Why pollsters’ general election mistakes are hugely useful for Labour

These findings could go a long way towards helping Labour win the next series of elections.

They show that Labour had energised young people to vote for the party – but only those who were already interested in politics. Too many others in that age group stayed away from the polls.

The huge number of young people who rallied behind Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaign, and joined the party either during it or after his victory, suggests many did not feel they could support Labour under Ed Miliband, while the party’s current leadership is a different matter.

The older generation is more problematic. Senior citizens habitually vote Conservative, despite the fact that Labour has been responsible for every improvement in their standard of living since the late 1970s. Increased pension payments and pensioner benefits were all Labour innovations.

Since their return to office in 2010, the Conservatives have spent years chipping away at payments to pensioners, in an attempt to do harm without appearing to do so. Labour campaigners could capitalise on this by demonstrating it on the doorstep.

A systematic bias in the way people were selected to take part in opinion polls before the general election is emerging as the most likely reason why the industry failed to predict an overall majority for David Cameron in May’s general election.

Analysis undertaken by polling companies, including YouGov and ICM, of what went wrong in May has found that that a relative over-representation of politically engaged young voters produced a forecast that flattered Ed Miliband. Conversely, the over-70s – who broke heavily for the Tories – were under-represented in YouGov’s internet panels.

Source: Why opinion pollsters failed to predict overall majority for David Cameron | Politics | The Guardian

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8 thoughts on “Why pollsters’ general election mistakes are hugely useful for Labour

  1. casalealex

    I am so pleased that, at long last, young people are becoming interested and involved in politics; something I have advocated for years! However, to say that the older generation are more inclined to vote Tory needs clarification. Due to the bane of austerity which is increasingly being felt by them, and partly due to older people being able to access social media, I feel the older generation, of which I am one, are better informed of the machinations of today’s politics; and are more inclined to think before they vote as they have always habitually done. With the emergence of a compassionate man who has revitalised their innate humanity giving hope of a better future for all of us, we are assured that the population will reject this totalitarian ‘government’.

  2. Ian

    “Senior citizens habitually vote Conservative”: I get fed up seeing this kind of statement, feeding the myth that all people over 60 are reactionary right wing old differs. It may be true that more older people vote Tory than younger people, but you can’t generalise like this. And where’s the evidence? I’m 68 and in my wide circle of similarly aged friends, I know only a couple vote Tory and most vote Labour. I have “habitually” voted Labour for 45 years! And, rather than us oldies being the ungrateful recipients of Labour largesse, think of this: if senior citizens like me hadn’t voted Labour and supported it all those years, it would never have got into power at all! So enough of this divisiveness; we really should be all in this together so let’s work on that basis.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Does this mean you will work on persuading those Tories in your circle to reconsider their views?

  3. Marian Brannigan

    I fail to understand why my generation always seems to favour the Tories. Are we simply too lazy to look at the facts and swallow everything the right wing media feed us or do we, as mature people identify with the establishment?

  4. David

    I’m 80 with a decent pension. I put my present prosperity down to dear old Clem Attlee. There’s been no body like him since.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I understand he had a terrific team behind him as well – is that right?
      And what do we get?

  5. randall466

    Yes and no. A lot of pensioners switched in 2015 without seemingly a good reason, unless they were fooled by the relaxation in private pension rules. But the evidence that older people are Tory doesn’t square with my experience at ward level. After Corbyn won we had many older people return to the party. Just as many, in fact, as the younger ones who joined for the first time.

Comments are closed.