

    The 35bn is indicated by the Commission as “normal” structural funding for Greece up to 2020

  13. Alec / Craig

    I do believe that there were people nominating Corbyn who genuinely thought it was better to have a wide range of opinion in the contest.

    However I also remember reading at the time about secondary motives.

    I believe the thinking was that Burnham and Cooper backers wanted him on the ballot because it would expose Kendall on the right. Kendall supporters wanted him on the ballot because they think he takes votes from Burnham (and, to a lesser extent, Cooper) and also gives them a ‘left-wing dinosaur’ they can point at and claim that they’re modernisers.

    In practice the new dynamic seems to have hurt Burnham, who can no longer count on unanimous trade union support, and Kendall, who at one point was looking very strong, now looks likely to come in 4th after someone her supporters considered a joke candidate (hence Hunt, Umunna et al are now crying foul).

  14. @Oldnat – thankyou

    @Colin – re ” no one has ‘given’ Greece anything…” please take this in context.

    Yes, Greece has had substantial further lending via the three bailouts. If you consider lending people money with a defined repayment schedule at an agree rate of annualised interest ‘giving’, then my mortgage company has ‘given’ me £70,000. Somehow, it doesn’t quite feel that way to me.

    You could argue that the limited debt write offs were cases of Greece being given something – I don’t dispute that. But please read and digest the rest of the post. Private lenders knew the state of the Greek economy and their finances (or at least if they didn’t, due dilligence should have highlighted these for them). Given this open market knowledge, they agreed to lend at premium rates to cover the risk. They have been paid via this risk premium already, which should take account of the risk of default.

    Lenders are therefore accepting money in lieu of default, which is part of the normal trade in lending. It’s not a happy situation for anyone, but financial markets have to get the balance between creditor and debtor right. In general, the European approach protects the creditor, allowing them to charge interest premiums that assume default, but then in most cases also ensuring the debtor bears the cost of any default, thus paying twice for the service.

    “This was a gift to each Greek citizen of , around 10,000 euros .”

    Perhaps you could look upon it as the result of incompetence on behalf of the lenders? A key point here for the German’s to digest is that many of these private loans would not have been made had Greece not been in the Euro. Lenders assumed the Eurozone collectively would guarantee complete safety of theor loans, even as they charged the premiums. Germany and the Euro system effectively allowed the Greek situation to balloon out of control.

    Indeed, Merkel herself put huge pressure on the Greeks to borrw more from german banks to buy two German made frigates that Greece couldn’t afford in 2009. Greek borrowing is unnacceptable if it pays poor Greeks their pensions, but it’s fine if it buys German produced military exports for the Greek navy that Germany says is now too large.

  15. FUNTYPIPPIN

    The suggestion is that David Lammy and some of his backers for London Mayor either did a deal or simply believed having JC on the ballet was be party best for him.

    Liz Kendall had a real opportunity as many members, like me, were wanting a candidate from the 2010 intake prepared to take an unhindered view of our time in Government; and, develop a platform fit for the 2020 GE.

    This is why she gained early momentum and it looked like Burnham v Kendall with Cooper’s 2nd preferences deciding the winner.
    Sadly, she has been a big disappointment and comes across as rather lightweight.
    Yvette Cooper has been called robotic, uninspiring etc and of course she has baggage but she is unlikely to make big gaffes and will be a decent match for the PM.

    I guess a kind of Michael Howard candidate so we can lose with dignity in 2020. Although the Tories could make a mess of course so you never know.

    Took me a while to be certain but she has my vote.

  16. ALEC

    @” then my mortgage company has ‘given’ me £70,000. Somehow, it doesn’t quite feel that way to me”

    Of course-a loan is a loan.
    A gift is a gift.
    A loan forgiven is a gift.
    A loan defaulted on is a theft.

    @”You could argue that the limited debt write offs were cases of Greece being given something – I don’t dispute that. ”

    Good :-)

    Merkel is now definitely sending signals of prospective debt relief-not “haircuts” , but re-scheduling.

    Extend & Pretend.

    How will the voters of Germany, Malta, Slovakia etc feel about pretending ?

  17. Burnham was asked by Brillo yesterday if he would give a Cabinet job to Corbyn. He said yes.

    Today his “spokesman” says it was a “joke”.

    What a man of principle he is.

    LK was asked the same question-she said no.

    YC said -not going to answer that question.

    The Labour Leadership Candidates in a nutshell :-)

  18. Good morning all from a warming up Mount Florida.

    I have to admit I’m not that excited or impressed by the current Labour leadership candidates.

    3 are fighting to be more like the Tories and one is to the left of Arthur Scargill. You can see why a lot of their core vote went to UKIP in England.

  19. Roll on the tory leader contest -boris,george and teresa may .Boris is already moaning to dave .

  20. On the DP “hustings” show yesterday I was struck by something LK said.

    After AB finished burbling on about reconnecting with the “beating heart of Labour” or some such, and YC finished her bit of meaningless waffle, LK said that in her home town of Watford “friends & family” who always voted Lab , voted Con last time. She harked back to Watford as a Labour seat, and said that Labour must retrieve seats like this from Cons .

    I was reminded of that when reading this today :-

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/labour-party-is-heading-for-oblivion-report-warns-10399546.html

  21. Allan – yours of Thursday afternoon (1st post on this thread)

    “They are extraordinary polls for the SNP. The party appears to be on the crest of a wave both at Westminster and Holyrood.
    As far as I’m concerned the Holyrood election is already over.”

    Agreed – and both the LiS leadership contenders are also in agreement.
    However, Scotland desperately needs a viable opposition party. Perhaps the new GB LD leader will provide us with some hope in that direction….

    I thought Michael Shaw’s piece in yesterday’s Herald (p.13) a helpful insight into ways in which Labour might rebuild. Whether anyone is listening, of course, is another matter…..

  22. Colin,

    I am not sure that identifying that Labour need to win in seats where we have MPs when we have a majority is particularly insightful.

    Now tell me how you are going to endeavour to make this happen please? (Not you Colin the candidates of course – smiley thing)

  23. “Of course-a loan is a loan.
    A gift is a gift.
    A loan forgiven is a gift.
    A loan defaulted on is a theft.”

    ———

    And loan-sharking is loan-sharking and storage taxes are rubbish…

  24. JIM JAM

    I think you express the thought in too superficial a way.

    In the “Listening to Labour’s Lost Voters” article in the Indy, this is quoted from that Report:-

    “”My Dad would be rolling in his grave if he knew I voted Tory”, was a common sentiment from those questioned.

    One voter said: “We’re in different places now. My parents used to vote Labour, but we’ve changed and Labour needs to change to join us.”

    I think what LK was trying to say was-Labour have to get those voters back in those constituencies. Her answer to your question “how” has something to do with understanding in what way that voter has “changed” from his/her Labour parents .

    But what do I know?

  25. I get that Colin as do I believe most sensible LP members but the issue is does Liz Kendall or any of the candidates have any decent answers or at least a clear path as to how we might get the answers.

    JC -Tack left,
    LK -Tack right,
    AB – similar as EM with a ‘Labour’ Soul’ and oodles of earnestness
    YC – similar to EM with added competence and credibility.

    Not very inspiring so left with who would be best in the HOC and passes this could they be PM test.

    None are doing the vision thing with any

  26. I think there’s a danger with the “we have to win in seats like these” narrative. Which is the chicken and which is the egg?

    In a good year, when they get a majority in the Commons, Labour take seats in places like Cornwall and Dorset. In a bad year, they don’t. I see that more as a consequence of UNS than as meaning that they didn’t win a majority in the Commons because they didn’t win in Cornwall and Dorset. A rising tide doesn’t always lift all boats, but in Westminster politics it often does.

  27. On Greece, it seems a terribly mixed message to condemn those who loaned money to the Greek government in the past for their incompetence, and then to try and persuade people to lend more money to the Greek government now.

    I am absolutely certain that Greece cannot pay her debts. This is because it has become a First World country with Third World finances.

    Ultimately, Greece will have to revert to being a developing country again, with the reductions in wealth and quality of life that accompanies that, and work their way back towards the First World – this time honestly.

    In a way, perhaps Syriza is the ideal governing party to lead this as the effects of dropping out of the first tier of world economies may be cushioned slightly if there are genuinely old-style socialists involved. People with two cars may have to revert to having one car in order that their neighbours don’t starve.

  28. JOHN B

    “Agreed – and both the LiS leadership contenders are also in agreement”

    “However, Scotland desperately needs a viable opposition party. Perhaps the new GB LD leader will provide us with some hope in that direction….
    I thought Michael Shaw’s piece in yesterday’s Herald (p.13) a helpful insight into ways in which Labour might rebuild. Whether anyone is listening, of course, is another matter”
    ________

    Absolutely Scotland does need a strong viable opposition and the SNP are being very effective in this regard at Westminster. So far they have forced the Tories to backtrack on 4 separate issues but I do get your point with the Lib/Dems though!!

    With the Lib/Dems winning two spectacular local by-elections in England the party are on the rampage and though time (lots of it) they could be an effective opposition to the SNP. Ones to watch I would say.

    Aye Shaws’ article was interesting. They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, the same can be said of LiS reconstruction program.

  29. Allan Christie

    “With the Lib/Dems winning two spectacular local by-elections in England the party are on the rampage ”

    If you look upthread at the posts from those living in those wards, it appears that both were done by locals in spite of being Lib-Dems – not because of it.

    What we need in Scotland are parties with a clear vision and principles, who can hold the government to account on the basis of their deviation from their (and its own vision and principles). From them, the voters can select an alternative government when they wish.

    What we don’t need are parties whose only purpose is to get into power on the basis of not being as bad as the other lot (since they are frequently worse than the other lot!)

  30. LiS I think could rebuild under KM; he seems to get it but I doubt he’ll be getting much support. Labour seem to crave some sort of anti-SNP hero at the moment over actual discussion of policies or even a discussion on how to actually win the next election.

  31. Fraser

    “how to actually win the next election”

    Realistically, in an AMS Parliament, even if the SNP falls back a fair distance, they are still likely to be the largest party, and may be able to do some form of deal with the Greens to remain in Government.

    SLab (LiS may be an outdated concept) have never had a majority of MSPs and attaining that looks an unobtainable target.

    Replacing the SNP as the Scottish Government involves both of –
    being the largest party
    having alliance partners to form a government.

  32. Neil A,

    I thin k that is my view we resonate and attract sufficient voters and rise in seats we already hold and we take some new seats.

    Extra attention may mean a bigger swing in key seats but their is no trade off so that we have policies which may put off some voters in strongholds and gain votes in seats we need to win.

    In fact I would go further and challenge the whole retail offer approach, we just need to look in touch and competent plus have a consistent and appealing narrative.
    The retail offer should fit in to this framework.

    Will competent Tory-Lite be enough – probably eventually as it will be our turn after 3 (4 last) time Cons Governments.

    I am referring to E&W here as for LiS I ain’t got a clue other than hoping the SNP lose their Teflon coating at some point.

  33. Jim Jam

    There can be few comments more depressing about the already depressing state of politics in England than Will competent Tory-Lite be enough – probably eventually as it will be our turn after 3 (4 last) time Cons Governments.

    I’m assuming that you are being ironic, but that does really leave the Greens, and the occasional Labour rebel, as the only alternative voice in England’s blue and unpleasant land!

  34. OLDNAT

    “If you look upthread at the posts from those living in those wards, it appears that both were done by locals in spite of being Lib-Dems – not because of it”
    ____

    And here was me thinking it was down to their new elected charismatic leader,..forgot his name. Tom Callow?

    I agree with you, we do need a strong opposition in Scotland challenging the SNP over policies, commitments and promises but politics in Scotland at the moment is a bit like the SPL where one team dominates the league.

    SLAB LiS whatever its called now in my view have nothing credible about them. They oppose everything the Scottish government do and say and from what I’m reading they have lost even more support to the SNP since the UK election.

    I agree with FRASER

    LiS I think could rebuild under KM; he seems to get it but I doubt he’ll be getting much support. Labour seem to crave some sort of anti-SNP hero at the moment over actual discussion of policies or even a discussion on how to actually win the next election”
    _____

    I’ve always said KM was their best hope but he ain’t negative enough. The 30 something female they are about to elect will take the party back to the dark ages with her endless tantrums and gossip.

    I can’t understand why the Tories are not polling better than Labour in Scotland at the moment. They have a leader who stands by her principles and is credible in opposition.

    Scotland does need a credible opposition but unless they chose KM then it may come from the Scottish Tories.

  35. #choose

  36. OLDNAT

    “England’s blue and unpleasant land!”

    We English are very happy thank you, I presume that’s a Scotsman’s view of England.

  37. JIM JAM

    @”None are doing the vision thing with any”

    Do you think the voters want “visions” ?

    I doubt it personally.

    I think the trick is to make your policy platform as appealing to the general public as it is to your Party Members. If you can’t then you just finish up as a protest party.
    This is a trick which Labour seem to be struggling with just now. I do think that only LK seems to understand that. And the fact that she is running last perhaps indicates what Labour’s fate might be for a while-until as you say it is your “turn”.

    Meanwhile we can at least be grateful that we have avoided Scotland’s fate :-)

  38. Allan Christie

    I suspect that the problem for the “Scottish Conservative Party” is that they are part of the Conservative Party!

    The small state / low tax principles they espouse (while they will never get my support) are not only a consistent and valid political position, but one which is shared by a much greater number of Unionists than they currently get in votes.

    They “should” be getting more votes than they do under a leader who is reasonably well respected across the political spectrum.

  39. TOH

    “I presume that’s a Scotsman’s view of England”

    No. It’s a Scotsman’s play on words about the political governance of England.

    I’m not sure to be reassured that you speak for everyone in England – “We English are very happy thank you” – or to be even more depressed that you are their chosen voice! :-)

  40. OLNAT

    JUST BE HAPPY THAT AT LEAST SOME OF US ARE HAPPY :-)

  41. Colin

    “Meanwhile we can at least be grateful that we have avoided Scotland’s fate :-)”

    Wholly true! Remaining in this particular UK Union with England is a pretty bad fate, which you manage to avoid. :-)

  42. Colin

    ““Meanwhile we can at least be grateful that we have avoided Scotland’s fate :-)”

    Me to!

  43. TOH

    And on present form, your side will be happy for many years to come!

    Indeed, judging by the major English opposition party, if the good folk of England decide to give them another turn, then you’ll still have a Toryish government, and can remain in ecstatic delirium still.

  44. OLDNAT

    Not exactly my side, but I deed indeed vote Conservative at the GE although I do have reservations about them. It is also true that under Blair & Brown you could argue that Labour represented “Tory-lite” since the economic agenda set during the Thatcher/Regan years continued to some extent abeit in modified form. Not sure that would have been true if EM had won the election although maybe EB, if he had been Cof E would have continued with Tory-Lite economics.

    As I have said to you before i look forward to seeing the SNP using new tax raising powers in Scotland to follow a different agenda and how that will affect the standing of the SNP with the Scottish people after a few years of doing so.

  45. OLDNAT

    I should have added that I do have feelings of ecstasy from time to time but it has nothing to do with politics. I should also add that the only time i have suffered from a period of delirium was immediately after major surgery.

  46. TOH

    While partial variation of Income Tax isn’t the best way of part-funding a properly devolved Parliament, I’m also looking forward to seeing how it is handled [1]

    More importantly, the wholly devolved field of Land Value taxation seems a strong candidate to shift the burden of taxation away from earned income to inherited wealth, which should really reward entrepreneurial activity and hard work (regardless of income level). [2]

    A strong Green presence in the Scottish Parliament should stiffen SNP resolve in this field.

    [1] No variation from UK rates would seem most likely in Year 1, since the mechanisms aren’t yet clear and the Scotland Bill has omitted the “no detriment” part of the Smith Commission Agreement.

    [2] Moving your domicile to the most tax favourable location is relatively easy. Registering ownership of your Scottish estate in the Bahamas as “a trust” to avoid other taxes is also quite common. Actually moving a part of Scotland to another jurisdiction is rather more difficult.

  47. TOH

    “a period of delirium was immediately after major surgery.”

    Yep. Been there too, though the hospital didn’t give me a T-shirt.

  48. OLDNAT

    Me neither.

  49. Good Evening All; a wet evening as the Premier League approaches Bournemouth and JUST ONE more day to the holidays.

    JIM JAM.
    Hello to you; Yvette will, I hope, avoid gaffes, and be a safe pair of hands until 2018.

  50. Chris Lane

    “until 2018.”

    Ooh! That was wicked! :-)

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