Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
Remain 45% (-4)
Leave 55% (+4)
The first thing to say is that it's astonishing that the official Leave campaign have immediately tried to discredit this poll, and have claimed that their own data shows the race to be closer to 50/50. Regardless of whether that's true or not, their eagerness to say it out loud is telling - it seems eerily similar to the Yes campaign's counterintuitive horror in 2014 when the famous YouGov poll was published putting Yes ahead. (If you recall, the SNP's reaction was to hurriedly release a private poll showing No slightly ahead.)
Presumably the fear is that as soon as the perception takes root that the 'change' option is actually winning (as opposed to merely being in with a shout), the forces of hell will be unleashed, and all the scrutiny will be applied to one side only. That's exactly what happened to the Yes campaign, although I do have the impression that people aren't quite as susceptible to scare tactics as they were two years ago - partly because, rightly or wrongly, they don't feel that quite as much is at stake.
Leaving aside the highly unusual health warning slapped on this poll by Leave themselves, the more general caveat is that not too much weight should ever be given to 'just one poll'. But is this 'just one poll'? The trend is very much in line with the findings of recent ICM phone and online polls, and also with the most recent Opinium online poll. It's hard to say whether the last ORB phone poll (tonight's poll is an online poll from the same firm) showed the same trend or not, because the turnout-filtered headline figures and the unfiltered figures reported swings in opposite directions. But the YouGov poll a few days ago did flatly contradict what we're seeing tonight. So while the new poll isn't a complete departure from what we've seen before, the evidence isn't totally consistent. The most that can be said is that it now looks somewhat more probable than it did a few hours ago that there has been really significant movement towards Leave.
For what it's worth, the small and unreliable Scottish subsample in the new poll puts Remain ahead by 60% to 40% - which of course full-scale Scottish polls suggest may be a conservative estimate. So as of this moment there does seem to be a very real chance of the scenario that we've long thought might trigger a second independence referendum - ie. a Leave vote across the UK coupled with a clear Remain vote in Scotland. The unionist ascendancy within the official Remain campaign have been playing a high stakes game by "warning" English voters about the likelihood of Brexit triggering Indyref 2 - that's fine if the warnings are heeded, but if not, it's going to be hard for the same people to argue later on that it would be illegitimate for the SNP to push for Indyref 2. In that sense, I'm inclined to say that the interventions of John Major and Tony Blair are of much greater significance than the recent ICM and TNS polls showing narrow majorities against the idea of holding a second referendum in the event of Brexit. (In any case, both polls showed a statistical tie - ie. even if the methodology was completely sound, the standard 3% margin of error makes it impossible to know whether there is a narrow majority for or against a second referendum. Essentially the polls suggest that public opinion is split down the middle, which puts the ball firmly in the court of our elected representatives in the Scottish Parliament - and most of them are pro-independence.)
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LEAVE TAKES THE LEAD FOR FIRST TIME IN SCOT GOES POP POLL OF POLLS
50/50 ONLINE/TELEPHONE AVERAGE :
Remain 45.0% (+0.7)
Leave 45.8% (+1.9)
ONLINE AVERAGE :
Remain 42.9% (+0.6)
Leave 45.6% (+1.9)
TELEPHONE AVERAGE :
Remain 47.0% (+0.7)
Leave 46.0% (+2.0)
(The Poll of Polls takes account of all polls that were conducted at least partly within the last two weeks. The online average is based on seven polls - three from YouGov, two from ICM, one from Opinium and one from ORB. The telephone average is based on three polls - two from ORB and one from ICM.)