I think that the experience of the last few years clearly shows that it’s high time we addressed the problem of polling. I would go so far as to say that it is regularly distorting the democratic process.
Let’s take a look at a few recent prominent examples:
The 2015 UK General Election
David Cameron was facing a Labour Party lead by Ed Miliband (remember them?) with an ascendent SNP. The talk was that the Tories were unlikely to win and the best they could expect was a minority government. At this time UKIP were riding high and and were snapping at Cameron’s heals.
All the polls were pointing to a hung parliament at best. So, believing he’d never have to actually do it, David Cameron promised a Referendum on our membership of the EU to buy off UKIP.
And then he won. Having won, he was forced to honour that reckless pledge to hold a referendum.
The EU Referendum
The pollsters assured us that the vote would go fairly comfortably to remain. In fact even on poll night, Cameron and Osborne (remember him?) were very confident of victory and in the early hours were actually seen celebrating.
And then they lost and the vote was to leave the EU.
The 2016 US Presidential Election
The polls pointed to a win by Hilary Clinton. And then the idiot Trump became president. Admittedly it was a choice between Dumb and Dumber, but Dumber did clearly win.
The 2017 UK General Election
Buoyed up by the polls, Theresa May felt confident of victory over a Labour Party lead by Jeremy Corbyn and went ahead and called a general election. Being so confident she ran a very poor campaign that took her voters for granted, but as we know although she won, her majority was drastically reduced and she now heads a weak government incapable of negotiating toughly with the EU over Brexit.
The culpability of Pollsters
The pollsters constantly publish the results of their polls, right up to the actual vote itself. But as all scientists know, by measuring anything you are going to change that thing in some way. People hear the results and react accordingly. In any election, a significant proportion of the voters are somewhat apathetic and lukewarm at best. They hear that the result they favour is going to happen anyway and thus they don’t bother to go out and vote.
So, taking the above recent examples, Cameron recklessly promised a referendum, partly on the totally inaccurate polls – result: The EU Referendum.
Listening to the polls, many relaxed supporters of ‘Remain’ probably didn’t bother to vote – result: we voted to Leave.
Listening to the pollsters, in the 2016 Presidential Election many half-hearted Democratic supporters probably didn’t bother to vote (admittedly the US electoral system also played a part) – result: the idiot Trump became President.
Finally, listening to the polls, the Tories came up with policies that took their voters for granted – result: a weak and wounded government, unable to even properly negotiate with the likes of Jean Claude Juncker, the ex-president of an apology for a country that most people only ever associate with being a pop radio station.
So, to sum up, partly thanks to the pollsters we have an idiot in the White House, a ruined and weak government under Theresa May and Britain facing Brexit that’s being negotiated by a divided and weak Tory Party.
Time to restrict the Pollsters
Over the past few years they have been proved wrong time and time again. So, I say let’s make it illegal to publish the results of any poll within one month of an election.