Archive for the 'About the site' Category


UK Political Betting under review by Vice News with Alastair Meeks and Shadsy of Ladbrokes

Thursday, April 6th, 2017


With 2016 drawing to a close the PB/Polling Matters poll of the year

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

As we approach 2017, Keiran Pedley reviews the winners and losers of the past year and breaks down the 2016 PB/Polling Matters survey results.

Earlier this month we conducted the first annual survey of PB readers and Polling Matters listeners. 657 respondents took part and this post looks at some of the results and I give my own perspective too. We asked everyone about their winners and losers of 2016, biggest shocks, defining moments and the thorny issue of the ‘PB poster of the year’.

Biggest political shock of 2016?

Poll winner: Donald Trump wins US election

Keiran’s choice: UK votes for Brexit

To begin the survey we asked respondents to name their biggest political shock of 2016. Donald Trump’s election as US president was the runaway winner with 59% of the vote. The UK voting to leave the EU was second with 36%. No other individual event came close to matching these events as the chart below reflects.


I doubt that many will be surprised by these results. Few predicted Trump’s victory. For large portions of the primary season the talk was of brokered conventions and then the manner of his victory was something of a fluke. Clinton won the popular vote by more than two percentage points yet Trump achieved a solid Electoral College victory due to some razor thin victories in the American mid-west. I cannot claim to be one of those that saw Trump coming but from the summer onwards I was less bullish on Clinton’s chances than my fellow podcasters. Funnily enough I did say Clinton would win by around two points. I just didn’t anticipate that such a margin would not deliver her the presidency.

For me the bigger shock was Brexit. I was guilty of believing the conventional wisdom that phone polls were more accurate than online and that ‘don’t knows’ would ultimately break Remain in the face of a sustained campaign by government and business that they should do so. What happened, a four point victory for Leave on turnout some seven points above that of the General Election the previous year, was astonishing.

Biggest winner of 2016

Poll winner: Donald Trump

Keiran’s choice: Donald Trump (with Theresa May a close second)

Continuing the theme above, Donald Trump was chosen as the ‘biggest winner of 2016’ with 50% of the vote. Nigel Farage was second with 28%. Other choices included Theresa May with 13% and Sadiq Khan with 6%.


It really is hard to argue with this. The US presidency remains THE prize in world politics and Trump won it against all the odds and breaking all of the so-called ‘rules of the game’. No one else can reasonably come close when we consider who the biggest winner of 2016 was. I just wish I could be impressed. For a rich man he won in a cheap way. Let’s see how he does.

There is an interesting debate to be had about the UK. It would be churlish not to acknowledge Nigel Farage as a big winner. Whatever you think of him he achieved his life’s work and secured his place in history – all without ever taking a seat in the House of Commons. Quite remarkable. However, for me the biggest winner in the UK was Theresa May. Having campaigned for Remain she managed to become Prime Minister and enjoys a commanding poll lead over Labour and strong personal ratings. My suspicion is that this will begin to change in 2017 but for now she is in something of an insurmountable position. Given where she started in January 2016 this is some change.

Biggest loser of 2016

Poll winner: Hillary Clinton

Keiran’s choice: David Cameron

For the less coveted ‘biggest loser of 2016’ award we see a continuation of our US theme with Hillary Clinton chosen by 45%. David Cameron was second with 35%. Other notable choices included Zac Goldsmith on 16% and Michael Gove on 6%. Those choosing ‘other’ often opted for ‘everyone’ or ‘the world’ whilst George Osborne was also mentioned. Make of that what you will.



The choice of Clinton continues our US dominated theme and so isn’t a surprise. Having come so close and seemingly finally broken that highest glass ceiling she fell at the final hurdle despite winning the popular vote. Many will say that this was all self-inflicted but it is hard not to feel a pang of sympathy – even if, like me, you had hoped that Joe Biden might get the nomination instead. What I would say is don’t underestimate how devastating her defeat was for good, ambitious women who looked to Clinton as a role model. As the husband of one, I can well understand the sadness, especially given who she lost to. We should remember that Clinton’s defeat isn’t just about Clinton herself.

Personally, I wouldn’t say Clinton was the biggest loser of 2016. I have gone back and forth on this given the spectacularly bad year Zac Goldsmith had but I have chosen David Cameron as my ‘biggest loser’ of 2016. He had taken on all-comers in 2015 and emerged victorious yet barely a year later he was out of office and defined forever by Brexit. He called a referendum he didn’t expect to have to deliver and thought he would win if he did. Perhaps Cameron was always lucky rather than good and in this case his luck finally ran out. I will leave that for others to decide.

Defining moment of 2016

Many were chosen but come on, there is only one isn’t there?


PB poster of 2016

Now for the reason you are all here. I tallied up 235 eligible votes and here are the top 4.

Mike Smithson (59 votes)

TSE (32 votes)

Sean T (29 votes)

Plato (26 votes)

Mike’s runaway victory may prompt cries of ‘fix’ in the comments section but it really was a runaway win (Mike – I will send you my bank details as agreed). On a more serious note, I am sure we will all extend our thanks to Mike and TSE for keeping the site going all these years. It really is appreciated. Other notable mentions (e.g. double figures) go David Herdson, Alastair Meeks, Cycle Free and yours truly. Sadly I couldn’t get my 11 votes to somehow make the top 4 which at least proves that sometimes pollsters just have to take the numbers as they are!

Final word

If I can be serious in closing I couldn’t do a review of 2016 without mentioning the tragic murder of Jo Cox. I wasn’t sure on the appropriate way to bring it up but I couldn’t ignore it and so hopefully I can do it justice. We should all remember, however animated politics makes us, that real people with real families are involved. Many will curse 2016 for the deaths of celebrities or because politics didn’t go their way (and there is nothing wrong with that) but we should remember that for the Cox family life will never be the same again. I can only wish them my heartfelt condolences and I am sure everyone on this site will want to do the same. Jo was a decent woman trying to make the world around her a better place and for all their faults we should remember that the overwhelming majority of politicians (and people in politics) are too.

 Happy new year to all at PB!

Keiran Pedley tweets about public opinion and polling at @keiranpedley


The St John PB Christmas Day Crossword

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

Happy Christmas to everybody

For several years there has been a Christmas Day cross-word on PB pioneered by long-standing PBer StJohn. Here’s the 2016 version – enjoy.



1. Fly in two bloggers (6)
4. Peacekeepers retreated while hiding a blogger – it’s sickening (8)
10. Left annoyed (6,3)
11. Speak at the lowest level (5)
12. Bill introduced by former Prime Minister under duress (7)
13. Ike’s and Abe’s, say? (7)
14. Division in Conservative Socialist Union (5)
15. 5 tried to make these good sellers (3,5)
18. Across the channel where there’s time for loud transport (8)
20. News agency has nothing on poet (5)
23. Top marks repeatedly conceal understanding (7)
25. Castro kept on quietly as a libertarian (3,4)
26. Ted Dexter left home (5)
27. General stores like to keep rented land (9)
28. On Liberty say for building material (8)
29. Areas under jurisdiction of Bishops Palace (6)


1. Little change from US ticket where half is even missing (8)
2. 9 Brexiteers want to leave this way, expert concludes (7)
3. City fills edition of top arts magazine (9)
5. Hitchcock bird detailed in that historic incinerator (6,3,5)
6. Investigate political party wearing spectacles (5)
7. A rebel state in the world of study (7)
8. He believes it’s when April’s foolish (6)
9. Truss up with coil, not holding onto lady luck? (4,10)
16. Writer describing what MPs do as they divide and vote? (5,4)
17. Church holds together, one notes, after backing John Calvin (8)
19. Teachers long for a new leader (7)
21. They oppose dark areas (7)
22. Help out a mate when first Prime Minister (6)
24. Certainly not on reflection an incomplete politician (5)


Who should we include in the next PB/YouGov Favourability ratings?

Friday, November 18th, 2016


In August PB was able to have its own YouGov favourability ratings. I am pleased to say that we are now in a position to go forward with a similar survey.

Last time we had:-

Barack Obama
Hillary Clinton
Donald Trump
Vladimir Putin
Angela Merkel
Conservative Party
Labour Party
Liberal Democrats
Theresa May
Boris Johnson
David Davis
Phillip Hammond
Jeremy Corbyn
Tim Farron
David Cameron
MPs generally
Your MP

Clearly some of these are no longer relevant although I would like to continue with quite a few of them so we can make comparisons.

Just looking at the list who should be taken out and who should be included.

Your suggestions would be most helpful.

Mike Smithson


Introducing the PB/YouGov Favourability Ratings – a new development by the site

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

First survey has Corbyn ahead of Trump, Putin AND Cameron

As many will know I am a great fan of leader ratings which I believe are a better pointer to political outcomes than voting intention numbers. There are several different formats. Ipsos-MORI ask about “satisfaction”, Opinium goes for straight approval number while the standard YouGov question is asking the sample whether those named are doing well or badly.

The format I like best and the one which the standard in the US is favourability which I have been encouraging UK pollsters to adopt over the past few years. ComRes does them intermittently and occasionally Survation and Opinium have asked questions in this form but that’s about it. My view is that we need standardised favourability questions asked at regular intervals so we can make comparisons.

So I am delighted to announce that under an arrangement between PB and YouGov we will be able to have these on a regular basis and we will cover organisations like political parties as well. The net numbers from the first set are in the chart above.

One of the comparisons that is very striking is to look at responses based on EURef vote as in the table below. REMAIN and LEAVE voters have such a totally different view of the world.

The full data set from the poll should be published on the YouGov site later today.

Mike Smithson


A big thank you to those who’ve contributed to the post-referendum appeal to help keep PB going

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

Charles2 (1)

It has become something of a PB tradition after big elections for an appeal to be made for funds to help keep the site going. This year we’ve been fortunate to have had a robust enough technical infrastructure to deal with the massive traffic that was being generated. Alas this requires a lot of effort (thank you to my son Robert) and costs money. Quite a few other sites fell over at times.

If you would like to add your contribution please click the button below. It would be very much appreciated.

A note on the picture This year I’ve had a “significant birthday” and the present from my wife, Jacky, was to commission professional genealogical research into my ancestry.

The picture, of my father’s father, Charles, (standing on the left in the wagon) campaigning in Nelson, Lancashire, was discovered during the process. It also threw up something I had not known before – the family of my mother’s foster mother were Conservative activists in Burnley.

Mike Smithson



Updated EURef polling tale and a reminder about tomorrow night

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

EU Ref polling   Google Sheets

Next PB gathering – tomorrow from 1830
Venue – The Shooting Star close to Liverpool St Station – London


Date for your diary: Next PB Gathering Friday April 8th + the local by-election results

Friday, March 11th, 2016

We’ve got a lot to catch up on

Just to confirm – the next PB gathering takes place at the Shooting Star on Friday April 8th from about 1830. We’ve returned to a Friday evening slot following requests from a number of people who say that will be more convenient.

It will be the third time we have used the pub, the Shooting Star, which is very close to Liverpool Street station.

Thanks again to the slim-line Fat Steve for making the arrangements.

If you’ve never been to one of these sessions then it really is worthwhile. It’s great fun just putting faces to names.

From Harry Hayfield this week’s local by-election results.

Kendal, Strickland and Fell (Lib Dem defence) on Cumbria
Result: Liberal Democrat 1,067 (60% +8%), Labour 307 (17% -10%), Conservative 172 (10% unchanged), Green Party 128 (7%, no candidate in 2013), United Kingdom Independence Party 106 (6% -4%)
Liberal Democrat HOLD with a majority of 760 (43%) on a swing of 9% from Labour to Liberal Democrat

Maidenhead, Riverside (Con defence) on Windsor and Maidenhead Royal
Result: Conservative 916 (53% +4%), Liberal Democrat 397 (23% +7%), Independent 162 (9%, no candidate in 2015), Labour 144 (8% -5%), United Kingdom Independence Party 95 (6% -5%)
Conservative HOLD with a majority of 519 (30%) on a swing of 1.5% from Conservative to Liberal Democrat

Mike Smithson