Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Remain open up 6% lead in final ComRes phone poll

Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?

ComRes (phone) :

Remain 48% (+2)
Leave 42% (-3)

YouGov (online) :

Remain 51% (+2)
Leave 49% (-2)

The ComRes result is, I'm sure, going to be portrayed in some quarters as a hammerblow for Leave, but actually, a quick perusal of past ComRes results reveals this to be the second-best poll of the series for Leave - the Remain lead has only slipped below 7% on one previous occasion, and that was in the most recent poll.  The other big saving grace for the Leave campaign is that the ComRes fieldwork took place over several days, and actually started as long ago as Friday - so these numbers aren't any more up to date than any of the other polls we've seen today or yesterday.  They're an important piece of evidence, but they don't supersede what has gone before.  Basically this returns us to the long-running conundrum of this campaign - do you trust phone polls more than online polls, or is the truth somewhere in between?

* If online polls are calling this correctly, we're heading for a cliffhanger.

* If phone polls are right, the odds favour Remain - although there have been fewer phone polls to go on, and the three most recent ones have given conflicting estimates of the size of the Remain lead (arguably the ORB poll managed to contradict itself).

* If the true position is at a rough midway point between online and phone polls (which seems to be John Curtice's view), you'd very slightly favour Remain, but you certainly wouldn't be betting your house on it - particularly given that it's so hard to make predictions about how differential turnout will play out in an unprecedented one-off referendum.

My namesake James in the comments section below has pointed out (and I'm taking his word for it, because the YouGov website has crashed!) that the percentage changes in the YouGov poll are misleading, because there's been a methodological change - a 'squeeze' has been added to take account of undecided leaners.  On a like-for-like comparison with the previous poll and excluding the squeeze, the figures are apparently Remain 45% (+3), Leave 45% (+1).  A dead heat is within YouGov's recent normal range, so as was the case with Opinium and TNS (and I would argue Survey Monkey as well), there's absolutely no hard evidence of a very recent swing to Remain in this poll.

Another commenter raised a point that we've heard a lot about in recent days - that by some mysterious process, the City somehow already "know" that Remain will win, and will receive between 52% and 54% of the vote.  This was my reply, and I think it bears repeating -

"Short of buying into the conspiracy theories and accepting that elections in Britain are rigged, that just sounds like gibberish to me (either that or professional arrogance). Even if you were looking at extensive private polling evidence showing that the Remain vote was around 52-54% with Don't Knows excluded, that does not constitute hard evidence that Remain is definitely going to win, because it's close enough for Leave to sneak it if the turnout-modelling is wrong. (And given the uniqueness of the contest, why would anyone have 100% confidence that the turnout modelling is well-founded?)"

The issue of turnout modelling is particularly relevant to the ComRes poll, because the ComRes adjustment for turnout has tended to be more favourable for Remain than what other pollsters have been doing. The basic figures among the whole sample tonight are Remain 46.8%, Leave 42.1%.

ComRes have also rather boldly reassigned some Don't Knows to Remain on the basis of how they answered a supplementary question about the economy. That could be a dangerous thing to do, given that the economy and immigration have been vying for importance throughout this campaign. Time will tell whether it was a stroke of genius or a foolish 'reimagining' of the raw results of a poll. Without that highly unusual adjustment, the headline Remain lead would have been a touch lower.

21 comments:

  1. unless you are doing a rolling average, polls in field this long just give the pollster cover. How many % voted before this week?

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    1. Postal voting should be about 20% of the total.

      YouGov is actually a 45-45 tie before reallocation of don't knows. When squeezed they broke more heavily to Remain.

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    2. Superb find. I had saved a PDF before the site crash and you are right.

      Me thinks pollsters are doing new Orleans vodoo at this point instead of being honest and saying its a dead heat we do not know.

      George

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  2. I was assured by a friend of mine who works in the City earlier that there is no question of anything other than a remain vote with an expected result in the range 52-54 percent for remain. Exit polls have been commissioned by multiple parties but will not be made public.

    In any event and despite the apocalyptic warnings the markets are relaxed about Brexit, not least because any actual exit is years away.

    However large amounts of money can be made on relatively small fluctuations so as others have said I'd be watching the pound closely tomorrow.

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    1. "I was assured by a friend of mine who works in the City earlier that there is no question of anything other than a remain vote with an expected result in the range 52-54 percent for remain."

      Short of buying into the conspiracy theories and accepting that elections in Britain are rigged, that just sounds like gibberish to me (either that or professional arrogance). Even if you were looking at extensive private polling evidence showing that the Remain vote was around 52-54% with Don't Knows excluded, that does not constitute hard evidence that Remain is definitely going to win, because it's close enough for Leave to sneak it if the turnout-modelling is wrong. (And given the uniqueness of the contest, why would anyone have 100% confidence that the turnout modelling is well-founded?)

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    2. Cobblers.

      I've been in the biz for 25 years and while most of my colleagues and contacts expect Remain to win, nobody knows. It's too tight and 80% of the votes are due to be cast today. You just cannot predict that.

      Personally the only thing I am hedging is a transfer of cash from Norway to make sure I don't get caught short if we have a Leave result and the Pound takes a dive.

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  3. What will happen if England votes very narrowly to leave, but Scotland's Remain vote is the difference, and the UK remains in the EU? It looks like Remain has gained a bit of support at the end but is it enough?

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    1. I don't think anything will happen at all - it'll be a non-event. There'll be some grumbling in the press, but people will move on fairly quickly.

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    2. Remember what happened when Yes lost narrowly in 2014.

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    3. Aye, but we were cheated. Purdah has been ostensibly observed here. The BBC has been roughly neutral. There are pro and anti papers. And the franchise has been limited a wee bit. If we'd had all those we would be independent today. No doubt whatsoever.

      So there's less institutional cheating on this one.

      The best result for Scotland is England leave, UK remain because Scotland and Ireland vote remain.

      I speak mostly to smaller business types in the south. Mostly they are leave. I think we will know on Friday, but I expect to have a sound sleep on Thursday night. I'll get the result on this site at 7 AM (ish) on Friday.

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    4. James, no way will a lot of the Eurosceptics in England move on if the scenario I have given plays out. Many of them have been waiting for this moment their entire political careers. They will see Scotland being the tail that waged the dog (England and rUK).

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    5. Perhaps I should phrase things more carefully so I'm not misunderstood - I don't think the Brexiteers will move on if it's a close result, but neither do I think Scotland tipping the balance or not tipping the balance is going to make a huge amount of difference in that regard. People will move on from the whinge about Scotland, not least because almost all Brexiteer politicians are unionists.

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    6. London is just as Remain friendly and has a bigger population, so amy argument they make against Scotland can just be pointed right back at the capital.

      So beyond appealing to Daily Mail readers its just not a great line of attack for them.

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  4. What's with all these methodological changes in these last polls? Is this just the pollsters looking at their competitions results and covering their arses so they don't look miles out from everybody else?

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    1. There's probably an element of that. On a more positive note, YouGov have finally added Northern Ireland to their sample, which helps Remain a tiny smidgeon - why they didn't do that weeks or months ago is beyond me.

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  5. Ireland beat Italy in the Euro!!! All can't be bad...

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  7. Survey Monkey have released another poll, now shows Remain 51, Leave 46. Both them and YouGov have shown a steady drift to Remain over the last week.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B99Qs2h04TA7MVJPRlZRRnV1S00/view

    YouGov have released a chart showing their daily data. The guy who analysed it (Ben Lauderdale) put an update on twitter last night saying that Brexit was now at 50.1%.

    https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/06/21/yougov-referendum-model/

    Still think this will be bawhair close because of postal voting and a lot of the polls are making assumptions re: turnout. In fairness, that cuts both ways because they have high turnout % for young people (helping Remain) and C2DE social classes (helping Leave).

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    1. Lauderdale appears to be a heavy hitter in stats work. Good find and I agree with you the only conclusion unlike indyref is this is very close

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  8. Last ipsos mori poll 4% lead for remain, last populus poll out at 12

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  9. We Said Remain to Exit MenJune 23, 2016 at 11:31 AM

    How many polls are ringing ex-pats in spain etc, who you'd think are heavily weighted towards staying in the eu? That might explain the gap between polls and the betting markets,

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