I’ve only had a couple of hours sleep so this is a very short comment on lessons from the polls at the election. The two best performing traditional polls seem to be those from Survation and Surveymonkey. Survation had a one point Con lead in their final GB poll, Surveymonkey had a four point lead in their final UK poll. The actual lead is 2 or 3 points depending on if you look at UK or GB figures. Congratulations to both of them. While it wasn’t a traditional poll, YouGov’s MRP model also came very close – it’s final GB figures were a four point lead (and some of the individual seat estimates that looked frankly outlandish, like Canterbury leaning Labour and Kensington being a tossup, actually turned out to be correct).

Looking across the board the other companies all overstated the Tory lead to one degree or another. The actual share of the Tory vote was broadly accurate, rather it was that almost everyone understated Labour support. I have a lot of sympathy with Peter Kellner’s article in the Standard earlier – that to some degree it was a case of pollsters “trying too hard”. Companies have all been trying to correct the problems of 2015, and in many cases those changes seem to have gone too far.

A big gulf between pollsters that many commented on during the campaign was the attitude to turnout. The pollsters who were furthest out on the lead, ComRes, ICM and BMG, all used methods that pumped up the Tory lead through demographic based turnout models, rather than basing turnout on how likely respondents said they are to vote. This was in many ways a way of addressing an issue in 2015 polling samples that contained too many of the sort of young people who vote, weighting down young turnout (and turnout among working class respondents, renters, or less well educated – different pollsters used different criteria). This wasn’t necessarily the wrong solution, but it was a risky one – it depends on modelling turnout correctly. What if turnout among young people actually did rise, then pollsters who were replicating 2015 patterns of turnout might miss it. That may be what happened.

That said, one shouldn’t jump to conclusions too quickly. It may be a case of how demographic turnout models were applied (by weighting the whole sample to match 2015 recalled vote and then separately weighting different demographic groups up or down based on likelihood to vote there’s a risk of “double-counting”). Most importantly, the YouGov MRP model and the Surveymonkey survey both based their turnout models on demographics too, and they both got the election right, so clearly it’s an approach that has the potential to work if done correctly.

Personally I’m pleased the YouGov model worked, disappointed the more traditional YouGov poll had too big a lead… but that at least gives us something to learn from (and for most of the campaign the two showed a similar lead, so rolling back some decisions and learning from the model seems a good starting point).

And with that, I’m going to get some sleep.

2,448 Responses to “Post-election thoughts”

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  1. Seems to me the LibDems have a longer list of credible alternative leaders than the Torys.

    Update on my leader sell-by dates:

    I got Farron and Nuttall the wrong way round.
    Predicted Farron 1 day (expected losing seat). Result ~1 week.
    Predicted Nuttall 1 week. Result 1 day.

    I possibly also got May and Corbyn the wrong way round:
    Predicted May 3 years. Seems unlikely now, but my original guess was 3 months or 3 years, depending on result of election.
    Predicted Corbyn 6 months. I can’t defend that one at all.

  2. @RJW
    I just think it was the way that she thought herself as one of ‘the superior people’ and that she somehow felt that she had a right to dominate over other people and purge society of its supposed inferior elements.
    Including me :-)

  3. @RJW How did you know your mum was a ‘borderline nazi’? Did your family go on holiday to Poland every September?
    See above.

    She only made it as far as Graz on a coach tour in 1987.

  4. Best Tim Farron election one liner.

    During the leaders debate, before Rudd got sum up:

    “You know what, Bake Off is on the other side. Turn over now and don’t waste your time on her.”

    Made me laugh anyway,

  5. Given we have had several horrible tragedies in recent months, my patience with moderating the inevitable people who squirm out of the woodwork to explain, in the most neutral wording them can muster, how the public will definitely blame it on {insert party they oppose here} is at an end. I can’t quite imagine how you think it’s conducive to non-partisan discussion of opinion polling (or frankly, in good taste), but it isn’t welcome here, it isn’t allowed, and it gets you banned. End of debate.

  6. @tonybtg,


    At the leaders debate,

    ‘Where’s Theresa May?, she couldn’t be here because she’s outside sizing up your house’.

    Even as a Con voter that made me laugh.

    I think they’ll do well well to better him. They just suffered with the two party election. Vince Cable is surely too old…

  7. @Hireton
    I think Farron’s point was that people didn’t get the fundamental tenet of liberalism he held so strongly: that his personal religious beliefs were exactly that – personal – and he would not impose them on others.

    His attempts to explain this were too complicated for the political rough and tumble, where he was repeatedly pressed for a ‘yes/no’ answer which he waited far too long to give.

    A decent guy i think, and has done much to rejuvenate the LDems, but its right for him to stand down at this point.

    it will be interesting to see who the membership goes for: the experience of Cable or the future promise of Swinson. Or could Ed Davey or Tom Brake surprise us all?

  8. Long term view

    in politics as in many areas of life it is impossible to judge the effect of action which prevents an other action.Because that other action never occurs it is easy to dismiss it as never having been a threat in the first place.
    Suppose for instance that there were serious moves to establish a new political movement by 2019 when Parliament came to consider brexit.It opposes Brexit. outside of parliament it has funding, the support of big business and celebrities. it has press support. The fT, the Evening Standard under Osborne and the European under rCambell. Probably the Guardian and Indy as well. Poiltically Blair , Osborne, Cameron, Major, brown, Clegg plus a host of dissafected labour, Liberals and tories. All geared to do a Macron. To succeed they need May to have had negotiating problems and a solution that offends everyone and a labour party led by a leader perceived to be useless.A fairly good bet therefore.
    But if May saw it coming and decided to act to increase her majority to nullify the effect of say 50 tory rebels then that would have been sound. The resurgence of labour under Corbyn was unexpected but was s another nail in the coffin of the phoenix party The idea of such a 3rd way party is now dead after this election. The phoenix party has become the dodo party.
    Fantasy?, we will never know but the fury of Bad Al and of Osborne tells me something has gone wrong. Is Tm either purging or causing Osbournites to leave ministerial posts? some odd dismissals or refusals to serve

    maybe May and Corbyn have saved the country from a Macron style one party state , but the beauty is that, we will never know now

  9. Trevor Warne
    ‘However, can MRP capture the following: 1/ Tactical voting…?’

    This was my question about the Ashcroft Model, which was way of the mark. I suppose YouGov must have solved it (except Scotland).


    Cable ruled himself out as too old way back when Clegg took over, I don’t think he’d be very likely to change his mind about that now. For what it’s worth I’m acquainted with a few people who used to be fairly senior staffers in the Lib Dems, and they all mentioned Swinson when this subject came up immediately after the election. None of them were huge fans of Farron – ‘he’s not a liberal.’

  11. Rich

    Possibly Jo Swinson. But not sure what her majority is.

  12. Only picked up the main headlines over here what is happening with the DUP alliance has it been agreed or are they waiting because of today’s news or still negotiating.

  13. TURK

    ‘DUP sources have told the BBC an announcement on a deal with the Conservatives has been delayed because of the Grenfell Tower blaze.
    They said the two parties were now finalising the “terms and conditions” of an agreement after Mrs May and DUP leader Arlene Foster met on Tuesday.’

    Clear as mud.

  14. Jo Swinson has a majority of 5339 so plenty to make a valid leadership contender,

  15. Trigguy

    You might still be right about Corbyn. His position of strength doesn’t mean he won’t step down and it might make it more likely. He will have no problem pushing through the rule changes that he wants. If the Tories look stable then he might well step down safe in the knowledge that the membership will have the option of electing another left wing leader.

  16. Turk


    May is going to be meeting all the other NI party leaders so my guess they feel the need to reassure/convince them before they can finalise it.

    No deal until next week is the current news.

    Maybe a rocky ride.

  17. Tim Farron’s resignation letter is really sad:


    “From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith. I’ve tried to answer with grace and patience. Sometimes my answers could have been wiser.

    At the start of this election, I found myself under scrutiny again – asked about matters to do with my faith. I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message.

    Journalists have every right to ask what they see fit. The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader.

    A better, wiser person than me may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to have remained faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment.

    To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.

    I’m a liberal to my finger tips, and that liberalism means that I am passionate about defending the rights and liberties of people who believe different things to me.

    Even so, I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in.

    In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.

    end quote

    He’s right, isn’t he?

  18. Corbyn has filled a few empty shadow cabinet positions – including Owen Smith(!) as Northern Ireland Secretary. Ian Lavery has replaced Tom Watson as party chair, as well.

  19. @S Thomas

    “maybe May and Corbyn have saved the country from a Macron style one party state , but the beauty is that, we will never know now”

    You don’t really understand this game of politics do you? I’ve got you down as one of those Tory voters absolutely seething at May’s failure to crush Labour and it could be that your anger is getting the better of you. Maybe, when the rage subsides the sensible and cuddly side of you will emerge again. I presume that side of you exists, by the way.

    Have you ever lived in a one-party state? Your glib description of Macron’s democratically endorsed popularity smacks of resentment. Sure, he’s come from nowhere, created his own centrist party, saw off Le Pen, and is now likely to see an En Marche landslide in the French Assembly elections. He will have an extraordinarily strong mandate but there will be plenty of opposition to him and, in time, people will have an opportunity to get rid of both him and his party if they don’t like how he and they have governed. He won’t suppress opposition or imprison his opponents, there will still be freedom to assemble and protest and there will be debates amongst the people’s representatives, of all stripes and colours in the Assembly. Macron and his party are dominant but why do you traduce them in your silly way by describing France as being a one party state. I think we might be able to learn something from their political system and culture if we were open minded and humble enough to realise the shortcomings in our own political culture and processes. Those bloody foreigners might have a point every now and again, you know

    I expect your next instalment will be to tell us that had it not been for 200,000 heroic Tory voters in in Scotland, Corbyn would now be plunging the UK into his own version of North Korea.

  20. Cloudspotter/Tonybig

    Many thanks for update

  21. Candy

    There are many liberal people in our society. But unfortunately a lot of illiberal people too.

    I thought the media attention on Farron’s religious beliefs were a bit below the belt.

    However, he did fudge around the issue and has he says, a more astute politician might have dealt with it better.

    Not defending the attacks though.

    One thing that does annoy me is the fact that when anyone says they are a devout Christian society seems to view them as something of a crackpot, or at best at bit weird. My son goes to a catholic school. When I mentioned that he was going to sing in he choir at christmas, friends down pub looked at me strange and said “oh really we never had you lot down as raving bible bashers.”

    Why being a Christian attracts ridicule puzzles me.

  22. Crossbat11 – “He [Macron] will have an extraordinarily strong mandate”


    He won the presidential election only thanks to votes from people who wouldn’t normally have endorsed him, but couldn’t bear the thought of LePen. When Chirac was in the same position, he straight up told the voters that he wouldn’t consider their votes a mandate for his policies, but instead a vote against LePen. Macron declined to make a similar statement.

    As a result, turnout for the first round of the French Assembly elections collapsed to 49%, the lowest ever in the Fifth Republic. And according to wiki, The Presidential Majority (from En Marche + the Democratic movement) got a total of just 32.32% of the vote.



    That is not a strong mandate – it’s the weakest any French President has had in decades.

  23. @tonybtg,

    The attacks were definitely below the belt. Devout Christian and the media and all manner of people (including liberals) get stuck in on views on gay marriage, etc. Devout other religions with questionable views on LGBT, women etc get a free pass. Weird world.

  24. @ A Wells

    It’s not my habit to creep to the boss, but well said.

  25. @Tonybtg
    I’m a Christian too and a socialist.
    I think I’m right in saying that there has been an uptick (sorry Paul C!) in the numbers attending the Cof E in the past few years. So be of good cheer…

  26. “it will be interesting to see who the membership goes for: the experience of Cable or the future promise of Swinson. Or could Ed Davey or Tom Brake surprise us all?”


    Or Blair!!…

  27. @Sam S

    I posted just after the election that he didn’t have much capacity to bring in the supposed ‘big hitters’. Unless Abbot stands down he cant give any of the top jobs to past critics. Corbyn just isn’t the type to sacrifice a friend – and why should he.

    Appointing Owen is a symbolic olive Branch to those who have opposed him the past – if Labour do win the next election there will be enough govt posts to bring people back in. The key change is Watson losing the party chair.

  28. On Macron – it wont be long till the Unions are out on the streets in force.

  29. Chris Hulme I rated. Shame his political career came to an end. He spoke well when he came on TV after the election.


    Blame the vocal minority who like to force their personal religious views onto others.

  31. @Candy

    “That is not a strong mandate – it’s the weakest any French President has had in decades.”

    Hmmm. He wins the Presidential election by 32 points (66% vs 34%) and is on course to win up to 450 of the 577 seats in the French Assembly, and he has a weakest mandate in history by dint of a below average turnout in the first round of the assembly elections??? Oh, and the French people didn’t vote for him in the presidential election, they just voted against his unpopular rival.

    Jeez, what have you got to do to get a mandate these days?


  32. “Why being a Christian attracts ridicule puzzles me.”


    It’s like being an activist, only without a crushing electoral defeat every few years, and anguish before the polls etc…

  33. Rich, do you mean Huhne ?

  34. @RedRich

    “On Macron – it wont be long till the Unions are out on the streets in force.”

    It’s all going to end in tears, I tell you. Doom, pestilence, armageddon.

    Baah, humbug.


  35. Yes sorry!

  36. @Rich

    “Chris Hulme I rated. Shame his political career came to an end. He spoke well when he came on TV after the election.”


    Ah, this was rather to be expected. You didn’t notice how many LD careers took a dive after joining the coalition then? And how often such alliances end up that way? E.g. Slab in indyref, SNP in 1979 etc….


    Indeed. The right of the party has essentially admitted as much themselves.

  38. “He’s right, isn’t he?”


    His views get couched as “personal beliefs” which is a typically Liberal way of dodging the issue.

    The real issue hear, what people wanted to know is… not just whether he had “personal beliefs”, but the question of “Are you prejudiced?” The issue impacts on assorted policy like SSM and more besides.

    Now to a liberal, it may seem right and proper that one should be able to keep one’s prejudices to oneself. Others may feel if you’re standing to lead they country, they’d rather like to know thank you very much.

    It’s up to you if you think leaders should not have their prejudices scrutinised, but be clear it’s not just about “personal beliefs”.

  39. here

  40. @RICH

    I was regularly impressed by Norman Lamb when he was health minister in the coalition. Genuinely compassionate. Whether he has what it takes to be leader I dont know.

  41. @Crossbat11

    In the first round of the Presidential Elections, he got just 24.01%

    Sure it was a multi-candidate election, but so is our system and our govt is in a Hung Parliament with 43% of the vote.

    As for the French Assembly Elections, getting 32.32% on a turnout of just 49% means that a mere 15.83% of the electorate has endorsed him.

    The French voters know what they’re doing – they’re abstaining to make the point that he does not have a mandate for his policies, he’s only in position because LePen made the second round.

    As RedRich says, when they’re demonstrating against his policies, his lack of a mandate will come up.

    We all obsess about turnout and vote percentages for a reason, they matter and give moral authority.

  42. “I was regularly impressed by Norman Lamb when he was health minister in the coalition. Genuinely compassionate. Whether he has what it takes to be leader I dont know”


    Does he have a problem with people wanting to know what he believes? This might prove problematic if he wants to lead…

    “Vote for Me!!”
    “Why, what do you stand for?!”
    “Sorry, can’t tell you, it’s personal!!”

    Maybe Farron should have just done a Corbyn and said that regardless of whatever the Bible says, he’d abide by the democratic will of the party or summat, but that might not have gone down well with the supreme being…

  43. D(UP) day may not be tomorrow.


    You might be right… However, I’m fairly sure that on UTV Ken Reid said that tomorrow’s meetings between May and the Assembly parties was planned before the election, and that he had reported it at the time.”

  44. Last try. If it still gets moderated I’ll give up.

  45. CROSSBAT11

    Your 8-16 pm post was one of your bestist. The fact that it brought Candy out, to say [obviously] that you were wrong to praise Macron instead of burying him, rather making the point even better.

    Of course, the good news for opponents of the dreaded European model “One Party State” is that, with DUP now almost certainly onboard, the UK is proudly embracing an all-new, TWO party state and, even more impressively, for the second time in seven years.

    It’s almost as though Arsene Wenger had invited Mourinho to co-manage the Arsenal.

  46. Crossbat

    The whole Macron thing does look a bit suspect. It was basically a media coup. All the media got behind the establishment anti-establishment candidate. But even with all the media backing he really didn’t do that well in the first round!

    I think S Thomas has a point, there were rumblings about a new centrist party forming in the wake of the election. If that had happened it probably would have had enthusiastic support from across the media, especially if it included pro remain Tories as well as blairites.

    I did read an article about Macron and the French media. The media have crossed the line from reporting events to attempting to guide events.

  47. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/election-2017-40231623

    The histogram at the top of this page shows the Labour seat share bar height underrepresented in height by several %…
    I inspected the page element details concerning this – then did some simple maths – the height in pixels is too low for Labour!!
    So what?
    But it’s actually easier to use the correct number of pixels.
    I bet the Beeb thought that nobody would ever check.
    I bet…
    As I am visually impaired, my internet time for the day has expired.
    I’ll have to leave it until Friday to take the matter up with them. Boring, I know, but at least it’s on-topic.
    Good night, disgusted of Tunbridge Wells ;-)

  48. It is not clear to me how a “frictionless” border is going to be achieved between NI and the rest of Ireland. Below is a link to an interesting piece by Professor Anton Muscatelli of Glasgow University. It is from last year but, I think, still relevant.

    Muscatelli suggests the EEA/Efta route. He wants the UK to stay there. There are complications, of course.


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