General election results confound polling experts

Chancellor George Osborne said the pollsters would have 'a big post-mortem'. Picture: Getty
Chancellor George Osborne said the pollsters would have 'a big post-mortem'. Picture: Getty
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POLLSTERS will be facing serious questions after failing to predict the Conservative overall majority secured in a shock election victory.

ICM director Martin Boon appeared to sum up the mood among Britain’s pollsters, tweeting “oh s***” after the publication of the exit poll showing the Tories would be by far the largest party.

In the end, David Cameron’s party secured an overall majority, something even the exit poll of 22,000 voters at 141 polling stations did not detect.

But it was predictions of a neck and neck race, a near-balanced parliament, and a potential constitutional crisis following the General Election put forward by all major pollsters during the campaign that were proved drastically wrong.

Chancellor George Osborne said the pollsters would have “a big post-mortem” while Michelle Harrison, a pollster at TNS, said it had been a “mixed night for the polling community”.

Ms Harrison told Sky News: “The distribution of the seats may not be our greatest moment but in other areas I think we have done quite a good job.

“In general it’s a mixed night for polling community.

“If we look at the really big trends of the night - the fact the Scottish nationalists have eaten Labour alive in Scotland, we saw it coming. I don’t think even in our wildest dreams we expected it to be quite so momentous.

“If we look at the impact of coalition government on the Lib Dems again, we predicted that but I don’t think we imagined it would be quite so severe.

“So the issue now is whether or not we still are in hung Parliament territory or actually whether the Conservatives will just get over to a majority.”

Even the exit poll slightly miscalculated the results, predicting the Tories would end on 316 seats, with Labour on 239, the Lib Dems on 10 MPs, the SNP 58, Plaid Cymru four, Ukip two and the Greens two.

The Tories had 331 seats with Labour on 232.