In Liberal Democrat Newswire #64 I wrote:
Saving a sudden invasion of elastic eating alien microbes which cause an outbreak of wardrobe malfunctions during Returning Officer results announcements, the most embarrassing result – for the media and most political pundits – will be if the pollster who is usually right at election time is right again.
ICM, the pollster with consistent form over multiple general elections, has painted a pretty clear and consistent picture: the Conservatives ahead in the polls by a few points since mid-February. Nor are they they only pollster to have painted such a picture of a Conservative lead: four pollsters have over the last two months (ICM, Ashcroft, ComRes phone and Opinium).
That’s very different from the media’s narrative of the campaign. Yet if ICM and the supporting trio turn out to be right, why would it be a surprise that the pollster with form was right again? With hindsight everyone will say it was obvious and wonder why they didn’t think it before.
It looks like that was rather an understatement. ICM – until, ironically, their final poll – was giving a clue about what was really going on during the election, but the results so far make even those hints look a pale imitation of reality. Not only for the Liberal Democrats, but certainly very painfully for the Liberal Democrats.
Many great MPs are losing their seats tonight, despite having had not only the party’s own constituency polling but also Lord Ashcroft’s polls too, suggest much, much better pictures in their constituencies. Both the talk of Labour’s ground campaign operation and of the power of Liberal Democrat incumbency look to have been hugely over-stated.
There will be many lessons to pick over in the next few days, weeks and months – and much sorrow to share about many of the results.