The influence of opinion polls on the outcome of the May 1986 elections in The Netherlands

Date of publication: June 15, 1986

Author: Maurice de Hond

Abstract:

Over the past few years, the author has frequently been featured on radio and television, presenting and commenting on the results of political opinion polls. The polls of May 16th and 17th as conducted by Inter/View, as well as those organized by the Nipo and the NSS indicated that the CDA and the VVD stood a considerable chance of not being able to maintain the majority (less than 75 seats in parliament). In the election of May 21st, however, the governing coalition ended up with no less than 81 seats. This discrepancy could be attributed in its entirety to the results of the CDA, the party of the popular Prime-Minister Lubbers. For 11 of the 12 parties, the election results were virtually identical to Inter/View's minimum predictions. Only the CDA scored considerably higher than the predicted maximum. It can be demonstrated that these changes took place within the last few days before the election. Voters switched to the CDA from all other parties. The polls, published before the election, rank as one of the main factors that influenced these major changes. In particular the threat of the coalition losing their majority and Lubbers consequently being unable to "finish the job" (CDA's election slogan), produced these changes.

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