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UK Elections: Can exit polls be trusted? How accurate are they?

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The General Elections to the UK House of Commons has just concluded and exit polls indicate that the Labour Party and its Prime Ministerial candidate Keir Starmer are poised for a grand victory. One such exit poll has predicted that the Labour Party is expected to win 410 seats, well past the majority mark in a 650-member house. Often, exit polls across the world get it wrong. This was recently seen in the case of India when many of them predicted a landslide victory for the ruling party. It managed to win only narrowly. In the context of the UK election, one would wonder how reliable are these exit poll numbers and the predictions.

Exit poll reliability:

A polling method which has been engineered by academics David Firth and John Curtice is used by the authorities while analyzing the exit polls. It has been generally observed that the exit poll predictions in the UK have been right.

IPSOS Exit poll:

Let us look at one such exit poll by Ipsos which has been providing the exit poll numbers since 1997. These are their predictions since 1997:

1997- It was accurately predicted that the Labour Party under the leadership of Tony Blair would win the elections. He won and served as the PM.

2001- Once again, the exit poll predicted a comfortable victory for the Labour Party correctly. PM Tony Blair won and served for a second term.

2005- It rightly predicted that PM Tony Blair and his party will win a third term easily. PM Tony Blair resigned in 2007 and Gordon Brown served as the PM from 2007-2010. 2010- The exit poll predicted a hung parliament but under-estimated the number of seats the Conservatives would win. The Conservatives formed the government. David Cameron became the Prime Minister. 2015- The exit poll got it right. Various national surveys had predicted a hung parliament but the exit poll predicted a convincing victory for the Conservatives. David Cameron became the PM and served for about a year before Theresa May took over.

2017- Here the predictions were reversed and the exit poll prediction once again proved to be right. The national surveys indicated a comfortable victory for the Conservatives and the exit poll predicted a hung parliament. This victory was under the leadership of Theresa May and she served till 2019.

2019- The exit poll was accurate to the actual result in which the Conservatives won the election. The term from 2019 till the elections in 2024 saw three Prime Minister. Boris Johnson took over and was forced to resign. Elizabeth Truss took over and she was immediately replaced by Rishi Sunak who is the incumbent PM.


When did the David Firth and John Curtice’s model on exit polls were used for the first time?
Sir John Curtice created an exit poll model along with David Firth who is a statistician. This model was created in 2005.

What is the half way mark in the UK House of Commons?
The half way mark is 326 and the Labour Party is expected to win in over 410 seats, according to the exit poll. The ruling Conservatives are expected to win 131 seats.

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