Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Sea level rising faster without causing problems | Main | Cameron's ruddy duck »

Voters hiding in deep ocean - Josh 326

One of the main things we learned from the recent UK General Election was that the forecasters got it catastrophically wrong - catastrophic in that the pollsters reputations are now in shreds. The collective narrative was that it had to be a hung parliament, nothing else was possible - even Nate Silver agreed so it had to be true.

Yet how wrong they were.

Not everyone was wrong - Dan Hodges got it about right, as did Janet Daley, and I am sure there were others.

It is horriblly like that other consensus - the one that always has to be 97% and which we all know is also catastrophically wrong. 

H/t to Paul Matthews whose excellent blog post has the reference to voters hiding in the deep ocean.

Cartoons by Josh

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (38)

Brilliant! If only they were dragging the green blob, and it's crap.

If the political pundits consensus was out by 10%, it must get scary for the people relying on a consensus distorted by fabrication, in the minds of those who see falsification as part of scientivism, especially as some have been recognised for their achievements.

May 11, 2015 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The polls may not be perfect but they're the best tool we have in predicting voters' behaviour.

According to computer models, the predictions were actually very accurate. Models predict that around 15% of Conservative back-benchers will vote with Labour, resulting in a dead heat of 282 votes each for both the Government and the Opposition.

So there!

May 11, 2015 at 4:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Dawkins

Not sure the the polls were wrong about UKIP though were they? I saw final polls of 13% to UKIP, which was pretty much on the money.

May 11, 2015 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

> I saw final polls of 13% to UKIP, which was pretty much on the money.

The devil is in the detail. Predicting the percentages and predicting the number of seats that translates into are 2 completely different things.

Kind of like predicting the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and predicting the temperature.

May 11, 2015 at 4:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

...The collective narrative was that it had to be a hung parliament, nothing else was possible - even Nate Silver agreed so it had to be true....</>

Yes. That is what it would have been, if it hadn't been for Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP.

In a hung parliament, a big block of seats allows you to be Kingmaker. And that's what the SNP went for. They spread Scotland with speeches saying that the hated English were oppressors, that the time had come to make them pay, and that they were going to take all the money from England to give to Scotland. This went down terribly well with the Scots - they got nearly every seat.

Where it didn't play well was with the English. The SNP ignored them - the SNP were fighting no seats in England. They just assumed that the polls were right, that Tory and Labour were neck and neck, and that they would move in to provide a Scotland-friendly SNP/Labour coalition. But that threat frightened the English - as well it might. The result was that Liberals held their noses and voted Conservative. So did a lot of UKIPers. Looking on the blogs, even some Labour supporters held or switched their votes - expecting all the money that they might get to go to Scotland.

Net result - the Scots won their battle gloriously, then found that they had shot themselves in the foot. It was ever thus...

May 11, 2015 at 5:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Global warmists are relying on the first consensus past the post system, and see no reason to change their mindset, due to factual evidence.

May 11, 2015 at 5:20 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Dodgy Geezer, and now many are using that effect as proof the English hate the Scottish. We voted against a political force, not a racial one. In reality it was a compliment. We could see that a strong Salmond and Sturgeon would dominate a weak, needy Miliband. Nicola was probably the best politician in the election. Nick Clegg was probably the nicest politician which is an oxymoron. The Lib Dems lost as much because they might have formed a future coalition with Labour as the one they had formed with the Conservatives.

May 11, 2015 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Dodgy Geezer, do remind me please, what is a Liberal these days?

May 11, 2015 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Dan Hodges didn't get everything right, though, because this is what he said of UKIP:

"It’s clear that Ukip will poll below, (possibly well below), double figures next week. But let’s be generous. Let’s say they drop from 14 per cent to 10 per cent."

In fact they got 12.6%, definitely not below or well below double figures.

May 11, 2015 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered Commenterpeartreefruiting

The YouGov exit poll of 20,000 voters was the most strikingly inept of all predicting 31 LibDem seats - nearly 4 times the actual number.

May 11, 2015 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Anyone else have lefty friends who are totally losing the plot on Facebook and Twitter?

It's a tragic mix of whining and schoolboy "jokes" about the winning politicians. They don't see just how pathetic they look to an onlooker.

May 11, 2015 at 6:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Just a word of praise for Josh - who as usual has hit the nail on the head with the expressions of the political leaders...

Especially David Cameron's ever-so-slightly smug 'Bye, guys.....'

May 11, 2015 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

He needs to add Nige coming back on from the left... although he should flip the drawing so that Nigel can come on from the right.

May 11, 2015 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Brilliant, Josh! You wouldn't think that 2 of the 3 sad, defeated characters on the right of the picture actually increased their party's % share of the vote by more than the smarmy winner increased his party's share. But they did.

May 11, 2015 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterColdish

the secretary of greenery went from Amber to Redd?

May 11, 2015 at 6:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterVenusNotWarmerDueToCO2

For a laugh, listen to The Vote Now Show with fore knowledge of the result. However, if you can't stand the full series, try this bit by John Finnemore at 14:25

The Cameron rant might ring a few bells.

May 11, 2015 at 6:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2


... Nicola was probably the best politician in the election. Nick Clegg was probably the nicest politician which is an oxymoron. The Lib Dems lost as much because they might have formed a future coalition with Labour as the one they had formed with the Conservatives....

Nicola was undoubtedly the strongest politician. But it was simply a matter of maths. This is what the polls said: The SNP had around 50 seats guaranteed - no competition. Down in England both Conservatives and Labour had 250-280. The Liberals might have 40?

SNP plus Labour is a good bet for a majority - SNP plus Liberals is less so. Similarly Conservative plus Liberals.. Essentially, with a hung parliament, the SNP are going to be kingmakers, not the Liberals. And the SNP will only go with Labour. So a Liberal's choice is easy - stay voting Liberal and get Labour/SNP, or switch to Conservative and get Conservative. That's what they did, which is why there aren't any Liberals any more...

May 11, 2015 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

You may joke, but as we speak, ARGO is being retasked to search for missing Labour voters in the deep ocean while extrapolation of data from Scotland up to the Arctic is expected to show higher than expected numbers of Labour voters trapped in the arctic who doubtless couldn't make it to the poll.

May 11, 2015 at 7:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveJR

Katie Hopkins called it right.

May 11, 2015 at 7:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterDocBud

DaveJR, I thought the Josh cartoon would be the funniest thing I saw today, until I read your comment.

P.S. Many thanks, Josh, for both the cartoon and the link.

May 11, 2015 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterOwen Morgan

The cartoon is not up to date anymore, our Nige is back.

[J: You're right! Might need an update, but then maybe he's just off to Scotland to see how to translate votes into seats]

May 11, 2015 at 8:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi

Did the polls predict what percentage of people would actually vote? If so did they get that correct? I can definitely believe in a vote against labour by many people if the polls were showing a possible Labour/SNP government, I could also see it potentially increasing the turnout from otherwise apathetic voters.

May 11, 2015 at 10:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

What has largely gone unnoticed is that another party has lost its figurehead.
Caroline Lucas got re-elected as a good constituency MP (as did Douglas Carswell) but there was a huge gulf between this well educated, "respectable", middle class woman and the rabble she formerly led.
Can we seriously regard Natalie Bennett as the leader of anything ?

May 11, 2015 at 11:28 PM | Unregistered Commentertoad

toad, I don't think she was elected before was she? The leader of a party doesn't have to be an MP. I think she may quietly resign in a few months. She didn't have the gift of the gab to make up for the Greens fantasy policies.

May 11, 2015 at 11:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Josh, you may be right and the header was 100% correct though ;)

May 12, 2015 at 12:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi

Let's model this process. I, a voter, am at home finishing dinner and preparing to spend time with my family. The phone rings. I answer. A robot introduces itself.

While I hold awaiting this process to switch to something simulating a conversation, I decide one important thing. I need revenge. I want the people stealing my time and attention punished. And I have the power to implement a small invisible penalty upon the offenders. All I have to do, is lie. Whatever they ask, I answer falsely. Y"es, "I lie, "I did see that ad." I don't watch Tv. "Yes" I lie again," I do agree it's a huge issue for me." Number 57 on my list approximately. "Yes" I lie "I will support that party and candidate," not. "Thank you for giving me this opportunity" I lie. "Goodbye"

I trust the buyers of polling services will eventually learn that lying about politics can be a two way street.

May 12, 2015 at 1:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterpouncer

An interesting example of the power of "consensus" at work is also revealed ..............

One Survation poll was very accurate – but was not published because it was so out of line with all the others!

Quote - "We had flagged that we were conducting this poll to the Daily Mirror as something we might share as an interesting check on our online vs our telephone methodology, but the results seemed so “out of line” with all the polling conducted by ourselves and our peers – what poll commentators would term an “outlier” – that I “chickened out” of publishing the figures – something I’m sure I’ll always regret."

So consensus discourages outliers and produces chickens. This is very effective in climatology where consensus discourages contrarians who are victimised into remaining silent ...........

May 12, 2015 at 8:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Thomson

em "The Polls are melting !", "The Polls are melting !" is the BBC-ecowarrior's frequent cry
.....see they are right sometimes :-)

May 12, 2015 at 8:33 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

My daughter agonised over whether to vote for Caroline, she even sent me, as a wind-up, photos of HER daughters helping to erect Lucas' publicity tent, on which the party wasn't mentioned.
But like many in Brighton she has suffered at the hands of the "Kitkat Regime" and finally voted LibDem thinking that they would be the ones most likely to support NHS funding.
The antics of multi-millionaire anti-capitalist Vivienne Westwood must have forced so many greens to question their party's direction.
I imagine Caroline will be happy to remain slightly aloof and enjoy the next 5 years as a popular constituency MP, like Douglas Carswell and Kate Hoey.

May 12, 2015 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered Commentertoad

Newsnight last night looked at the question of why the polls did so badly. Survation claimed there was just a late swing to the Tories. But an internal labour pollster said that their own private polls had shown they were behind for months. The "shy conservative" factor was also mentioned.

May 12, 2015 at 9:12 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

We got just over 20% in West Suffolk, which is pretty good considering -- our MP is the scrumptious Matthew Hancock who has just got a Cabinet post and used to be the Climate Minister. I flatter myself that they offered him Ed Davey's old job but he pleaded not fit for purpose as he knew I would give him no peace.

What will stir the solid Con voters from their complacency? If the pause continues and turns into cooling then the mainstream parties are going to need some pretty nifty footwork to slide out from under that, but these are politicians and nifty footwork is their stock in trade. I just hope that not too many of the old, the poor and the sick die because of the AGW nonsense before common-sense prevails.

I got into the political business because I want no-one to ask me what I did to stop the insanity of ... well, for example, pushing up energy prices for the benefit of rich landowners, prodding the Russians when we have the military capacity of the Flintstones, trusting the EU to look after our interests when they quite patently are stitching us up, letting dimbos like Ashton interfere in ME politics....

When someone in the future complains about some disaster and asks what I did to stop it, I can put my hand on my heart and tell them I did as much as many and much more than most.

When it hits the fan then it won't be my fault. That won't really make things easier to bear, but it'll be a crumb of comfort.


May 12, 2015 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterJulian Flood

Narrative first, evidence second. ie The Narrative cart driving the evidence horse : is one of the 8 common thread between UK election and climate stories.
– It’s probably how Newsfotainment biz works, identify a narrative (a good story) and collect the evidence that supports it. (By coincidence I'd already had that thought overnight)
- oh and it's SIMPLISTIC narrative vs COMPLEX reality

The other common factors
2. The EXTRAPOLATIONS away from primary evidence
: CO2 -> temp ->Climate catastrophe
: vote ->seats **

3. The FAKE CERTAINTY beyond evidence in these extrapolations
- Climate science is quoted with 'made up' certainty figs like '95% certain" and ""97% of scientists say"
- And see although the pollsters % predictions only once strayed out of the margin of error (In the Independent on Sunday)
yet when the media extrapolated that to SEATS they did it with CERTAINTY ..and I never saw them quote the increased margin of error.
** Note that Conservative percentages transfer to SEATS at a multiplier 20% better than Labour's (1.38x vs Labour’s 1.17x see my comment on Paul Matthews blog )

4. Groupthink BIAS : They tuned the MODELS against each other, instead of the real word.
ie when Survation's poll seemed at odds the others , they declined to publish it .

5. Faith in Experts – Cos the media never showed properly accounted regional seat predictions many of us discounted our instinct, thinking the media must have a higher level of expertise on tap.

6. No Turning Back : The Science is settled : Once the media accept a narrative it becomes so ingrained that they continue with it ie the BBCbods were convinced that "UKIP are racists who must be kept out, and that the SNP's Sturgeon was going to hold the reigns of power" Note how BBC radio agenda continued after the election as if Sturgeon did indeed win the balance of power.

7. Possible Data Cheating : It is not conspiracy theory to consider these scenarios.
That once people are wedded to a narrative, the actual data they collect can be dishonest.
e.g. I can design polls to get the answers I want. I can design polls to train opinion.
: I can choose to adjust/collect climate data in one way and not another,

I can choose to publish/hype some polls and not others. Both Labour & Conservative had different motives for this (that I outlined earlier on PN's blog)
: same goes for climate stories

May 12, 2015 at 9:41 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Just switched on Mathew Wright on Channel 5

Load of countries ban opinions for 48 hours before polling to stop tast minute tactical voting.

And turns out Peter Kelner head of YouGov opinion polling company is married to some labour Barroness ,so no influence there then.

May 12, 2015 at 9:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Dodgy Geezer
"They [SNP] spread Scotland with speeches saying that the hated English were oppressors, that the time had come to make them pay, and that they were going to take all the money from England to give to Scotland."

You are well-named! That was completely fabricated from start to finish. the SNP message was in fact anti-Tory, not anti-English. And they were only asking for more say on how they distribute the taxes actually raised in Scotland whether it was more or less than they get now. As was patiently explained to those who bother to listen, the SNP believe they can generate more growth in Scotland than those pessimistic numbers based on continued Tory dis-investment and de-industrialisation. They may be wrong but their record so far on real growth (ie not house price rises) is excellent. And yes, they thought that 100 billion earmarked for Trident, at a time when money is supposedly tight, could be better spent - can anyone seriously argue the opposite? If you want Trident then stick it up the Thames, not the Clyde and then see how many of you remain in favour of it.

May 12, 2015 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

@Julian Flood: Don't worry about the politicians & the scientivists. They will merely fall back on the well known & well used phrase, adjusting the specifics case dependent, "We were simply going on the best scientific information & advice available at the time!"

May 12, 2015 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

@JamesG said - "could be better spent "
- my different POV : Trident/defence spending just circulates locally cos the money is spent on UK stuff/wages and comes back to the gov mostly in taxes.
However if I give people massive tax cuts, it may be much more of a net drain as you might just save it or spend it foreign stuff and holidays.
- Other infrastructure like building more houses maybe a bit similar to Trident/defence spending ..however the UK already has 1 million empty heads homes.

May 12, 2015 at 10:05 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

@JulianFlood the UKIP candidate : Yes seems like it's still a middle-green goverment.
From a Climate/energy POV I was hoping UKIP's sound maths based climate/energy policy would tone down the popular Conservatives.
IT's like a crazy bus journey cos we can't sleep for fear of driver Cameron taking us to Green Lalaland aswell.

May 12, 2015 at 10:13 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Talking about False Certainty ..look at Roger Pielke, 05 MAY 2015

Bottom Line
My sense of the above is that Labour and Ed Miliband are in the drivers seat reagrdless of who is PM next week. While it is possible that the current coalition receives a mandate for another term, that seems unlikely. What seems more likely in order of my qualitative estimation is the following:
1. Cameron hangs on as PM over a minority government. It lasts somewhere between 2 weeks and 6 months before a second election of 2015.
2. Labour and the LibDems form a minority but new, stable coalition government.
His error seems to be the confidence in the pollster experts.

- Hey Paul Matthews is being modest cos he predicted this

May 07, 03:18:00 AM MDT
My guess is that the Conservatives will do a bit better than the polls are predicting, so the current coalition will cling on, supported by about 8 DUP and maybe 3-4 UKIPpers
.: thats better yjan the pollsters did. He underestimated the Lab/Con swing by 8 ie they got 16 more seats than he guessed.

Did Janet Daley really predict correctly ?..highlights

Are we on the inevitable verge of a stalemate .. could this be the case, even given the startling SNP threat to kidnap a Miliband government and hold it hostage ...Surely, this is very strange.
.. the threats by the SNP to “lock the Tories out of office” even if they win the largest number of seats, combined with their sneering boast that Ed Miliband “will have to change his tune” about making a deal with them after the election, has made English voters angrier than I can ever remember
..The numbers and the logic are clear and indisputable: Labour cannot win a clear majority. Ergo, a Miliband government will have to rely on the support of the SNP to pass any legislation.
.. Another thing that I know is that those who are very angry indeed about the march of imperial Scotland are going to be absolutely certain to vote
Seems like a call to arms, rather than predictive science ..However the result did not contradict her ..except in her minor prediction .."Maybe even the SNP will get a mild surprise"

PS I wonder if many SNP voters are naive people falling for the promise of "free stuff" ?

Frank Furedi in Spiked : "(in an era of you are) not allowed to say that’ .."It is likely that a significant section of the electorate told polling organisations what they believed they wanted to hear"

May 12, 2015 at 12:46 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>