In Focus: EU Referendum Polling

You could be forgiven for wishing to overlook what the polls have to say about the likely outcome of the EU referendum, given that they failed to predict the results of the General Election on a cataclysmic scale – something which the industry’s reputation has not yet fully recovered. Not only that, but the array of factors to consider when looking at the polls can cast reasonable doubt about their reliability. Whether a poll was conducted online is thought to affect how honest respondents are about their voting intention and likewise the age and socio-economic makeup of those surveyed is thought to impact the likelihood of turning out to vote. But what about the impact polling results themselves can have on voter turnout? This is yet another factor to take into consideration when predicting the outcome of the referendum, especially when the shrinking gap between Leave and Remain is as striking as it has been this week.

When it comes to how likely someone is to vote, you could argue that those who are unhappy with the status quo have more of an incentive to vote. And judging by the polls this week, it seems quite a lot of people are unhappy about the UK’s membership of the EU. While in previous weeks the polls have been divided, this week the majority have put Leave ahead. Since our last blog, eight polls have been published, seven of which show Leave ahead. On Monday alone, four polls showed Leave ahead with one ICM poll showing Leave five per cent ahead. A recent YouGov poll published showed support for Leave seven per cent ahead of Remain, showing a three per cent increase in support for Leave since their last poll. It seems that support for Leave is high and gaining momentum in the days leading up to the referendum.

What these polls don’t mean is that it is a sure thing that the UK will vote for Brexit next Thursday, as they may act as a wake-up call to complacent Remainers and ensure they turn out to vote. As the prospect of leaving the EU becomes an actual possibility, those content with our membership of the EU may become increasingly concerned about the future of the country. And while anger and discontent are proven ways to energise the electorate, a greater motivator is often fear.

By Lexington Communications