Guest Blog Post – A Very Astute “Letter” Received From Emma Greaves, Administrator & Stay-At-Home Mum
“I saw Damian Lyons Lowe interviewed yesterday on Sky News and was prompted to write, as it was the first time anybody seems to have echoed what much of the general public believe about the polls having been wrong.”
The polls weren’t wrong. They accurately reflected the fact that a roughly equal proportion of people intended to vote Labour as intended to vote Conservative. People were not lying to pollsters but, in the last 2 to 3 days voter intention changed. People were turned by the polls themselves in fact which left a SNP-Labour coalition as the ‘inevitable’ outcome of the election.
People had a sense that the polls were probably about right and those poll results were used by much of the media in the final week to allow the public to engage in coalition speculation and to contemplate the various permutations possible.
The Guardian newspaper for example used the polls and predicted number of seats to offer a “Coalition Builder” online. This allowed readers to try differing party combinations in order to reach the magic 326 required. Dragging and dropping any combination into the box failed to form a majority government unless SNP and Labour were placed together. No other combination worked and cheekily trying to get the Greens, DUP and SNP to team up with the Tories resulted in sad faces all round and a “no match” message. People, knowing as they did that the polls seemed about right, changed their voting intention to actively avoid this outcome.
It seems Lib Dem supporters voted Conservative in my area for example even where a well liked and much respected Lib Dem MP stood to lose his seat and even when they had not particularly come around to the Conservative plans. They were fearful of the power the SNP would exert over Miliband. His reassurances meant nothing because the polls proved he would need to make concessions to keep the SNP on board with their 50+ seats. Sturgeon reiterated this. Others who believed Labour had managed to sell their message of economic responsibility feared all of that would be lost under the SNP influence. And many felt a coalition of the losers was unjust even if constitutionally legitimate. Some wanted a repeat of a Lib Dem – Conservative coalition but could not see how to vote to bring that about without risking a Labour-SNP one instead (which may be why the LibDems aren’t as doomed as they fear)
So the final polls were wrong because the initial polls were right. They gave people the information they needed to see the way the outcome was likely to go and, not liking that outcome, they chose to vote to change it in the last few days. Which is either very democratic indeed or not very democratic at all – I’m not sure.
I know you will be overwhelmed with messages and feedback but, in the midst of all the reviews and post mortems about what went wrong, I hoped that some feedback from someone completely outside the polling world might be of interest.
(Administrator and stay-at-home Mum)
Separately – Letters sent from David Cameron to know South West England based Lib Dem Supporters:
“Ed Miliband & The SNP will cost you…” ( Click image for higher resolution).