Monday, 7 December 2009

Are Polls really useful? Here is what my maths showed me...

We all know that parties and the MSM go up in arms if a poll diverges from the common orthodoxy in voting intention, depending on the hysteria of media platform in question. The right now the settled view is that the Conservatives should be at least 10% ahead in the polls and when something else is up on offer the world will go under, or so at least goes the media logic. Last week there was talk of a hung parliament because the difference in voting intention between Labour and Tory was a mere 6% which is not that large. But what does it actually mean then? Well, to find out lets consider the numbers for the European Elections. Now, before I do this I would just like to acknowledge that I too am aware that voting intention shifts during EU and UK elections but this is not about party affiliation it is about voting intention.

The European Parliamentary Election, which by the by means fuck all for democracy, took place in the UK on the 4th of June this year, 2009. The last poll which was taken before the election had the

Tories on 26% (24%, 37%)
Labour on 16% (16%, 29%)
UKIP on 18% (6%, 19%)
LibDem on 15% (12%, 22%)
Greens on 10% (1%, 15%)
BNP on 5% (1%, 7%)

However you will also note that I have added the extreme values taken from UK Polling Report in brackets after each party above, this is for possible correlation purposes or just goes to show that polls say absolutely nothing about election performance. Simply because the electorate are reactionary human beings and do not vote strategically, like people on the internet, but with their heart.

Once the election was over the actual tally stood as follows

Tories on 27.7%
Labour on 15.7%
UKIP on 16.5%
LibDem on 13.7%
Greens on 8.6%
BNP on 6.2%

This means that the Tories did very badly because they scored in their lower echelon. Labour did bloody awful since they got their lowest possible predicted outcome. UKIP did fairly well scoring in its upper predicted echelon. Libdem pretty crap as well scoring in their lower predicted sector. Greens did average being in the middle of the prediction range and the BNP did very well scoring in the upper part of its predicted sector. Now you will notice that I have but the parties which did 'well' in bold and I follow with the question, could a similar thing happen in the general election; that the main parties do relatively badly and the smaller parties do pretty well - relatively speaking?

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