Perfection and the opinion poll

May 12, 1995

Huw Richards's otherwise reasonable write-up of the French election (THES, May 5) contains the statement: "after getting their (opinion poll) findings as spectacularly wrong as their British counterparts in 1992, the (French) pollsters face some sort of credibility crisis".

The "spectacularly wrong" performance of the British polls in 1992 was a 4 per cent underestimate for the Conservatives and 5 per cent overestimated for Labour. Hardly "spectacularly wrong". Furthermore, if one voter in 200, i.e. a half of one per cent, had opted for the second party in their Conservative constituency instead of for the Conservatives, it would have resulted in a hung parliament. Again, hardly "spectacularly wrong".


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