Age Matters in EU Referendum Polling

By June 23, 2016 No Comments

by Alex Lange, JKL Political Analyst

It’s referendum day in the United Kingdom and voters across the nation are voting in what is promising to be a historic moment for the country on the question of whether to leave the European Union or remain in the EU. Final polling has the Leave and Remain campaigns running neck and neck, while a sizable number of voters have been undecided up until the very end.

For the first time since 1975, citizens of the UK are having a direct say in whether it will continue to be a part of the European project. The 1975 referendum, asked the question as follows: “Do you think the United Kingdom should stay in the European Community (the Common Market)?” It was decisively won by Yes, at 67.23%, while No received 32.77%.

The youngest eligible voters then are now more than 59 years old, and it’s worth taking a look at where those who participated in the vote last time stand now, based on one of the latest polls by Survation.

[JKL Graphic, Source: Survation]

The results of the poll show a stark difference between age groups. Young voters who have grown up accustomed to the benefits the EU brings, such as the ability to easily move and work across borders, and many of whom have strong cross-border relationships, are more likely to want to preserve UK membership in the EU. But voters 55+, many of them those very same voters who experienced the 1975 referendum, are clearly in favor of leaving the EU.

Older voters are generally more likely to vote, sparking concerns about a generation turnout gap and significant efforts by the Remain campaign to turn out young voters. Whether young voters turn out in larger numbers than expected will be something to watch for in the results this evening. 

While we await the results, we leave you with the 1975 referendum results coverage from the BBC, presented then, as it will be today, by David Dimbleby.