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International Journal of Market Research February 2013

Public Affairs

Predecting elections. A "Wisdom of crowds" approach

Opinion polls are the currency of politics. They are used by media organisations to evaluate the performance of governments, and by governments and political parties to test the policies that shape manifestos and reform agendas. But opinion polls all rely on one thing – asking people how they themselves intend to vote – and, too often, classical opinion research techniques fail to confront the issues that underpin inaccuracy. In the UK and in many other countries around the world, their performance over the past 20 years has ranged from excellent to disastrous.