BBC BLOGS - Nick Robinson's Newslog
« Previous | Main | Next »

Exit poll guarantees

Nick Robinson | 22:01 UK time, Thursday, 6 May 2010

Drama. Excitement. Uncertainty.

That is what our exit poll guarantees this election night.

If it's right the Conservatives are on the cusp of power - without a majority but able on the basis of a deal or, more likely, a series of ad hoc deals to govern as a minority government.

If it's just a little wrong - and, of course, it is only a poll - then it is possible either that the Conservatives have a majority or that Gordon Brown attempts to stay in power at the head of a coalition government with the Lib Dems.

The exit poll projection that will surprise most people is for the Liberal Democrats to lose seats. If, in fact, they make gains from Labour and/or the Tories that will help determine who makes it to Number 10.

The story of this night is likely to be that no single uniform national trend predicts the outcome in every seat so you may be in for a very late night indeed.


  • Comment number 1.

    Expect labour to do better than that exit poll because it is much cleverer at getting the postal votes out.

  • Comment number 2.

    Nick Robinson:

    Just saw the Exit Polls and, the night guarantees a night of excitement, drama and other nice terms of endearment....


  • Comment number 3.

    Mr Robinson, what is the figure the Tories need to have a majority if Sinn Fein do not take their seats?

  • Comment number 4.

    What's the percentages according to the exit polls?

  • Comment number 5.

    If (as predicted) a hung Parliament means the Tories are the largest party, yet are kept out of office by a Lib- Lab pact, this will show PRECISELY why coalition governments are a bad thing. It also shows why PR is not the solution.

    With PR, we would have hung parliaments for evermore - with the most popular party kept out of office by a conspiracy of the minorities.

  • Comment number 6.

    If the exit poll is roughly accurate, Lab 255 + Lib 59 = only 314. How could that coalition provide a stable govt?

  • Comment number 7.

    On this result there can't even be a majority lib-lab coalition. Even if that wasn't ever likely, it changes the negotiating positions.

  • Comment number 8.

    It is a night of drama and excitement. I think that it's interesting the number of people that have been unable to vote - someone turning up at Nick Clegg's house?

    Also - begs the question of the (probable) Lib Dem-Labour coalition. The compromise could indeed be electoral reform.

    David Miliband anyone?

  • Comment number 9.




  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    If the exit polls reflect the eventual result, then this is potentially good news. A balanced parliament could lead to a coalition government, or minority administration having to work for support; both of which might bring positive change in the way politics works. Fingers crossed...

  • Comment number 12.

    Why are you NOT giving the projected share of votes in you exit poll? This is very important for the legitimacy of any government in the current political environment.

    Tell us the whole truth as you currently know it please!

  • Comment number 13.

    I'd be very disappointed if the Liberal Democrats don't get a resonable amount of seats. Both Labour and the Conservatives need a serious wake-up call before they are allowed to get back into power. For the last 30 odd years both parties and their members have sleepwalked their way through their terms, issuing one "steamroller" policy after another and neither hearing nor caring for the experiences and problems of the people who they are supposed to represent.

    I personally experienced this attitude when I tried to raise a serious issue with my own MP, her lack of enthusiasim in raising my issue beyond what she was required to do (i.e simply passing on my letters to the DWP which only got a standard response), frankly showed she couldn't be any less interested.

    Swindon, Wilts

  • Comment number 14.

    Nick - just heard you say on TV that possible reason for large number of people unable to vote is that they may have turned up late. In my case (Liverpool Wavertree) it was that polling station ran out of ballot papers (for second time apparently). I arrived at 8:15pm to find long queue (50+) and election officials waiting delivery of second batch of extra ballot papers. They arrived at about 9pm. I voted at about 9:20pm. And even then I was only able to vote in general election, not council, because they had sent the council ballot papers for the wrong ward. When I left the station there was still a queue of perhaps 50-60 people waiting to vote.

  • Comment number 15.

    At what point in this results night do you and your colleagues, Nick, plan to start respecting the voters (and license payers) decision to elect a coalition by abandoning the pejorative term "hung parliament" that is so firmly tied to the failed Conservative campaign for an absolute majority?

  • Comment number 16.

    David must be very happy with the detail of these polls and the first result.

  • Comment number 17.

    Does the exit poll have any statistical validity if it was taken during "office" hours when the majority of workers were not visiting the polls?

  • Comment number 18.

    3. At 10:22pm on 06 May 2010, Philip Griffiths

    You at least have proven Nick is actually reading this blog.

  • Comment number 19.

    Assuming labour gets the vast, vast majority of postal votes, they have quite some interest in stalling voters in polling stations, forcing people to wait in line and now perhaps being denied to vote.

  • Comment number 20.

    It's been over an hour since you announced the seats forecast by the exit poll, but you still haven't told us what the associated share of the vote is. Please tell us!

  • Comment number 21.

    6. At 10:28pm on 06 May 2010, Ian wrote:
    If the exit poll is roughly accurate, Lab 255 + Lib 59 = only 314. How could that coalition provide a stable govt?


    It can't but neither will a 305 seat Conservative minority government since no one block of nationalists give enough to do a deal.

    If this turns out to be close which I still doubt will be the case then the only responsible thing to do for Cameron will be to form a coalition or quick deal with Clegg ready for the morning and get on with it.

    If he tried to struggle on with a minority government long enough to call another election he could precipitate some of the damage he warned of - he won't get my vote again if he sacrificed national interest for selfish party political gain by trying to force a second quick election.

  • Comment number 22.

    If this is how things pan out- do we get another Lib-Lab pact with Gordon falling on his sword and PR to follow?

  • Comment number 23.

    #6 Ian

    re a Lib-Lab coalition, you ask "How could that coalition provide a stable govt?"

    But how could ANY coalition that kept the most popular party out of office be stable? Or morally acceptable?

  • Comment number 24.

    It has been known for years that the polls close at 10pm. If you are not in by then then tough. once the doors shut at the pub you dont get served - same principle applies

  • Comment number 25.

    Re the close of polls...Electoral Commission guidance (polling station handbook) is clear. If you've got your ballot paper at 10pm you can carry on and vote. If you don't you can't. It doesn't matter whether you are in the polling station or not, it's about whether you have the ballot paper in your hand. Doors and everything must close/stop dead on 10pm.
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator](p17)

    Whether there should have been more staff is another matter

  • Comment number 26.

    How odd that, in your programme, representatives of a party that claims to to have won a mandate to govern are wildly talking up a crisis of confidence in the economy - misreporting the strange (and probably erroneous: market movements in the US, implying that Greek events are relevant to the UK, and talking menacingly of the gilt markets. That looks like the destructive punishment meted out by Tories' financier friends for electing Labour in the 1940s, 1960s, and 1970s.

    There have been no signs of market fears of a coalition result in the last weeks, despite markets usually reflecting every fear or rumour at the first opportunity.

  • Comment number 27.

    @#1 Econoce "Expect labour to do better than that exit poll because it is much cleverer at getting the postal votes out."

    You mean they're the primary benefactors of postal vote fraud?

  • Comment number 28.

    @9 I agree, we weren't given any real data at all - just guesses out of a very dodgy black box :-(

  • Comment number 29.

    Why aren't you publishing your exit poll - to express it purely in terms of parliamentary seats presents a gross mistatement of the real picture in terms of votes cast - what are the percentages, as we all know the number of seats won bears no relationship to votes cast under our electoral system.

  • Comment number 30.

    Ahh Hung Parliment, great let Gorden stay in power then he can finally be exposed for his econimic shorts comings. Check out US stocks!! Gorden used our money to prop up the banks, got us into debt doing it and now the banks are thanking us by saying we are in to much debt so crashing the markets!! Gorden always said he loved the city!!!!!

  • Comment number 31.

    My Poll Card states voting times 0700 until 2000 hours!
    That is 15hours to vote!!!!! Why are people not making it?

  • Comment number 32.

    So the Conservatives would place themselves in the hands of Ian Paisley's party in order to scrape a majority? And the men of Ulster are rubbing their hands in delight at the price they might extract. The extra money they would wish to take from the larger island whilst we try to cut the deficit fairly, using the worn-out excuse of the years of troubles for which Ulster politicians should have accepted much of the blame - is surely reason enough why such a coalition would a terminal error for David Cameron.

    But think too of Mr Paisley's other likely demands, please. What would such power for one side of the Ulster power balance mean for power-sharing there, and the civil peace there? What would being in the hands of a pentecostal, and highly homophobic religious party do for Cameron's shaky control over the unreformed body of a Conservative Party with an evangelical christian wing that is starkly at odds with the least religious country in Europe? A party that has been hit time and again the past weeks with evidence of his "modernised" policies not being actually supported by unreformed, and frankly homophobic and racist parliamentary candidates.

    Mr Cameron would be in an impossible position in such a coalition, and the most likely result would be a rapid change of party leadership, followed by a disintegration of the parliamentary Conservative Party.

  • Comment number 33.

    Are the BBC expecting David Cameron to be assassinated that they have a camera helicopter is greenhouse-gassing over his car at every move?

  • Comment number 34.

    Dear Nick Robinson
    About the voting fiasco up and down the country....all these things going wrong in one election when its not happened before...??? It all smacks of sabotage. Maybe the polling stations have had lots of youths or students turning up demanding to vote but who weren't actually entitled to but were just there to time waste/sabotage the system for genuine voters. There has been much vicious/ferocious anti-conservative mood from very young voters on social media sites. Could this anarchism have been harnassed at all to result in this polling station disorganisation? I find it unreal all these errors can solely be due to presiding officers' incompetence in one election when it hasn't happened before. Something fishy's been going on Nick.... Best wishes, Elmose

  • Comment number 35.

    How odd that the useless head of the Electoral Commission, desperately trying to pass the buck and turn the problem into an opportunity to change the law, is allowed by the studio panel to ignore that her commission has caused the polling station delays, despite it repeatedly being mentioned by polling station officials: the more rigorous rules on verifying voter identity.

    Voters have not been prepared for this, and so have turned up as before, and the polling stations, staffed by local councils under budget pressure, have not the increased the capacity to deal with the time-consuming verification issues. Indeed, often capacity has been reduced in anticipation that people would vote in other ways, or not vote at all.

  • Comment number 36.

    If according to the constitution Gordon Brown can remain as prime minister because he is the incumbent presumably assumes he has been elected as prime minister which he never has been ?

  • Comment number 37.

    Gordon Brown was never elected as prime minister by the country

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    Interesting to watch Mr Dimbleby and others calling for an enquiry at a few thousand people being denied the vote (with the police threatening to arrest those excluded) when I'm one of the millions of UK potential voters in constituencies where our votes are (or would be) completely disregarded because of "safe constituencies" and our first-past-the-post system.

    Channel Four's Dispatches this week did a very useful piece on how bad this is. As the showed in others, in this safe LibDem ward, in a constituency which is safe for a useless Labour MP, in a LibDem ruled city, there has been not a single piece of election literature, either national or local, not a single poster or loudspeaker vehicle, not a single phone call, canvasser or pollster. That shows nothing but contempt for voters.

    Our "democracy" is, in short, a disgrace. And that is what should really be enquired upon in a party-independent manner, because our political parties have, over many years, out of totally self-interest, either denied the need for reform or proposed only change that would favour them.

  • Comment number 40.

    Hi Nick, I'm a student in London.

    I live in Halls of Residence alongside 600 odd other students, many of whom (around 70%) are international students. i.e. not British.

    However, a lot of these students, despite not being British, received polling cards AND VOTED in the elections. How is this possible? Is this legal? I would love to hear the rules for such a situation.

    Many thanks

  • Comment number 41.

    You know we elect an MP to Parliament - not the Prime Minister. Therefore Gordon remains PM until that point he cannot command a majority in the new Parliament. The Queen will only invite Mr Cameron to form a government when the PM fails to command the confidence of the new Parliament.
    Please, please, please stop talking about the 'moral' right to form the next government. It's simply nonsense.

  • Comment number 42.

    Just seen the result for South Swindon. On the upside we HAVE got rid of Anne Snelgrove at last, who really was a complete waste of space (as I found out when I tried to enlist her help as my representative), but the Conservatives? Urghh....the Tory council has been ruining this town for years and frankly are in many's opinion pretty corrupt (hence all the booing at Robert Buckland). Is it me, or has no-one seem to have learnt anything?


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.