In the run-up to the general election, the results of opinion polls will be given a lot of prominence. But how do the polls work and how valuable are they?

What is an opinion poll?

Opinion polls provide a snapshot of people’s views on a particular issue. They are widely used when elections are approaching.

People can be asked which party they would vote for, which issues most concern them, or for their views on party leaders.

Opinion polls can be useful to see how different parties are doing, but they may not reflect the make-up of the next Parliament.

The UK’s first-past-the-post voting system means that the local candidate in each constituency who receives the most votes becomes an MP. And the party with the most winning candidates

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