Here’s a quick update on the Irish Lisbon Referendum. There was a new poll from Millward Brown on Sunday that put YES at 53% and NO at 26%. However, getting rather more attention is a poll from Gael Poll which claims to show YES and 41% and NO at 59%.

As far as I can tell, this poll is hokum. The company don’t seem to have a website so I can only go on what I’ve got, but the sampling of the poll seems to have been conducted at just ten sample points, suggesting a face-to-face survey with no attempt at a broad representative spread of sample. Compare this with a professional Ipsos MORI face-to-face poll, which uses in the region of 200 sampling points. Worse, a couple of sources indicate there is no attempt at weighting the poll.

The poll is being given some creedance because their poll before the first referendum got the result pretty much spot on, when polls carried out using what should have been solid methodology got it wrong. I would caution against reading too much into that. Even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day.

Irish politics isn’t my thing, I’ve no idea how the referendum campaign may go in the last week, or how fluid opinion is. However, respectable polling outfits aren’t showing any real drop in that lead yet, and while some of the polls in 2008 got it wrong, they were showing the two sides very close – as opposed to the sort of towering lead the Irish polls are currently showing for the YES camp.

UPDATE: A mea culpa from Mick Fealty at Slugger O’Toole for reporting it. He has more detail from the methodology which really does bury this: “researchers were friends of the organisers who in turn interviewed people in their social groups, paying some attention to the spread of social class…” In other words, they asked their mates.

26 Responses to “Irish Lisbon referendum update”

  1. I to don’t know anthing about Irish politics Anthony,i do think it is worth a mention however,as they did the same poll at the same time in the same way in Lisbon 1 & they were the most accurate.

    A lot of polls in Ireland & i mean a lot 90%+ on Lisbon are believed with some evidence to be politically motivated by the YES side.

    There is hardly any time being given to the NO side at all.

    Lets just say,remember the ICM poll on the popularity of the BBC the other day,did anybody really believe that? i know i didn’t,so it isn”t confined to Ireland.

  2. Rich,

    I am having real trouble finding the details on that previous Gael poll so that I can compare it with other polls conducted at the same time in 2008.

    Also what exactly is this evidence that nine out of ten polls in Ireland are biased towards the Yes camp. Given that at least four of them were by TNS that’s a pretty strong claim.

    TNS aren’t my favourite pollster but I’ve never had reason to suspect them of bias.

    Again as to the ICM poll just because you didn’t believe it isn’t evidence it was biased.

    Looking at the track record of ICM as a BPC member with an open tried and tested methodology and large sample size and comparing them to this poll everything would suggest that ICM should be the more reliable.

    You really are coming across as someone who decides on the validity of a poll on the basis of whether you like the result.

    I have no doubt that the margin has tightened but to herald this as a more accurate poll on Lisbon in Ireland than others on the basis of one previous poll a year ago while questioning the ICM BBC poll despite their years of quality polling really doesn’t do much for your reputation.


  3. Rich,

    Your all but embarrassing yourself.

    I can’t find any background to these people or a link anywhere to the 2008 poll you mention so i can check the methodology or just how much better or worse it was compared to others.

    What I can find is it being quoted on every Euro screptic web site going as being the most authoritative statement since the ten commandments.

    You come across as someone who decides the veracity of a poll on the basis of whether you like the result.

    To defend this on the basis of a single poll a year ago that was accurate while claiming that there is evidence that nine out of ten Irish polls on Lisbon have a degree of Political Bias (Just what evidence is there of pollitical bias) isn’t really on.

    To compound that by claiming that someone like ICM ,a member of the BPC and one of the most respected Pollsters in the UK (and Beyond) produces biased results for its clients does your reputation here no good at all.

    I’d love to know what your idea of evidence of “political motivation” is although I suspect it is the ommission of the words “Dark Satanic” from before the words “Lisbon Treaty” that bothers you.


  4. OT but what’s happened to the swingometer function that lets you see all the seats that change hands after you input your entries?

  5. Peter Cairns (SNP)

    Lets deal with your little tirade point by point.


    ‘every Euro screptic web site going as being the most authoritative statement since the ten commandments.’

    New poll shows No side with large lead.

    Libertas is a pro-Eu well known if not big certainly respected party is it not.

    The article in question was written by one’Declan Ganley,Leader of said political party.

    so lets look at some extracts to confirm my post.

    You wrote

    You come across as someone who decides the veracity of a poll on the basis of whether you like the result.

    I can’t find any background to these people or a link anywhere to the 2008 poll you mention

    My response to you peter.

    From Declan Ganley:

    I am always sceptical of polls, Lisbon ones in particular. However this one does have more strength that I would normally give to polls for 2 reasons:

    1. They asked one single straight question

    2. They were almost spot on with their last Lisbon poll.

    Pollsters at Gael Poll which is a non-profit social affairs research organization are quietly confident that they will be accurate for a second year in a row:


    The last Gael Poll which was published in the Irish Sun (June 4th 2008) accurately predicted that the Lisbon Treaty would be defeated by a margin of 54 % for the No side versus 46% for Yes campaigners.

    This poll Peter is also being carried out for the Irish SUN,so again a pretty well-known respected newspaper.

    so to answer you further question’Your all but embarrassing yourself’


    Do you have a problem with that?

  6. Peter

    On your other ‘question’

    The Irish pollsters have been accused by many including Ganley & Farage of being to tied to the Church,Political Parties & the unions,all are in favour of a YES vote in the upcoming referendum.

    Up until now i have just posted what others have said,that is why i find your abuse hard to understand,i havn’t given my opinion yet.

    My opinion Peter was on the poll carried out by ICM(regarded as the BBC pollster)for the Guardian,it is just my opinion Peter i do not believe as they put it.

    1)The British people do not care or want to know what Ross and other celebrities are paid,or restrict this pay & are happy to keep the pay of their ‘stars’ secret.

    2)The British people are happy with the level & the fact there is a TV licence.

    3)The british people see nothing wrong in the BBC expenses,including the private jets used by the BBC boss.

    It is just my opinion Peter this ICM poll is complete B******s.

  7. I’d go and look at the actual ICM poll, rather than the interpretation of it by others. You’re attacking a straw man.

    It’s a perfectly valid poll, it doesn’t show that people are happy with the licence fee, or that they think that things are rosy in the BBC gardens.

    ICM are by no means the BBC’s pollster anyway. The BBC use a wide range of pollsters, Newsnight normally use ICM – but even there they commissioned their most recent polling from ORB. Even if they were, ICM are seasoned professionals who would not risk their reputation sucking up to media clients when, like all pollsters, their overwhelming majority of their income comes from commericial clients who value accuracy.

    (And a politician reported the poll so it has creedence? Sheesh! After Ken Livingstone’s insightful turn as a polling critic during the London elections I’d think people would have learnt that elected office (and Ganlan doesn’t even have that) does not suddenly make one’s opinion about the validity of polls worth listening too)

  8. To Rich –

    I think calling Libertas pro-EU is slightly disingenuous. Although that do not want to leave the EU they strongly oppose the Lisbon Treaty. You keep on saying that they are pro-EU to make it seem that they would naturally support the Lisbon Treaty, whereas the opposite is in fact true. It you were not making this point then I apologise, but if you were not then why bang on about Ganley’s & Libertas’ pro-EU stance?

  9. is a news portal – it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Irish edition of The Sun newspaper; the Gaelpoll poll has no pedigree, nor does it show any shift from figures it produced last December.

    The referendum posters along our road have multiplied slightly. The first ‘No’ posters are from the People Before Profit Alliance (the Socialist Workers Party). The right-wing, in the absence of Libertas money, seems to have very little firepower.

    The Catholic bishops have told the faithful not to believe literature circulated by right-wing Catholic groups. A poll amongst members of the Irish Farmers Association showed 80% support for a ‘Yes’ vote.

    Were I a betting person, I would put money on a two to one majority for the Treaty

  10. Rich – I wouldn’t put money on it if I were you, or the name “Rich” might have to be re-thought :)

  11. Well now. I’ve asked around my circle of friends over here in France, and I have found that – of the British ones – 85% support the EU.

    I never realised that so many Brits were in favour of the EU.


    Now that is something….

  12. @Jack Cornish,

    How does opposing a proposal to change the EU make you anti-EU?

    Would opposing the government’s reform of the Law Lords make you anti-UK?

  13. These dodgy poll companies just mess stuff up, they encourage corruption in politics, voter fraud and betting fraud.
    I do not want to see us like one of these dodgy democracies where there are so many dodgy opinion polls, with different results, that no can tell if an election has been stolen.
    It does not bode well.
    It angers me these people think this is a moral thing to do. It is beneath contempt.
    Those who lie about democracy and opinion poll results should face jail. I honestly mean that.
    I do not mean some lone blogger making up some opinion poll as a joke, or for attention, but a serious political group trying to put forward these fake opinion polls should face jail or massive fines. It is pure simple lying, something that only helps corruption and lack of trust in the system.

  14. This has truly got to be the gold standard for crappy poll methodology.

    It’s one thing not to bother with weighting but literally doing your polling by just having a few people ask their mates is truly awful.

    It’s got to make you laugh.

  15. My clock is a digital 24 hour one. When the batteries are running out it starts to show ‘Nan%’ instead of numbers.

    Read into this what you will.

  16. The good news continues.
    As said by Neil though, voting intention still within Error Bounds. Approval ratings terrible for Labour, good for Cameron, though I don’t think as bad as some approval ratings we’ve seen for Brown.
    That figure for only 47% of Labour voters planning to vote again is just terrible. Though as Alec said, if taken at face value it seems to indicate a dramatic switch to labour from elsewhere, which seems unlikely at this point in time.
    One possible explanation is just that since they would only have asked the 26% of people planning to vote labour, this brings the sample down to some 260 people, thus dramatically increasing the error margin.
    Who knows though, precisely.

  17. Gaah, sorry. wrong thread.

  18. Anthony Wells

    So let me get this straight,an opinion poll from an organistaion that predicted the outcome of Lisbon Treaty 1 to within 0.5% of the result can’t be trusted because they ask ‘their mates’.

    You however AW get information to ridicule it from’Slugger O Toole’!(your mates perhaps?)

    Whether the poll is right or wrong isn’t the question,the point is to my limited knowledge of irish polls,they were the ‘ONLY’ poll to predict a ‘NO’ vote,the only one not to use ‘your’ methodolodgy.

    It is funny it just so happens that i am against the LT,i however have an open mind,(unlike some it seems) on voting methodology,my expertise is economics not polls,but it remains a fact that i would not ridicule in economics that the chosen methodologdy whether used by economists ot pollsters can be shown up as wrong!,if in fact it got the result right.

    It remains the case if we were having this conversation in 2008,you would have come to the same conclusion & i would have produced a poll on your sight from a so called untrustworthy source that got better results,in fact to within 0.5% of the actual result,that my friend may be inconveinient to you,it is nonetheless fact.

    And you would have had egg on your face!will you again?

  19. ‘RICH
    Anthony Wells
    So let me get this straight,an opinion poll from an organistaion that predicted the outcome of Lisbon Treaty 1 to within 0.5% of the result can’t be trusted because they ask ‘their mates’.’

    As said at the start even a dead clock is right twice in the day. Analyse the poll methodology not whether you like the result

    Get over it Rich; sometimes people actually think closer EU is good. Grow up.

  20. Can anyone produce a link to the alleged poll of June 2008?

    I recall no such poll, and would have supported the ‘No’ camp last time round, and can find no link to it.

  21. Ian,

    I asked the same question and have been looking for two days now.

    All I have found is the same press statement stating that they had the most accurate poll. I can’t even find press Irish reports from the period running up to the election that mention it.


    Stop digging, it’s easier to fly to Australia….


  22. Mick Fealty is charitable in referring to the defunct Hibernian magazine, from which Gael Poll is said to derive, as ‘ultramontane.’ The former editor’s blog suggests it is platform for the wildest conspiracy theories.

    I read UK Polling report every week – my first degree was in politics and history from the LSE , so British politics have remained a fascination – and enjoy the discussions, but I think this thread might usefully be dumped!

  23. Yes, the accuracy of this this supposed poll from ‘Gael Poll’ is dubious at best. They are certainly not a reputable polling outfit and their methodology is at best questionable. As an Irish person I am becoming rather disturbed by ludicros claims being made by the lunatic fringes of the left and right in Ireland regarding the Lisbon Treaty.

    No, the EU does not want to abort your unborn children. No the minimum wage in Ireland will be totally unaffected by a positive Lisbon vote. The no-side is becoming so desparate in an attempt to scare-monger voters that they are now releasing rogue polls in the press!

    Lisbon 1 was not passed simply because there was a lack of information in the public domain and no concrete assurances regarding issues close to Irish hearts as there are this time. I am very confident that Lisbon 2 will be passed with flying colours.

  24. As a concerned voter, a totally committed european and a democrat, I find it amazing that in 2009 when, after a decision by plebiscite, an incompetent government can push, cajole, manipulate and threaten the people to keep voting until the RIGHT decision is achieved. Smacks of 1933 etc. Had the vote been Yes previously this situation would never have arisen. Hmmm! I really despair for European DEMOCRACY???. Principles where are ye!

  25. I agree with you Shawn, in relation to the danger to European/Irish democracy. But as you probably know this is the fourth time the EU constitution has been voted on and its never been consented to by democracy. I’m only amazed the people of Europe haven’t been up in arms about this total “affront to democracy”*

    All in favor of impeaching the Irish government…

    * Dick Roche T.D (Pro-Lisbon) after the result to Lisbon 1 on the subject of Lisbon 2

  26. Polling is over in Ireland, the Count starts at 9.00 a.m. in the morning.

    The Fine Gael pro-Lisbon Party has produced a conflicting exit poll that they say they undertook – with two conflicting results ! Then a bogus RTE exit poll was announced that showed Yes vote winning.

    The best way to regard it now is as neck-and-neck, a photo finish , with perhaps a No Vote advantage.

    ( The Fine Gael exit poll of 1000 voters at 33 polling stations would have been biased amongst their own pro-Lisbon supporters anyway, as it always is in Fine Gael election exit polls ) .

    The turnout appears to be the same as last year’s Lisbon Referendum that the No side won in Ireland – 53 % nationwide, so the Yes side did not get out any more voters than when they were defeated last year ( as they had hoped to ) !

    If I was a betting man right now I would bet on a NO Victory .

    We shouyld have first indications of the way the count is looking by midday after the first tallies are counted…

    It’s a damned close-run thing, too close to call now, at 4.00 in the morning here in Kilkenny City, Ireland .

    Michael .