By Lord Ashcroft
This article was first published in India’s Sunday Guardian
It’s been a bumpy few years for the pollsters. Surveys overestimated support for Angela Merkel’s party in last September’s German elections, having correctly identified Emmanuel Macron as the front runner in a competitive field in France earlier in the year. In the last two national contests in the UK, most pollsters expected a knife-edge result in 2015 and a comfortable Conservative victory in 2017, but got precisely the reverse. Before our 2016 referendum most surveys suggested the country would vote to remain in the European Union, and a few months later many received a second shock with the election of President Donald Trump.
Forecasting election results has become trickier. Electorates have become more unpredictable, strength of support and people’s likelihood actually to turn out and vote is harder to account for, and busy people are more reluctant to take part in polls. But polling is more than a slightly wonky crystal ball for predicting what people will do at the ballot box (more…)