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Your regular reminder that hypothetical polls can be as accurate as an American war film

December 1st, 2019

What the hypothetical polls said in October versus what the reality is now.

Hypothetical polls are a lot like Hawaiian pizzas, they should be avoided at all costs by right thinking people everywhere. This piece I wrote back in 2018 explains the systemic flaws with hypothetical polls, and nothing has changed.

As we can see with the two tweets the reality doesn’t bear any resemblance to the fantasy of the hypothetical. Boris Johnson did not die in a ditch and the Tory vote share did not plummet when the United Kingdom did not leave on Halloween.

If Boris Johnson does win his majority and it looks like we might have to extend the transition due to end in December 2020 there will be polling asking what the hypothetical voting intention will be if Boris Johnson extends the transition period.

My hunch is that such polling will be sub-optimal for Boris Johnson and the Conservatives, he would be wise to ignore such hypothetical polling, there’s a long history of it being very inaccurate.

It is also the reason why I’m a little cautious about polling about what will happen to Scottish Independence voting intentions if Boris Johnson wins a majority on December 12th. In the run up to the 2016 EU referendum there was polling showing the SNP and Scottish Independence would surge in the UK decided to Leave the EU, in 2017 the SNP lost around a third of their MPs, and current polling shows they aren’t course to achieve their 2015 high water mark on December 12th.

TSE