ICM put out their weekly EU online poll today. Topline figures were REMAIN 45%, LEAVE 45%, DON’T KNOW 10% and tabs are here. ICM have tended to produce some of the most leave figures and the neck-and-neck result actually follows on from a series of polls showing a small leave lead, but this is due to a change in methodology.

As is often the case, ICM’s poll is actually less interesting than Martin Boon’s commentary that accompanies it – Martin’s response to the polling errors of last year has been one of the most candid and interesting of the pollsters, if occasionally one of the most pessimistic. In his article today he writes about what he considers to be the bleak future for phone polling given how people use the telephone these days, but also writes about the problems ICM have encountered moving most of their EU referendum polling to online.

Specifically Martin writes about how when ICM set online surveys live on Friday nights they get a rush of fast respondents that are skewed towards Leave. These entirely fill some of the demographic quotas set for the poll, meaning there is no room for the slower responding Remain respondents. To tackle this ICM have made two changes – one is to their sampling (they will spread it across the whole weekend, rather than opening it fully on Friday), the other is to weight respondents by how quickly they respond. According to Martin’s commentary the overall effect of this is to improve Remain’s relative position by four points.

I should point out (as Martin does in his article) that this is very much an issue to do with the way ICM carry out their online polls. Other online companies won’t necessarily do things the same way or face the same issues. I can only speak confidently about YouGov’s systems, but I know YouGov’s don’t invite respondents to specific surveys, they have a system that sends invites to respondents automatically, ensuring a constant flow of respondents into YouGov’s system. This means when people click on their invite (be it immediately, after a few hours, or days later) they are sent into whatever YouGov surveys are open at the time and need someone matching their demographics – hence when YouGov surveys go live they get a mixture of both fast respondents and slower respondents, who may have actually been invited before the survey was even written.

There was also a new contribution to the ongoing mystery of the gap between online and telephone polls on the EU referendum, this time from Prof Pat Sturgis (the Chair of the recent BPC/MRS inquiry into the polling error) and Prof Will Jennings (who served on the inquiry). It can be read in full here, but Pat and Will conclude that “While there are of course many caveats required here, this comparison suggests that the true picture may lie somewhere between the two modes, possibly somewhat closer to online. At the very least it suggests a good deal of caution is needed before concluding that one method is right and the other wrong. That will only be known for sure on June 24.”


439 Responses to “ICM – Remain and Leave level pegging, and dealing with fast respondents”

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  1. The real reason for the UK is cheap labor; the rest is spin made up to con people

  2. “How come [people] like Mandy never get outsourced or offshored or undercut?”

    Scarcity. Whatever your view of him, he’s not commonplace. If we needed thousands of Mandlesons, offshoring might make sense. As it is, I’m not sure we even need to have one…

  3. ‘she would soon have to pay 9 / hour for labour while her Spanish counterpart paid 3. Not surprisingly she was considering her position. Is that an argument for leaving the EU? Or an argument against unrealistic minimum wages?’

    It’s a demonstration that the EU’s free movement policy doesn’t, in practice, amount to free movement (because people have ties to their local area, families, language barriers etc.) and so it has failed to deliver convergence in wages. If only the economists could bring themselves to introduce a little more complexity into their models…

  4. @TULLY
    “This is quite interesting”
    https://inews.co.uk/opinion/comment/radical-way-improve-accuracy-british-polling/
    More accurate, perhaps, but complex and slow.
    Seems easier just to wait for the result … which will be 100% accurate, barring fraud, even if not the answer wanted.

  5. Alun009

    “The real reason for the UK is cheap labor; the rest is spin made up to con people”

    LOL but there is a serious point about trust in particular governments/parliaments that underlie peoples’ willingness to notice “poor” behaviour by particular levels of government – and not by others.

    For many of us, it isn’t a question of which levels of sovereignty/governance are “best”, but which are least worst!

    Some Brexiters clearly trust Westminster more than other place of government. They and I can agree to differ on that belief!

    Belief systems are core to lots of political stances and, while it’s always interesting to see the views of those like Mr Jones, they add little to the already dire campaigns that I see on TV News. He doesn’t detract from the level of campaigning either! :-)

  6. “Our democracy is far from perfect but we’ve had it for a very long time and so my thesis is that it’s more important to the UK than elsewhere.”
    @Pete B May 25th, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Yes, our democracy stretches all the way back to:

    “Before 1918 no women were allowed to vote in parliamentary elections.”
    http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/electionsvoting/womenvote/

    A very long time ineed. The UK uses FPTP because it suits those in power to remain in power. I am sure everyone on here knows the arguments proffered for FPTP: you know who you are voting for; you get strong governments. Of course you can take a different view; FPTP means lots of wasted votes; it allows for a minority of the electorate to determine the outcome. But then why would you set up a different voting system?

    I notice that in devolved Scotland FPTP was not chosen; instead, an alternative system was selected, because it was fairer (= so it can be rigged not to let the SNP gain power). We have European elections every five years, and these use a PR system, not FPTP. Lesser parties (= minority views) can then come to the fore. Surely that’s much better.

    But of course if you are a Conservative (or to a lesser extent, Labour) supporter, you won’t want to hear this argument as it may mean a dilution of your influence.

    Funny how democracy is only true democracy when the system delivers your favoured party.

    Oh yes, nearly forgot. House of Lords.

  7. “scarcity. Whatever your view of him, he’s not commonplace.”

    ———-

    Well yes, but outsourcing means you could pack call centres full of RoboMandies, armed with scripts saying how intensely relaxed they are, and padding out with a few lines from the Thick of It. How hard could it be?

    At the very least, if we are to have Mandlesons, at least we could bear down on costs a bit. Your average call centre worker prolly doesn’t need a house in Notting Hill, for eggers, or entertaining on yachts, or even a peerage.

  8. Look, I’m not a Mandlconomist, so I’ll have to take your word for it. I still find it surprising that anyone would think we need any. But given that we seemingly do, I am willing to accept him being sent to India permanently.

  9. Alun009

    What have you got against the Indians?

  10. Oldnat:
    “Some Brexiters clearly trust Westminster more than other place of government.”

    Yes. Which I find mysterious and compelling, like other people’s fetishes for allotment hanky panky and suchlike. But whatever their reasons, there are sometimes elements of ignorance clouding their otherwise fine judgements. Particularly the notion that we cannot rid ourselves if commissioners when there is a very well defined process for the parliament doing just that. Now, compare with Westminster politicians: how does one shift them out when they are naughty?

  11. James E : “The idea that the tiny proportion of people who rush to complete online surveys is a reflection of the overall population’s likelihood to vote is bizarre.”

    True. As is the idea that the tiny proportion of people who are slow to complete online surveys is a reflection of the overall population’s likelihood to vote. Bizarre.

  12. @Colin (8.46am)

    “Richard Dawkins has made me think. He is right-this Referendum shouldn’t be held. The topic is too complex for ordinary voters & we don’t have the information to form a reasoned opinion.”

    Well, the information is there but ordinary voters don’t have the time to sift through it, let alone understand it. Of course, the campaigns should be explaining the merits of their own case in a rational and dispassionate way. However, that was never likely to be the case, was it?

    “This matter should be resolved in Parliament-where there is a political party offering the arguments in favour of Leaving, and numerous parties espousing Remaining.”

    I’m not sure about this. While we don’t usually hold referendums, we have already held one on this very same question (or one very similar) 40 years ago. So there is a precedent.

    “So I won’t vote in this Referendum because I am not able to answer the Question -and shouldn’t be asked to do so.”

    You are probably one of those people who are able to answer it! However, I understand your position.

    I object to the Referendum on separate grounds. I don’t think it is necessary. If a core group of countries want to proceed to federal, economic and political union, there is no need for the UK to take this step. There is already the emergence of a multispeed EU and this will continue. While the EU is not an a la carte menu, it’s not a set menu either. Of course their are always dreamers and plans but politics is a gradual process of compromise, change and adaptability.

  13. OLDNAT:
    “What have you got against the Indians?”

    Nothing. Every Indian I’ve ever met has been an absolute charmer. I’m hoping this gambit will send more of them my way.

  14. ANDREW111 > PeteB
    I would turn your argument round and say that since Britain has not had a battle on its soil since 1746, we may not feel the need for compromise and neighbourliness as strongly as other EU citizens.

    I was about to suggest that the last battle on GB soil was the Battle of Fishguard during the French revolutionary wars, but I thought I had better check my facts and to my surprise discovered that the Battle of Graveney Marsh [near Faversham], which occurred on the night of 27 September 1940 in Kent, England, was the last action involving a foreign invading force to take place on mainland Great Britain. That snippet was from wiki, but there’s also references to it in both the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph, so it must be true.

    OLDNAT
    Interesting that only in the case of South Thanet, do lawyers for the Tories seem to have opposed the police application to have the time extended to investigate alleged breach of electoral law.

    Odd place, Kent. :>)}

  15. The problem with the referendum polling is that it does not include the Northern Ireland people.
    The poll of Northern Ireland only splits 61% Remain and 39% Leave so I think overall Remain will have a convincing victory

  16. @ Partridge

    No one apart from ‘Tober’ claimed that part of the sample of a poll would be representative of anything. To remind you of his comment:

    “it reflects the keenness of leave supporters vs remain supporters, which will most likely be mirrored in their turnout at the actual poll”

    I’ve written yesterday on this thread about the evidence from all 15 polls on the referendum this month – online and Phone, and including the various adjustments which the different pollsters make. On balance I’d say this polling is likely overall to be close-ish to the actual result. At any rate, it certainly isn’t the kind of cherry-picking of evidence which I had responded to as per your quote.

  17. Alun009

    LOL

  18. Yes, the issue was not whether we need Mandies but simply a matter of consistency: if Mandy is fan of outsourcing etc., why doesn’t he outsource himself? Even if you can’t find an exact replacement, the savings are surely worth it…

    I mean, only today we learned that Gordo’s really a Viking!! And the Beatles allegedly replaced Paul and hardly any peeps noticed. Then you realise they could have an army of Mandies and the possibilities are endless. Scary too, admittedly…

  19. @ Boink

    Most polling of Northern Ireland has shown around 65:35 for Remain, so it will make some difference – and of course you’re right that it’s left out of GB polls.

    However, as it only makes up 2.9% of the UK population, this won’t be a lot. The overall effect should be to move about half of a percentage point from Leave to Remain once Northern Ireland is added.

  20. James E

    Sounds about right. Matt Singh reckoned the effect would be between 0.6% – 0.7% for Remain.

  21. @ALUN009

    “Which I find mysterious and compelling, like other people’s fetishes for allotment hanky panky and suchlike.”

    ———

    Well you could always ask some of the Scots peeps why they voted to keep Westminster…

  22. Carfrew

    Or instead of doing a random vox pop, you could simply turn to a professional survey of which government is most trusted.

    The 2015 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (published in 2 months ago) found 73% of respondents trust the Scottish Government – compared to only 23% who trust the UK Government.

  23. Just for interest, here’s a twitter map for the referendum (showing where the Leave and Remain voters are tweeting from):

    http://jellyfish.co.uk/blog/twitter-users-have-their-say-on-brexit-are-we-in-or-are-we-out/

    It is slightly different from YouGov’s eurosceptic map:

    https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/02/28/eurosceptic-map-britain/

    Wales comes across as more europhile than on the yougov map.And while the Highlands of Scotland was europhile in the yougov map, on the twitter map it is a hot bed of euroscepticism.

    It would be great if YouGov could produce an updated map, especially as the last one was done nearly there months ago.

  24. Al Urqa
    ‘Yes, our democracy stretches all the way back to:
    “Before 1918 no women were allowed to vote in parliamentary elections.”
    ……..
    A very long time ineed’

    Of course the form of democracy in this country has evolved over the centuries and as I said, is far from perfect. However, we have had a form of democracy since at least the time of Henry III, in sharp contrast to most of the continent.

    Alun009
    “Particularly the notion that we cannot rid ourselves if commissioners when there is a very well defined process for the parliament doing just that. ”

    The one time they did it, if I remember correctly most of the same commissioners were back in place within a short space of time.

  25. Candy

    A couple of obvious problems with the jellyfish map –

    1. They are only tracking the use of the UK EUref campaigns. Both sides are separately organised in Scotland.

    2. They don’t know which council area some places are in, so that suggests that even their basic level of Scots political geography is suspect.

    So I wouldn’t place any reliance on the accuracy of their research in the Highlands actually reflecting opinion there.

  26. @OldNat

    Well several people in the Highlands are mad keen on the official EU leaver campaign for it to light up might brighter than known eurosceptic places like Suffolk. Just saying…

  27. That should say “light up much brighter”

  28. Candy
    Very interesting map on Twitter. As the author said, it is unrepresentative, but still interesting. One thing that struck me was the list of most popular careers of posters. None of them were what used to be called a ‘proper job’!

  29. Candy

    It seems highly likely that “several [one might almost go as far as to say ‘some’] people in the Highlands are mad keen on the official EU leaver campaign”.

    No one suggested otherwise – simply that applying a restricted range of tracking objects within a polity, that may be appropriate elsewhere, is not a strategy that is likely to produce accuracy.

  30. Fascinating story hinting at the future of work, with some relevance to notions of supra national single markets and the free movement of labour – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-36376966

    Dire warnings have been made throughout history regarding the impact of technology on jobs, but in the past the additional productivity has led to expansion in other employment sectors and the growth of economies. This time things could be different, as some economists are now thinking also.

    The internet is making it hard to monetize ideas and creative content, while automation is now getting so cheap and effective that large volumes of low skilled tasks risk becoming redundant. Even delivery drivers risk being unnecessary in the next decade or so with driverless cars, and this was one of the professions that was being talked of as the big growth industry ten years ago when internet shopping was just beginning.

    Money will still be made, and overall economies will still grow, but wealth and earnings will become ever more concentrated as the demand for labour shrinks and the ability of workers to secure a share of the pie gets weaker.

    Governments seem equally weakened in their abilities to tax this new growth effectively, such is the global tax system that they have allowed to develop, meaning these new economic models will add pressure on social structures too.

    Against this kind of background, rising population and continued flows of in migration will get harder to sustain and create potentially greater tensions.

    An interesting future beckons.

  31. The old curse – may you live in interesting times.

  32. Pete B

    Not that old!

    1936 – but not really popularised until Bobby Kennedy used it in 1966.

  33. @ Carfew

    ‘How come peeps like Mandy never get outsourced or offshored or undercut? Seems a valuable opportunity is being missed…’

    :) It’s the same as health and safety. Useful peeps are hidebound but where’s the H&S for Climate change and the global financial system?

    Love the battery info.

  34. “Well several people in the Highlands are mad keen on the official EU leaver campaign”

    But not enough to skew online voter panels, I’ve been told ;)

  35. @ Carfew

    ‘Yes, the issue was not whether we need Mandies but simply a matter of consistency: if Mandy is fan of outsourcing etc., why doesn’t he outsource himself? Even if you can’t find an exact replacement, the savings are surely worth it…’

    According to Peter Oborne, Mandy has done some onshore offshoring of himself. He and George Osborne have been collaborating over the Remain strategy and the Chinese connection. Mandelson is one of Osborne’s ‘four wise Lords’ and has been appointed by him as the president of the Great Britain China Centre

    In fact, Peter Oborne goes so far as to write:

    ‘And what next, if the Yes side win? Mr Cameron has let it be known that he will step down shortly after the referendum. If he keeps his promise — and his wife Samantha will make certain he does — Mandelson will be there to guide his trusted buddy George Osborne to replace him as PM.
    Of course, it was Mandelson who orchestrated Tony Blair walking into 10 Downing Street more than 18 years ago. As they say in Brussels: ‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.’ (‘The more things change, the more they stay the same.’)
    What a turnaround! Who would have guessed that Peter Mandelson, who betrayed George Osborne so mercilessly seven summers ago in Corfu, would end up joining forces with him to install him as the next Tory Prime Minister?’

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-3287203/PETER-OBORNE-surprising-dangerous-love-un.html#ixzz49i5zVnQD

  36. @oldnat

    That doesn’t answer the question though, as to why they voted to keep Westminster.

    And why rely on a survey when you have an actual vote in which they chose… Westminster.

    Sure, they may trust Holyrood more, but the point is, they trusted Westminster enough to keep it. Whereupon the question remains as to why.

  37. @Oldnat

    You can consider the Indy ref result alongside that survey for a comparison if the difference eludes!!

  38. @Syzygy

    Oz and Mandy together? Wow! That’s some goss alright.And some way for Osborne to get his own back for the yacht leak, have Mandy install him in Number 10. Hard to relate to these people innit…

  39. @Alec

    Interesting if (as you say) hardly new. Remember the 80’s (I think) when the Grauniad was full of stuff about the identity crisis we would suffer when work became unnecessary because of the advance of technology?
    What seems to have happened is that we all spend money in Starbucks or having our cars washed by Bulgarmanians rather than pouring out the Nescafe or Turtle Wax ourselves like before.
    Of course what’s really happened (beyond the above nonsense which nevertheless contains a kernel of truth) is that we’ve carried on working, generally for longer hours but all the benefits of improved productivity have flowed to the rentier class. And as you say, governments seem impotent to affect this and the public have been convinced that it’s either inevitable because of some alleged shortcoming they have (lack of skills or laziness) or because of immigration so nobody even protests (except about immigration)

  40. @Syzygy

    Re: batteries

    Yeah, I was surprised at how things are progressing. Still a bit soon to know if it’s just a blip or not, but if not just a blip, then it rather changes things. Must admit I wasn’t hoping for too much from batteries, thinking maybe hydrogen was the way forward. On that front, hydrogen fuel stations are gradually being built now, they’re quietly being promoted…

    One also wonders what Alec thinks about the battery thing…

  41. @Guymonde

    “Interesting if (as you say) hardly new. Remember the 80’s (I think) when the Grauniad was full of stuff about the identity crisis we would suffer when work became unnecessary because of the advance of technology?

    What seems to have happened is that we all spend money in Starbucks…”

    ————–

    Independent coffee houses are to be preferred. And when are these robot gurus gonna do summat useful and fix auto-correct, automod, and polling systems? Bagging chips as per the article is all very well, but they need to get their priorities right…

  42. @ Carfew

    ‘ Hard to relate to these people innit…’

    You ain’t frontin…

  43. Carfrew

    I’ll make a single point before exiting this “conversation”, and leave you to obsess about your irrelevancies by yourself.

    Alun and I were discussing trust in different governments, not the referendum vote.

    In the unlikely event of your actually being interested in that topic, you can access the report on the 16 years of the studies here –

    http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/03/5843/3

    Happy reading.

  44. Well, you could read it if I give you the link! :-)

    http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/03/5843/3

  45. @oldnat

    Well, it seems a growing number of things are to be considered irrelevant to Indy peeps these days, even oil prices, but it was entirely apposite to consider the Indy ref. The question as to why peeps might trust Westminster in a referendum was raised, and since there was recently a referendum in which trust in Westminster figured it makes sense to consider that info.

    In any event, one thought you might wanna know why your campaign failed, why a majority chose Westminster, but figures that’s taboo also. Thanks for the link anyway, it may come in handy at some point!!…

  46. @Alec

    The Foxconn development is happening now only because interest rates are so low. The cost of capital is practically free, so it makes sense to replace labour with capital.

    If and when interest rates ever normalise at 4% the RoI needs to be much higher to introduce robots. Bots have a shorter shelf life than humans – a good human can work for 40 years, while bots need replacing after 10, and if interest rates are high at that point, they might have to reintroduce humans. There is precedence for this – the whole shift to China happened in the second half of the 1990’s when US interest rates were about 6% and American business decided it was cheaper to hire Chinese humans than borrow to build bots in the US.

    Hopefully Mrs Yellen will stick to her guns next month and push through a rate rise. The sooner this weird period of history comes to an end, the better. There is probably a sweet spot in interest rates where neither labour nor capital has the upper hand, and she just needs to find it.

  47. Al Urqa: ““Before 1918 no women were allowed to vote in parliamentary elections.”
    http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/electionsvoting/womenvote/

    And before 1918 no men were allowed to vote, save for those who were fortunate enough to own property, and then only, as I understand it, since the 1880s. Before then, voters were restricted to a small elite group. And the vast majority of people – men and women – in those days did not own property. But you won’t find such information in feminist-influenced distorted history.

  48. James E: “No one apart from ‘Tober’ claimed that part of the sample of a poll would be representative of anything.”

    That may be true, but we slow-to-respond-to-polls voters were not mentioned, and if the fast-responders deserve a mention then so do us lazy types.. :)

  49. @ Pete B 25 May 9:49

    I would not describe either the Provisions of Oxford or the Provisions of Westminster (which were in any event defunct within a short time) as amounting to even a “form” of democracy. 12 Barons chosen by their own number an 12 chosen by the King doth not an Electorate make.

  50. @partridge

    I’m not sure what history books you are reading but information on the extension of voting rights in the UK is readily available. After the 1884 Act I seem to recall that the majority of adult males (about 60%) could vote. Full female and hence full adult suffrage in the UK was not achieved until 1928 ( New Zealand beat us to it by three decades).

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