Princeton Election Consortium

A first draft of electoral history. Since 2004

Brexit survey of the day

June 24th, 2016, 4:42am by Sam Wang


The UK voters who dominated the vote to Leave are also the ones who have to live with the outcome for the least amount of time.

And then there is this fascinating essay in Dissent magazine, which describes two Englands: elite England centered almost entirely in London, and excluded England composed of everyone else. Excluded England includes working classes, poor areas, former industrial districts – regions and classes that have not partaken in the reinvigoration that has been promised as part of membership in the European Union. All in all, they sound rather a lot like the pro-Trump wing of the Republican Party.

Finally, Paul Krugman ponders the aftermath of Brexit in a fairly non-panicked manner. He suggests that the problems in the European Union were there all along, and this vote changes nothing. He does suggest that the vote is pretty bad for Britain in the long run. They wanted to revive Britain; what they may get is a revived England (and probably Wales), severed from Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Tags: United Kingdom

31 Comments so far ↓

  • Daniel Barkalow

    The people voting to leave also have lived more of their lives in the pre-EU UK. Of course, the existence of the EU without the UK will presumably matter, but the EU isn’t old enough that there are multiple different groups shown that don’t have any experience before it existed.

  • truedson

    It has been mentioned that the referendum is non binding. So Parliament could legally just ignore it. There are enough MPs that oppose it that could force a new election and run on the stay campaign.

  • LondonYoung

    Age was correlated with voting to leave, but so was living outside cities, being in the working class, being white, being unemployed, being Christian, etc… and age is correlated with all of these other factors. There is an interesting data set out there: http://lordashcroftpolls.com/2016/06/how-the-united-kingdom-voted-and-why/
    So I wonder if a regression analysis would show age as a driving factor or if it only pops up because other factors which are correlated with age drove the voting decision.

    In Greece, older voters favored staying in the Euro zone because most are on euro-denominated pensions and do not want them redenominated for fear of inflation.

  • Amitabh Lath

    I saw the image Sam posted above showing the age dependence of the Brexit vote on the screens of a couple of students. They know of various pots of EU money that Brit students will no longer be eligible for.

    I wonder if this will turn into an object lesson for young voters. Don’t vote and the old folks agenda wins.

  • Partha Neogy

    The correlation between the number-of-years-to-live-with-decision and the Remain/Leave vote makes sense. I bet there is a similar correlation between the willingness to apply resources to combat climate change and the remaining life span of responders.

  • Josh

    To be fair, though, polling averages had Leave (49.5%) going into the referendum, and the result was Leave (52%), for a swing of 2.5%. That’s less than the 3% average of US primary election polling, so the polls in aggregate were quite good. It just looks worse because the binary of win/lose was wrong.

  • Truthy

    As a sheltered Londoner I massively underestimated the number of xenophobic old people in the rest of the country. Their postal votes, weeks before the finals polls, won it for Leave.

    Ashamed of my country for the first time in my lifetime. The end of the 300 year old Union with Scotland. History will not be kind to our generation, we’ll be considered worse than those who voted in Thatcher.

    Hopefully you Americans won’t make the same mistake come November.

    • anonymous

      Similar choices can indeed be made across the pond. Any Republican nominee, even Trump, is likely to get at least 40% of the vote. Getting 10 % more is not impossible. Heartfelt condolences to you.

    • Kaleberg

      Aren’t the people who voted for Brexit the same people who voted for Thatcher?

      At least you admit that you are a sheltered Londoner. As an outsider, I expected the vote to follow the classic north-south partition with a small margin in favoring of staying. I consider the fact that even the south outside of London voted to leave telling.

      Nine out of ten of the poorest areas in northern Europe are in England. It seems like London did its own Brexit some years back and pulled away from the rest of England years ago.

  • Olav Grinde

    If the voters have their will, there will be a fascinating situation:

    – The UK will leave the European Union
    – Northern Ireland will join the EU (55.8% Remain)
    – Scotland will join the EU (62% Remain)

    • Amitabh Lath

      Hi Olav, Northern Ireland may well decide to join Ireland and thus be part of the EU (although I understand there are pesky lingering religious issues they have to resolve first).

      But Scotland might be a tougher problem. They would have to vote to separate from the UK and the EU would have to vote to accept the newly formed nation. I’m guessing it will not be a slam dunk.

    • Olav Grinde

      Yes, Amit, these are indeed pretty big IFs. For what it’s worth, Gibraltar saw an even more marked result (95.9 % Remain!). As a result, Spain is strongly calling for joint sovereignty of “the Rock”.

  • truedson

    The polls weren’t off much at all. A near tie.

    Cameron miscalculated mightily with this needless referendum which was only a political stunt to save his leadership. The biggest error since Gallipoli.

  • Vicente Piedrahita

    US poll medians have been accurate since this site (and others) started using them, so seems very reasonable to stick with them.

    We’re 0 for 2 on UK referenda, though, and by pretty big margins.

  • Heavenly Blue

    Which is surprisingly irrational, as almost everyone agrees there will be some economic fallout in the short term. Those in favor of Brexit argue that the benefits to be gained by freeing themselves of the yoke of the EU will only be realized long after the dust has settled.

  • Scott

    Would love to know what the polls are saying here post-Orlando :)

    • Michael

      One doesn’t have to wonder. Just go to Pollster.com, take the 9 polls conducted since June 13, and compare them to the 9 polls that concluded polling by June 12. Hillary led by 4.8% before Orlando, and by 5.9% afterward. So much for Trump’s terrorist trump card.

  • Amitabh Lath

    I suppose these people have heavier issues to ponder than poll failure, but is there any study of how their likely voter models went wrong? I heard that Scotland and N. Ireland did not vote Remain as strongly as expected.

    • A New Jersey Farmer

      Neither did some more well-educated towns like Newcastle. Can we ever trust a UK poll again?

    • Matt McIrvin

      The early US reactions I’ve seen are more “this means Trump is gonna win by sympathetic magic!”

    • Amitabh Lath

      Prediction markets took one on the chin. Consistently posting p>60% for remain.

    • Matt McIrvin

      More evidence of the non-magical qualities of prediction markets (which are really nothing but a codification of conventional wisdom).

    • Joel

      @ Matt

      Well, a 60% bettors probability is just that; those aren’t certain odds by any means. Generally speaking, bookies have to pick the right lines or else they’re going to go out of business.

    • Commentor

      I believe that Scotland and N. Ireland voted remain at close to the percentages projected, but had lower turnout than expected.

      I think the bigger blow was in Newcastle and Sunderland in which Remain performed well below projections, e.g. Newcastle was projected at 60+% but Remain won at 51%.

    • Amitabh Lath

      The trouble with betting markets is the lack of any systematic uncertainty estimate. It’s easy to be misled by a number quoted to 3 sig figs (62.3% for Remain!) and not take into account that people are betting based on the previous day’s odds, so there is a feedback effect.

      In other words, not only do they reflect conventional wisdom, they help create it.

    • Ed Wittens Cat

      Amitabh– Gelman spkz
      http://andrewgelman.com/2016/06/24/brexit-polling-what-went-wrong/

      Matt some of this may apply to Trump– eg ppl may be embarassed to tell a pollster they are voting for Trump– but in the booth…

    • Josh

      Yeah I’m not sure why people are bashing the betting markets. The polling average going in was Remain +1, +/- 1.8, so offering Leave at 5-1 or 6-1, as Ladbrokes and Skybet did, seems slightly high, but not entirely unreasonable.

    • Sam Wang

      No, that polling median would suggest 2.3-to-1 in favor of Remain.

    • Matt McIrvin

      Shy-Trumpster effects are possible, but if they were extremely marked, I would have expected to see them operating in the primary campaign as well (where there were other plausible candidates for even a staunch conservative to say they supported).

    • Ed Wittens Cat

      Matt, in the primaries here i do not think Bradley-effect would have been operating based on the make-up of primary voter cohorts.
      we wont see it until the general, like UK didnt see it until the vote. Are there polling techniques designed to uncover Bradley?
      Ohio and Pennsylvania are tied up in polling rite now– how much Shy-Trumpster effect would give them to Trump?

  • Anthony S. Shifflett

    Amazing. Around the entire world you can now see that people are rising up and reacting to globalization. The next 50 years will be very interesting for our species – if we make it.

    Nothing happens without a reason. You can see it in the data and smell it in the air.

    Let’s hope we don’t have a result in the fall here in the states that put even more stress on the global economic system…