Will there be an election upset on Thursday?

12 min listen

Tomorrow, voters will head to the polling booth to cast their vote in the 2024 general election. Will there be any surprises in store? So far, there has been little movement when it comes to the gap in vote share between Labour and the Tories. However, there’s still plenty of uncertainty across the parties as to what the exit poll will say at 10 p.m. on Thursday night. James Heale speaks to Katy Balls and James Kanagasooriam, chief research officer at Focaldata.

Should we ban polls?

13 min listen

Some countries, like Canada and France, have bans on polling close to the election. Many figures on both sides of the campaign have been frustrated at how the media is consuming polling. What is a polling blackout, and why do some people want one? Megan McElroy speaks to Katy Balls and Chris Hopkins, polling expert and political research director at Savanta. Elsewhere, David Tennant has taken aim at Kemi Badenoch. She has, to little surprise, responded. With one week to go, does the electorate have any appetite for a culture war? 

The problem with polling

If you did an opinion poll about opinion polls, chances are most people would recognise the limitations of market research, offer some unfavourable views of pollsters and deride the uses to which their work is sometimes put. Yet if you asked politicians and the media whether polls deserve our attention, they would almost unanimously agree. Even after Brexit. Or Trump in 2016. Or the eye-popping poll earlier this month that found that one in five Brits support having a nationwide 10 p.m. curfew permanently in place, regardless of whether or not the pandemic is still raging. Polls have major shortcomings. Even if pollsters avoid leading questions and interview the perfect cross-section

A plea from a pollster: stop listening to the public

When Dominic Cummings released his WhatsApp messages with Boris Johnson earlier this month, perhaps the most alarming was the one where both men fretted about ‘trends in polls and lots of focus groups over the past 2 weeks’. The texts, dated 27 April 2020, also saw the Prime Minister asking about ‘tonight[‘s] focus group and polls’. At the heart of government, at the height of the pandemic, public health decisions and the Prime Minister’s thought process were clearly being steered heavily by a perceived negative public reaction. I am a pollster. There are many advantages in knowing what the public think. It ensures politicians do not let otherwise hidden resentments