What if the phone polls are wrong?
Earlier on this year I spoke to someone who works in the polling industry, they ruefully observed that the 2015 general election opinion polls accurately predicted the Tory victory, so long as you ignored the headline voting intention figures and focussed on the supplementaries, and I’m starting to wonder if we might be seeing a similar situation with this EU referendum, where whatever the headline voting intention figure is, the supplementaries are generally consistent.
So if we assume that all the polling problems of 2015 haven’t been ironed out (and the modal difference bears that out) we look at some of the other polling findings (which appears to be consistent across all pollsters, whatever the mode of polling)
- David Cameron’s personal ratings especially with Tory voters, since he announced his EU deal have fallen off a cliff at at a rate that would leave lemmings panting for breath
- David Cameron who is fronting the Remain campaign is now seen as the most distrusted UK politician on EU matters
- Whilst Boris Johnson, the front man of the Leave campaign, is seen as the least distrusted UK politician on EU matters
- Leave voters in a range of polls are shown to be more motivated and, and thus more likely to turn out to vote than Remain voters, and also least likely to change their mind
- Immigration is the most important issue facing the country according to the voters, and that’s not an issue Remain can win on as Leave is seen as the best option for reducing immigration to the UK according to the voters
- The polls show the over 65s are in favour of Leave and younger voters are in favour of Remain. The Old v Young split was felt by many to be crucial to the Tories winning the 2015 general election.
- The online polls were accurate in the London Mayoral election
- The local election results did not reflect the significant leads the Tories have in most opinion polls.
So we have on one side a relatively popular & trusted leader versus an unpopular & untrusted leader, whilst older voters are backing the popular & trusted leader, and the younger voters backing the unpopular & untrusted leader, and the online polls generally show it neck and neck, sound familiar? Is this this referendum the 2015 general election all over again?
If the opinion polls continue to show that economy is the most important decision influencing voters, and Brexit is seen as being bad financially and economically for individual voters and the country, I expect Remain to win, with class not age being a predictor of election outcomes, and among classes that vote Remain is winning comfortably.
But were Leave were to win, some if not all of the reasons I listed to above might explain why Leave won. At the time of writing, Leave winning were a 21% implied chance of winning the referendum, it might be prudent to back Leave if you think the phone polls are calling this referendum wrong.