Opinion polls in democratic societies

Date of publication: June 15, 1980

Author: David Butler

Abstract:

In 1945 on July 5th, the day of Britain's post-war general election the News Chronicle published a poll which said that the Conservatives would get 41 per cent of the vote and Labour would get 47 per cent. Now, everybody in Britain knew that Mr. Churchill was going to win the post-war election and everybody in Britain who saw that poll knew that it was one of these new-fangled gimmicks which was obviously wrong. And the News Chronicle itself said, "While we have no reason to disbelieve these poll figures, the British electoral system is such a lottery that you cannot in the least predict the outcome of the election from these polling figures."

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