Archive for the 'Referendum' Category


ICM finds the biggest backing yet for a referendum on the final deal

Friday, January 26th, 2018

Meanwhile Ipsos-MORI has CON 3% behind

YouGov has 4% remain lead


Farage’s surprise backing could put a second Brexit referendum on the agenda

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

Probably the biggest development this morning has been the comments by the former UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, in a tv interview about a second referendum on Brexit.

Generally up until now the only people advocating a second vote at those who are very strongly remain although it is true to say that Boris Johnson in February 2016 supported the idea.

Farage’s reasoning is that a second victory for Leave would completely close down further discussion on the matter and set the seal on UK policy for generations to come.

I am sure that that is right.

Clearly the former UKIP leader thinks that this will be an easy victory for his side and it is hard to say from the polling whether he is right or not. Although that there have been signs of a slight movement towards Remain the general picture has been that the country is still very much divided.

There was one Pan-European YouGov poll in late November that had a 10% lead for wanting to stick with the Brexit referendum outcome.

The big questions are whether Farage’s intervention will have any impact at all on whether such an election takes place before Britain is due to leave at the end of March next year and would the Leave campaign in such a vote be led by TMay?

Mike Smithson


Support growing for another EURef in an unlikely publication – the Brexit backing Spectator

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

Ladbrokes 5/1 on EURef3 might be value

The Survation MoS poll on Sunday had what was a surprise result the should there be another Brexit referendum question was put. By a margin of 16% those sampled said they wanted one.

This has long been been a call from the former LD leader and Deputy PM, Nick Clegg and today there’ support for the concept in a surprising publication – the Speccie.

Ross Clark argues that agreeing to such a move might be the only way that the Tories can survive the current political turmoil.

He writes:

As is clear from polls at the weekend there is a lot of public anger, as well as disquiet on the Tory backbenches, at the size of the £40 billion leaving bill. If, as seems inevitable, the result of this week’s negotiations is that the government agrees to some kind of continuing regulatory alignment with the EU after Britain has left the bloc, that disquiet is only going to grow. The Prime Minister is going to find herself squeezed between two very unhappy Conservative flanks: between those who don’t want to leave the EU at all, and those who want to leave properly.

The only way she is going to resolve this, and therefore survive in office, is to announce that at the end of the negotiations there will be a second referendum with three choices on the ballot paper. Voters will be able to approve the deal which the government has made with the EU, to reject it and leave the EU without a deal, or to remain

His suggestion of three options on the ballot is interesting with voters being invited to express a first and second preference vote. If none of the options secures 50% of the vote then the least-favoured option should be dismissed and the second preferences taken into account.

I’m not sure about this which seems designed to deal with Tory splits but so be it. My guess is that it would divide the Leave vote.

Ladbrokes are offering 5/1 on there being another Brexit referendum. That might just be a value bet.

Mike Smithson


Leading constitutional expert and Cameron’s former tutor thinks a second referendum now likely

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017


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