Unravelling the May Poll

08/05/2015 By James Myring

8 May 2015

As a market researcher, General Elections are the one day every five years when people are actually interested in what you do for a living, and talking about sampling, response rates and weighting will actually make people interested rather than drive them away.

However it does seem to look as if the polls, to put it bluntly, got it wrong.  Labour and the Conservatives were neck and neck in the polls at around 34% each, whilst the actual results show a clear lead for the Conservatives with 37% of the vote compared to Labour’s 31%.

But there is more than one way to skin a cat…as researchers we don’t merely have the option of asking people how they would vote.  We can also ask them how others would vote.  This is the wisdom method.  ICM conducted a wisdom poll, and this put Tories on 35% and Labour on 32%.   Not quite the final outcome but correct on the key point of showing a clear gap between the two major parties.

Martin Boon, of ICM Unlimited, said “Conventional polling is saying that there is nothing to choose between the parties, whereas the hunch of the crowd continues to be that the Tories will have the edge. It will be fascinating to watch out tonight for whether the public can once again outsmart the professional pundits, as it did in 2010.”

Once again it seems the crowd was more or less right, at least for the two main parties.  Martin Boon deserves a lot of credit.

At BVA BDRC we put great store in the wisdom of crowds and have used the knowledge of the crowd to create a product called Brand Margin® that measures the financial value of brand names.  Brand Margin featured on the cover of Marketing Week in May 2014 and we have tracked the value of over 100 brands over two years.  For more details contact james.myring@bva-bdrc.com.

For more on this story, read 'Post-mortem for the pollsters' on Research Live.