Donald Trump has won, so we have another round of stories about polling shortcomings, though thankfully it’s someone else’s country this time round (this is very much a personal take from across an ocean – the Yougov American and British teams are quite separate, so I have no insider angle on the YouGov American polls to offer).

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about whether there was potential for the US polls to suffer the same sort of polling mishap as Britain had experienced in 2015. It now looks as if they have. The US polling industry actually has a very good record of accuracy – they obviously have a lot more contests to poll, a lot more information to hand (and probably a lot more money!), but nevertheless – if you put aside the 2000 exit poll, you have to go back to 1948 to find a complete polling catastrophe in the US. That expectation of accuracy means they’ll probably face a lot of flak in the days ahead.

We in Britain have, shall I say, more recent experience of the art of being wrong, so here’s what insight I can offer. First the Brexit comparison. I fear this will be almost universal over the next few weeks, but when it comes to polling it is questionable:

  • In the case of Brexit, the polling picture was mixed. Put crudely, telephone polls showed a clear lead for Remain, online polls showed a tight race, with leave often ahead. Our media expected Remain to win and wrongly focused only on those polls that agreed with them, leading to a false narrative of a clear Remain lead, rather than a close run thing. Some polls were wrong, but the perception that they were all off is wrong – it was a failure of interpretation.
  • In the case of the USA, the polling picture was not really mixed. With the exception of the outlying USC Dornslife/LA Times poll all the polls tended to show a picture of Clinton leading, backed up by state polls also showing Clinton leads consistent with the national polls. People were quite right to interpret the polls as showing Clinton heading towards victory… it was the polls themselves that were wrong.

How wrong were they? As I write, it looks as if Hillary Clinton will actually get the most votes, but lose in the Electoral College. In that sense, the national polls were not wrong when they showed Clinton ahead, she really was. It’s one of the most fustrating situations to be in as a pollster, those times when statistically you are correct… but your figures have told the wrong narrative, so everyone thinks you are wrong. That doesn’t get the American pollsters off the hook though: the final polls were clustered around a 4 point lead for Clinton, when in reality it looks about 1 point. More importantly, the state polls were often way out, polls had Ohio as a tight race when Trump stomped it by 8 points. All the polls in Wisconsin had Clinton clearly ahead; Trump won. Polls in Minnesota were showing Clinton leads of 5-10 points, it ended up on a knife edge. Clearly something went deeply wrong here.

Putting aside exactly how comparable the Brexit polls and the Trump polls are, there are some potential lessons in terms of polling methodology. I am no expert in US polling, so I’ll leave it to others more knowledgable than I to dig through the entrails of the election polls. However, based on my experiences of recent mishaps in British polling, there are a couple of places I would certainly start looking.

One is turnout modelling – US pollsters often approach turnout in a very different way how British pollsters traditionally did it. We’ve always relied on weighting to the profile of the whole population and asking people if they are likely to vote. US pollsters have access to far more information on which people actually do vote, allowing they to weight their samples to the profile of actual voters in a state. This has helped the normally good record of US pollsters… but carries a potential risk if the type of people who vote changes, if there is an unexpected increase in turnout among demographics who don’t usually vote. This was one of the ways British pollsters did get burnt over Brexit. After getting the 2015 election wrong lots of British companies experimented with a more US-style approach, modelling turnout on the basis of people’s demographics. Those companies then faced problems when there was unexpectedly high turnout from more working-class, less well-educated voters at the referendum. Luckily for US pollsters, the relatively easy availability of data on who voted means they should be able to rule this in or out quite easily.

The second is sampling. The inquiry into our general election polling error in 2015 found that unrepresentative samples were the core of the problem, and I can well imagine that this is a problem that risks affecting pollsters anywhere. Across the world landline penetration is falling, response rates are falling and it seems likely that the dwindling number of people still willing to take part in polls are ever more unrepresentative. In this country our samples seemed to be skewed towards people who were too educated, who paid too much attention to politics, followed the news agenda and the political media too closely. We under-represented those with little interest in politics, and several UK pollsters have since started sampling and weighting by that to try and address the issue. Were the US pollsters to suffer a similar problem one can easily imagine how it could result in polls under-representing Donald Trump’s support. If that does end up being the case, the question will be what US pollsters do to address the issue.


1,352 Responses to “Why were the US polls wrong?”

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  1. Saw an interesting stat about the US election. In 2012 51% of 18 to 28 year olds voted, in 2016 that number sank to just 19%.

  2. CAMBRIDGE RACHEL

    An interesting stat.

    The price of ditching Bernie?

  3. As this is a site to talk about polls here is one reported on Britain Elects

    Britain Elects [email protected] · 14m14 minutes ago

    On how the government is doing at negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union:
    Well: 18% (-7)
    Badly: 52% (+6)
    (via YouGov)

    Interesting that the government have a negative34% rating on their negotiating stance. Will this result in a fall in support and if so where will it go?

    I know its not in fashion but how about talking about polls?

  4. Dave M

    Here’s the article on the poll – written by one Anthony Wells.

    Dunno if the chap knows anything about polling though.

    https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/11/17/brexit-briefing/

  5. The other Howard,
    I seldom take offence, and so would like to put on record for future that I am unlikely to. I can be blunt. I can understand you may be bored with Brexit, but I am not and nor are many others. Politicians in general are probably hoping the public will get bored and leave it to the politicians, but if anything it seems to dominate media more and more. This is because there is no outcome, and will not be for many years, if not decades. I fear you are in for some disappointment if you hope it will cease to be an issue soon.

    I honestly dont see what is to be gained by secrecy over our national position, but I do believe the Uk must have established aims before setting out in negotiations. I also believe we must reserve the option to remain a member, either because events show it is clearly the right course for the nation, or because it becomes clear this is the choice of the nation. I assume that this is in fact the view of the majority of politicians too, however carefully they are currently phrasing their public statements.

  6. DAVEM

    You forgot to post the other findings of that interesting poll:-

    68% of people think that Britain should go ahead with Brexit, unchanged from when we asked the same question in October.

    Asking more specifically about each types of Brexit, the solution that looks likely to command the widest public confidence is a “Canadian style” trade deal.

    By a narrow margin people think it is legitimate for the Courts to rule on whether or not the government has the power to invoke Article 50.

    By 47% to 36% respondents thought that the government should have the right to invoke Article 50 itself, without getting the permission of Parliament.

    If ther was an election on various scenarios, In every case the Conservative party would win easily, with a much increased margin and probably with a substantially increased majority.

    Not surprising that the voters don’t approve of how the Government is negotiating Brexit since we aren’t negotiating yet

  7. DANNY

    @” I assume that this is in fact the view of the majority of politicians too, however carefully they are currently phrasing their public statements.”

    Even if it were true, the YouGov Poll referred to above tells us that a majority think It is not legitimate for MPs who think Brexit would be bad for Britain to vote against it.

    If they did, and a GE ensued, the same Poll indicates that Cons would get a majority over Labour of 12 % pts to 20%pts depending on the policy stance of Labour on Brexit.

  8. TOH

    You are being a bit unfair to Dave M. He was simply posting a tweet he had seen which alerted him (and the rest of us) to that YG poll.

    Suggesting that he “forgot” to mention the details he hadn’t yet seen, is below your usual standard of posting.

  9. Danny

    I don’t agree with either of your paragraphs but i am pleased I didn’t offend you as I try very hard to not to offend.

    I think people who post on sites like this are in the main still very interested in discussing Brexit, although I am not alone in being bored as I can think of at least two others who post regularly wh have also voiced the same opinion, one a Brexiter and one a Remainer.

    As to the media, they are trying very hard to keep stories running both for and against, but quite rightly IMO, Mr’s May is making it very hard for them as far as detailed strategy is concerned.

    As far as the voters are concerned we can only comment as far as our own experience of others views. My own friends and family are bored stiff with the whole thing and cannot wait for Art 50 to be triggered and for the government to get on with it, and that is regardless of whether they were for or against. I suspect this represents a majority view but I have no concrete evidence, perhaps the polsters will help on that.

  10. OLDNAT

    Well said OLDNAT and I apologise to Dave M. I am in a hurry and had not noticed that.

  11. The YG poll tables are here

    https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/n70ift0nyl/InternalResults_161114_Europe_W.pdf

    On he Article 50 court challenge, Anthony says “By a narrow margin people think it is legitimate for the Courts to rule on whether or not the government has the power to invoke Article 50. 43% think it is legitimate for the Courts to rule on the issue, 39% think they are involving themselves in political matters they should leave alone.”

    While I see the difficulty pollster have in phrasing questions well, they do have a tendency to pose extreme positions, and ask people to choose between them.

    The actual choices were –

    “Was legitimate – it is right for the courts to rule on whether the government are exceeding their legal power”

    “Was not legitimate – the courts were interfering in political matters they should leave alone”

    “Don’t know”

    The “not legitimate” wording seems emotionally charged. While it would be reasonable to ask whether courts b>should have a role in ensuring that governments act within the law (as a matter of law, they currently do), this wording is unreasonable.

  12. Sorry for HTML error!

    it would be reasonable to ask whether courts should have a role

  13. I’ve been out all day, but here’s the result of the fun poll I started last night.
    1) ‘Hard’ Brexit – 1 (me)
    2) ‘Soft’ Brexit – 0
    3) Stay in EU – 3

    Deliberate abstentions 3.

    A bit disappointing for me, but I will gracefully accept the result :-)
    ————————————
    @CR
    “Saw an interesting stat about the US election. In 2012 51% of 18 to 28 year olds voted, in 2016 that number sank to just 19%.”

    I wonder what percentage of the rioters voted? It’s probably safe to assume that most of them would be in that age group.

  14. On another subject. There has been some research into homophobic, sexist and racist trolls on social media The study by Brandwatch looked at 19 million tweets over a four year period for both the USA and the UK. As far as the UK was concerened:-

    On Twitter the worst areas for racist comments were East Ayrshire & Midlothian.

    Dundee was the worst for homophobic tweets, tying with Denbighshire.

    Across the three areas of hate speech, of homophobia, misogyny and masculinity constructs the worst areas were South Ayrshire and Northamptonshire.

    Higher levels of homophobic language was shown to be at higher levels in Scotland, parts of Wales, and East yorkshire and Peterborough in England. Other areas where racists discussions were prevalent were North Yorkshire, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen.

    With the increase in hate crime generally in the UK these figures are interesting. I wonder if there is any correlation between areas of crime and trolling?

  15. More polling details from the Ipsos Mori poll:-

    Almost half of voters think the UK economy will get worse over the next year, a new survey suggests.

    Some 47% of those questioned by Ipsos Mori said they expected the economy to deteriorate, compared with 26% who thought it would improve.

    The overall economic optimism score of minus 21 is the third-worst recorded in the monthly index since March 2013.

    But with a week to go until Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement, the public appears happier with the government’s handling of the economy, with 51% saying it is doing a good job, and 30% a bad job.

    Almost four out of 10 (39%) were satisfied with the chancellor’s performance – 12 points higher than predecessor George Osborne’s last rating – while fewer than three in 10 (28%) were dissatisfied, the survey added.

    Almost half (46%) preferred Mr Hammond to his Labour shadow John McDonnell (28%) as best chancellor.

  16. There is a duty on those who say remain to say exactly what they mean by that.

    if Brexit means Brexit is scoffed at then Remain means Remain is equally ludicrous.

    On what terms should we remain:

    a. Precameron changes;

    b. Post Cameron changes;

    c. On any terms asked for by EC;

    d. Having considered the above can we leave after all?

  17. Peter Cairns

    “Mclemmings” surely

    Def: a particular sub group of lemmings prone to be led astray by a female of the species with perception problems. Liable to fail to see the cliff ahead of them.

  18. S Thomas

    I don’t see your problem. ‘Remain’ means keeping the status quo. The status quo is obviously b. Though many have suggested there is little difference between a. and b. Whereas the terms we leave on are as yet undefined.

  19. Socalliberal,
    “So the point of this extensive recap (which is incomplete btw), is basically this: We’re Scotland on the Pacific.”

    Perhaps not quite. Scotland does not have an economy on the scale of california, and one of the big problems with its own independence campaign is how it would finance itself. It does have plenty of areas of old moribund industry, although it has done better than most of the rest of the nation in keeping some heavy engineering, because of the north sea oil industry. It is a significant beneficiary of government spending, compared to many areas which voted leave. It is hard to be precise, but I would be tempted to place it as somewhat better off than the US rust belt. Yes, I know those states have division between areas which have done better or worse and this is reflected in how they voted. I think the same factors would have been at work in scotland and it might have voted to leave, except that it is already committed to its own cause of independence ( a large minority but not quite a majority). Scotland has long distrusted Westminster and seen the EU more as an ally against Westminster.

    You seem to be describing an awful lot of contented people in California, so it would not then be surprising that they do not support the candidate of revolution. Clinton still comes across to me as right wing and very establishment. I suspect her being chosen has more to do with patronage and it being her turn, but she could have been calculated to be on the right of the left and thus appaling to the traditional centre ground swing voters. Thus her making headway in California against an anti establishment candidate ought not to be a surprise.

    The real surprise for democrats has been Trumps message of fighting for the economic underdog, and that this was where the election was lost. Thus Clinton was entirely the wrong candidate, appealing to the wrong audience. Democrats did not expect to fight a candidate more to their left. Although they should have, Trump was already standing and they had the choice of Sanders. But by then it was probably already too late, and no one realised how successful Trump would be until the count: He was not taken seriously, and they relied upon personal attacks rather than policy attacks.

    Again this is reminiscent of how the Brexit vote was lost, not exactly the same because the conservatives leading both sides of the debate were very genteel with each other, but Remain failed to attack its own policy while in government, so was less than convincing at explaining why various issues were its own choice, and not forced upon the nation by an overbearing EU.

    Someone above posted a link to a video by the Guardian from May, arguing why Trump could win. It is by no means the only such piece I have seen, but in it the reporter comments he went to a white middle class neighbourhood not expecting to find anything interesting. yet what he did find was untended and foreclosed houses, and people with stories how one way or another they had suffered from industry closing or contracting. The exit poll showed Trump gaining not in the very lowest educational category, but one rung up. I thought their division of income levels at $50,000 quite high, including somewhat more than basic wage workers, so we are also talking middle class voters on the low side of this who feel hard done by, going Trump.

    I accept what you say, but if i was a democrat in California, I would be looking for evidence of churn amongst voters, republicans going centre left Hilary, but what ought to be be left democrats going Trump. These could perfectly well be lost in the headline figures.

  20. PETE B

    I wonder what percentage of the rioters voted? It’s probably safe to assume that most of them would be in that age group.

    Well you did ask !

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3938928/More-half-112-anti-Trump-protesters-arrested-Portland-didn-t-vote.html

    Police arrested 112 anti-Trump protesters in Portland, Oregon last week
    But at least 70 hadn’t even voted in the last election, state records show

  21. Davem
    “Interesting that the government have a negative34% rating on their negotiating stance. Will this result in a fall in support and if so where will it go?

    I know its not in fashion but how about talking about polls?”

    Surely the problem is, where is there for it to go?Who else has any kind of coherent approach to brexit? The opposition is just ambling along behind May.

  22. @TOH and Old Nat

    The point I was making in my earlier post was that the point of the site is to talk about polling data and we seem to have drifted well away from that.

  23. THE OTHER HOWARD

    “There has been some research into homophobic, sexist and racist trolls on social media The study by Brandwatch looked at 19 million tweets over a four year period for both the USA and the UK”

    Utterly meaningless snowflake drivel though!

    What exactly defines an offending tweet, because there have been far too many interest groups such as Tell MAMA and its founder Fiyaz Mughal who was outed by Andrew Gilligan as having invented his entire set of statistics. Mughal Sued and lost.

    Nor does it tell if these tweets have been analysed when they are in foreign languages (which I doubt) .

    When snowflakes are telling us that Everything is racist, everything is sexist, and everything is homophobic then you know there is a problem.

  24. TOH

    I had seen some material on that Twitter analysis. An interesting start but, like many bits of non-academic research, the failure to analyse more than one variable raises more questions than it answers.

    The measure was of tweets on a particular topic, but I can’t see anything on how many tweeters were posting nasty stuff many times compared, for example, to the number of those in that area tweeting, but wholly uninterested that issue – or only occasionally tweeting a rejoinder.

    As with polling, salience is an important factor.

    If there are a couple of homophobes – 1 in Dundee and 1 in Denbighshire – each following only each other, but reinforcing each others prejudices many times a day, that would distort the traffic pattern in those two LAs.

    On the other hand, if there are many people displaying such prejudices in these places, there may be a societal problem that needs to be addressed.

    Unfortunately, the Brandwatch/Ditch the Label analysis doesn’t help us much.

  25. Dave M

    “The point I was making in my earlier post was that the point of the site is to talk about polling data and we seem to have drifted well away from that.”

    I agree, though in the far-off days when Anthony read the odd comment. he did allow discussion of factors that might affect polling.

    Still, when an actual poll comes along, for it to be largely ignored is odd behaviour on this site.

  26. Thoughtful
    Thanks for that link. It does make one wonder why they think they have a right to riot when they couldn’t even be bothered to vote!

  27. OLDNAT

    @”Still, when an actual poll comes along, for it to be largely ignored is odd behaviour on this site.”

    I was looking back through the sites archive.

    There are far fewer individual contributors nowadays-certainly compared with when I first came here.

    So the potential for comment on a poll is greatly reduced.

    Also there were some forceful & interesting characters around then. We don’t get the lively exchanges of the past.

    Why have so many stopped coming here? Who knows. It could be for many reasons.

    My own feeling is for a combination of these factors :

    Labour supporters have drifted away as the circumstances of that Party have evolved under Corbyn. Even posters who supported him are no longer in evidence regularly-or at all.

    The next GE is ages away .

    Brexit has produced a major new political divide ; new areas for discussion ; and with it new contributors whose interest is centred on it. Whilst Brexit clearly has its own party political dynamics, it isn’t quite the same as VI. for a GE.

  28. “When snowflakes are telling us that Everything is racist, everything is sexist, and everything is homophobic then you know there is a problem.”

    Could you link to where “snowflakes” are telling “us” “everything” is racist, homophobic and sexist? Thanks.

  29. A friend of mine sent me this analysis of why people voted Brexit in his rural neck of the woods.

    There was an interesting article in last Saturday’s FT by Francis Fukuyama in which he attributed the [Brexit result] largely to those left behind by globalisation. I’m sure that is part of the [reason], but in this part of the world, where Brexiteers were a substantial majority, this included comfortable middle class people who are in no way left behind. These people are just anti-EU. They don’t like being ruled from Brussels (as they see it) and they don’t like “their country” being taken over by foreign immigrants – even though there are few of them in these parts. You might have thought they would be persuaded by the economic arguments, but they are unmoved by them: they have no faith in experts and their answer to everything is that the experts wanted us to go into the Euro and none of them foresaw the 2008 economic crash. They believe the UK economy is held back by all the regulations “pouring” out of Brussels. And of course, the immediate events following the referendum have confirmed their views. I suspect that these views are shared by many of the rural and small town middle classes, which of course make up much of the local Conservative Party membership.

  30. Charles
    I think the views you mention are quite widespread. The idea that all Brexit voters were poor, poorly educated old folks is a bit of an exaggeration.

  31. DAVEM

    Your quite right and as I said I was sorry i jumped on you unfairly. I wa very busy at the time and posting in a hurry without reading all of every post.

    Anyway we managed to get a little bit in about polls for a short time at least. Well done for that.

  32. THOUGHTFUL

    Interesting. Do you have details of this company and how it goes about it’s work that justifies that comment? I know nothing about the company, how good or bad it is etc, so if you have clear knowledge it would be helpful if you share it with us.

  33. OLDNAT

    Thanks for the info on Brandwatch. Your comments are more helpful than Thoughtful’s so far, and seem a reasonable criticism.

  34. CHARLES

    Interesting anecdotal stuff from your friend. For what it’s worth the views expressed by the comfortable middle class Brexiters in my part of the World are very similar and indeed some of my own views are in there. However locally the vote was 52 stay 48 leave so the reverse of the national vote.

  35. oldnat (and Anthony Wells)
    re the yougov poll 13/14 november.

    Looking at the data on which issues voters find most important, I see UKIP supporters rated immigration and assylum more important than Britain leaving the EU. Interesting.

    The direct questions show more support for Brexit either from conviction or because that was the decision of the vote, but the outlook on whether leaving will be good or bad for Britain is much the same as at the vote. The great majority (around 90%) who voted to leave believe it will be good for Britain and a similar number who voted to Remain thinks it will be bad for Britian. It is a massive correlation and has hardly changed.

    42% of leave voters ticked ‘there will be no negative effects at all from leaving the EU’ (multiple choice). Remainers were tied on top answer at 39% between ‘goods will become more expensive’ and ‘companies less likely to invest in UK’

    35% of anti brexit people said nothing could convince them brexit was good (out of a list of possible good outcomes). 40% of pro brexit said nothing could convince them brexit was bad.

    Asked about which the government should choose between reducing immigration and getting access to important markets, 51/49 said immigration. However, asked to choose reducing immigration or doing what is best for the economy, 65/35 said go for the economy.

    From the above, it seems to me that people remain convinced that they voted in the referendum in the national interest, and nothing has changed their view on that. A big chunk believe nothing could change their view on that. However, the reality continues to be that if something did change their minds on their expected outcome, then it is likely to change their vote too.

    Although a number of remain suporters seem persuaded to accept the vote even though they remain opposed to it, it isnt clear how firmly they believe this, or if events might change this view.

    Libs supporting a second referendum whereas everyone else opposed it would put them on 2nd place in national vote share. That might be interesting.

  36. HIRETON

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxYyxC7gftg

    THE OTHER HOWARD

    The company Brandwatch are merely a company which gathers data on social media, and they make their living by selling this to companies who wish to monitor what is being said about them.

    The missing info in your post is who is paying them to collect this data and what is their agenda.

    If it is Ditch the Label, then it’s fair to say that they do have an agenda driving them. Their entire raison d’etre is that cyber bullying is real and needs them to tackle it.

    It is important to know therefore, the agenda, the vested interests, possible conflicts of interests, and how they have measured what is ultimately a subjective area.

    There are without a doubt examples of unscrupulous organisations producing dubious data to support their existence. Having a degree of skepticism is always therefore healthy

  37. @DANNY

    Excellent posts from you.

    However, I think there is a deeper reason for the Brexit vote. Over the last 43 years there has never been a concerted effort from any UK government to ‘sell’ the EC/EU to the British people. It has always been a long litany of moaning and groaning, nothing positive. Under Blair things improved a little, but Europe was always playing second fiddle to the USA for New Labour. With Cameron it got worse.

    How can you expect people to back the EU after forty years of negative messages? I’m surprised the Brexit vote wasn’t higher.

  38. Where is Prof Howard when you need an observation on Ireland?

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/brexit-revives-territorial-dispute-over-lough-foyle-between-uk-and-ireland-35223877.html

    Brokenshire seems to have reignited a conflict with Ireland by asserting the UK claim to waters extending to the Irish shore line.

    There are numerous international examples of the administration of disputed waters being shared by the neighbouring states.

    Though, in this case, the avowed intent of the English Fisheries Minister to maximise the take from “UK waters” actually does threaten both the environment and the long term economic interests of more than one neighbouring state.

  39. @Charles

    I do work for a living, honest!

    But my specific role involves some odd shifts, and some downtime with access to IT. So I get to come on here at strange times sometimes (and too much, probably).

  40. Danny

    Yes. This poll (like others) does suggest that few views have changed since the EUref.

    I don’t suppose that’s surprising, since nothing has actually changed : we don’t know what changes will happen : we don’t know the effects of whatever changes occur actually are.

    Naturally, I found the questions on how folk would vote if …. rather unsatisfactory, since they were entirely related to the English polity.

    For those of us outwith England, we are entirely lacking in polling evidence as to how our electorates are responding. Very frustrating!

  41. Tancred: “How can you expect people to back the EU after forty years of negative messages?”

    There was an interesting pan-European poll before the referendum which, IIRC, asked voters in 10 EU member states a few simple questions about how the EU works, and then questions assessing degree of support for the EU.

    It showed a perfect correlation between knowledge of how the EU works, and support for it. The less people knew, the less they supported the EU. And the country with least understanding of the EU and least support? You don’t need me to tell you.

  42. @SOMERJOHN

    Indeed. And this is the underlying reason for Brexit – many people simply being ignorant about the EU works and relying on the Sun, Mail and Express for ‘education’. Tragic!

  43. Neil A

    “So I get to come on here at strange times sometimes (and too much, probably).”

    I’m always happy to see your posts. i may not agree with your views on everything, but living in a reverberating chamber that just reflects your own views back would be hell!

    The same applies to most other posters (though, like everybody else, I do draw the line at trolls!)

  44. @CHARLES

    Correct. Many well off people voted Brexit just as many voted Trump in the USA. The reason is that there is a deep undercurrent of nationalism both here and in the USA that is largely absent in the EU other than perhaps in France and Poland.
    Germans see the EU as a way of escaping their history and the mediterreneans have an ingrained inferiority complex towards northern Europeans, so they see the EU as a way of being elevated to their level. Eastern Europeans simply need the EU to recover from decades of communist misrule. As for France, she sees herself as the spiritual leader of Europe, with a Napoleonic sense of mission to unite Europe under her wing, so this ideal also satisfies a nationalistic impetus.
    Britain, on the other hand, has never truly felt part of Europe (mostly because of the lack of education on the EU) and British nationalism has traditionally been associated with the empire instead. Funnily enough, it was an arch-nationalist, Oswald Mosley, who wanted to move patriotic thinking towards a pan-European view, though obviously a very different one than the EU’s. He failed, partly because after the war he was anathema to all but right wing extremists, but also because the deep English distrust of continentals ran too deep for it to be easily dislodged.

  45. Tancred

    Anyone whose explanation starts with “The reason is ….” probably has a very limited understanding of why people react as they do to the circumstances they have to deal with.

    You appear to believe that “nationalism” has only one form, and that it is possible to encapsulate the views of “the Germans”, “the Mediterranean countries”, “the Eastern European countries (though you seem to treat the Poles differently), “the French”, “the English” in single overarching terms.

    Not only is that an appalling example of stereotyping, but none of these stereotypes actually match the complex reality that is the world in which real people exist.

    From time to time, a majority of people such populations might share some of the characteristics you ascribe to them – but you would need to attach some evidential basis for your ideas, for them to be considered credible

  46. New thread

  47. @Tancred

    I agree with some of that, although I also agree with OldNat that there are huge generalisations in there and some fairly crude stereotypes (although I am of the school that many stereotypes are snowballs accumulated around pebbles of truth).

    I am not sure I agree that the reason Britain has never felt part of Europe is a lack of education about the EU. Certainly the Great European Thought Recalibration Project has been a bit of a failure here, but I think many Britons saw themselves as the inhabitants of an island off the coast of Europe rather than truly part and parcel of it for centuries before the EEC was conceived.

    Oldnat will know better than me, as a historian, but my understanding is that the origins of this are in the 100 Years War which took England from being one part of a multi-lingual Plantagenet empire with its roots in France and links all over Europe to an insular place which saw mainland Europe primarily as a place where its rulers sent their taxes and young men to be squandered in the mud and the blood.

  48. @Colin
    Another reason why there may be less contributors, surely, must be the knocks polling has taken to its credibility. I think that might also be behind the lack of detailed discussions on each poll.
    You may remember people really drilling down into the statistics after each poll. Now that would surely feel something like castles built on sand.

    IMO of course.

  49. I find this article incredible, not for its content or subject which is bad enough, but the admission that politicians are not listening to the people by the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls:

    The EU will collapse if Germany and France do not begin to listen to people’s concerns on immigration and Islamist terrorism, the French Prime Minister has warned.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3945568/Europe-risk-collapse-France-Germany-lead-French-PM.html#ixzz4QJa0Uw8l

    What on earth do our politicians think they are elected for if not to serve the people?
    If they know that they aren’t listening to us to the extent that they are actively acting in direct opposition to the wishes of the people, then what kind of thoughts about who they are must be running through their heads?

    In the past we have had politicians who were incompetent, lied, cheated and several other things, but I can never recall such a bunch of self serving individuals who are actually acting not in the peoples interests but their own.

    I think they had better wake up and fast !

  50. The US polls didn’t get it wrong. They were very accurate.

    If you look at the twelve 4 candidate polls published on the day of the election and the day before, as published in RealClearPolitics, you will see that three favoured Trump and nine favoured Clinton.

    The average showed a lead for Clinton of 2.4 %.

    In the popular vote, she gained 61.8 million votes to Trump’s 60.8 million votes, a lead of 1.5%.

    So the average of the final polls were only 0.9% out, well within the margin of error.

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