OPINION6 May 2015

ELECTION BLOG: The countdown has begun


The election result will be as much a judgement on the politicians as the pollsters says Martin Boon.

So here we are within hours of the real election outcome being known, as opposed to the predicted outcome from the proliferation of final polls, which a few days out looks set to be conducted by 11 research agencies.

It’ll be quite a coup for the polling ‘winner’ among so many race competitors. We’ll also find out if praise or opprobrium will be heaped upon us. In a neck and neck race, I look forward to the media reaction towards polls that could easily appoint the wrong winner, despite (hopefully) being within normal margins of error.

One thing is for sure though, this election has been all about data. Surely it’s a good thing that the research industry remained front and centre in the face of competing data sources? Hell yeah, I suppose.

But I think as an industry we lacked a little sparkle. Sure we gave our rough diamonds a proper polish (some beautiful data visualisation efforts out there guys, even if some of them were completely incomprehensible), but something truly innovative to give to the world? I must have missed that.

In a previous blog I looked forward to seeing the new techniques pollsters would conjure, but I’m not sure I saw any. I accept some blame myself – I thought I had a brilliant new way of interpreting vote intention data using a cutting-edge industry innovation, but it bombed and won’t see the light of day. Maybe others, like me, tried a little too hard or expected a little too much.

Perhaps 2015’s legacy will simply be our ability to churn out voluminous amounts of data. Never mind the quality, feel the width? It could be worse, I suppose.

It’s not just been us though. Musings have been commonplace on how boring this campaign has been, evidenced by a perceived flat-lining in the polls. True, we’ve had no ‘Duffy moment’ or ‘Prescott punch’, but to me this has simply been an election as usual, rather than plumbing new depths of political desperation.

Just because the polls were flat doesn’t mean the politicians didn’t do their job well, it might just mean that the public really didn’t know which way to jump. At least I hope so, or Friday morning may be the start of a pretty uncomfortable ride for those of us who put our own, and by implication, our industry’s reputation on the line.

Martin Boon is director at ICM Unlimited