Political Promise

The Truth Behind the Opinion Polls

In Uncategorized on April 13, 2010 at 5:27 pm

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s an election going on. Every poll agrees that the Conservatives are favourites, although maybe not by enough to govern outright. In the last week, the Conservative percentage lead has dropped. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have profited. I believe that the statistics still don’t tell the whole truth.

For the past six months, Gordon Brown and the Labour party have been the butt of nearly every political joke in the media and on television. They seem to have become a laughing stock. This will influence both the opinion polls and the election. It will affect the election because it will attest to some voters that Labour is incapable, and so the party’s popularity will decrease. The same can be said for the influence it has on the polls, but in addition to something else: it has made people embarrassed to admit that they will vote Labour.

This is not a new phenomenon. In the 1992 General Election, even opinion polls conducted on the day of the vote were as much as 8% off the true result: a Conservative Party win with a 7.5% majority, and some polls in the few days preceding were showing an outright win for Labour. Voters did not want to admit they were plumping for John Major’s Government. This ‘Shy Tory Factor’, as it became known, came into being during a recession. Is it possible that this time round a ‘Shy Labour Factor’ is affecting opinion poll results?
In addition to this, I believe that many voters, despite planning to vote for Labour or the Conservatives right now, will ultimately put a cross by the box of the Liberal Democrats come Election Day. Nick Clegg has played the race well so far. At every opportunity he has branded the two main parties as the face of old politics, and claimed that his party offers the fresh, clean and honest future. This has struck a chord with the disillusioned. Add to this the fact that Brown and Cameron are holding back from criticising his party’s policies so they can stay on his good side in case of a hung Parliament, and Clegg’s Liberal Democrats look in a very healthy condition.

My prediction for the General Election, in terms of seats, is as follows: A handful of seats will be all that separates the two main parties either way, and the Liberal Democrats will get more seats than at any time in their relatively short history. The three parties will be separated by only 20-30 seats, and Clegg will have the power to dictate with regards to a Coalition.

Will Obeney.

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