Pollgate: hindsight is wonderful but it doesn’t answer what went wrong

After the pre-election polls spectacularly failed to predict a Conservative majority, many are seriously asking why we should pay them any attention now. Their failure has shaken the public’s trust in numbers appearing in the media. Now Lord Foulkes, who was already displeased with the polls following the Scottish referendum, has resurrected his plan for a state-backed polling regulator.

How trustworthy are electronic voting systems in the US?

When you do your civic duty, and cast your vote for the various candidates and public propositions at an electronic voting machine, how confident are you that the results will be tabulated honestly?

If you feel less than sanguine about it and do a bit of the research to assuage your doubts, be prepared to feel even less confident afterwards. After years of casual research, the results I found have led me to file a lawsuit requesting access to the records needed to perform an audit myself.

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How much did the polls vary from the general election result?

In the run up to polling day earlier this month, a large number of opinion polls were carried out, all aiming to estimate the public’s voting intention. The exact wording of the questions posed by polling companies varied, as did their approaches to weighting the responses, but in essence they all attempted to estimate the share of the vote each major party in Great Britain would receive at the general election.

Was anyone right about the pre-election polls?

There has been much wailing and gnashing of blogs since the dismal performance of the pre-election polls. These had confidently and consistently predicted a rough tie in vote share between Labour and Conservative, but when the votes were counted the Conservatives had a 6.5% lead.

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Why the polls got it so wrong in the British election

If the opinion polls had proved accurate, we would have woken up on the morning of May 8 to a House of Commons in which the Labour Party had a chance to form a government. By the end of the day, the country would have had a new prime minister called Ed Miliband.