Why the 2015 UK General Election exit poll doesn’t surprise me

The exit poll suggests the mostly (if Clegg agrees with them) incumbent Tories are going to take many more seats in today’s general election than pre-election polls led us to believe.

But, I’m not surprised.

Numerous news sources have declared anywhere between 20–25% of voters in this election would be “undecided” voters who’d barely have an idea of who to vote for by the time they reached their polling stations. These are not conviction-based voters with clear reasons to vote Green, UKIP, SNP, or the rest.

Historically, when undecided voters make it into the booth, four things have been shown to matter:

  1. The chance a party has to win. This leaves us with the Tories and Labour. (Most people aren’t going to suddenly develop strong convictions to vote Green or UKIP on the day.)
  2. The leader of a party. Does the leader of a chosen party seem like a potential authoritative “world leader”? Love his mannerisms or not, almost every other party leader seems more authoritative than Miliband (with the exception of Clegg, perhaps).
  3. The economy and how “scared” people are of it. Let’s face it. The Tories have harmed many via their changes to welfare, but “the economy” in general is in a better, less panicked shape than when it came to power — the “fear” around 2009–2010 is easy to forget but was palpible at the time, and it isn’t there now. The last thing people remember about Labour’s economic performance is the financial crisis that happened under their watch (wiping out the memories of the amazing period of prosperity we enjoyed under Labour 1997–2007).
  4. Fear of change. Uncertain voters have shown time and time again that they will lean towards the status quo when other factors are taken out of account. The Conservatives hold an advantage here since, well, they’re already in power.

Now, of course, I get to wrap up sounding all authoritative and smug and clever here, but.. I just can’t do it.

Exit polls are not always right (otherwise they’d be the bloody result!) and they could easily be a load of bollocks this time as well, so let’s see how things shake out as the night progresses!

Interesting times, nonetheless..