Archive for the 'Referendum' Category


ICM referendum findings suggest that turnout won’t be at general election levels

Friday, March 25th, 2016

EU flag

This could be good news for LEAVE

The latest ICM poll includes for the first time turnout weighting and points to two broad conclusions: that outers are more determined to vote than inners and that the overall participation level will be lower than the 66.1% that we saw at the general election in May 2015.

Before applying the turnout filter but after excluding the “certain not to vote” the latest survey, carried out after the Brussels attacks, had 43% REMAIN, 38% LEAVE and 19% DK.

After applying the filter this became 45% REMAIN, 43% LEAVE and 12% DK. ICM say this “suggests that the high proportion of Don’t knows in online EU polls are likely to be linked to not voting rather than a genuine uncertainty over which way to vote.” The pollster goes on to note:-

Just 47% say they are absolutely certain to vote in the EU referendum on 23 June – giving 10/10 on a ten-point scale – which is significantly lower compared to the proportion who typically say the same of the next general election (66%). This suggests that the actual turnout in the referendum is likely to be lower than previously suggested.

Clearly we need to see other data but that the certainty to vote levels is not currently in the same area as what is being found in general election polls points to a lower participation rate.

I’ve now begun betting on this and make money if it is lower than 65%.

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Mike Smithson


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

Thursday, 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 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


There was a similar phone/online polling divide at the last national UK referendum

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Phone polls trounced online ones in the 2011 AV vote

I get asked several a week at the moment for a view on online phone divide that we’ve seen over the EURef. Which is better I’m asked and I’m reluctant to come down on one side or the other.

At the general election the final polls from both modes were in the same ball park although during the official campaign period the phone firms were much more like to report CON leads than online ones.

But in any case general election polling to determine party shares is very different from the binary choice in a referendum. There should be fewer complications with the latter.

So I’ve dug our the data about the last UK referendum to see if there is anything to learn and, remarkably, they had the same mode split then as well.

The chart above I’d based on the average NO2AV lead in the final polls years ago. Then the phone pollster trounced the online ones.

Maybe that is happening this time as well. Maybe not.

Mike Smithson


ICM test finds that stay has an 18% lead when the proposed EU referendum question is asked

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

But other formats less good for YES

ICM used a split sample in its online test and put three different options the first one being that inlcuded in the referendum bill.

Split sample Q1: Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?
1. Yes
2. No
3. DK

Split sample Q2: Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
1. Remain a member of the European Union
2. Leave the European Union
3. DK

Split sample Q3: Should the United Kingdom leave the European Union?
1. Yes
2. No
3. DK

This is what ICM’s Martin Boon writes under the heading Deconstructing the proposed referendum question wording

“..The first piece of evidence relates to so-called “acquiescence bias”. The tendency for people to yea-say with something is more instinctive than it is to reject it. The proposed referendum question clearly state that we are already members of the EU, and asks pointedly whether we should remain so. In short, it asks people to acquiesce with the status quo, and that probably helps. Indeed, it was for this reason that many unionists criticised the UK government’s acquiescence to the SNP’s preferred Scottish independence referendum question wording (where the positive response was framed as Scotland being an independent country rather than staying in the UK).

More than that though, the question also points to the fact that we are ‘members’ of the European Union. True enough, but being a member of something is usually ‘nice’ – we make a choice to join something because we believe there must be associated benefits otherwise why would we already be in? It’s a cozy, warm thing to be, a member of something, like the golf club, mother and toddler support group, gym, political party – whatever your preference. It’s hard to conclude that this use of phrasing is superior or more neutral than asking, say, whether we should “stay in” the EU.

Somewhat confusingly, the question is also very much about what it doesn’t mention. It doesn’t provide balance (we could ‘leave’ the European Union too, you know), and it certainly doesn’t offer the possible acquiescence bias from the opposite perspective, much to the chagrin I imagine, of UKIP-type thinking…”

No doubt we’ll be hearing a lot about this debate in the coming weeks and months.

Mike Smithson


It looks as though Cameron will try to get referendum out of the way as soon as possible

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

It’s Queen’s Speech day and the first time that Cameron had been able to act free of the restrictions of coalition.

Judging from the headlines a key measure that the new government will seek to bring in quickly is the referendum on whether Britain should remain part of the EU. LAB had already said it will back the plan and the only change it might seek is on the extension of the franchise to 16-17 year olds.

From what’s come out overnight the planned question will involve voters choosing Yes to stay in and No to leave.

From a political perspective Cameron is trying to get this dealt with as soon as possible on the parliament. The referendum itself creates uncertainty and having the vote sooner rather than later minimises that.

The out campaigners have already indicated that they’d prefer a longer period before this comes to the crucial vote.

Which way will it go? The best stay betting price is 4/11 from Ladbrokes while Hills have 9/4 on leave.

Mike Smithson


After the IndyRef experience it’s going to be harder not to allow 16/17 year olds to vote in the EU referendum

Monday, May 25th, 2015

When Alex Salmond pushed through his measure to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in last September’s IndyRef in Scotland it was only a matter of time before this became an issue for the whole of the country.

With constitutional change, like Scotland going independent or Britain leaving the EU, there’s clearly a strong argument that those who will be most affected, the young, should be able to participate in the decision.

    After their apparent reversal on having an EU referendum at all Labour clearly wants to be seen to be doing something that means this is not all a Tory measure.

The big risk to Cameron is that the referendum bill could get clogged up in the House of Lords where it is in the minority. A concession, using the Scottish precedent is possible although it will be strongly opposed by some sections of the blue team.

The polling suggests that the older you are the more you oppose Britain remaining in the EU.

Mike Smithson


Marf celebrates gay marriage with a cartoon …

Sunday, May 24th, 2015



Given the messages that have been coming out PaddyPower’s 7/4 2016 EU referendum price looks like a good bet

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015


All the signs are that the new Tory government wants to move fast with the EU referendum. We should get an idea on the timing in the upcoming Queen’s Speech.

2016 seems to make a lot of sense. It coincides with devolved parliament elections in Scotland and Wales as well as the next London Mayoral election – all areas of the UK where support for staying in is generally higher than elsewhere. It also will get the issue out of the way faster.

So the 7/4 that PaddyPower is offering looks a value bet. Well worth a punt. As a general rule with PaddyPower you can get more on at one of their betting shops than online.

Mike Smithson