Will day-time counts mean we have to rely more on this?

November 30th, 2009

Is the wise strategy not to bet on exit polls?

If there is a huge increase in the number of day-time counts, as many are predicting, then the general election exit poll is going to become even more important.

For its projections will be what will dominate perceptions of the election for several hours and maybe into the following morning.

Arrangements, I understand, have been made for just one such survey to be mounted which will feed all the main outlets. The field-work will be carried out by Ipsos-MORI and the analysis and projections will be in the hands of a team of professional psephologists including Professors Curtice, Rallings and Thrasher.

They’ve got quite a task on their hands although in 2005 the exit poll projection of Tony Blair’s majority proved to be very good.

Factors that will make it much more complicated are that in England and Wales there are new boundaries and we are likely to see a bigger share going to “others” than ever before in modern times. How accurate are the calculations on the 2005 notional results?

In my betting I have a long record of making my biggest mistakes on elections days themselves. I’m resolved not to do so again next time.

  • In 1992, of course, not only did the pollsters fail to predict John Major’s 8% winning margin but the exit poll on the day, see above, did not cover itself in glory.
  • Mike Smithson