Polling in 1979–83 and The Alliance

In short

“In the polls”: If a statement talks about a party’s vote intention share ‘in the polls’, then the claim should be accurate for averages of polls — not just one.

The past’s faulty guide

The splinter parliamentary grouping of breakaway Labour and Conservative MPs, called The Independent Group, are somewhat analogous to the Social Democrat Party established in 1981.

“In the polls”

Owen Jones, columnist for The Guardian, claimed that the SDP “reached 50.% in the polls”.

Anthony Wells shows the key events in that Parliament. (Graph: UK Polling Report)

Final polls

Using Mark Pack’s polling database, the five final polls (which included 8th June 1983 in their fieldwork) all showed the same share for the Alliance: 26%. As it happens, the Alliance’s share of votes cast in Great Britain was 26.0%.

Historically, this was a larger error. (Photo: NCRM 2015 Polling Enquiry)

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This blog looks at the use of statistics in Britain and beyond. It is written by RSS Statistical Ambassador and Chartered Statistician @anthonybmasters.

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