OPINION polls are not getting worse, despite spectacularly getting recent election results wrong, a Southampton university professor’s new study suggests.

The polls have come under increased scrutiny after some suggested prime minister Theresa May’s Conservatives would roundly trounce Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour in last year’s general election.

Several also confidently predicted that Hillary Clinton would beat Donald Trump to the top job in the USA.

However, in new findings published in the journal Natural Human Behaviour it has been found that there is no evidence to prove errors in the opinions polls are on the rise.

The research, led by professor Will Jennings at the University of Southampton and professor Christopher Wlezien from the University of Texas at Austin, focused on more than 30,000 national polls.

They were conducted around 351 general elections in 45 countries over the period 1942 and 2017.

The paper found that the average absolute error of pre-election polls has fluctuated over the years but not increased.

When polling was first introduced during the 1940s and 1950s, the mean error was 2.1 per cent.

This average was also consistent during the 1960s and 1970s and has been two per cent since 2000.

Professor Jennings said: “It is understandable that people tend to focus on high profile polling misses, and shock election results.

“But the evidence dispels the claim that polling is any more inaccurate that at any point in history.

“Of course polling is a tricky business and has to adapt to changes in politics and wider society, and will inevitably go wrong from time to time.

“But it is important not to rush to judgment and generalise from individual cases.

“Our study shows the importance of testing polling accuracy over the long-term and in cross-national perspective.”

The report shows that there is no significant trend of increasing polling inaccuracy in recent times.

This implies that declining response rates and the growing variation in survey mode, sampling, and weighting protocols together have had little effect on the performance of pre-election polls, at least when taken together.

For example, final polls for the 2016 London mayoral election were very close to the result.