Friday, June 17, 2016

So where now?

For the first time yesterday, I briefly came to the conclusion that the balance of probability slightly favoured a Leave victory.  I was very surprised by the complete turnaround shown by Ipsos-Mori, which until now had tended to be the most Remain-friendly of telephone pollsters.  I would have expected the Remain lead to be sharply down in their new poll, but a very clear Leave lead was a shock.  (That was partly due to methodological changes, but even so.)  A Survation phone poll also suggested a small Leave lead, and with some online firms reporting a Leave lead of as much as seven points, it seemed to me the likelihood was that Leave had built up just enough of a cushion to have a decent chance of holding on.

But then came the tragic murder of Labour MP Jo Cox yesterday afternoon.  That's dominated the news for more than 24 hours now, and is bound to have some kind of impact on public opinion, even if it's entirely unclear so far what that impact will be.  It may be direct or indirect (or both), and could be any of the following -

* Floating voters who had begun to swing towards Leave may take a step back and think "what is this country becoming?", and revert to Remain.

* There may be a backlash against the attempts by some on the Remain side to (with varying degrees of subtlety) politicise the tragedy.  That could help Leave.

* There could be an effect on turnout.  The 2004 Madrid bombings - which occurred days before a national election - didn't seem to directly change many people's voting intentions, but it did lead to a bigger turnout than anticipated, which helped the socialists to an unexpected victory.  If younger people turn out to vote in solidarity with the Cox family, it could help Remain.  But if the turnout is depressed by the suspension of campaigning, it could boost Leave.

* The public may conclude that the tragedy has no relevance at all to the referendum, but will still find themselves indirectly influenced by the suspension of campaigning.  There have been some suggestions that the Leave camp will lose the momentum they had built up, but I suspect Remain might have the greatest problem in this scenario.  The advocates of the status quo tend to have the most cards to play at the close of a referendum campaign, and Remain have effectively lost two days that they presumably would otherwise have spent ramping up apocalyptic fears about the economy.  (Given the public mood after Ms Cox's death, it's also going to be hard to resume a relentlessly negative, fear-based campaign when hostilities resume.)

If I was going to guess, I would say that Remain are more likely to benefit in one way or another, but we'll just have to wait for polling evidence.  The information will probably come gradually - first we'll get polls that were only partly conducted after Ms Cox's death, and only after that will we get definitive evidence of any shift in opinion.  As always, it's also worth remembering that a substantial minority of votes have already been cast by post - and there are strong rumours that Leave have done very well so far.

30 comments:

  1. Glasgow Working Class 2June 17, 2016 at 7:56 PM

    Great distillation of the possible scenarios. Are there any polls that will be conducted wholly after this awful tragedy, or is there not enough time before the 23rd?

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    1. Glasgow Working Class 2June 17, 2016 at 11:51 PM

      Sad that the above should use my monika. I would never use the word distillation. Only an arse with an ego would. Sad Nat si get a life and a name.

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    2. Glasgow Working Class 2June 18, 2016 at 12:45 PM

      You wouldn't use the word dustillation, but you would use moniker...but spelled phonetically the way an English person would pronounce it. I think it's clear which of us is the original Glasgow Working Class 2.

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    3. Ipsos MORI are conducting another telephone poll which started on the 17th. Dunno who the client is, or whether the results will be made public though.

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  2. This case has really reminded me of the tragic murder of the Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh in 2003. She was campaigning for Sweden to vote to join the Euro in that year's referendum, but she was stabbed to death while out shopping just days before the referendum occurred. She was a respected, moderate politician and her death caused a great deal of outcry.

    There was a lot of speculation at the time about the motives, whether it was an anti-Euro extremist or a more run of the mill lunatic (It was the latter). There was also a great deal of speculation over whether the murder would sway votes, with commentators wondering if the outpouring of sympathy would bring more people to vote for Sweden to join the Euro. That didn't happen, with Swedish voters rejecting the Euro by a wider margin than people predicted.

    Of course, that's not to say that the two situations are directly comparable. Different countries, different campaigns, different politicians and a different killer. Still, some interesting parallels all the same...

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    1. I wondered about that parallel earlier, but a journalist who says he was living in Sweden at the time offered these points against that narrative.

      "Big differences: 1. The killer had no affinity to any part of the debate. 2. the polls were never close & 3. No to joining the Euro was the status quo option. And the result was still 5 points over last poll."

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    2. This is a graph of Swedish opinion about adopting the Euro from 1997 to 2012. Referendum was in September 2003.

      After a brief bump around the physical launch of the Euro (early 2002), Swedish support for the Euro was consistently around 35-37% from 2003 to 2008. The actual result of the referendum was 42-56 (2% invalid votes).

      http://www.nejtillemu.com/images/scb1212.gif

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    3. Interesting. I stand corrected, then.

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    4. There was however in Sweden an expectation that the murder would change opinion and that didn't happen. If I remember correctly the murderer's motifs were not known at the time of the referendum, so were at least open to interpretation. I would not be surprised if the tragic murder of MP Cox in the end has very little effect on the referendum outcome. Which is good I think.

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  3. Backlash on top of a backlash. England votes Leave.

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  4. Maybe not the most appropriate thing to be addressing Ms Cox as "Cox" at this time though. Let's show her a bit of dignity James. It's not all about us!

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    1. Maybe not the most appropriate thing to concern troll either, come to that.

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    2. I've added the "Ms" to avoid a pointless argument at a sensitive moment, but no disrespect was intended, as I'm sure you're aware.

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    3. Typeface.

      Also a nobody MP with a sleazebag husband member of Brown's coterie. Now turned into the new Saint Diana by the ever willing media.

      Curious that an actual assassination attempt on Alec Salmond was completely ignored by the outrage merchants. Well it's not at all is it. Vermin!

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  5. Invidious ComparisonJune 17, 2016 at 8:36 PM

    I'm trying to imagine a worse atmosphere in which to hastily conduct the two fear based campaigns lead by Cameron, Farage, Osborne, Boris, and Gove. Short of a full scale terror attack I can't.

    If this was unedifying and offputting for a Scottish audience already due to the relentless tory kipper London focus(and believe me, based on plenty of conversations with the public it most definitely was) then it just got a whole lot worse somehow.

    You pile on top of that the fact that we just had the Scottish elections (because why the fuck would those matter to a big campaign effort to follow??) and that this whole EU ref campaign has been rushed for one reason and one reason alone. So Cameron could try to minimise the fallout in his own party.

    Yet he was so out of touch it didn't occur to him for a second that it would be close. Inevitably, the quick campaign was an utterly futile gesture (for tory 'unity' )and one that may well come back to haunt him as I suspect might Cameron's insistence on a 'blood and soil' tory approach to who can vote in this EU referendum. (No E.U. citizens etc.)

    I would be staggered at anything approaching a high turnout because this 'attempt' at a referendum has been so myopic in it's blanket media coverage and utterly insular when it comes to engagement outside of what appears to be a list of tory kipper swing voters in the South. They are sure as fuck targeting them hard while the rest of us look on wearily. Yes, some small efforts to pop outside the westminster village to see the working classes 'oop north' have been reported, but boy, are they ever patronising and edited to within an inch of their lives, even by the BBC's crushingly low standards of 'reportage'.

    Turnout will be the one to watch as so far the glaringly obvious flaw of having someone like Cameron front and centre (who spent most of his time as PM stirring up anti-EU and anti-immigration feeling because he feared his right wing so much) just can't come across as someone credible who actually believes what he's trying to sell.

    We'll see. We'll do the best we can to get the vote out but we can't perform miracles in the face of heartbreaking tragedy and two odious negative campaigns led by tories and kippers.

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  6. I think all bets are off now. The Brit State propaganda machine is now in full swing. Thoroughly disgusted at Fluffy and Murray and Begg using this to tell us what a hard life MPs etc have. Heck any one of us could be killed by a nutter or a drunk, they are usually behind the wheel of a car though and not carrying a gun. Attack on democracy my arse!

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    1. Not just me then.

      Fortunately it was not an islamofascist. That would have swung it for leave. It was just one of our home-grown mentally ill ( I assume ). I feel very sorry for the two children left motherless here. Politics is actually a thankless task. I wouldn't want to be an MP or MSP.

      I am, however, astonished at the politicians calling for restrictions on access. In particular I heard a couple of Labour grandees as I channel surfed. There are shopkeepers murdered frequently, there are teenagers murdered frequently. I read a catalogue of nasty and sadistic crime whenever I venture into the press. We are all potential victims of random "sick" people. Are MP's statistically at far greater risk from random attack? The IRA targeted them, but that war is over. I would be very wary of an out of touch political class seeking greater privilege on the back of this disgraceful event.

      I get the feeling the coverage - referring to the perpetrator being "right wing" or shouting British slogans - is a spin attempt at slandering the leave side.

      I suspect neither side will really gain, but it does highlight the risks that a terrorist act, or say the death of a head of state in the next few days could sway voters. After all, a convenient pregnancy for some duchess is credited with some of the no votes in our own first Indyref.

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    2. A/ He had O.C.D which is about as useful a warning sign of a coldblooded murder as A.D.H.D has for predicting a kidnapping.

      B/ His links to various unsavoury and racist far-right groups are pretty old while the pics purporting to show him campaigning recently are as useful as any Internet led search for people who look a bit like other people.

      C/ He was lucid when questioned and he was questioned so this is very much in the hands of the police as to how much info they release and why.

      We do not know for certain his motive and it is even possible we may not ever know depending on various factors like the trial and his lawyers advice. Not that the speculation will stop for a second of course. Why would it?

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  7. Survey Monkey online poll for NBC News has it at 48-48 (fieldwork completed before yesterday).

    http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/brexit-referendum/poll-british-voters-split-brexit-think-eu-exit-vote-will-n594086

    Interestingly, Survey Monkey had just about the only poll that correctly showed the Tories well ahead of Labour going into the 2015 election. They were a fair bit off with the actual scores (they had Tory 34, Lab 28 rather than the actual result of 37-31), but running that through a seat predictor would have given broadly the correct election result. That poll didn't get much coverage in the UK because it was only published in an American newspaper.

    http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/cgi-bin/usercode.py?CON=34&LAB=28&LIB=7&UKIP=13&Green=8&TVCON=&TVLAB=&TVLIB=&TVUKIP=&TVGreen=&SCOTCON=&SCOTLAB=&SCOTLIB=&SCOTUKIP=&SCOTGreen=&SCOTNAT=&display=AllChanged&regorseat=%28none%29&boundary=2015

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  8. Some salient points, James, most of which I've considered over the last day or two. As I see it, Jo Cox's tragic death will have a negligible impact on the result next Thursday. After parliament is recalled briefly on Monday, things will more or less revert to the norm in the final few days.
    The MSM has the memory of a goldfish when something bigger is looming on the near horizon.

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    1. Not is some sections of the MSM can use the Jo Cox tradgedy to further their own agenda.

      Then.......it becomes permanent front page news for the next five days.

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    2. Exclusive Clickbait - New extraordinary info on MP murderer [See inside for more on pages 2,4,5,6 ]June 17, 2016 at 10:16 PM

      There will be nothing 'brief' about Monday.

      You are also fooling yourself if you think removing the final weekend of campaigning in a referendum (when some of the biggest efforts to reach voters were scheduled) can possibly have a "negligible impact" on that campaign.

      It's also verging on the delusional to think that there will be anything "normal" about the last frenzied couple of days of campaigning. A mad dash to get both sides core message out to as many people as possible with Jo Cox's murder hanging over everything as the tabloids and tabloid TV news move heaven and earth to get as much salacious/speculative e info as possible on anything at all that can be linked to it.

      We have some of the most disreputable, salacious and downright corrupt press/tabloids on the planet. Expect them to live down to that soon enough.

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  9. James,
    For what it's worth I just voted by postal ballot, off on hols, I don't particularily like the direction of the EU but there is no way I trust Westminster to negotiate on Scotland's behalf on anything - look what they did on entry. So it was remain for me, and campaign for the repatriation of of our sovereignty.

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  10. If the Establisment has the bare faced cheek to tell the public they should vote for the EU because a random nutcase killed an MP then I hope they get their ass handed to them.

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  11. Usatoday has polling data before and after. Leave support was unchanged at 52% and remain dropped. You can find the link at the drudge report.

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    1. That's not a proper poll. I wouldn't dismiss it completely because it's the only straw in the wind we've got so far, but it should be treated with extreme caution.

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    2. Drugs is a scumbag, just So you know.

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  12. Really not sure how this will play. I understand the 'advantage remain' view, but I am not sure how much the 'normal'(and potential) leave voters will associate the question with what is the actions of an obviously mentally ill UK neo nazi.

    Remainers may well take that view, but if that view gets peddled too hard (which it may), then it could well end up being seen as the king of outrageous and cynical political establishment smears on a majority of the 'normal' population.

    Something more likely to anger and divide (depending on your previous held view) rather than encourage movement to one side or the other?

    I was also sensing, before the murder, the start of a very unpleasant ratcheting up of the 'Nigel Farage' immigrants interview and campaigning attitude. The euphoria of the leave polls inducing the beginnings of a possible Neil Kinnock 'well aaall rightttt!' hubris type moment in the closing stages for Brexit. Calamity!

    I really think this was the biggest danger to Leave and I also think that the current circumstances will make that almost impossible now, as even Nigel and the loopier side of Leave will be tapping into (and being restrained by) the jointly agreed downbeat funerial flavour of the remainder of the campaign proceedings.

    If Leave were in fact 10 points ahead, then they may well be able to just about freewheel over the line come Thursday.

    What do I know though, the Lady Di phenomenon left me cold and excommunicated socially ;-(

    braco

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  13. I will be abstaining. People who vote to remain are voting for David Cameron's reformed EU and not the EU as it is just now.

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