January 19, 2016

BRITAIN: The election polls weren’t wrong because of mistakes – pollsters deliberately cheated.

So now it’s official. We know what the pollsters did, and we know how they did it. The University of Southampton’s report into the great 2015 general election polling debacle stops short of telling us why they did it, but it doesn’t matter. We can fill that bit in for ourselves.

First, it’s been confirmed that the pollsters “herded”. Of course we knew the polls had mysteriously aligned in the final hours of the campaign – we could all see that for ourselves. But we know now – as some of us argued at the time – that this was not the basis of some ordinary statistical anomaly. As Professor Patrick Sturgiss, head of the inquiry, confirms: “A surprising feature of the 2015 election was the lack of variability across the polls in estimates of the difference in the Labour and Conservative vote shares. Having considered the available evidence, the Inquiry has been unable to rule out the possibility that ‘herding’ – whereby pollsters made design decisions that caused their polls to vary less than expected given their sample sizes – played a part in forming the statistical consensus.” . . .

Remember what the polling industry’s own explanation was for its errors. “Lazy Labour” voters who couldn’t be bothered to turn up on polling day, was one theory. The old favourite “Shy Tories” was also trotted out. Then there was the idea there had been a “Late Swing” to the Tories. Some people even speculated efficient Tory “Micro-targeting” of key marginals may have in some way skewed the results.

It was all rubbish. The polls were wrong because the pollsters had – inaccurately – manipulated their own samples. . . .

In any case, we don’t need to speculate about whether pollsters manipulated their findings, because the pollsters have admitted it themselves. Survation announced the morning after the result that they had decided not to publish their own “final” poll of the campaign because – in the words of company CEO Damian Lyons Lowe – “the results seemed so “out of line” with all the polling conducted by ourselves and our peers – what poll commentators would term an “outlier” – that I “chickened out” of publishing the figures.

So few institutions are trustworthy, these days. Luckily, this sort of thing could never happen here. . . .

InstaPundit is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.