The results are finally in. After months of cross-country campaigning, electioneering and baseless speculation, it’s all over at long last.
One of the biggest surprises of what was frequently dubbed ‘the most unpredictable election ever’ was that all of the opinion polls which were used to gauge the mood of the public in the weeks before the election were completely and utterly wrong.
The moment the first exit poll came in at 10pm last night, it was clear that the race to number 10 which seemed too close to call in fact had an obvious winner.
The shock was palpable as panellists, analysts and experts observed that the Conservatives were apparently well on their way to a clear majority, storming ahead of Labour despite the fact that all previous signs had pointed to a neck-and-neck race that would come down to the wire.
It was such a surprise that the BBC spent some time speculating that the exit poll could be wrong.
After all, they said, it had happened before in 1992 and it could easily happen again.
Politicians and the media rely heavily on pre-election day polls from YouGov, Ipsos MORI and other organisations.
PR gurus and politicians use it as a vital resource to keep track of what we think, changing their election strategies accordingly, and the media report on how politicians have reacted to the polls.
When the Conservatives saw that their attacks on Miliband were making people more sympathetic towards him and, according to the polls, more likely to vote for him, they stopped.
No poll is ever 100% accurate, but the massive discrepancy between what the pre-vote polls suggested and the actual results will surely shake everyone’s faith in them.
If politicians feel they don’t have their finger on the pulse of the British public, how will they try to appeal to voters? What will the media fill time with if the polls they trust to report political news are grossly inaccurate?
Columnists will now just fill page after page with endless hypothetical nonsense – so at least one thing will stay the same.
It’ll be interesting to see how this affects the coverage of political news. It’s doubtful whether anyone will ever trust an opinion poll again.