Lib Dems on 10% in Poll of Polls: Inaccurate by 2% which more accurate sums show

Much is made of the polls and in many ways they are important as they are a barometer to how the public are feeling about the party at the time. We can dismiss them as irrelevant or inaccurate but the reality is that if they were higher we would be using them as evidence we were doing the right thing so the reverse must also be true; just look at how UKIP are using the polls, this is not dissimilar to how Clegg portrayed it when we beat Labour in the local elections a few years ago. One of the issues with polls is the discrepancy between polling companies which shows a 5% difference in Lib Dem support. Many people then look at the poll of polls to get an average and UKpollingreport keeps a running score on its site. This is currently 10% and he has recently come out to defend this despite the party securing higher in both local elections. But there has got to be a question around the methodology to create the average which shows a depressed Lib Dem score.

“on average Liberal Democrat support has been seven points higher in local elections than what they were polling at the time. Over the same period, polls have been largely accurate in predicting Liberal Democrat support at general elections, with the exception of 2010” UKPollingReport

This is more or less true for the general election results where we see that in 2001 the poll of polls was 1.3% lower than the result, in 2005 the poll of polls was 0.2% above the result and in 2010 it was 3.3% higher. However, in Scotland the polls in 2001 were 6.1% lower than the result and in 2005 5% lower. In local elections the poll of polls have indeed been lower but in the last 10 years the gap has been closer to 5% than 7% as UKPollingReport states (even if you look at his own chart):

So let’s assume that the poll of polls is more or less accurate for a general election result and 5% lower than for local elections, the poll of polls often reports the Lib Dems on 9-10%, even on UKPollingReport’s site (today it is 10% but it often moves to 9%) when according to the election result it should be reading 11-12%. Now this may be insignificant and may even be a change in pattern now we are in government but maybe the poll of polls is depressing the Lib Dem vote?

We have had more polls in the first 2 years of this government than we have ever had in a whole term. YouGov have been particularly prolific and often report a lower score for the Lib Dems than other polling companies. However, because they release a poll nearly every day when you come to make the average this actually decreases the Lib Dem average. However, it is not an average of the polls, it is an average of the results which includes the same result many times over. An average of the polls would be to take the same number of polls by different polling companies over the same period and make an average. If you do this, and I have (using the results from the UKPollingReport site), what you find is that the Lib Dem poll of polls is 11-12%. In fact there is another poll of polls run by Electoral Calculus which is more accurate than the UKPollingReport one, which shows exactly this result.

Not that this is anything to get excited about as it is still 10% lower than we are used to in recent years but maybe it’s a straw we can try and grasp at?

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7 Responses to Lib Dems on 107 in Poll of Polls: Inaccurate by 27 which more accurate sums show

  1. Chris B says:

    Stating the accuracy of a poll regarding an event that is 2 years in the future is a sign of madness (or Timelords). You’re arguing about which indicator of the future is most accurate and giving a definitive answer – for all you know the UKPollingReport poll of polls is accurate to within 0.1% right now; the only way you can test the accuracy of such things is to look at it’s previous form in predictions. By doing this you’ll get the margin of error, which will be a number slightly higher than the amount you’re accusing them of being wrong by! It gave me a chuckle anyway. In the interim the new ICM and Populus polls have rather scuppered your point – I think 10% is a good rule-of-thumb, which is all these things can ever be.

    An exercise in futility but if it makes you happier, here, have the imaginary 2%! There’s plenty more where that came from. ;)

    • Thought you’d like that one! I did the sums as I thought there would be a bigger difference than there is but once I had done it I thought I’d post it anyway seeing as I had done it. Doesn’t make me happy that we are so low in the polls. I am more worried.

      • ChrisB says:

        It’s strange, I felt like that since Clegg became leader and as events have unfolded I feel less concerned – there’s more fear in the realisation that your fears are coming true than when they have. You’re in that phase now – you made some predictions, the reality is meeting those predictions and so your fears are coming true. Despite that there isn’t any alternative party for you or I (or a lot of core LD vote).

        I think the party made some mistakes a while ago, and now we’re living with the consequences. It’s not necessarily a bad thing because it requires positive changes and I’m sure that will happen – I just think we’ll take a kicking before it does. In the long term most people I meet are fundamentally liberal in attitude with a belief in democrat values, so there is always hope. The party may stagger but the tenets are unshaken – that’s why the political pendulum has slowly settled towards the centre. The next version of the Lib Dems will have to show the others what being in the centre is all about, or leave it to parties that are rooted to the left and right to make a poor job of it.

        We can’t change the polls, it doesn’t matter what people think about the party; what is important is coming up with better ways of doing things. In the worst case scenario, as has happened in the past, the other parties might plagiarise those ideas…that’s no bad thing. There is a lot of pragmatic discussion needed and solutions to be found; you’d be a great candidate to start considering those things, at your best you already do. Put your energies into dreams of a liberal democracy and we won’t need to worry about imaginary 2%s. ;)

        Chin up!

      • It’s nice to hear a more upbeat tone and thank you for the compliments, they are very much appreciated. Here’s to the future Lib Dems hey!

  2. Pingback: Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #275

  3. paul barker says:

    The UKPR point about polls being fairly good at predicting the next election is only true for polls in the last few weeks before that election. If you want to use polls as a predictive tool then compare polls now with those in may 2007.
    In fact there are good reasons to believe that polls no longer work , the voters arent thinking about politics now & wont till spring 2015.

    • Hi Paul, thanks for the comments and I agree, polls are difficult and dangerous to use but occasionally I dabble in them for fun. I certainly hope things will be better for the Lib Dems than the polls are currently saying.

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