Tag Archives: 2019

The Performance of the Polls in the 2019 European Election

All polling of elections is subject to many potential sources of error. The historical record at general elections indicates that there is a one in ten chance that an individual poll will over or underestimate a party’s support by more than four points.

These European Elections presented particular challenges. Not only did pollsters have to face the challenge of an election in which turnout was likely to be low (and in the event stood at 36.7%), but also of estimating the level of support for two new parties, one of which went on to come top of the poll.

The table below compares the estimates of BPC members’ polls whose fieldwork ended no earlier than three days before polling with that of the actual result — though in two instances fieldwork commenced more than a week before polling day.

It reveals that on average the polls overestimated support for Labour and underestimated that for the Liberal Democrats and the Greens. However, two polls produced estimates for Labour and the Liberal Democrats that were within a point of the eventual outcome, while one was spot on in its estimate for the Greens.

There was also a less marked tendency to overestimate support for the Conservatives and the Brexit Party, and in both these instances one poll was spot on in its (integer) estimate of party support.

The detailed council by council election results showed that turnout increased more in Remain-voting areas than in Leave-voting ones, suggesting that those who voted Remain were more likely to have voted than did those who voted Leave. Meanwhile, polling conducted by Opinium on polling day suggests that those who switched from voting Labour in 2017 to either the Liberal Democrats or the Greens were more likely than most voters to have made up their minds about how to vote in the last week of the campaign. These patterns may help to explain at least some of the average error in the polls on this occasion.

 ConLabLDBrexitGreenUKIPChange UKOtherMETHODSAMPLE SIZEFIELDWORK
Opinium121715387234Online2005May 17-20
YouGov713193712346Online3864May 19-21
Panelbase122515307335Online2033May 14-21
Kantar132415278454Online2316May 14-21
Ipsos MORI915203510336Telephone1527May 20-22
BMG Research121817358245Online1601May 20-22
Survation142412327436Online2029May 22
Average11.319.416.133.48.43.03.65.1 
Result9.114.120.331.612.13.33.46.1 
Difference2.25.3-4.21.8-3.7-0.30.2-1.0 

Note: Table is based on the outcome in Great Britain. The polls conducted by Opinium and Survation were conducted across the UK as a whole, but the figures for those polls quoted here are for respondents in Great Britain only.

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 2019

The Meeting was held at ORB on 5 March 2019

Present

  • Sir John Curtice, President
  • Nick Moon, Secretary/Treasurer
  • Simon Atkinson, Management Committee
  • Erica Harrison, ORB
  • Ivor Knox, Panelbase
  • Anthony Wells, YouGov
  • Gideon Skinner, Ipsos MORI
  • Adam Drummond, Opinium
  • Luke Taylor, Kantar Public
  • Damian Lyons Lowe, Survation
  • Gregor Jackson, ICM
  • Owen Thomas, Populus
  • Seb Wilde, Public First

1. Apologies for absence

There were no apologies for absence.

2. Minutes of the last AGM

The minutes were approved.

No matters arising not already on the agenda.

3. Officers’ reports

Financial report 

During 2018 we received £4,650 in subscription fees, covering both 2017 and 2018 subs as 2017 invoices were sent out with 2018 ones. There is still £500 in subscription fees due for 2018: both years from Panelbase and one year from Ipsos MORI.

Expenses during the year were £1,180.09, the two main components being £748 to the RSS for a meeting room and £353.99 for the website hosting and running.

The bank balance at the end of 2018 was £12,000.74.

With the current membership annual subscription income is £2,950.

Disclosure issues dealt with by the officers

Other than the usual small number of complaints about matters not within the BPC’s remit, there were no complaints about disclosure that required action from the Officers.

Membership applications dealt with by the officers

A record four new members were approved during the year: qriously, Hanbury Strategy, Deltapoll and Public First.

4. President’s report

Report had been distributed to members. There were no comments other than on matters covered elsewhere in the agenda.

5. Appointment of the officers

  • President
    NM nominated JC, SA seconded, elected nem con.
  • Secretary
    JC nominated NM, GJ seconded, elected nem con.
  • Management Committee member
    JC nominated SA, JT seconded, elected nem con.

6. House of Lords Committee

The President’s Report covered this in some detail and JC explained the various points in his report dealing with the actions suggested by the Committee and his proposals for dealing with them.

  1. Meeting agreed that we would have a section on the website on how to make a complaint, and also making clear what we can and can’t adjudicate on.
  2. Meeting agreed that we would write a spec for the things to be covered in a revised Journalists’ Guide. Once this is agreed by the membership we will either commission a professional writer to write it, or write it using internal resources. JT raised the point that it might have more credibility if it were written by a journalist. GS suggested Full Facts. The Statistics Ambassador for the RSS has volunteered to help, and he will be sent the outline for comment at an early stage. It was agreed that in future the BPC will have a link to each member’s methodology statement on their own website.
  3. The recommendation for a coordinated programme of training for journalists on polling could involve the BPC in considerable expense. One approach might be to approach University Schools of Journalism to offer lectures on polling. JT is already doing this in many places and is happy to do more. This only impacts on the journalists of tomorrow. GS suggested approaching The Lobby for training in opinion polls, though it was accepted that take-up may be low.
  4. The recommendation about polls declaring far more information about the amount and details of funding would raise very serious issues of client and member confidentiality and it was agreed that it would be inappropriate for the BPC to impose such a condition on members.
  5. We do already.
  6. It was accepted that members would not agree in any detail exactly what would constitute good or bad progress. JT suggested a very broad brush top-level guide to principles, and it was agreed that this might sit within the Journalists’ Guide.
  7. LT made the point that this would involve the BPC making pronouncements on things outside our remit, and might raise issues of why we do this but don’t police such things. It was agreed that this lay outside the remit of the BPC.
  8. See 7. Though the Journalists’ Guide, once revised, would perform a useful function here and we would offer to assist Ofcom etc if they wanted help in interpreting it further, while being mindful of the need to avoid going beyond our remit.
  9. See 7
  10. See 7

7. Treasury Select Committee

JC said Morgan Committee was closed as far as we were concerned at this stage. GJ raised the question of whether the fact that our response may have been seen as unsatisfactory by committee means there might be some come-back. JC felt this would depend on what came out of the discussions with the FCA.

8. Financial Conduct Authority

JC reported that whatever FCA decide it will be looking forward not looking back. They do not feel members have done anything wrong.

9. Proposed change to Rule 2.7

NM proposed that rule 2.7 should be changed from: 

However, in the event the results of a privately commissioned poll are made public by the organisation [its employees or agents] that commissioned the survey, such results will be deemed to have entered the public domain and procedures outlined above will be followed in respect of those findings.

to:

However, in the event the results of a privately commissioned poll are made public as a result of actions by the organisation [its employees or agents] that commissioned the survey, such results will be deemed to have entered the public domain and procedures outlined above will be followed in respect of those findings.

The amendment was agreed subject to organisations being able to object within 28 days of receiving the AGM minutes.

10. Any Other Business

JC urged members who have not done so to read the proposed revisions to the MRS Code of Conduct and if they feel there are any issues that might require a response from the BPC as opposed to individual company responses.

It was agreed that we probably can’t afford a complete redesign of our website, but that SA would obtain costs for updating it and making it more user-friendly.

JC raised the issue of making it possible to attend future AGMs by video link or at least phone.

JC also proposed a vote of thanks to ORB for hosting.