Saturday, July 20News For London

General Election: What do the polls say in the final week?

Boris Johnson seems set for victory in Thursday’s general election according to the latest polls.

WestminsterWorld’s research suggests The Conservatives lead polling, averaging over 10 percent higher than the Labour Party.

If the polls are to be believed, it seems that Jeremy Corbyn cannot make up the gap with just three days until polling day.

At best for Labour, ICM’s latest poll points to a margin of seven percent between them and the Conservatives. At worst, the margin is 15 percent according to Opinium.

Both Labour and the Conservatives seem to have taken a portion of prospective voting away from the Liberal Democrats and Brexit Party since campaigning started.

Overall, the Green Party have consistently stayed at around three percent of prospective votes.

But, can we still trust the polls or is this election all still to play for?

Image by Ava Forbes

Do we trust the polls?

The reputation of polling to call elections has dropped in recent years.

The results of the 2017 general election stunned pundits as Theresa May lost her majority in the House of Commons.

In the days before polling for the last general election, the Conservatives were were on 44 percent whilst Labour trailed at 35 percent, according to opinion polls. Despite this, on polling day the gap between the two parties had closed to 43 percent for the Conservatives and 41 percent for Labour.

The hung parliament left neither May or Johnson being able to pass a withdrawal bill from the European Union leading to this year’s election being called.

Similarly, the results of the EU Referendum differed massively on the whole from what pollsters had predicted as almost every poll pointed to a victory for “remain”.

Despite Boris Johnson’s apparent lead, this election has been hailed as the “most unpredictable in years”.

On social media, the slogan “trust no poll” is prevalent as voters express their mistrust of the practice.



Should we trust them?

Larger pollsters, such as YouGov and Deltapoll, are members of the British Polling Council which regulates how polls are conducted.

According to the BPC, it “aims to encourage the highest professional standards in public opinion polling and to advance the understanding, among politicians, the media and general public”.

Despite this, it is not unheard of for polls to feature loaded questions and, more likely, to have a loaded write up of the poll’s results that will favour a particular party or ideology.

This can particularly be the case if a poll has been paid for by an individual or organisation. Although, it is apparently a misconception that these types of polls are inherently biased. Most polls of this kind will weight their samples to mitigate these effects.

It is argued that opinion polls should be viewed as “snapshots of opinion” at a particular point in time rather than serious predictions.

Former president of YouGov, Peter Kellner was quoted saying, “well-designed polls are usually accurate to within three percent”.

Our final indication of how this election will go will come at 10pm, Thursday 12th December when the exit poll is announced.