Why do so many commentators and pollsters keep getting it wrong?

All year I have been told that Brexit could not win, and Mrs Clinton was a shoe in. All the clever and well educated people were quite sure of these “facts”. They were critical of anyone who suggested UK voters might want to leave the EU, or who dared to venture there might be quite a lot of support for Mr Trump. They were confident because the pollsters told them their preferred outcome was going to happen. They were unsighted on the attractions of the alternative view, leading them to believe someone would have to be stupid to vote for it. They assumed their priorities including freedom of movement, tackling climate change, intervening in Middle Eastern conflicts and the rest were also the preoccupations of enough other voters.

I predicted the UK vote for Brexit correctly because I listened carefully to opinion outside London and Scotland. My only surprise was that the vote was not even higher to leave given the mood and opinions of the majority. Doubtless the tragic death of an MP towards the end of the campaign, and the relentlessness of Project Fear clipped some support from a popular cause. I did not call the vote for Mr Trump because I am not an American voter, and I did not visit the USA to hear for myself on the ground what people were thinking. I did however think it quite likely Mr Trump would win. I was always careful to write about his candidature as a serious one which might win.I afforded equal protection to Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump from bloggers who wanted to be disobliging about them.

I formed this view of Mr Trump’s campaign from reading his website and comparing it with Mrs Clinton’s. Both were professional. Both contained serious policy recommendations. His was more focused, and spoke to the main issues US voters were likely to worry about, hers was wider ranging, lacked focus, and did not seem to grasp the concerns people had about their jobs, their wages, and the security of their local communities.

Last week I asked UK observers of the election who generally thought Mrs Clinton would win to tell me what the slogans were of the two campaigns. Most could name “Making America great again” for Mr Trump. Most struggled to remember either “Stronger together” or ” I’m with her” for Mrs Clinton. That summed up the impact of the two campaigns. Mr Trump had a popular optimistic slogan which could mean what the voter wanted it to mean. Mrs Clinton had a self serving slogan about her which did not cut through. Mr Trump offered people no tax on income below $25,000 a year, and the promise of more jobs from putting America first. Mrs Clinton’s offers were more detailed and diverse.

If the media, the pollsters and the establishment commentators want to be taken seriously, they have to remember the fundamental principles of democracy. Any main candidate running for office might win and deserves a fair hearing. Whilst I am the last person to say commentators should not be partisan, a good commentator understands the other point of view and seeks to explain it as well as criticise it.

The worst feature of some reactions on both sides of the Atlantic is the one where people say “He is not my President” or refuse to accept the verdict on Brexit. I wonder if the next move of Mr Trump’s critics will be to claim the US election was just an advisory vote which does not entitle him to assume office as the wrong person won? Or will they go off to the courts to try to block the decision?

I was on the losing side in General elections in 1997, 2001 and 2005. I thought it was a fair cop, given the damage the Conservative government did with its fashionable establishment policy of belonging to the ERM. I accepted Labour’s right to govern and to implement their Manifesto. I with colleagues took up the task of opposing where we judged it wrong, or where we thought it could be improved. We never said the elections were wrong or Labour had no right to govern. I often agreed with what they were trying to – I became, for example, a fan of much of Mr Brown’s tax policy.

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65 Comments

  1. Chris
    Posted November 10, 2016 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Rasmussen Reports, a US political comment site, and pollster, issues a mea culpa. The explanation is very simple. See below:

    “Mea culpa, mea culpa” Rasmussen Reports
    “Well, what can we say — we blew it.

    We thought the signs pointed to Hillary Clinton winning the White House. We thought that even if she lost Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio, her Midwestern “firewall” of states that not only had voted for Barack Obama twice, but hadn’t voted for a Republican since the 1980s, would hold for her. It didn’t — Trump blew a hole in what we dubbed “Fortress Obama.”….

    We heard for months from many of you, saying that we were underestimating the size of a potential hidden Trump vote and his ability to win. We didn’t believe it, and WE WERE WRONG. The Crystal Ball is shattered. We’ll pick up the pieces starting next week as we try to unpack what happened in this election, where there was so much dramatic change from just four years ago.

    We have a lot to learn, and we must make sure the Crystal Ball never has another year like this. This team expects more of itself, and we apologize to our readers for our errors”.

    • Hope
      Posted November 11, 2016 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      Pollsters are not getting reliable information because people have been scared into silenced by the extreme liberal socialist elite. Remember Cameron labeling of us if we voted UKIP. Heseltine and Clarke aided this by similar vile comments. Clinton labelled all Trump supporters in the same way tog eat the same result. It they are not present when the cross goes in the box.

      Bill Clinton, followed by Blair, started this spin sort of politics to silence the majority against their own views. This is personified in the wrongly labelled equality babble. No such thing equality legislation and all it entails. This was to silence and scare people from expressing their own view or voting against those who think they know best. If they have a side to view it is called extreme right or far right, listen to Kinnock Jnr. No such thing. We only have UKIP as a centre right party the main parties shifted far left years ago.

      • Hope
        Posted November 12, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        JR, you have asked a series of questions of this sort. Why did your party whip its MPs to vote for the selection of Vaz to the Justice Select Committee at a time when he is being assessed for criminal and discipline procedures? What does this say about the values of the establishment and its determination to influence those alleged organizations that are charged to keep it in balance and to make sure we have a fair one nation,a s May would say? Or to follow John humphries, what do you have to do to get sacked? I would also like to know, do MPs ever resign?

        Reply Yes, MPs do resign. Two Conservative MPs have resigned recently! I have no idea why there was a whip on the Vaz vote. It was a Commons matter which is not normally whipped, and when I asked if it were whipped the answer was not clear. The official line was we should uphold the convention that each party can get through its own nominees, which I helped do by not voting.

        • Hope
          Posted November 12, 2016 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

          Did not resign over their conduct. Views on policy I recollect!

  2. Chris
    Posted November 10, 2016 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Hard hitting explanation in the Spectator as to why Trump won:
    http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/11/sneering-response-trumps-victory-reveals-exactly-won/

    Also, fascinating article by Tom Harris, Guardian (his earlier film of the Staffs towns and demise of Labour/rise of UKIP and voting Leave showed considerable perception as to the real problems) about how Clinton lost the mid West, but somewhere that Trump was absolutely focused on – he knew the problems first hand and offered to give those people a voice. Clinton would not, and could not, because it would conflict with the globalisation and global warming agenda amongst other things.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/10/donald-trump-brexit-us

    “….As these states’ backing for Trump became more and more clear, I thought not just of Indiana, but also the book Caught in the Middle by a Chicago-based academic called Richard C Longworth, published in 2009 and full of auguries of the great political shock to come. “About a decade ago, globalisation arrived and changed the Midwest for ever,” Longworth wrote. Economic decline had already blighted millions of lives, but this was something else again. “Traditional family farms vanished. Steel mills closed and auto factories shrunk. ‘Downsizing’ and ‘outsourcing’ enriched our vocabularies and frightened our workforce. Some big cities, such as Chicago, coped. Others, like Detroit, rotted. Small industrial cities fought to stay alive. ‘Rural’ became a synonym for ‘poor’. Immigrants, mostly Mexicans but Africans and Asians too, moved into towns and regions that were all European, and northern European at that. Self-sufficient places … became bedroom suburbs if they were lucky enough to lie within commuting distance of bigger cities. Those beyond this range, or too far from the interstate, shrivelled.”
    Such places make up what we ought to now think of as Trumpland…… More generally, Clinton and her people were seemingly so estranged from the places at free trade’s blunt end that they left glaring openings for a man (Trump)…..

  3. Richard1
    Posted November 10, 2016 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    The main reason they get it wrong is the commanding heights of the Correct View as expressed on the BBC et al have been captured by the liberal left, so if you support Brexit / Republican and move in polite society you need to be careful about who you tell.

    The left have got the US election wrong just as they got Brexit wrong – in the received view it’s all about the disadvantaged losers from ‘globalisation’ voting dumbly in protest for an obviously terrible outcome (Brexit / Trump). In fact polling reveals that 43% (I think) of social group AB voted for Brexit and the main motivation (ahead of immigration) was sovereignty. When it came down to it the emperor had no clothes: there simply were no good arguments for having to have supra-national regional EU government in order to have good cultural and political relations, easy travel and free trade. Likewise in the US, perhaps the 60m people who voted for Mr Trump (30m of them ‘deplorable’ in Mrs Clinton’s view) were choosing lower and simpler taxes, an end to regulatory strangulation and endless useless intervention and posturing in the Middle East.

    From a U.K. Point of view it’s good news – assuming Trump doesn’t start trade wars – as it will take the wind out of the sails of the likes of Messrs Juncker and Schultz as they threaten the U.K. For daring to leave the EU.

    • stred
      Posted November 11, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      The US, Clinton-lead interventions in Libya and Syria, using force by proxy, has not only been useless. They have been disastrous for Europe. How odd that the EU leaders consider Trump the bigger danger and would have preferred to partner Mrs Clinton. They must have valued her support for an expansionist European state more. This goes for British remoaners too. Hopefully, Trump will instruct the US executive to disclose the reasons behind her and Obama’s disasters and the emails will not be withheld is relevant.

  4. APL
    Posted November 10, 2016 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    JR: “Why do so many commentators and pollsters keep getting it wrong?”

    It’s simple. The pollsters are not attempting to gauge public opinion, they are trying to drive public opinion, to demoralize the opposition, by putting forward deceitful polls.

    The commentators then join in and say, ‘look, you’ve not got a chance, you might as well shut up’.

    It’s a sophisticated Propaganda operation where each organ is on the face of it independent, but actually coordinated.

    If all we had was the BBC to tell us what to think, it would be a huge success … But BBC luvvies, you are all irreverent now.

    Which makes the insult, we are compelled to pay for your crap, all the more egregious.

    • APL
      Posted November 10, 2016 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      .. irreverent..

      That’s true, but also irrelevant.

  5. stred
    Posted November 10, 2016 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    Glad to see you are back after going AWOL. The thought of you becoming depressed after the Lawmaniac’s shenanigans and heading for Westminster Bridge was getting me worried. Where else can racist fruitcakes write creatively and occasionally gramatically?

    • purplehaze
      Posted November 11, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Stred
      Love it.
      Agree, now’s not the time to jump off the bridge.
      Brexit tick, Trump tick.
      He could give himself a couple of days off a week though, from all our loony ( but correct ) posts. It’s in the interest of posters and the UK that this channel stays open.

  6. Glenn Vaughan
    Posted November 10, 2016 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    “I afforded equal protection to Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump from bloggers who wanted to be disobliging about them.”

    A quotation that demonstrates an inflated sense of self-importance. Neither Mrs Clinton nor Mr Trump require your “protection” from bloggers.

    “I became, for example, a fan of much of Mr Brown’s tax policy.”

    Nauseating.

    • libertarian
      Posted November 11, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      Glenn Vaughan

      I think you will find that JR was referring to bloggers on HIS blog.

      A truly pathetic post

  7. LordBlagger
    Posted November 10, 2016 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    I became, for example, a fan of much of Mr Brown’s tax policy.

    =============

    So are you a fan of his debts?

    http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160105160709/http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171766_263808.pdf

    In summary, the estimates in the new supplementary table indicate a total Government pension obligation, at the end of December 2010, of £5.01 trillion,

    ==============

    This is the core problem, one which politicians want to hide.

    Now look at spending

    http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/

    30% of taxes are going on the debts that politicians have run up.

    Ever wonder why politicians round the world are getting the axe? It’s because of what they have done.

    Ever wonder why there is wealth inequality? People paid the state for their old age, politicians spent the lot leaving massive debts.

    That’s why politicians are getting the chop. With the EU we got rid of two layers.

    Now to move on down the hierarchy.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 11, 2016 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      The debts they have run up with endless damaging waste. This while largely delivering dross, dreadful infrastructure, poor services like the NHS/Schools, producing endless red tape and encouraging the feckless and indeed criminal.

      • Mitchel
        Posted November 11, 2016 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        But,my dear LL,waste generates GDP and when your stumped for other ways to generate it and GDP is mystically equated to wealth you go for it.

    • Know-dice
      Posted November 11, 2016 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      “Now to move on down the hierarchy.”

      Absolutely…one step at a time.

      • Mitchel
        Posted November 11, 2016 at 11:11 am | Permalink

        Of course.That is why the revolution has been met with a fierce counter-revolution that may turn into a civil war as such things have a habit of doing.

    • a
      Posted November 11, 2016 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Those numbers don’t exist in reality. They assume the government accounts are the same as a household, they are not. But, politicians want you to think that way, its called the “noble lie”.

      Look at the WGA key facts and figures at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/445748/PU1786_WGA_summary_report.pdf

      This is the government accounts presented to IFRS rules the same system as Tesco, M&S, BP etc use. You will see that in private sector terms the government is flat broke and has been for decades but is still trading.

      That’s the beauty of being the currency issuer, you never run out of your own money. There is no debt the currency issuer can’t pay in his own currency.

      • stred
        Posted November 11, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        They just run out of other people’s money.

      • Mitchel
        Posted November 11, 2016 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        Sure in a hermetically sealed autarkic economy but keep on believing that and keep on issuing it to pay your debts when you import a large proportion of your basics like food and energy and at some stage you will end up with toilet paper and a surge in demand for wheelbarrows-or whatever the digital equivalent is.

      • A different Simon
        Posted November 11, 2016 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        Yes , you are right .

        Civilisations even 4,000 years ago were familiar with debt because as agrarian communities , they didn’t have anything to pay with until the harvest arrived .

        It has been known for more than 4,000 years that debts grow faster than people can pay them . I wish some on this site would learn that .

        Consequently , civilisations up until the time of The Roman’s had all sorts of mechanisms for cancelling debt .

        Was the Roman attitude to debt an improvement ? No . The Romans did some great things but they were fast buck merchants . They farmed so intensively that topsoil erosion lead to silting up of estuaries 2,000 years ago . They had financial needs to start wars .

        Now all we have are mechanisms for protecting the creditor even when this means that an entire countries assets are taken by the creditors and the populace put in bondage .

        • Mitchel
          Posted November 11, 2016 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

          When the Byzantines lost control of Egypt to the Arabs in the 7th century,they lost their bread basket-and it was the end of the free bread dole to the citizens of Constantinople.

          It caused a few riots but eventually they learned to live with it.Something similar will no doubt happen in the EU when the EU loses the British contribution.

          • Mitchel
            Posted November 11, 2016 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

            Likewise when the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth lost control of the fertile grain producing plains of what we now call Ukraine in the 17th century(Russia re-conquered them),their poorer citizens had to go back to eating potatoes!

      • Gary
        Posted November 11, 2016 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        The govt eventually runs out of VALUE of its own money.

        The govt is not like a household but the endpoint amounts to the same. The govt goes bust in a hyperinflation ie. nobody will touch the money, the household simply runs out of money.

  8. zorro
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    John, your comment in the third paragraph about bringing a court case against the result brought a smile to my face as I had been thinking the same thing myself and was half expecting the QT panel to suggest it……

    A quite extraordinary program in its vitriol and misquoting of Trump, and particularly by the almost hysterical Professor of American literature who was beside herself with latent fury. However, the three anti Trump contributors really demonstrate why the ‘experts’ and pollsters get things wrong. They just don’t listen to people and most definitely when they don’t agree with you or are not on message or conform to the politically correct views which they deem to be the only valid arguments….. I seriously wonder about the professionalism of those who conduct the opinion polls and where they canvas. Ultimately, it is self defeating as they must lull candidates into a false sense of security…… Hubris can be a wonderful thing ?……

    However, the vote in DC (political capital) personified the issue in USA for me….. 93% for Hillary Clinton….. DRAIN THE SWAMP.

    zorro

    • stred
      Posted November 11, 2016 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      Washington is built on a real swamp. Just outside Capitol Hill the poor inner city areas start and run down over the river. The place is 90% bureaucrat, banking and benefits. London is the same to a lesser degree.

    • miami.mode
      Posted November 11, 2016 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      Totally agree with you there, zorro. They seemed to concentrate on Trump’s wall (I did hear at one point that it was possibly only really a metaphorical wall meaning security on the border will be strengthened), Muslims and his perceived misogyny and missed the messages on draining the swamp, getting $billions back from offshore multinationals, increasing jobs and not sending American armed forces to sacrifice their lives protecting other nations’ borders.

      The whole western world is rebelling against the political elite who cosy up to big business and have a sense of entitlement to govern (all of ours from 1997) and the response from the politicos is to say that we are insufficiently educated to realise that they know best whereas the opposite is the truth.

      If, after Brexit, the EU starts to disintegrate, hopefully not in a bad way, then I will treasure the comment from an individual who said that it would not be the first time that the British working class had come to the rescue of Europe.

  9. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    I am watching BBC Question Time as I type. There is Mrs Balls and a Scottish SNP MP called oddly to my generation’s cognitive expectations Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh

    Maybe my TV Internet Provider has somehow increased the speed of transmission: maybe I have drunk, inadvertently, an enhanced vitamin solution. Of course I am speculating rhetorically. I am not imagining increased speed of utterances. I am not imagining absolute deafness of the Panel and the audience. They have fueled and built me a spaceship and launched me to farthest reaches of Arrogance.
    Which parallel universe have my compatriots entered?

    I…., and half the population of America alone, it seems, can hear Mr Trump.

    Paul Ryan, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, an enemy of Trump, said yesterday : “He ( Trump ) is the only one who can hear the voices out there” ( He meant persons faced with redundancy and unemployment ). Dumbly, he was on the very cusp of the Event Horizon without knowing it. Like a goldfish ohing the glass roundness of its world.
    Sometimes, humankind gets a “visitation” of sorts. A Churchill appears from the Backwoods of politics: A Monty seemingly inconsequential, jumps up and defeats our enemies . An Uncle Ho shoots from a little would-be nation that no-one can call him, even his enemies, anything but UNCLE Ho. A Mao Tsetung … a nobody… sleeping on a piece of concrete over a fire and drinking hot water instead of tea for tea was too expensive in his middle-class life marches a bit.

    If Trump is somehow selfish,somehow, he will walk straight out of the Oval Office never to return in any guise again. This guy can hear and talk to persons who thought they had gone deaf and dumb.
    It is embarrassing and humialating to hear an ex-barrister and Yvonne Cooper, of England, of our beautiful England ,Up North my paradise on earth display earwax enough to fill a midden.

  10. Augustyn
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    It seems likely to me that the reason the pollsters are getting things so very badly wrong is that they ask humans questions and that some of the humans tell the pollsters the exact opposite of their intentions. Simple. And a very good reason for anyone having a financial interest in polling organisations to get out pdq.

  11. treacle
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 1:55 am | Permalink

    It was always obvious that Mr Trump might win. As with the Scottish referendum and Brexit, a proportion of those with the unfashionable opinion were likely not to tell pollsters their real preference. Some of those who intended to vote No, Leave or Trump were likely to tell pollsters that they were going to vote Yes, Remain or Hillary. Yet politicians of all parties (Labour and the SNP, but also Cameron and Boris) were happy to heap abuse on Mr Trump and call him racist etc., just in order to appear politically correct and gain credit, they hoped, with left-wing voters. How could they have been so foolish? When Cameron attacked Trump as severely as he did, I thought that he would need to be replaced. You can’t have as the British Prime Minister a man who calls the American President “stupid” and claims that the whole country would unite against him if he ventured to set foot on British soil. So it is fortunate that Cameron has been replaced by Mrs May. But even she called Mr Trump’s words “divisive, unhelpful and wrong”. Why did our politicians damage our relations with the US, merely for the sake of some politically correct virtue signalling?

    • stred
      Posted November 11, 2016 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Boris probably insulted Donald for balance. He had already said Hillary reminded him of a mental nurse in a white coat advancing with the electrodes, or something similar.

    • rose
      Posted November 11, 2016 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      Why do our politicians bring 650,000 people a year into an overcrowded underhoused little island just for the sake of pc virtue signalling?

  12. ian
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    That because they only know neo con libs, they want to go out and some real people who do not give a s— about , EU up next, loving it hear, i am way out in front, left them for dead, how tax policy going, how about the banks in the EU, lovely, any companies who want to sell hear, pay me, if they sell hear i want tribute , the people want there treasury filled up,

  13. margaret
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 3:24 am | Permalink

    I hear and mostly agree with what you have said as I have been thinking along these lines also.I did listen to one commentator ( and I do apologise as her name escapes me ) who actually did say that the pollsters got it wrong and they should listen to the public. Jon Snow last night was being derogatory about Trump , focusing on the fact that reporters who misreport have been called bad people. This is not the way to go. The decision for the USA has been made . We need to keep our relationship amiable.

    You yourself John are more academic in your approach. You have been trained in this way ,whereas many of your fellow MP’s are blinkered to the bigger view and their own psyche can only see what they want.I noted a comment from Ireland’s bench earlier this week about “not wanting a dissertation.” when you spoke. I do not though, put all my eggs into the academics and intellectuals view of life as a more driven practical approach often accomplishes things more quickly, This is where the emotions of people and adrenaline driven survival underpins much of democracy.

    The media still have an extremely significant part to play in persuasion and tempering overly high emotions with sensible commentary and thought into what they say, reporting accurately , yet having the commonsense to realise that the words often spoken are the product of catchphrases and modernism’s which mean different things to different people. An example of this which springs to mind is the word which was used for appealing about fifteen years ago . Many were called ‘evil’ . Should this be used in it’s original sense and taken literally by those being introduced to the English language ,opposites would certainly take precedent.

  14. Mark B
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    I predicted the UK vote for Brexit correctly because I listened carefully to opinion outside London and Scotland.

    But not in Wokingham (Borough, not my constituency ed)who voted to remain.

    Or will they go off to the courts to try to block the decision?

    Nobody went to court to try and ‘block’ the decision, that is untrue. They went to court because they thought that Art.50 had to be debated. As the lady who brought the court action stated; “The Politicians lied !”

    The people called the political classes bluff. The political class was caught out because they failed to plan. Something that seems to happen far too often for my liking.

    I became, for example, a fan of much of Mr Brown’s tax policy.

    What, rob Peter to pay Paul, and then charge you a little more elsewhere and defer liabilities via PPP to your grandchildren. Not to forget stealing from peoples pensions. Yeah, great ideas those ! Made him, and only him, look like a financial whizz-kid with other peoples money and future. Still, he kept us out of the Euro so he wasn’t all bad. 🙂

    Reply My constituency was roughly evenly divided. It includes parts of West Berkshire and excludes around half of Wokingham borough.

    • Mark B
      Posted November 11, 2016 at 6:57 am | Permalink

      Ooops !

      Good morning.

    • zorro
      Posted November 11, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      I think that John was referring explicitly to his tax policy.

      zorro

  15. Roy Grainger
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Your powers of prediction are in good form today John because I just read an article in the Independent saying indeed that the US vote is advisory only and that the electoral college voters may decide not to back Trump, and so Clinton or an alternative Republican may be elected come January.

    Interesting that one of the few polls which got the result right was based on the poller asking people “Who are your neighbours voting for ?” to filter out people unwilling to admit their own preferences.

  16. Ian Wragg
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Politicians lie and the public are following their lead.
    The pollsters are in no way independent they are trying to influence the outcome.
    If you look at the 12 month graph of Brexit and US polls they are remarkably similar and entirely wrong.
    It is pseudo science dressed up to look respectable

  17. Antisthenes
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    One factor I believe was in play that made opinion polls wrong. The silent majority have woken up to the fact that the left can be particularly nasty if they do not get what they want and against anyone who challenges their ideology. So those who are inclined not to vote for their candidates when asked lie that they intend to. To avoid the trolls and vicious comments they may receive on social media. I believe their actions and rhetoric after not winning and election bears that out. As they also always wish to control the narrative they because pollsters are generally left leaning are able to slant the results so that they favour their candidate. Failing that they noise and spin out any news or information that they disapprove of. Shutting down debate by using words like racist and PC bears that out.

    In large part Clinton lost the election more than Trump won it. Not enough voters were prepared to hold their noses to vote for her. She may have been unfairly vilified but where there is smoke people tend to believe there is also fire. In any event for us a Clinton loss is our gain as long as he does not become too carried away with his threats on trade. He may well tackle the PC culture and allow debate to now happen on many things progressives have not allowed. On immigration, terrorism and climate change the major issues can with open scrutiny we can find sensible ways to tackle them. Many things like the dependency and entitlement culture that is so pervasive in our society he will not I suspect.

    Time will tell. We may be pleasantly surprised. At least even if he has some left leaning sympathies he is not a progressive and that will count for a lot.

  18. Leslie Singleton
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Shoo in, please Sir (as of cows in to a field)

  19. Bert Young
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Truth is it was the Clintons that lost the Presidential election not simply Hillary . The majority of Americans – as analysts have pointed out , are fed up with the established political system and want change . Those sentiments are also true here . People who have a real experience of life and have shown success in what they have done are far more likely to impress the voter than others who are “green” about their ears .

    Trump is not the type to bother himself with traditional issues ; he is used to dealing with tough opposition and with individuals who are tainted in diplomacy . He is focused and will drive his initiatives against all forms of bureaucracy and challenge . The UK s well placed to gain from his leadership providing Theresa shows a similar front .

  20. Anonymous
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Both Brexit and Trump were a rebellion against Political Correctness.

    Guess what ?

    Political Correctness intimidates people into holding their tongues or telling lies about how they really think.

  21. Iain Gill
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    They cannot see it because they don’t have people like me in the mix. And they fail to properly engage with and understand the breadth of people. The are dominated by their own self selected small cliques.

    The political journalistic elite have decided a lot of things over which there is little disagreement between the main parties with which the silent majority disagree.

  22. NA
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    They get it wrong due to the ‘shy voter’ phenomenon, that is people to ashamed to say they are voting in the opposite way than all the media propaganda. It is a phenomenon caused by the social conditioning of the Left wing MSM. It will continue until such social conditioning stops. Which would mean an unbiased media.

    • Mitchel
      Posted November 11, 2016 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      unbiased media?Impossible….but counter-balancing biases have emerged through the plethora of alternative media.You can now choose which truth you want to hear.

    • rose
      Posted November 11, 2016 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think they are ashamed. They know the intolerance is such that they could be sacked or at least not promoted, and in extreme cases beaten up. Look at the violence across US cities now. Assaults being hushed up in the MSM. This is not shame. It is apprehension and for good reason. Similarly, people used not to put Conservative posters up for fear of bricks through windows etc. Socialists and Liberals have nothing to fear – until now, when certain Socialists are getting it from their own side, but not to the same extent.

  23. Stephen Berry
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    JR: “Why do so many commentators and pollsters keep getting it wrong?

    These are in fact two separate questions with the first part easy. The commentators by and large are somewhat left of centre and simply reflect their own views and wishes in their forecasts. Before we get too high and mighty about this, we should be aware that part of the human condition is to mistake wishes for reality. It needs to be guarded against.

    The second part is harder. Now it may be true that pollsters are also mostly left of centre in their views, but they also have an incentive to make correct electoral predictions to bring in further business for their firms. At the general election of 2015, the June referendum and now the American election, the pollsters have got it spectacularly wrong.
    I certainly don’t have a full answer, but here are some suggestions:

    1. The last few years have seen remarkable political change and turbulence in the Western world and there is more to come. Pollsters’ models may have difficulty accommodating rapid change.

    2. It is said that many people who don’t normally vote turned out for Brexit and Trump. Pollsters must project a percentage of non-voters in their predictions and a mistake here could easily mean a few percentage points in a particular direction.

    3. I heard it said that a number of the Trump voters are simply alienated by the politically correct mainstream media. When asked by anyone in ‘officialdom’ how they voted, they simply refused to say.

  24. Mactheknife
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    After the UK GE where the pollsters got it spectacularly wrong they embarked on an investigation. So far as I can see from the report they have discounted “shy Tories” and are veering towards weighting issues and the different methodologies of phone or internet creating the errors.
    However I have asked one particular polling organisation why at the UK GE, Brexit vote and US GE, all the polls leaned towards the left wing parties or groups. It’s the elephant in the room which none of their chin stroking ever considers. Needless to say there was no answer, in fact they didn’t even post the question in the comments.
    Doesn’t this really answer all our questions ? It seems there is an inbuilt bias towards the left and if this is the case it seems to me more to do with the epistemological stance of the polling organisation and how it develops its methods rather than the voters providing the wrong information.

  25. NA
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Lets just reflect a moment at the mess the current UK political class and media have got us in. We have the media and political class all hostile to the US president, former UK PMs who now cannot even meet the new US president thanks to their disgraceful politically correct posturing. All done at a time where we have left the EU and needed good relations with America. The only solution I can see if for the BBC to immediately admit it is out of touch and disband (and for Cameron to make a televised apology).

  26. Dr Dan H.
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    As a former biologist, for whom statistics was a necessary part of my job, I think there’s a fairly simple explanation for why the pundits and pollsters got the results wrong: poor sampling.

    To accurately measure anything on a population scale, a statistician is forced to take samples of that population. To make the prediction accurate, the samples have to be representative of that population, and large enough that pure dumb chance won’t skew the results (the Poisson Distribution is a good mathematical way of deciding how big the sample must be). When sampling human opinions, further things must be taken into consideration, namely the respondents lying to the person doing the questioning, or something about the person doing the questioning forcing the person to alter their answers.

    To take a silly example, penis size of humans is often quoted in various media, and various metrics are used. Measurements taken by medical professionals are invariably smaller than self-reported values, and the reasons for this are the biases detailed above.

    I think that in both the Brexit poll and the US election, the sample sizes were too small, and too many people either lied to the data collectors or dropped out of the survey. These polls were both fairly close-run things, and sampling bias alone could account for the pollsters’ inaccuracies.

  27. Chris
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    It would appear that the pollsters got it wrong because they were not polling a representative sample, and they did not look at the right questions. Another commenter on this site made the excellent point that some pollsters have an agenda before they start, and that polls are used as tools to manipulate public opinion. So, it seems obvious that, in order to have as accurate a poll as possible, you have to have a pollster who really is independent and objective, and who employs common sense.

    Two independent pollsters who have predicted that last 5 elections before this one correctly claimed in September that Trump would win. They do not use the same models as the usual pollsters but instead use a bit of common sense. One of them adopts 13 categories to consider, of which the winner is likely to be the one who fulfils a specified number of categories. A google search of Professor Helmut Norpath and Professor Lichtman will provide further info as I have not been permitted to post the links apparently.

  28. A different Simon
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    It doesn’t help when vested interests tell Remainers , Clinton voters that they are more intelligent .

    I never thought they were serious and put it down to a case of having to reassure establishment voters fragile ego’s .

    Their education process seems to have instilled group-think more than an ability to think .

    If they are wrong on these issues , then there is a good chance they are wrong about a lot of other things which is bad news for everyone as they are in charge of so much .

    On many issues , they don’t even consult us . E.g. driverless cars . Has anyone asked the electorate whether they want them on their roads ? Has there even been a proper debate in parliament ?

    • Chris
      Posted November 11, 2016 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

      Yes, this push for driverless cars is quite extraordinary – no consultation, and just steamrollering it through, with lots of funding provided apparently, and a “this is what you shall have, get used to it” attitude.

      Can anyone shed any light on this?

  29. stred
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    My family have found me out when they caught me smiling when the map turned red. I have been advised to keep quiet about it when in polite company. But the dreadful truth may have slipped out. My Guardian- reading ex has texted from down under.’ I supposed you are pleased about the disaster (for humankind)’.

  30. Gary
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Because they are not reflecting opinion, but they are trying to inform and shape opinion. They use polls as propaganda, not as reflectors.

    You only had to look at the screaming bias of all the mainstream news outlets, backing Clinton no matter what.

    The people are seeing right through this nonsense now. They get uncensored news on the internet, or at least another opinion.

    The days of the oligarchs overarching control are numbered. I would be very worried , if I were them.

  31. Juliet
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I never trust ‘Opinion Polls’ and read between the lines of ‘Commentators’
    I listen to the noise, and go with instinct (what I hear, see, read)
    People say what people want to hear, and then they switch

    A Poll cannot bundle in a person anxieties, it make assumptions, at the last leg before a person votes, they can change their mind, and that’s a reflection that a Poll can sometimes predict an outcome but cannot control the outcome

  32. Original Richard
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    “Why do so many commentators and pollsters keep getting it wrong?”

    Because most of the media, and in particular the BBC in the UK, are controlled by bullying politically correct people who have curtailed free speech to such an extent that many voters dare not tell a pollster the truth, and certainly not into a TV camera.

    Thankfully, we still have secret (sort of) ballots although postal voting is making a mockery of secret ballots in some communities.

    • rose
      Posted November 11, 2016 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      They are secret for individuals but not for groups. In our city some years ago the Labour council threatened to punish the areas that had voted Conservative in the general election. After June 23rd this year there was a lot of bullying and abuse of old people who were said to have provided the backbone of the Brexit vote. Also people in our city were very clear which groups had voted how.

  33. fedupsoutherner
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    I was listening to Edwina Curry today on Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 and if ever someone was the best candidate to put people off the establishment then she is it!! The way she derided Farage was disgusting to say the least and the way she spoke about Trump might be enough to put us to the back of the queue again. I just wish some of our MP’s and people working within government depts. would start to talk positively about a relationship with Trump. Get over yourselves and start to work for the good of the UK. You are doing us no favours by keep deriding Farage or Trump. In my humble opinion Farage is a hero and would be of great use to us with Brexit on many fronts. I have never heard more obnoxious talk coming from people who should know better.

  34. Simon Platt
    Posted November 11, 2016 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    “I wonder if the next move of Mr Trump’s critics will be to claim the US election was just an advisory vote which does not entitle him to assume office as the wrong person won?”

    They’re ahead of you: see https://pjmedia.com/trending/2016/11/10/moveon-petition-asks-electoral-college-to-vote-hillary-clinton/

  35. Freeborn John
    Posted November 12, 2016 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    I was in the US for two weeks on business last month at a car manufacturer in the Detroit area. During the middle weekend I drove up to the Lake Michigan coast in the north west of the state and was struck by the election billboards I saw along the 200+ mile journey; many hundreds of them, 90% for Trump and the rest for two minor candidates (Johnson, Stein) and not a single one for Clinton. On the following Monday back in Detroit I described this to the locals I was working with saying I thought Michigan was a renowned ‘blue’ state and surely Trump could not win here. “Sure he can win” was the reply, “there are a lot of shy Trump supporters”. And I guess the shy Trump supporters came out of hiding from pollsters on Election Day and voted Trump along with all those with billboards in their front gardens, because Michigan ended up narrowly voting for Republican for the first time since 1988.

    I can’t explain the underlying reason why so many voted for Trump. I did detect ‘Mexico’ seemed somewhat unpopular with the Detroit auto company employees I was meeting. When I suggested the UK should join NAFTA they seemed keen on trade with the UK but not on NAFTA itself. I came away thinking US hostility to Mexico (with whom the UK already has Free trade via the EU/Mexico FTA) could be a bit of a fly-in-the-ointment for the UK seeking free trade with the US by joining NAFTA.

  36. lojolondon
    Posted November 13, 2016 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    John, I am very curious to hear that you supported some Gordon Brown policies? Low points in my memory are the splitting the BOE into 3, ‘light-touch’ regulation of banks, pre-announcing the sale of Britain’s gold reserves, deliberately decimating our oil reserves, taxing and thus destroying our pensions, continued over-spend whether revenues were good or bad, relentless tax increases on the middle-class, dishonest announcement of unpopular / damaging policies a year before they came into effect. I would be most enlightened to hear of any positive policies?

    Reply I was quite specific – 18% CGT, Entrepreneurs relief, and keeping Income Tax at top rate 40% as Chancellor

  37. lojolondon
    Posted November 13, 2016 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Democrats before Tuesday: Trump needs to accept the election results.
    Democrats after Tuesday: Trump is not my president.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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