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How PBers got 2011 right and wrong

December 31st, 2011

Were your 2011 picks crystal clear or “through a glass darkly?”

Congratulations to Oliver who finished 29 points ahead of Jim Lowe with Dan Tor in third place in PB’s annual prediction competition – the full table with all players is available here, as well as an Excel spreadsheet showing the detailed breakdown of results.

These were the questions from a year ago.

The first section looked at key posts as at Christmas 2011, and the first three questions were very well answered – a 99% success rate for Cameron as PM, 96% for Clegg as DPM, and 94% for Ed Miliband as Labour leader. The main stumbling blocks were Scotland and the GOP frontrunner, with only 21% of players correctly predicting Alex Salmond to be First Minister, while not a single player had current GOP poll leader Newt Gingrich (average of last three polls on RCP), although 46% of players were close with the safe choice of Romney.

The second part covered the AV referendum, the UK interest rate, and the Irish election. A lot of players stumbled on the referendum, with the average prediction of 45% Yes being 13 points away from the actual result. The “how many days will Bank Rate stay at 0.5%?” tripped up a lot of people. In the event, it remained at 0.5% all year, but only 22% of players scored full points here for a correct answer of 365 days. Finally, the scale of the Fianna Fáil rout in the Irish election was greatly underestimated – FF emerged with just 20 seats against an average prediction of 40.

Seat predictions for the May elections were next, covering Scotland, Wales, and the English locals. The SNP’s outstanding result, with a seat gain of 23, was miles away from the average prediction of -4, while Plaid, coming in at -4, were much closer to the average prediction of no change. Finally, the Conservative, Labour, and Lib Dem seat movements in the locals of +86, +857, and -748 were all some way off from the average predictions of -306, +540, and -259, with the “big two” outperforming PB’ers predictions, while the Lib Dems were considerably worse.

As ever, the final section looked at the year’s opinion polls, with the Guardian’s ICM series being used once more. Predictions covered the highs and lows for the main parties, plus the large and small Labour leads. In contrast to 2010, the 2011 polls were much more static, with the Conservatives moving between 35 and 37, Labour 36-39, and the Lib Dems again having the biggest range, between 12 and 18. Players collected 50 points if they were spot on, losing 10 points for each percentage point out, down to zero. With an average of 30 points collected, best predicted (as in 2010) was the Labour low of 36%, in contrast to the Labour high of 39 which was the worst predicted with an average of just 5.5 points. Next best predictions were for Labour’s smallest poll lead (Con lead 1), and the Conservative low (35), while Labour’s biggest lead (4) and the LD low (12) were the next worst predicted.

Many thanks to everyone who took part, and we hope to be opening the 2012 PB Competition tomorrow.

Can I take this opportunity to thank Our Genial Host for continuing to run an outstanding website, and also thanks to the other members of the editorial team in the shape of David Herdson and HenryG, to Marf for the cartoons – and of course to Robert for all the IT work behind the scenes.

    Finally, if you would like to take part, the 2012 season is now underway at The Election Game – the Leaders & Finance game is here and the New Hampshire game will be out shortly. The games are free to enter, entries close 7pm GMT Monday 9th Jan, and the Game can also be followed here on Twitter (@electiongame).

I’d like to wish all of PB’s punters, posters, and lurkers all the very best for 2012, which promises to be a big year for political and economic events, both at home and abroad.

Double Carpet