Thanks to all, who gave the answers to the “Guess the election” competition. I’ll be doing the results this evening, so if you want to enter, you’ve got till 5pm.
But first, a confession.
The reason I did the competition was to make the point Anthony Wells makes here, which is that given the polling situation, the only really accurate answer to the question “Who will win in 2015?” is “Reply Hazy, Try Again Later“. Except of course, that Anthony makes this point with far more detail and elegance than I can.1
Lacking Anthony’s precision, I thought I’d ask people to use past poll results to predict past elections, hoping to show that while there are identifiable trends, (such as governments recovering between mid-term and the General Election) they are only trends. Nothing is for certain in any specific election, because every election is different, and the events that precede each election are very different.
To make this point, one of the polls I included (not saying which one) was a recent poll from the last couple of months. Sorry. Couldn’t resist.
Thus far, the poll from the current parliament has been identified as a poll conducted a couple of years before the elections of 1959, 1964, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2005 and 2010.
That’s everything from a landslide government defeat to a landslide government re-election, with a hung parliament bang in the middle.
Why so varied? because two and a half years is a long, long time, and anything could happen, from boom to bust, from leadership coup to vote of confidence.
General Election 2015? Pretty much anything could happen.
How can a party make their desired outcome more likely? Now, that’s a much more interesting, and useful, question.
- He also puts it a bit less kindly: “With some honorable exceptions, I suspect in many cases people’s predictions this early say a lot more about their own personal preferences or what political axes they have to grind against their party leaderships than what is likely to happen at the next election.” [↩]