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The New Zealand flag referendum goes strongly for the status quo: A pointer for EURef

March 24th, 2016

One of the massive challenges for LEAVE is that there’s a strong history in elections from many countries of the status quo prevailing. We saw that in Scotland in September 2014 as well as in the UK EC referendum of 1975.

We have also seen it to a very striking degree when voters in English local authority areas have had the opportunity to vote on whether they want a system based on elected mayors. In fewer than one in ten of those votes have electors wanted to move from the status quo.

Oxford’s Stephen Fisher whose Electionsetc.com GE2015 projections of a CON majority at GE2015 were widely dismissed is now producing regular reports and analysis on June 23rd. This is from his latest write-up:-

“In the run-up to the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum we wrote about how across various referendums there has been a tendency for the eventual vote for change to be lower than it was in polls over one-month out from referendum day, and for even final polls to overstate support for change. But these observations were based on relatively small samples of referendums.

Now, as part of a broader academic project, we are analysing over 1,600 polls from 283 referendums in 41 democracies. For the purposes of forecasting the Brexit referendum outcome, we have used just referendums in the UK or on the EU. This still includes 848 polls from 45 referendums, and for the model specification we draw on the lessons from our analysis of the broader data set.

Despite the addition of many more referendums from many more countries, the patterns we previously found largely hold up. Support for change tends to decline as referendum day approaches, but not so much for referendums on the EU as opposed to domestic political reform. Even final opinion polls tend to show higher support for change compared with the eventual outcome..”

So the New Zealand numbers just announced are another pointer to the trend – this time from an old Commonwealth country with strong UK links.

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Mike Smithson