Politics

What’s happened to the polls since the 2015 UK election?

When British Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election for 8 June 2017, it seemed like a smart move politically. Her Conservative Party was riding high in the opinion polls, with a YouGov poll in the Times giving them 44%, a lead of 21 points over their nearest rivals, the Labour Party. Were an election to be held the next day (as surveys often suppose) May looked to be on course for a convincing win.

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Queen Elizabeth II - an extreme event monarch?

In 2016, Queen Elizabeth II entered the tenth decade of her life and cemented her position as the longest-reigning British monarch, with 65 years on the throne. Many of us will have enjoyed the festivities of her 90th birthday, but as a statistician there was more to the occasion than a cause for celebration. Instead, I wanted to use this landmark moment to explain an area of statistics that is well-suited to the study of Queen Elizabeth's reign: extreme value theory (EVT).

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The frequency of "America" in Trump's inaugural address

In “The frequency of 'America' in America” - from the October 2016 issue of Significance - we considered the increasing frequency with which the words “America” and “American” have been spoken and written by the first 44 presidents of the United States, specifically during their State of the Union (SOTU) addresses. President Obama ended his tenure with over 1.0% of all SOTU words spoken being “America” or “American”. The analysis showed that, over the lifespan of the United States, there has been a steady and exponential increase in the usage of these words, and we predicted that the next president would achieve a frequency of "America" of between 1.0% and 1.5%.

Slow-talking the inaugural

Before Donald Trump's inaugural speech on Friday, 20 January, I wondered whether he would turn the political world upside down by delivering a high-energy improvised riff in the style of his campaign rallies. But no — his speech was scripted and read verbatim as written, although it did feature several of the signature lines from his rallies, as well as the first use of the word "carnage" in a presidential inaugural. 

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How wrong were the presidential polls and predictions?

On 14 July 2016 the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was polling seven points ahead of his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. A billionaire property developer who had never been elected to any office was beating the Secretary of State and former Senator for New York. If he could maintain those numbers, Trump would be in the White House by January 2017. As the campaign wore on, his support oscillated but never overtook Clinton for very long. Before dawn on polling day, 8 November, one modeller rated Trump’s chance of losing at over 99%.