Who says polls this far out aren’t good predictors?

Who says polls this far out aren’t good predictors?

    Is the idea of swingback just an anti-Tory fantasy?

Yesterday on one of the threads I got into an argument with a poster
who asserted “…But no-one seriously expects the actual election to mirror the current polls.

Well this flies in the face of what has happened at the last three general elections. I know we have had this debate before but I thought it might be useful to set out the polling at exactly the same point – 20 months out from the formal campaigns starting assuming that the election is during May 2010 – and compare it with the real votes on election day. The only pollster that has carried out surveys in the same way over the past fourteen years is ICM.

Polling 20 months before the 1997 general election

Polling 20 months before the 2001 general election


Polling 20 months before the 2005 general election


The remarkable thing about each election is that ICM was pretty good with the Tory share; the Labour numbers were on the high side and, though not quite as clear cut, the Lib Dem poll shares were below what it got on election day.

The big difference this time is that there has been a step change in the Tory position and there might just be something about the polling that is not handling the new situation. My default assumption for decades has been that Labour’s position is being over-stated in almost all polls. Maybe that does not apply any more? Maybe it’s got worse. We shall see.

We cannot, of course, conclude that the same will happen in May 2010 but what numbers we have suggest that the Tories are heading for a 15% lead in the GB vote share with, possibly, a three figure majority.

Mike Smithson

Mike Smithson

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