The first referendum poll to be conducted after the Brussels agreement on Friday night wasn't terribly helpful, because it was the first in a new series of telephone polls from Survation, meaning there were no baseline figures to work from. The second and third post-deal polls out tonight are more useful, although they actually point towards slightly contradictory conclusions on the trend. And, as you might well expect in the Alice in Wonderland world of EU referendum polling, the ComRes poll showing Remain in a 12-point lead is actually more encouraging for the Leave side than the YouGov poll showing a single-point Leave lead.
The reason? ComRes conducted their poll by telephone, and it's extremely unusual for a telephone poll to produce a Remain lead as low as 12 points. In fact, over the last few months there has only been one other phone poll that showed a Remain lead of lower than 15 points, and that was the most recent ComRes poll from earlier this month. So we do now have one phone pollster that is pointing in successive polls to at least a moderate narrowing of the gap since the shape of the deal began to become known. Ipsos-Mori have so far failed to corroborate that trend, but there has only been one recent Ipsos-Mori poll, so it's possible it will still happen.
The online YouGov poll is less encouraging for Leave because it shows the state of play firmly back into the 'normal range' for online pollsters, after a brief period when it looked like Leave had achieved a telling swing on the back of the reaction against the emerging deal. The last two online ICM polls have also shown a return to business as usual, and that's probably not a coincidence. So we could - and it's still only a possibility - be starting to see an indyref-style convergence between telephone and online polls, with the Remain lead drifting downwards in the telephone polls, while the online polls show a broadly static position.
There's a new article on the YouGov website suggesting that the massive divergence between telephone and online polls can be mostly explained by the reluctance of some people to admit to a telephone interviewer that they are undecided, and their inclination to instead opt for the easy answer of saying they support the status quo. That's just speculation, but it is consistent with the fact that there are significantly fewer Don't Knows in telephone polls (which is the complete opposite of what you'd normally expect). If there's any truth in that theory, it means the sizeable Remain lead in phone polls could be quite soft, and it also means there's no reason to suppose that online and phone polls will show the same trend over the remainder of the campaign - a dramatic convergence could be on the cards as the 'knee-jerk Remains' among telephone respondents start to give more considered answers. We may be starting to see the very early signs of that.
* * *
SCOT GOES POP POLL OF POLLS
Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
50/50 ONLINE/TELEPHONE AVERAGE :
Remain 45.9% (-0.8)
Leave 38.8% (-0.4)
ONLINE AVERAGE :
Remain 40.0% (-1.4)
Leave 40.7% (-1.2)
TELEPHONE AVERAGE :
Remain 51.8% (-0.2)
Leave 36.8% (+0.4)
(The Poll of Polls takes account of all polls that were conducted at least partly within the last month. The online average is based on ten polls - five from ICM, three from YouGov, one from BMG and one from TNS. The telephone average is based on six polls - three from ComRes, two from Ipsos-Mori and one from Survation.)