Is BBB now in 18 or 12 places?

Article overview

To assess the large difference in the results of the Peil and Ipsos / EenVandaag measurements with regard to VVD and BBB, it is good to look at what happened four years ago with the VVD and FVD measurements in relation to the final election result for PS2019.

Read the full article: Does BBB now have 18 or 12 seats?

Reading time: 7 minutes

No prediction for future election results

Shortly after last week, my poll (Peil.nl) showed a result of 18 seats for BBB and 21 seats for VVD, EenVandaag published the Ipsos poll with 12 seats for BBB and 31 for VVD. A very big difference, which – rightly – is a big surprise.

At about the same time, attention was drawn to a scientific publication by Tom van der Meer et al, which shows, among other things, that preliminary opinion polls have no predictable value for an election result. Maarten Keulemans in Volkskrant wrote an article on Tuesday about the publication with the headline “Preliminary opinion polls are a bad prediction for the final election result”. It is important to realize that the survey is limited to the election to the House of Representatives between 1998 and 2021.

That was again the smart way Keulemans included my prediction of 18 seats for the BBB in his article, but as always avoided my name, nor did he link to my poll and my analysis from last Sunday. The link he placed went to the BoerenBusiness website, which referred to the 18 places. (The only place Keulemans often mentions my name is on Twitter and always in a negative environment.)

Both the study by Tom van der Meer et al. and the article by Keulemans kicks open doors. Anyone who believes or pretends that an opinion poll one or two years before the election to the House of Representatives predicts that result has little understanding of the role of opinion polls between elections. But neither do the dynamics of the election itself, and especially those of the House of Representatives.

Polls show how voters react to current developments in politics and society in relation to their – potential – voting preferences and a number of background characteristics (where education and income play an important role). How important issues in the Netherlands and the world will develop in the future is unknown to both citizens and opinion pollsters. While these can still have a major impact on the course of political preferences and the possible voting behavior in elections. (In 2017, the removal of a Turkish minister shortly before the election still played a major role in the final result). And mutual conflicts within a party can also play a significant role in that party’s appeal (think of the FVD in the second half of 2019 and 50PLUS, which, so to speak, imploded).

In my analyzes of the results of the polls, I therefore try to do more than just give the results of that week. I then try to look for more general trends among voters that may affect the results of the polls as well as of the elections.

For example, since 2016, I have drawn attention to the rising dichotomy of society based on criteria other than the traditional left-right scale. This can be read well in this article. And if Maarten Keulemans had read my analysis from last Sunday, he would have seen that I mainly used the results of the poll to interpret the development, whereby I made a comparison of the election development for the larger party groups, more than 8 months ago for the election to the provincial council in 2019 and now also more than 8 months before these elections.

Provincial elections are different

In Keulemans’ article, however, an important point has been overlooked: The next elections are not elections to the House of Representatives, but to the Provincial Council / First Chamber. That is an important difference.

In elections to bodies other than the House of Representatives, other factors play an important role in the campaign and the voter decision-making process. A simplification of this difference is that the voters in the election to the House of Representatives think about the policy they want after the election (and which prime minister and government they want), while in the other elections this is not the case. People hardly know the government of the province or the municipality. Then it’s much more about the popularity of a party at that moment. It’s more about how that party has primarily operated nationally in previous months (in government or opposition). Plus people are also less willing to vote (especially the less educated). The turnout is then about a third lower.

And this in turn means that there are more changes in preferences through a campaign and debates up to the election to the House of Representatives than up to the other elections. Both the election in 2003 (where Bos overtook Balkenende) and the election in 2012 (where SP – Roemer – fell quickly and PvdA – Samsom – rose rapidly) are good examples of this. Because then it’s more about the question of who you want as prime minister. One can therefore see the tendency for the opinion polls and the election results to again move somewhat more in the direction of the previous election result than has happened in the intervening years with the opinion polls.

But this is hardly the case in provincial and local elections. It is unclear and does not matter to the voter which provincial or municipal government arises after the election, and they do not consider it so important, and that is why people vote much more on the basis of emotion than on the basis of reason. For example, since 2012, the VVD has clearly performed worse in these provincial or local elections than in the election to the House of Representatives. (In the election to the House of Representatives between 21 and 26% and in the provincial election between 14 and 16%).

So a party’s popularity may play a more important role in provincial elections than in elections to the House of Representatives. And to show that last Sunday, I made a comparison with the position of the VVD and the FVD on 1 July 2018 – more than 8 months before the election and the results in March 2019.

On 1 July 2018, FVD at Peil.nl had 16 places (+14 in relation to TK2017) and VVD of 28 (-5 in relation to TK2017). Around the time of the provincial election, more than 8 months later, the result was 25 for the FVD (a further increase of 9) and 23 for the VVD (a further decrease of 5).

Based on this, one can of course not say that because BBB is now only 3 seats after VVD in the vote, BBB will end up significantly higher than VVD in March 2023. But in Sunday’s analysis, I pointed out that there is still a clear growth potential at BBB, while VVD is in a difficult position because that party’s policy is clearly marked by the collaboration with D66 in the cabinet. And not all VVD voters are equally happy about it, to put it euphemistically.

Difference with Ipsos

So Ipsos / Een Today came this week with 31 seats for VVD and 12 seats for BBB. Peil.nl has come with 21 places for VVD and 18 places for BBB. There are really big differences. Especially since the polls were also conducted at about the same time.

In addition to Ipsos, there are two other polling stations that regularly publish numbers. I&O and Kantar. These three agencies participate in Pollingwijzer. Peil.nl does not do that.

Two weeks ago, before the noise from the nitrogen plans, I&O published an opinion poll in which BBB was already in 12 places and VVD in 24. There is also a big difference with Ipsos, which two weeks later (after the trouble with the nitrogen plans) was carried out.

Polling indicator, released its latest figures on Thursday, and NOS was aware of it. These results were a good illustration of my objection to the Polling Indicator. The figures are a combination of opinion polls from three agencies. Only one involved a recent poll. The other two were before the nitrogen plans were announced. The oldest (Kantar) was from the end of May. And the latest poll (by Ipsos) is from the agency, which rates BBB significantly lower than the other two agencies.

The different agencies provide results that differ significantly from each other. Only shortly before the election to the House of Representatives do the polls clearly coincide. This is related to the approach of the agencies and the weighting procedures. The differences between VVD and parties such as PVV / FVD / BBB / JA21 are particularly large between Peil.nl and Ipsos between the election to the House of Representatives. But just before the election to the House of Representatives, these differences are much smaller, and the quality of the predictions differs only slightly between the agencies for the results. (And Ipsos usually do good exit polls).

But it is different in the provincial council election. And it is interesting to look at the results of Ipsos and Peil in 2018 and 2019 in relation to the election to the provincial council. This is clearly visible on Peilingwijzer’s website. At Ipsos, FVD had 9 places in July 2018 and VVD at 33. A difference of 24 places, while the difference on Peil.nl was only 12 at that time.

More than 8 months later, shortly before the provincial election, Ipsos published a poll. VVD was 5 places ahead of FVD in the Senate poll. It is in parliamentary seats 10. While the FVD actually got 1 senate seat more than the VVD! In the final prediction of Peil.nl, VVD and FVD were equal, and it was also indicated that FVD could become slightly larger than VVD, which also happened.

In short: during these elections in March 2019, it became clear that Ipsos at the time overestimated VVD and significantly underestimated FVD (the latter happened in the exit poll). And that the Peil.nl poll in March 2019 better indicated the balance of power. And that will probably have been the case in the summer of 2018. If the arithmetic difference from the March 2019 result of Ipsos with the vote was applied to the Ipsos poll in the summer of 2018, the difference was not 24 seats, but around 14 seats. seats. And it was not far from the 12 of Peil.nl

Now it does not automatically have to be the case that the differences between VVD and BBB now have the same problems at Ipsos and Peil.nl as between VVD and FVD 4 years ago, but it is interesting that I&O two weeks ago also had a much less difference showed between VVD and BBB compared to Ipsos this week. It bodes well for the July poll of I&O.

summarizing

The study by Tom van der Meer et al (and the article by Maarten Keulemans) that, based on the 1998 election, polls say little or nothing about the election results is less applicable to elections other than the House of Representatives.

The level measurements from exactly 4 years ago were a good indication of the potential in FVD. At the time, it was 14 seats higher than in the election to the House of Representatives 15 months earlier. And then another 9 rose to surpass VVD in the provincial council election. The opinion from Peil.nl just before the provincial council’s election in 2019 showed that the balance of power between FVD and VVD at the time. While Ipsos at the time still saw a big gap between VVD and FVD.

It is not yet possible to state to what extent the BBB will come close to the result of the VVD in March 2023. So many things can still happen in the world, in the Netherlands and within the parties. But it is true that the arsenal of voters who give parties like BBB, PVV, FVD, JA21 and BVNL a chance is huge and seems to be growing over time. There is a good chance that – just like in 2019 – one of the parties in March 2023 – will come close to the combination VVD and PvdA-GroenLinks, and BBB is currently the best candidate.

For the political and electoral development of the next 9 months, this is more relevant than the study by Tom van der Meer and the article by Maarten Keulemans on what has been established for 24 years in opinion polls and elections to the House of Representatives.

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