Political polls are no longer reliable because they are no longer predictive of election results.
The UK Brexit referendum on June 23, 2016, in which 51.9% of those voting supported leaving the EU, was the first sign. 78% of phone polls had predicted that Remain would win; only two online pollsters, Kantar TNS and Opinium, forecasted a Leave victory just ahead of the vote. (Wikipedia)
The U.S. presidential election on November 8, 2016, in which polls had predicted a Hillary Clinton win, was the second sign.
Last Saturday’s Australian federal election is the latest indicator of the failure of polls.
On May 18, 2019, Australia conducted a nation-wide election to elect members of the 46th Parliament: All 151 seats in the House of Representatives (lower house) and 40 of the 76 seats in the Senate (upper house).
Unlike many other democracies, Australia has mandatory voting for all citizens aged 18 and over – or they risk a fine. This year has seen a record 96.8% enrollment rate. In contrast, the voter turnout for the most recent US and UK elections were an estimated 55% and 69% respectively. (BBC)
What this means is that in the case of Australia, the accuracy of pre-election polls would not be affected by voter turnout, which should lend even greater confidence in the accuracy of those polls. As the BBC confidently declared a day before the election:
Australians are voting in a closely-fought general election on Saturday. The poll will decide whether the conservative Liberal-National Coalition wins a third term or is replaced by a Labor administration led by Bill Shorten.
And what were the polls saying?
The graph below shows that although opinion polls have narrowed in recent weeks, the leftist Australian Labor Party still had the edge on a two-party preferred basis on the eve of election day.
The experts also predicted a Labor win:
- Professor Sally Young, a politics expert from the University of Melbourne, said there was public cynicism about the major parties, and predicted that the bitter party infighting that led to Scott Morrison becoming PM only last August, was likely to harm the government’s standing with voters. Referring to Morrison’s ousting of his predecessor, Young declared: “They’re sick of the sniping and undermining. Knifing a leader – it never goes down well.”
- Young also predicted that climate change would be a key election issue and that the government’s “lack of action on climate change” would be a critical factor in the election.
- Citing unnamed “experts,” the BBC said that Morrison’s minority government “fears losing votes to more socially conservative minor parties and independents” in the northern state of Queensland, and is particularly vulnerable in Victoria in the south, where the “progressive” electorate had delivered a resounding victory to Labor in a state election five months ago.
Despite the polls and experts, and in spite of Morrison’s minority coalition government being consistently behind in the polls for the past three years, the government won a third term against the Labor opposition. As Wikipedia puts it:
The result of the 2019 election was in stark contrast to the aggregation of opinion polls conducted over the period of the 45th parliament and the 2019 election campaign. Apart from a few outliers, Labor had been ahead for the entire period, by as much as 56% on a two-party-preferred basis after Scott Morrison took over the leadership of the Liberal Party in August 2018—although during the campaign, Labor’s two-party estimate was between 51 and 52%.
During the ABC’s [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] election coverage, election analyst Antony Green stated “At the moment, on these figures, it’s a bit of a spectacular failure of opinion polling.”—with the election results essentially a mirror image of the polls with the Coalition’s two-party vote at around 51%.
CNN calls the election “a stunning turnaround after every opinion poll over the campaign pointed to a Labor victory. Analysts are now saying Labor lost an ‘unlosable’ election.”
To add insult to injury, not only did the leftist Labor Party lose the election, the formerly minority coalition government led by Morrison actually picked up the net two-seat swing it needed for a majority government. (ABC News)
Readers of FOTM had commented that they no longer answer phone polls. Nor do I.
We no longer respond to political polls because of our correct perception that, like the MSM, pollsters favor Democrats and are hostile to conservatives. I suspect also that many who still respond to polls don’t give honest answers, which is a prudent behavior given the many real instances of conservatives being publicly assaulted, denied service by businesses, and having their food and drinks contaminated by servers. See, for example:
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