By Lord Ashcroft
The night of 7 May, 2015 is one that most pollsters would rather forget. Different surveys using different methodologies came to the collective conclusion that Britain was set for something close to a dead heat – an expectation that was shattered by the official exit poll and quickly swept away as results began to pile up. My own final national poll, completed the night before the election, also produced a tie between Labour and the Tories. Not only that, I had published polls in more than 160 individual constituencies – some of which proved to be bang on, and others of which, let’s be honest, didn’t.
The British Polling Council’s subsequent inquiry into the polls’ performance concluded that the problem had been one of sampling: that the people who took part in surveys were not properly representative of the wider public. This challenge has made polling on voting intention an increasingly hazardous business. The various pollsters whose results we read every day have adjusted their methods in the light of the inquiry’s findings, and I wish them nothing but the very best of luck. But for this election, I have decided to try something different.
Today I am launching a new model designed to estimate opinion across the country and in individual constituencies, and to give a sense of how this could translate into seats in the House of Commons (more…)