ComRes had a new EU telephone poll in this morning’s Daily Mail. Topline figures are REMAIN 52%(-1), LEAVE 41%(+3), Don’t know 7%(-2). Tabs are here.

Note that this poll is now adjusted for likelihood to vote, using ComRes’s turnout model based on socio-economic factors, like age and class (the changes are adjusted to reflect this). Note that adjusting turnout based on ComRes’s model has marginally increased support for Remain (before the adjustment the figures would have been 51 and 41).

There’s a broad assumption that differental turnout is more likely to favour Leave in the EU referendum campaign, largely based on the fact that polls normally show Leave voters claiming they are more likely to be 10/10 certain to vote, and that Leave voters are older. I’m not so sure. Self-reported likelihood is a blunt tool (people who say they are 10/10 certain to vote are not really much more likely than 8/10 or 9/10 people), and the age skew that should favour Leave in terms of turnout (older people are more likely to vote, and more Leave) will to some degree be cancelled out by the social class and educational skews that favour Remain (middle class people and graduates are more likely to vote, and more Remain).

On the subject of education, YouGov also had an interesting article up today. Like Populus and ICM they have carried out parallel telephone and online surveys, but unlike other such tests which have found a big gulf between phone and online results YouGov found results that were very similar to each other: both phone and online polls found a small lead for Leave.

This result wasn’t just the weighting (even before weighting the raw sample was a lot more “leave” than the raw samples from other phone polls) suggesting it is something to do with the sampling. Obviously we can’t tell for certain what the reason is – the most obvious difference is that the YouGov poll was conducted over the period of a fortnight, so was slower than most telephone polls and there was more opportunity to ring back people who were unavailable on the first call – but there could be other differences to do with quotas or the proportion of mobile calls (the YouGov poll was about a third mobile, two-thirds landline. My understanding is most phone polls are about 50/50 now, though MORI is about 20/80).

Looking at the actual demographics of the sample YouGov highlight the difference between their landline sample and the samples for the Populus paper looking at phone/online differences – specifically on education. In the Populus telephone samples between 44-46% of people had degrees, whereas the actual figure in the Census and Annual Population Survey is around 30%. The YouGov phone sample had a lower proportion of people with degrees to begin with, and weighted it to the national figure.

There is a clear correlation between education and attitudes to the EU referendum (in the YouGov polls there was a Leave lead of about 30 points among people who left school at 16 and a Remain lead of 33 points among those who were in educated beyond the age of twenty. This is partially to do with age, but it remains true even within people of the same age) so samples are too educated or not educated enough it could easily make a difference. As it is we’ve only got education data for the Populus polling – we don’t know if there’s the same skew in other phone polls, or how much of a difference it would make if corrected, but different levels of education within achieved samples is a further hypothesis that could explain that ongoing difference between phone and telephone samples for the EU referendum.

291 Responses to “EU Polling Update – ComRes and turnout, YouGov and education”

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  1. @AW

    Very interesting. However,you may need to re-edit the article in a few places.

  2. Yep I’m a bit confused by Anthony’ s comments about education and age especially the 30 and 33 points lead. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

  3. There is a clear correlation between education and attitudes to the EU

    There is indeed. The more educated a person is, the more inclined they are to vote Remain.

    Yet, in these strange times, it is somehow considered wrong to listen to educated people. They are “elite” and so, somehow, wrong.

    Instead we are to listen – at least to give equal weight to – populist and reactionary viewpoints from rather more ill-informed people.

    I cant follow that logic myself.

    Yes. These are strange times.

  4. @Mikey – reading the youGov article I think it should definitely be the other way around….but we all make mistakes sometimes.

  5. Agreed David.

  6. As a bit of a leftie I’m not liking what I’m reading about Venezuela. Latin America and socialism don’t seem to go together, though I do wonder if it’s more communism than socialism?

  7. Sorry Anthony but I can’t follow the commentary at all. Also, do 30% of the voting population have degrees? Seems high to me given that few older people have one. It implies that 60% plus of the younger generation are University educated and I believe it is still less than 50%.

  8. Yes – this is a bit wrong. More educated people want to remain and vice versa.

  9. David in France

    Some problems with your ideas, I think.

    1. Both the Remain and Leave campaigns are fronted and run by “educated people”. Considering that they are presenting diametrically opposite selections from the same data, it seems difficult to argue that both are somehow “well-informed”.

    2. Since the benefits of political decisions tend to be asymmetrically distributed within the population, it would seem to be an unwarranted assumption that those with a higher level of education are considering the benefits to the whole population, as opposed to “people like me”.


    Indeed. As Obama said in a speech the other day when talking about anti-intellectualism:

    “If you were listening to today’s political debate you might wonder where this strain of anti-intellectualism came from,” “In politics and in life ignorance is not a virtue. It’s not cool to not know that you’re talking about. That’s not keeping it real or telling it like it is. That’s not challenging political correctness.”

    “When our leaders express a disdain for facts, when they’re not held accountable for repeating falsehoods and just making stuff up, while actual experts are dismissed as elitists, then we’ve got a problem.”

    It was aimed at Trump, but obviously applies more widely.

  11. Great to read an article that answers some of my questions from the previous thread. Coincidence, I’m sure, but thanks anyway. Valuable to have my thinking partially confirmed, and partially challenged.

  12. @RMJ1

    “Leave has a 37% lead with those educated to 17. Remain a 33% lead with those educated to 20+.”

  13. Which really does raise some fascinating points. Does it mean that more educated people understand the EU issues better, or that they are more gullible when faced with the mainstream orthodoxies?

    Certainly I wouldn’t accept @David in France’s implication that less educated = ill-informed. Different types of people experience life differently, even in the same society, and to suggest only one section is ‘right’ or ‘well-informed’ suggests that value judgements are being made on which set of experiences is valid or not. Big mistake, in a democracy.

    There are perfectly sound reasons why different educational attainment records might bring different views of the EU which don’t resort to effectively calling people thick, with the most obvious one being the impact of EU inspired policies (yes, immigration is significant here).

    Those more likely to work in manual and low skilled work will suffer more direct consequences than those at graduate level, for example, and to deny these people their experiences is to gift UKIP a healthy recruiting base.

    Personally, my experience of well educated people suggests to me that, as with the pre financial crash obsession with house prices and willingness to borrow excessively on inflated mortgages, there is little to suggest higher educational attainment actually brings any greater understanding. Rather, they follow a set of largely pre determined prejudices, in this case that the EU is ‘good’. This is as valid as any other group prejudice – no more, no less. Assigning moral value to it is a slippery slope.

    If the more educated remainers opted to read some of the commission decisions and ECJ judgements, perhaps they might take a more critical line, but this requires a more individual and detailed approach. I’m not convinced that modern British education encourages this, and so I’m less inclined to accept that ‘educated’ people necessarily have the right answer.

  14. Today has seen a real spread of nutty claims from both sides.

    Gove’s NHS threat looks really weird. Aside from whether the various countries will join the EU or one (and in the case of Turkey, that doesn’t matter as they have already been offered visa free travel in exchange for breaking human rights law on behalf of the EU) he appears to be correlating recent immigration and rises in A&E visits, and claiming a predictive causal relationship. Nuts!

    Later, Osborne tells us that leaving the EU will cause house prices to fall by a fifth. Given the record unaffordable level of house prices at present, this might serve as a handy recruiter for Brexit in some circles.

    Crazy stuff, with a very marginal connection to the truth. And meanwhile, the really serious issues within the EU remain untouched by the debate.

  15. rmj1

    “Also, do 30% of the voting population have degrees?”

    % of those with degree qualifications will have increased a little since 2011, but the census data was for those aged 16+ (so including young folk not entitled to vote in Westminster organised votes)

    England –

    No qualifications – 23%
    Degree level + – 27%

    Scotland –

    No qualifications – 27%
    Degree level + – 26%

  16. David in France;

    “There is indeed. The more educated a person is, the more inclined they are to vote Remain.

    Yet, in these strange times, it is somehow considered wrong to listen to educated people. They are “elite” and so, somehow, wrong.

    Instead we are to listen – at least to give equal weight to – populist and reactionary viewpoints from rather more ill-informed people.

    I cant follow that logic myself.

    Yes. These are strange times.”


    I believe that is called democracy.

    Clever people tend to come up with most of the ideas. But everyone gets to decide.

    Currently, educated people still seem to believe in consumer led economy. Or that increasing your population of itself increases national wealth. Any fool would squint their eyes, and think both propositions are a bit iffy. But an awful lot of educated people have heard something clever sounding, and believe they are clever to think the same. Fortunately, we give the vote to the fools, or we’d end up doing all sorts of clever sounding stupidity.

  17. @Alec / @Joseph 1832

    Is the reason for the better/less well educated data comparison more to illustrate that as better educated people have a greater propensity to vote, that a large lead for Remain amongst this cohort may be significant electorally?

    I’m sure we all accept that in a democracy (and especially this Referendum) all citizens have an equal right to vote and an equal weight of vote.

  18. RAF

    “better educated people have a greater propensity to vote”

    The endless question of correlation!

    Are people more likely to vote because they are educated, or are likelihood to vote and level of education correlated more strongly with a factor such as income, wealth or social class (which in turn …..)

  19. Re education vs eu. I think it’s more a thing of wealth vs eu. Unlimited EU migration is bad for working classes in wealthy (ie UK) nations, but good for the middle classes and above. “getting a man in” becomes (relatively) cheaper. This seems especially true in the uk, where the govt has tried to reduce non-eu (ie, skilled) immigration.

    I don’t think the differing views on immigration is much to do with education, I think the upper middle aren’t bothered by it because they…aren’t bothered by it. Immigration is competition in poorer areas, geographically & socially. Easy to be fine with current immigration levels if it’s making no difference to your life.

    Guardian types note & tut about how the poor have been getting relatively poorer for year on year on year, but nobody ever _does_ anything about it.

    “Yet, in these strange times, it is somehow considered wrong to listen to educated people. They are “elite” and so, somehow, wrong.
    Instead we are to listen – at least to give equal weight to – populist and reactionary viewpoints from rather more ill-informed people.”

    It should not be assumed that others are ill-informed simply because they disagree with one’s own view. Education and intelligence do not necessarily equate with wisdom. And a lack of formal education does not necessarily indicate a lack of intelligence. A sense (often instinctive) of good and bad, of what is right and wrong, is to be found throughout humanity, regardless of education and background. And people may not be as ill-informed as one thinks; they may even be wiser. Elite or otherwise, we might do better to re-examine our own positions. If travel broadens the mind, then education expands the ego. So it’s possible that we could, after all, be wrong. Self-doubt is a very useful tool.

  21. @David In France

    You have maybe made an unwarranted leap in your logic. Correlation does not equal causation.

    Historically-speaking, wealthier people have tended to vote Conservative more often than those with less money. Does that mean the money *itself* changes peoples votes? Having an extra fiver in your pocket somehow moves your pencil in the polling booth, Uri Geller-style?

    No, it is that people with more money tend to have a better *experience* under a Conservative government. They tend to get to keep more of their money. (If you suddenly won the lotto, the physical presence of the cash wouldn’t cause you to suddenly comprehend Conservative policies. It might just mean those policies were suddenly more personally beneficial though.)

    Is there any reason to suggest that intelligence/wisdom *itself* causes people to view the EU differently? Or is it possible that those educated to different levels have tended to have different experiences of the EU, and that different experience is the cause?

    You are right, it would be strange if we didn’t value the intellectual insight of those blessed with it. But it would be outrageous to suggest that we shouldn’t give equal weight to the very disparate *experiences* of people of different educational levels, if it turns out that the voting patterns are significantly due to EU membership having different effects on different types of people.

  22. I think the correlation between length of education and support for remain can perhaps be explained by susceptibility to media pressure. People who don’t have much interest in politics, or much exposure to rational analysis, naturally tend to have their perceptions of political issues shaped by the ‘megaphone’ views issuing forth from the tabloids and the most ‘bloke in the pub’ views.

  23. @ Oldnat

    Thought that you might be interested in some specific details about undeclared electoral expenses in the marginal near me:

  24. @Alec

    You raise a fair point. Education does make one more appreciative of diversity and therefore more tolerant towards immigration. The idea of a referendum on such a complex issues has always been a risky one. But eventually people will look to see what’s in it for them personally.

    The overeducated are more likely to travel, learn another language, find a job abroad, and thus like the beneficial aspects of EU membership.

    The undereducated, especially older types, are less interested in having international connections and focus on the negative aspects of immigration.

    Looking at ECJ rulings and studying variations of GDP is something an irrelevant minority of voters will do.

    People who back UKIP are consciously doing it, accusing them of being manipulated as you implicitly do will only reinforce their decision to detect established parties. Cameron has tried to act on advice based on arguments like yours. Look where he is.

  25. The reason that educated people are more likely to remain is not because uneducated people are idiots. It is because EU membership works for people who are better-off, while manual labourers see their jobs being taken by immigrants (though the extent to which this really happening is up for debate). People vote in self-interest.

  26. Good Morning from a wet Bournemouth East.

    I agree fully with what you wrote at 7.12 am, Saturday.

    The comments of Labour MP’s like Pat Glass recently and by Emily Thornberry two years ago, and by the then Labour leader in the 2010 GE Campaign seem to reveal the gap between many leaders and many voters.

    In terms of media influences, I think the ‘educated’ people are often less sceptical of established opinions than are the so-called- uneducated.

  27. WOOD:
    “Unlimited EU migration is bad for working classes”

    Hmm. I don’t think that’s true. It’s true that there is some evidence for wage suppression within certain “working class” industries, but that is limited in breadth and only applies to wages. Certainly wages are an important factor in life, but it’s not the only thing.
    To leap to the conclusion that EU migration is bad for a whole class of people is too much. And there are millions of working class people who would disagree with you by voting Remain.

    I understand the picture you’re trying to paint, but your brush is too broad.

  28. When you have worked in a research laboratory and seen a young man with an M.Sc. in chemistry try to remove the valve from a full gas cylinder using a spanner, you would be glad that the 6ft lab assistant restrained him, and wonder about any correlation between education and common sense.

  29. ‘In terms of media influences, I think the ‘educated’ people are often less sceptical of established opinions than are the so-called- uneducated.’

    What a strange assertion.

    I agree with the posters who have suggested it is about how EU membership is experienced by individuals. I suppose the more educated are, probably, more likely to have travelled to other EU countries, which might affect their outlook too.


    Wise words indeed.

  31. ALEC

    “there is little to suggest higher educational attainment actually brings any greater understanding”

    If that accurate , then higher education is a waste of money and the government should slash its funding.

  32. “try to remove the valve from a full gas cylinder using a spanner”
    One of the things I learned from my education is that single examples don’t disprove a trend.

    Your example perhaps shows that there is no mechanistic relationship between education and common sense. But a predictive or a causal relationship is still very much possible. Indeed, likely.

  33. Syzygy

    Thanks for the link.

    My concern is not about the behaviour of any one political party (though the Tories seem to be the most blatant at disregarding electoral law), but that there appears to be a (not unusual) conspiracy of indifference by the established Westminster parties.

    If such behaviours are not challenged and punished, then the theft of democracy will spread.

  34. The idea that menbership of the EU is bad for the UK working class is not firmly rooted in fact.

    Employee rights (including for part-time/temporary workers), equality rights , consumer rights, data protection and privacy, and human rights, all disproportionately benefit the working classses. All have been immeasurably strengthened under the EU.

    It should also be noted that most of the journalists and editors of most English daily newspapers (largely against the EU) are middle or upper middle class. Very few are working class.

  35. Most degrees are fact cramming exercises.
    Only studying philosophy is going to make you wiser.

    Everyone should also be taught media studies at school so everyone has more tools to critically appraise sources.

  36. @ALUN009
    I can assure you that my example was extreme, but not single.
    The issue has perhaps more to do with the content of higher education.
    It is instructive to read the biographies of eminent Victorian and Edwardian engineers to see how they learned their common sense and practical skills. Earlier, Isaac Newton could grind his own telescope mirrors (and when Master of the Mint pursued forgers in disreputable London taverns.)

  37. “Leave” are still only getting very modest leads ie 1-3%, whereas when “Remain” get a lead, it’s almost always a significant one in the range 5-10%.

    “Remain” seem to have scored some very large leads of late, although perhaps inflated by methodology. Ever so, that’s a nice place to be with just over a month to go.

    Personally I am still curious about how many Conservative voters will vote for “Remain”: I think that will go a long way to deciding the question. But a particular voter doesn’t have to be “Remain” zealot in order to vote for that choice. So I think they will get a lot of Conservative voters – but they won’t be all that keen.


    I agree with Colin, those are wise words.

    I have to say some of the arguments used by some of the “in” supporters here seem very pompous.

    I happen to have a degree and am a member of the “elite” as defined under the newer social classifications but that does not make me feel superior to those who are neither of those things just because they disagree with me.

    As it happens Iam strongly for “out”.

  39. @ The Other Howard

    “As it happens I am strongly for “out”.”

    Regular readers of these comments are likely to be well aware of that by now, Howard.

    For example, this is what you told us yesterday.

    “when the EU falls apart, probably with a good deal of bloodshed as it inevitably will, will you still be smiling. Those of us who want out will get our way sooner or later, it’s just that sooner would be better as we would avoid some of the fall out from the collapse.”

    [May 20th, 2016 at 8:00 am]

  40. Both the Remain and the Leave voters are extremely well informed of their own circumstances and how the EU affects them.

    The Leave voters tend to be experiencing massive competition from EU citizens, but they arn’t organised – you don’t see the “Guild of Bricklayers” issuing letters to the press for example, and their elected representatives arn’t really interested in their struggles either.

    The Remain voters are more protected and organised. Walk into any accountancy firm or conveyancing office or even schools, and you see British citizens. Brits have a stranglehold on the professions, the only exception being medicine – but that is firmly controlled by the doctors union, the BMA, which controls the accreditation exams for people with non-UK medical degrees, and only lets in the amount they have a shortfall for, no more.

    The other professions have old school City of London livery companies/guilds which act at de-facto unions and gatekeepers – the Institute of Actuaries, the Institute of Chartered Accountants etc etc, and they all control the numbers who enter their profession via professional exams. I knew someone with a double first in maths from Cambridge who kept failing his actuarial exams – he kept getting an “FA” which meant he missed by “1-5 marks” – but the rules said they could award this to people who had got the marks but were “not safe to pass” – they were controlling the numbers who got through each session. You end up with only a small number passing, with high demand for those who qualify and thus high salaries. No EU citizen is going to waltz up and put themselves through this kind of thing for six years before they are let in, so this ends up an exclusive British profession. The same goes for law – how many EU citizens do you see taking silk?

    Both Remain and Leave are largely voting based on what is best for them, and there is a small group on both sides looking at the wider picture and trying to do the best for their children, grandchildren and country. But they are all very informed indeed about their niche in the world and how the EU affects it.

  41. JAMES E

    It was intended for those who are not regulars, and those who think the elite are for “in”

    Hope that clarifies my point.

  42. The Other Howard

    “It was intended for those who are not regulars…”

    So you feel you need to repeat the point day after day – just in case some non-regulars are unaware of your opinion?

    Having accused those who disagree with you of being “very pompous”, this is staggering.

  43. Corbyn must be thrilled he’s stayed out of the debate .It’s turned out to be very shrewd

  44. Anthony there is a glaring error in your last paragraph, you have it the wrong way round. Think you may want to revise anyway in view of all the controversy currently swirling.

    Wolf Corbyn has not ‘stayed out’ of the debate. He is for Remain, haven’t you noticed? And he will be doing more as the campaign culminates.

    He could hardly be for Leave given that result would produce an extreme right wing government effectively run by Rupert Murdoch and Paul Dacre who would have engineered the result and who already employ the two most likely post-Brexit leaders Johnson and Gove.

  45. There was a reference to “luvvies” coming out for Remain recently, the description redolent with contempt and implying, in the weasly way it is often used by right-wingers, that these people are a bunch of lefty leaning, liberal,and effete bien pensants. You know, the sort of people who stick up for the BBC.

    However, it would appear that one of the luvvies is no less than Helena Bonham-Carter, that well known member of the Cameron/Gove inner circle and Chipping Norton supper club.

    This was Bonham Carter’s recent assessment of her friend Cameron:

    “I definitely get to see a side of them that other people don’t. David Cameron is incredibly witty, incredibly bright and incredibly genuine.” Both he and his wife, she said, “have an amazing sense of humour and sense of proportion, and they are people to be taken seriously”.

    Blimey, what a luvvie she is.

    You’ve got to larf, guvn’r, aint you?


  46. @Candy

    Unfortunately, I think you may be wrong – many on both sides are spectacularly ill-informed.

    Let’s take your example of working class Leavers believing that EU immigration directly affects them, and is therefore a good reason (from their perspective) for wanting to leave the EU. How many of them know that the impetus for widening the EU through Eastern Europe and granting EE workers immediate access to the UK market upon accession, rather than imposing transitional measures to restrict this, were strongly pushed for by the UK – not imposed on us by the EU. How many of their actual problems are caused by Austerity – a policy choice by the UK government – rather than that EU? How much do they know of all the advantages they directly gain from the UK being a member of the EU (that I referred to in my above post)? How many of them make their own arguments rather than parrotting a print Press that has shown through the past decade their disdain for the working class?

    Let’s now take your argument that the middle class is in favour of the EU as such a position is beneficial to the middle class. Is that actually intrinsically so? What about the red tape/bureaucracy of consumer/data protection and privacy and workers rights directives? Does this not impose avoidable costs on most business? And also increase the price of goods and services, which middle class people buy more than others? What about the upper middle class – does staying or leaving matter to them either way? Wouldn’t opting to leave give the middle class a greater opportunity of imposing endless Austerity on the working classses – particularly after a bonfire a domestic rights? Why are most people behind Leave middle or upper middle class journalists or politicians if Remain is in the interest of the working class?

    What we need in this debate is a clear demarcation between those policies and decisions made hitherto that were choices of the UK government, and those which have occurred in areas of exclusive Community competence. I don’t hear that debate taking place at all. That would allow for an informed debate.

  47. @Candy

    Last sentence of the penultimate para should read:

    “Why are most people behind Leave middle or upper middle class journalists or politicians if Ramiam in is in the interest of the middle class?”

  48. @RAF

    I don’t think people care how it came about that the eastern europeans entered the EU – it is all ancient history. All they care is the reality now and how to deal with it.

    As for Austerity, it is many orders worse in the eurozone and is definitely a factor in sending people to the UK from those countries. Would the Greeks and Portuguese be moving here if the eurocrats hadn’t strangled their economies? From the point of view of the Brit on the receiving end of this competition there is nothing they can do to ensure the eurozone lifts austerity. They have no power over this at all – all they can do is vote Leave to close the door on this tide of economic refugees, which is what the EU migrants are. Some will see it as their one and only chance to do something about it.

    Also, you are looking at things in far too abstract a way. For example businesses are affected by red tape/bureaucracy etc etc. But from the point of view of the people working for them, all that counts is whether they are being paid well for their efforts. In the protected professions, they are, it’s all going swimmingly. So there is a tendency to say, “problem, what problem?”. So a small business owner will have a different point of view from say a lawyer.

    I think all voters of working age are well informed about the particular stresses and strains of their particular professions and how the EU affects them. It will come down to who is gaining most and who is losing the most. The retirees are unaffected either way and will be influenced by how their children or grandchildren are faring.

  49. Hello All.

    Ernest Bevin said that his education was in the ‘edgerows’ He started life as a farm labourer and he was highly educated.

    In my own school the staff with whom I have the best conversations are not graduates,at least of Universities. I know that is a mere anecdote from one person, but i share it nonetheless.

  50. Candy

    The eurocrats did not strangle the economies of Portugal, Greece and so on. The governments in charge of those economies strangled themselves when they failed to adapt from the outset (i.e. from the start of the Euro) to the new economic realities required of them. As I have written before on this site, no-one forced Greece to borrow large amounts of money, other than the Greeks themselves. If you don’t want to be under someone else’s financial control make sure your economy is working properly.

    That was a lesson which, unfortuatelty, was denied to the Scottish people when they (we!) voted to remain under the debilitating effects of constant subsidy.

    Do such views make me a Thatcherite? I claim not! She was the last person who could be said to have made people self responsible. Instead of insisting that people pay, in a fair manner, for what they want local authorities to do, she undermined the local authorities which needed to learn the lesson. Instead of insisting that central government pay a smaller percentage, she made central government pay a larger percentage, thus enforcing central government policy on everyone: a tendency which continues to this day!

    So, in conclusion, the Greek crisis was caused by the Greeks, not by anyone else (other than the American mortgage lenders, of course, who caused the crash in 2006/7)

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