The polls in 2010: learning the lessons

Venue: Trafalgar Events, 8-9 Northumberland Street, London, WC2N 5DA

Date: Monday 22 November 2010

Chair: Lord Lipsey (Straight Statistics)

Opinion polls played a central role in the 2010 election campaign. Never before were so many polls conducted in the weeks immediately before polling day. The introduction of televised leadership debates spawned a new phenomenon, instant post-debate polls designed to gauge audience reaction to what they had just seen and heard.  And the discovery that the first of these debates was ‘won’ by Nick Clegg spawned a Liberal Democrat ‘surge’ in the regular polls that influenced much of the conduct and reporting of the remainder of the campaign.

In the event the Liberal Democrat surge failed to materialise – a fact first picked up a joint BBC/ITV/Sky exit poll that caused consternation when it suggested the Liberal Democrats would actually lose seats. But if that proved something of an embarrassment for the polling industry, at the same time the polls seemed finally to have shaken off an apparent pro-Labour bias dating back as far as 1987.

Designed as a follow-up to a joint NCRM/BPC event held in January, shortly before the election, this seminar will examine the methodologies implemented by the polls during the 2010 election, assess what appeared to work and what may have helped lead them astray, and consider what lessons should be learnt for the future.  



10.00 - 10.30   Registration

10.30 - 11.00   The Polls in 2010: Questions and Queries: John Curtice (Strathclyde University)

11.00 - 12.30    Methods and Modes

                         Lessons learned; a telephone pollster’s perspective: Simon Atkinson  (Ipsos MORI)

                         2010: the year internet polling come of age? Anthony Wells and Joe Twyman (YouGov)

                         Too Clever by Half? The Impact of Weighting and Adjustment: Nick Sparrow (formerly of ICM)

Lunch break

13.30 - 14.45    Did Respondents do what they said?

                          Measuring turnout - Who voted in 2010?: Paul Whiteley (Essex University)

                          Did people do what they said?  Martin Boon (ICM) and John Curtice (Strathclyde University)

Tea break

15.15 - 16.00     The Leader Debates

                           Polling the Leadership Debates - the role of the instant polls: Andrew Hawkins and Caroline Lawes (ComRes)

                           Response from Andrew Cooper (Populus)

16.00 - 16.45     The Exit Poll

                           How the Exit Poll got it (more or less) right: Stephen Fisher (Oxford University) and Jouni Kuha

                           (London School of Economics)

                           Response from Nick Moon (gfkNOP)

16.45 - 17.00      Final Discussion


Who is this event for?

Graduate students and academic staff with an interest in survey methodology and/or the study of voting behaviour/public opinion.  Research executives in survey organisations, including those engaged in political polling. Journalists and political bloggers who commission or have an interest in the results of political polling. Staff in political parties with responsibility for providing analysis of poll results to their organisations.