Princeton Election Consortium

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Brexit polls microscopically favor Remain

June 23rd, 2016, 11:00am by Sam Wang


Today, the UK votes on a referendum on whether to Remain in the European Union, or to Leave. In polls started since June 16th, the current median is Remain +1.0 +/- 1.8% (n=7; median +/- estimated SEM; probability of a lead among decided respondents=70%). Where a single pollster conducted multiple polls in the last week, I used the most recent survey. So among decided respondents, Remain is very slightly ahead.

HuffPollster reports about 9% of respondents still remain Undecided, enough to swing the outcome either way. Where multiple polls were available from one pollster, the direction of change was YouGov 0.5% toward Remain, NBC/SurveyMonkey 4% toward Remain, and Survation 3% toward Leave. This is ambiguous.

Big referenda like this can contain hidden strains of opinion. For example, in 2014 the Scotland independence referendum failed by 6% more than indicated by polls. That was a situation of some voters being little-c conservative, in the sense of avoiding drastic change. Naively, I think such a dynamic would favor the Remain side…but we will see. Could still go the other way.

The Scotland failure led to stengthening of the SNP, with echoes felt in the UK today. Even if Remain wins, what will be the consequences of today’s vote?

Update, 8:54pm: “Leave” is doing better than expected in many constituencies. Follow the results at the Guardian’s liveblog and tracker.

Friday morning: I had a bit of trouble with updates last night, so couldn’t post this. An excellent projection was done by Chris Hanretty of the University of East Anglia. His interpolation made it clear by about 9:00pm Eastern (2:00am UK) last night that Leave would win.

Tags: United Kingdom

25 Comments so far ↓

  • Alex Coolchien

    I too started fearing that this is a repeat of 1914, and the start of the unraveling. In a perverse way, perhaps the only thing that is helping cooler heads to prevail more often than not now is that nuclear weapons have made it almost impossible for major powers to go to war and win it, whereas in 1914, every military strategist imagined they could win the war.

  • anonymous

    Who would have thunk it? Britain leaves the EU before Greece. Populism (i.e. xenophobia) is ascendant everywhere.

    • John

      It’s that rhetoric of xenophobia that caused so many to vote for the leave. It’s only a phobia if it is an irrational fear. I think many can make the argument that there is a perfectly rational reason to fear massive economic migration especially among those who have lost their livelihood to it.

  • pechmerle

    TV, including BBC, has called it for Leave.
    Pound, which was at $1.50 as recently as yesterday, has fallen to $1.35.

  • Hugh J. Martin

    Before WWI the world was becoming increasingly globalized. Elites believed that internationalism was replacing nationalism. Then a series of blunders plunged Europe into the first of two wars featuring unprecedented slaughter.
    The EU is among the international institutions created after WWII to try and prevent new European wars that engulf the continent, or the world. These institutions helped create a new era of internationalization and globalization.
    But this vote shows that nationalism still has strong appeal, even in a nation that is a full participant in global institutions.
    The human capacity to blunder remains as strong as ever. Let’s hope we don’t look back on this vote as the first step toward a new unraveling and descent into chaos.

  • truedson

    Leave is certain to win at this point. A real surprise even though the polls had it close.

  • Frank

    As I’m following the BBC, it is not looking good for Remain. Leave has been holding 400,000+. The speculation has been that Scotland and Northern Ireland would bring in the votes for Remain, but NI appears to be evenly divided. And the remaining parts of England that has yet to be tallied are surrounded by areas that are Leave. Very few Remain areas are in England.

  • Olav Grinde

    I think it’s fascinating that voters in England are actually voting to Leave by a significant margin, as are the Welsh – but that the Scots and voters of Northern Ireland are voting to Remain.

  • Ed Witten's Cat

    There are no exit polls like in US, but we can watch the returns– Stockton will be first– expected to be 55 to 60% leave

    • Ed Witten's Cat

      i mean Sunderland– gibralter and newcastle are in but small number of voters– and were expected to remain

  • 538 Refugee

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/britons-head-to-the-polls-for-historic-vote-on-eu/2016/06/23/0d466fb0-34a7-11e6-ab9d-1da2b0f24f93_story.html

    After voting began, however, two new surveys appeared to show a late-breaking shift toward the “remain” camp. The polling firms Ipsos Mori and Populus found a clear lead for those seeking to keep Britain from an E.U. break.

    The U.S.-based firm SurveyMonkey, one of the few forecasters to correctly call last year’s British election, also reported a potentially decisive shift toward “in” over the final days of the campaign.

    • 538 Refugee

      I just heard a reporter on PBS News Hour say the media didn’t do exit polling because they didn’t know how to model it.

    • Ed Witten's Cat

      some tweeps are postulating that brits who were ashamed at being RW leavers (especially after Jo Cox) and lied to the pollsters

  • Ed Witten's Cat

    when to watch– membah, YouGov poll was commissioned by Sky & the bankstahs
    not an exit poll
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-23/planning-your-brexit-night-here-are-key-events-and-times-stay-awake

  • Truthy

    I think people will be surprised how close it won’t be. I think Remain will win by 7-10%

    • truedson

      At this point it is going to be very close with the leave leading. The pound is dropping rapidly, even more so than on Black Wednesday, according to reports.

  • GEinNY

    Most of the British bookmakers were favoring Remain. That’s got to be worth something!

  • dhaus

    Re:fallout — UKIP becoming much stronger as anti-EU tories defect?

  • Anthony S Shifflett

    I was hoping you’d do a post on this.

    Who knows? Looks like it’ll be tight. I do think the remain side will win, but tough to tell. It will be interesting to see where the small “c” conservatives wind up.

    If it were me, I’d probably vote leave. I simply don’t like the Claude Juncker Euro crowd in Brussels making up laws and rules. My understanding was the EU was to be an economic association, not some unelected government. I agree with the currency and economic integration, but would stop it right there.

    • Commentor

      The EU has three primary governmental institutions, the European Commission, of which Juncker is the head, the European Parliament, and the European Council. Only the Commission is unelected directly. However, its members are selected by each member state and it is subject to some level of oversight from the Parliament. I agree that the system is structurally unweidy but I don’t see it as particularly undemocratic.

      England has a great deal with the EU in that it participates in all of the good stuff, while not participating in stuff it doesn’t like. Objections to the structure of the EU is not even remotely sufficient in my mind to not participate in the single market and otherwise enjoy favorable trading deals with the rest of Europe.

    • Todd S. Horowitz

      UK citizens have more representation in the EU than I, as a DC resident, have in the US government.

    • Anthony S Shifflett

      It’s true the English have a good deal.

      I myself do see it as being somewhat undemocratic because of the way laws and voting goes down. It seems no one is accountable for anything. I also dislike social policy being made in a different country.

      It would be a tough vote.

      I think structural issues are enough to vote no because they’re not being fixed and have no chance of being fixed as long as things stay the same.

      Economic chaos could ensue though. I think that will rule the day with the ballot when people vote but I hear and understand the Brexit argument. Nothing gets fixed these days in the West unless a gun is to our heads.

  • Lorem

    One thing that I’ve heard talk about is that younger voters are more pro-Europe than older ones, so as time goes by and they (probably) become more influential in the electorate, we might expect a remain-type position to become stronger. This contrasts with the Scottish referendum, where younger voters seemed to have broadly the same voting patterns as the population at large.
    So, I wouldn’t necessarily expect the consequences to be the same.

    Also, you made me feel reassured with the initial +4% figure, and then took it all away, Sam! Hopefully the “referendum outcomes tend to favor conservative side more than polls do” factor comes through.