Belfast Telegraph

General Election 2017: Polls may be wrong but 'golden rule' always applies

Have the polls already decided who will enter Number 10?
Have the polls already decided who will enter Number 10?

By Bill White

The polls are wrong! The polls are always wrong! You hear this all the time and yes the polling industry has had a rough few years since the polling ‘miss’ of the UK general election 2015.

However, changes have been made to polling methods since 2015, and this lead to the accuracy of the polls for the EU Referendum with 17 of the last 22 polls predicting a narrow Brexit win, with the other five polls predicting Remain on no more than 52%. So overall the polling said the EU Referendum was going to be a close result either way – and it was.

So what about this upcoming Westminster election? What are the key trends and poll questions to watch and track?

LucidTalk has always said that polls are never wrong if you follow the correct poll questions and trends. With UK Westminster elections - there are two key 'Golden Rule' questions to track: 

(a) Which party leader will make the best Prime Minister?

(b) Which political party would be best for the economy?

Remember no political party has ever won a UK election - since polling began in 1945 - with both these questions running against them and that includes both 1992 and 2015. In 2015 David Cameron was always ahead of Ed Miliband as 'best PM', and the Conservatives were always ahead of Labour on the economy - so the signs were there, and there was no need for any surprise at the result.

In the current results for these two 'Golden Rule' poll questions Theresa May and the Conservatives are currently comfortably ahead with both questions. However, it’s interesting to note that there is a relatively high number of 'don't knows' with both questions.

Plus, Theresa May and the Conservatives are comfortably ahead on both the golden rule poll questions, but with neither question do they score over 50%.

That maybe should be a bit concerning for the Conservatives, perhaps showing that they are probably on their way to a win, but perhaps not with the majority that they were hoping for.

So as we enter the last days of the campaign and the amount of polling data and results increase - yes, to even more than we are getting now - keep an eye out for the two golden rule poll questions. Follow them and you won’t go far wrong.


In every UK election since 1945 the winning party and leader has had both the ‘Golden Rule’ poll questions favourable to them approaching the election. That is both leadership and party-on-the-economy poll questions.

That is except for one election when the party/leader won with ONLY ONE of these questions favourable to them and the other against.

What election was it?

Answers to LucidTalk Facebook or Twitter, or email The winner will be presented with a bottle of wine at LucidTalk’s pre-election polling event on Monday June 5 at the Dark Horse in Belfast  from 6.15pm.

Bill White, is Managing Director of Belfast based LucidTalk Polling and Market Research. You can follow LucidTalk on Twitter at @LucidTalk.

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