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There was one pollster who predicted a Conservative victory: Jim Messina

9 May 2015

3:50 PM

9 May 2015

3:50 PM

The shock election result has resulted in a lot of finger pointing. Why did the pollsters not see a Tory victory on the horizon? Was Labour deluded in thinking they had any chance of making it into government? Judging from conversations I’ve had with Conservatives, those inside the party weren’t particularly certain about getting the most seats either, never mind a majority. The leadership campaigns were even prepped for a contest soon after May 7.

But there was one man who did see a Tory victory coming: Jim Messina. The Obama guru and former White House deputy chief of staff was hired by the Tories for his data nuance and his substantial salary was clearly worth it. His firm Messina Quantitative Research provided provided accurate data from marginals throughout the campaign, which fed into Lynton Crosby’s campaign. According to Dan Balz in the Washington Post today, Messina’s internal data showed what all the British pollsters failed to report:

‘A week before the election, Messina’s internal projections showed the Tories on track to win 306 seats — far above any public poll at the time — though many races remained extremely close.

‘On the morning of the election, Messina delivered a document to Crosby projecting that the party would win 312 seats that night. By early that afternoon, based on additional calls, the number was raised to 319.

‘That ended up tracking almost precisely with the BBC’s projection, based on exit polls, of 316 seats — a prediction that was released as the polls closed and that produced shock waves of surprise.’

Messina’s final numbers must have been kept to a very senior level within the party, as Conservatives were briefing out right until the end that 290 seats would be a very good result for the party.

His record in British elections is certainly better than his rival and former colleague David Axelrod, who was hired by Ed Miliband on a salary of £300,000 to advise on messaging. Andrew Pierce reveals in today’s Daily Mail that Axelrod was behind some of the worst decisions by the Miliband campaign: the 8ft stone engraved with pledges, the omnipresent lectern at every speech and Miliband’s uneasy habit of staring down the lens during TV debates. The American adviser took to Twitter to shoulder the blame elsewhere:

The Tories’ choice to hire a data man vs. Labour’s decision to pick a messaging guru appears to have been one of the decisions that swung the election in David Cameron’s favour. Although some would argue Labour did have a consistent message — thanks to Axelrod —  it was one that was overwhelmingly rejected by the British electorate.

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