Who believes the The pollsters: the form-book

Who believes the The pollsters: the form-book

In only two of the General Elections over the past fifty years have the pollsters not over-stated Labour – February 1974 and the Tory landslide of 1983. Since then the record has been abysmal.

1992 General Election. The vast majority of polls were over the top with the Labour share with one or two notable exception Gallup and Harris. Not one single poll produced results that even hinted that John Major would win by a margin of 8%. Probably the biggest polling failure there has ever been.

1997 General Election. The pollsters fared better but forty-eight of the 50 polls in the final month over-stated Labour by upto 11%. Two ICM surveys stopped it being a clean sweep of failure

2001 General Election. Every single poll from every single pollster got Labour wrong and the error in every case was an over-statement. Even Rasmussen – the only pollster to get the Tories right – had Labour 2% higher than it was.

2004 Euro Elections. YouGov and Populus – were the only ones to carry out surveys. Both had inflated Labour figures.

2004 Hartlepool by-election. Only one poll but it showed a Labour lead of 33% against an actual 6%.

    When faced with this litany of failure the only sensible strategy is to discount all Labour shares in all opinion polls.

Politicalbetting on TV: The ITV News channel is planning to run a piece on the site at 9.45 am tomorrow. Like everything to do with television this could change.

Mike Smithson

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