Here is a long overdue update of my UK opinion poll tracker and in this post, I going to take a closer look at the key trends over the last 12 months.
As I write this, a plethora of economic forecasts are making the rounds in the news in the UK. In all cases, the forecasters have failed to publish their track record and these days, I will not pay attention to what they say unless their forecasts are accompanied by a track record. But, how does one go about presenting a forecasting track record to prove that one has forecasting skill? To demonstrate, I will analyse how well opinion polls have predicted General Elections in the UK and measure their track record. I must confess I was surprised at what I found out and I would urge all opinion pollsters to take note of my results.
For my latest Opinion Poll Tracker, I will explore 4 points currently being debated by political pundits.
- Have the Conservatives taken the lead in the polls?
- How much weight should we give to Survation polls who were the most accurate in 2017 and are the outlier poll today?
- Was there a “Youthquake” in the 2017 general election?
- What would the effect be of allowing 16 & 17 year olds to vote in general elections?
The last 3 general elections have seen some significant polling errors. In 2010, the Lib Dems were significantly overestimated, in 2015 the Conservatives were underestimated and last year saw the largest ever underestimate in the Labour vote. Whilst these errors suggest that the polling industry is struggling with general elections these days, a natural question to ask is “are all pollsters equally bad or are some better than others?”
Labour continues to hold a small lead over the Conservatives at the start of 2018. Little has changed from the end of 2017.
Labour continues to hold a small lead over the Conservatives as the nation entered the Christmas holidays. There is evidence of some voter movement towards UKIP which indicates that their true national level is around 4% or 5% and their General Election performance was distorted by so many of their candidates standing down.
Labour’s 2 point lead over the Conservatives disappeared during November and they now hold a very slight lead. There is evidence of some voter movement towards UKIP which indicates that their true national level is around 4% or 5% and their General Election performance was distorted by so many of their candidates standing down.
This is my first opinion poll tracker post since the General Election on 8th June 2017. Nearly 5 months have passed and only now can we say that politics is starting to move on from the election. I thought it was worth updating this post to see what current voting intentions are but this will not be an in depth post compared to earlier posts.
Since the election, Labour has been leading the Conservatives in the polls by 2% or so. This is mostly due to defections by some Conservative voters other than that, voter movements have been minor.
Ahead of the 2017 general election, I predicted that the opinion polls would be wrong again and that the Conservatives lead over Labour would be underestimated by 2.6%. I based this on data provided by Mark Pack who has systematically recorded every opinion poll published since 1945. In the event, I was right that the polls would be wrong but instead of an error favouring the Conservatives, the polls recorded the largest ever underestimate of the Labour vote. As a result, election forecasters were blindsided yet again and the result was a hung parliament which few saw coming.
This is my last update of the opinion before election day on June 8th. I will use my analysis of these polls to update my 2017 General Election Seat Predictions and you should read that post in conjunction with this one.
The latest situation is that the Conservatives now only hold a 7% lead over Labour which is down 2% from last week and only just above what they had in 2015. Labour’s vote share has recovered significantly to narrow the Conservatives lead and Labour are now capable under some scenarios of depriving the Conservatives of a majority. However, it has now become clear that pollsters are dividing into two groups and I have written a separate post that explores the implications of this and I strongly recommend you read that. This post reports on all posters combined rather than separate blocs.