Tuesday, October 6, 2015

ComRes telephone poll deepens the uncertainty on the EU referendum

Since the Electoral Commission intervened to make the EU referendum question wording more neutral, a string of polls conducted among volunteer online polling panels have shown the 'Leave' camp jumping by several points to effectively draw level.  However, telephone polls have typically shown much stronger support for 'Remain' than online polls, and until today we hadn't seen a telephone poll which asked the new question.  My firm expectation was that we would see the same boost in support for 'Leave', but that this would still leave 'Remain' with a significant lead.  In fact, the new ComRes poll shows the huge lead growing further, albeit only very slightly.

Should the UK remain a member of the European Union, or leave the European Union? (ComRes, telephone fieldwork, 26th-28th September) :

Remain 55% (+4)
Leave 36% (+3)

On the face of it, then, the impact of the new question has been to widen the gulf between online and telephone results even more.  However, I think the most likely explanation for the relatively static lead suggested by ComRes is that their previous wording was actually pretty similar to the new question.  You never know, though - it could be that online respondents who see the question written down are more influenced by the nuances of language.

Either way, it's quite clear that the disparity between the two types of poll isn't going away any time soon.  Of course, we've seen something very similar with recent results on Scottish independence, with telephone and face-to-face polls finding a lead for Yes, and volunteer online panel polls tending to show a slender lead for No.  My inclination is always to assume that 'real world' polls are closest to the mark, but the reality is that we have no way of knowing who is getting it right.  Britain could be poised to leave the European Union, or the 'Leave' campaign could have an enormous mountain to climb.  Take your pick.

One thing that we have to guard against is the possibility of getting a misleading sense that there is less uncertainty than there actually is, due to online polls appearing more frequently (because they are cheaper to conduct). You might recall that one or two of the usual suspects in the comments section of this blog attempted to dismiss the Yes leads in the Ipsos-Mori and TNS independence polls as "outliers", but in truth the No leads in online polls might well look like the outliers if telephone polling was much more common.

Incidentally, if we could only solve the mystery of how Conservative voters feel about the EU, we'd be a lot closer to knowing the likely outcome of the referendum.  The ComRes telephone poll suggests that Tory voters break almost exactly in line with the general population - 56% want to stay in the EU, 35% want to withdraw.  But the YouGov online poll conducted earlier in September showed that Tory voters were significantly more anti-EU than the electorate at large, and that a clear majority of them wanted to leave (51% for 'Leave', 33% for 'Remain').

Annoyingly, YouGov didn't provide any geographical breakdown of their figures (I'm tempted to call them "obsessively secretive" again, just for the pleasure of watching Laurence Janta-Lipinski explode).  But ComRes have published Scottish subsample numbers - as you'd expect, the lead for 'Remain' is bigger than across Britain, at 61% to 29%.  But the unweighted Scottish sample size is a paltry 90, so treat with extreme caution.

33 comments:

  1. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 6, 2015 at 9:46 PM

    Hardly unexpected that Scots would want to stay in they need someone to sponge off.
    Leave the Union and hand over sovereignty to Herman.

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  2. You describing yourself as a Sponger?

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  3. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 7, 2015 at 12:59 AM

    Whats your point?

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  4. Answer the question - there'a good wee Troll.

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  5. Thanks for that James.You do a good job.

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  6. GWC you really are thick as shite!

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  7. GWC you really are thick as shite!

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    Replies
    1. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 8, 2015 at 12:45 AM

      You are lucky to speak verbal diahorea.

      Delete
    2. Eat your cereal.

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  8. Glasgow working class, aye right!

    We have to perhaps remember the silent no's. They were there during the Indy ref and not in short enough supply. By being silent, they can avoid any responsibility when things goes belly up. And it's not just the tories wanting to 'leave', plenty liebour lot, graun readers who hate the EU. My approach is we stay, for now at least, and work toward reforming the EU from the inside. Then we could have a vote in Scotland, on whether to remain or not, when we are independent of ukok.
    The unionists say we should be in the union of ukok, two friends recently, when seeing them in England said just that. But my god do they hate the EU! Duh!

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    1. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 7, 2015 at 11:56 PM

      Reform from within!!! What a belly aching laugh as if Merkel or the wee Frog would even listen to you. GET REAL Hetty and really do try and switch on.

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    2. Eat your cereal.

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  9. This EU referendum will show what power the dead tree press still has.
    One side will certainly be more vocal than the other.
    Can just imagine the hysterical tabloid headlines in the run-up to the vote.

    I think it will be a very close affair.

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    Replies
    1. It would be nice if Scotlands vote swings it for a vote to stay in. Popcorn time. The fates wouldn't be that kind, surely?

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    2. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 7, 2015 at 11:29 PM

      Why leave the Union, your friends, neighbours and maybe relatives just to hand over power to the frogs and herman. What would be the point in nationalism as you wish to give it away. Silly Billies.

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    3. Eat your cereal.

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  10. I really would like GWC, Aldo and other trolls to just go away. The comments section was good for polls that James hadn't picked up. It has now just become an area for abuse.

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    1. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 7, 2015 at 11:52 PM

      I would like my piles to go away but they are hingin in there.

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    2. Honestly, get a life. You are a sad little individual.

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    3. Would you prefer a nationalist echo chamber?

      Aldo

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    4. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 8, 2015 at 5:52 PM

      Anon, you seem to be a nasty fundamentalist so called human species lacking entirely a sense of humour. Now do not tell people to shut up or go away. You say your piece and others will say theirs. It is called democracy old chap.

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    5. Eat your cereal.

      Delete
  11. TNS poll:

    Holyrood Constituency
    56% SNP
    21% Lab
    12% Con
    6% Lib
    5% Other

    Regional
    52% SNP
    23% Lab
    11% Con
    6% Lib
    5% Green

    EU Ref (ex DK):
    72% Remain
    28% Leave

    When leaners are included, SNP go up a tad and Labour down.

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    Replies
    1. Carried out before the Michelle Thomson scandal blew up.

      Aldo

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    2. Actually, fieldwork covers #Thomsongate by a full 10 days.

      I don't expect any impact on polls anyway as that's not the sort of thing that governs voting intentions. We saw that with Bill Walker. That too was supposed to have folk flying back home to Labour but it had no effect on polls as you'd expect. If anything, SNP got a wee boost from their prompt dismissal of him from the party.

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    3. Thomson scandal is somewhat more serious than Bill Walker - ripping off vulnerable people then claiming to be the party of social justice (allegedly).

      Time will tell. Sometimes it takes a while for something to enter the public consciousness. Politics for most people is the occasional snippet of the ten o'clock news.

      Aldo

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    4. My wife was appalled at your dismissal of the Bill Walker story as 'not serious'.

      I have to say I agree with her.

      Delete