Few will admit it, but Horsehay shows pollsters have no idea what’s going on

Yesterday, a poll was published claiming – based on a sample of around 1600 people – that only 51% of people who voted Labour in 2015 would do so if there was a General Election now. It also claimed that 73% of those who voted Tory would continue to do so.

Much was made of that by anti-Corbyn MPs and commentators, of course.

On the same day, unmentioned by the news channels, in a council by-election in Horsehay and Lightmoor in Shropshire – a county that, at the moment, has only Tory MPs – was won by Labour from the Conservatives on a 24,3% swing:


These figures mean that an area that previously gave the Tory party almost twice as many votes as to Labour, suddenly swung massively – and the supposedly dangerous UKIP lost share as well. To Labour – the opposite of what’s meant to happen if you believe the pollsters, pundits and laughably-called ‘Labour moderates’.

Similarly, there were dire predictions of results in the Oldham West parliamentary by-election and others, which Labour have won with increased majorities. And there have been a few where Labour has done badly – often when anti-Corbyn candidates have stood.

In the current, volatile, unprecedented, ‘all bets are off’ climate, pollsters are, frankly, guessing when they try to model what a dataset means – even assuming the questions are well-constructed and not leading and that the polled individuals are representative.

Can you draw conclusions about the whole country from a single council by-election result? Of course not. Neither can you draw them from 1600 people – not in the current melting pot, when all previous assumptions are unreliable.

When all bets are off.

Remember, polls indicated Zac Goldsmith had more than a 50% share in Richmond Park, just before he lost the by-election to the LibDem candidate who was supposed to have far less.

One thing you can draw from recent results in by-elections and polls is this: not pollsters, not pundits – and certainly not spinning ‘moderates’ – have the least idea how to predict anything at the moment. But you won’t hear them admit it, because then what’s the point of their various media appearances?

The majority of them will keep talking as if they can predict, some because their income is linked to it and some because they want Corbyn’s supporters to lose heart.

So don’t.

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  1. The votes were: – Denis Allen (UK Independence Party) 124 votes – Robert Cadman (Conservative Party) 292 votes – Rajash Mehta (Labour Party) 358 votes The turnout was 17.0%

    YouGov was WAY more representative than this.

  2. In the post-2010 political landscape, I am increasingly convinced that polls only show what the Establishment cronies (including the Labour right) want/are planning to happen rather than anything to do with the views of a genuine cross-section of voters.

  3. You are comparing polls about General Election voting with a local council election. Not a fair comparison. People vote differently in local elections. You cant really extrapolate from them.

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