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. Yeah but…. do they have a life mark thingummy?…

  2. kite mark

  3. Carfrew

    Don’t be silly! Flying a kite during an apocalyptic storm would allow you to discover electricity – and then you’d need to discover amore reliable source for it – and give it some daft name like “thorium”

    Much more reliable to just carry on producing the stuff by regular Apocapylpses – like any other internal combustion engine.

  4. Figures there’d be summat wrong with it. Whatev., Just so long as these kite marks aren’t some mark of the beast thing, an understandable concern given the seeming inevitability of the Apocalypse, with so many things appearing to trigger it.

    I thought storage taxes were a bit of a giveaway myself…

  5. CATMANJEFF, it is fair. Tories are good at lying you only have to look at the EU debate and the last GE.


    Interesting stuff on French covert protectionism.

    Do you remember the video-recorder incident?


  7. ““I have it on reliable authority that a vote to Leave would result in the Four horsemen of the Apocalypse appearing immediately.”

    I must say that appears to summarise the intellectual arguments of the “stay” campaign perfectly.

    I must say to me how to vote in the referendum is a no brainer if you want the UK to prosper.

    Now back to the Cricket and the allotments.

  8. Colin
    I do remember the French VCR debacle. Of course anyone under 20 won’t even remember what a VCR is, never mind the French debacle! What the French do now is hold up your container load of goods from China on the quayside for six months, then manufacture some minor discrepancy in the paperwork and generally make life as difficult as possible, such that you give up trying to import your widgets, or mini tractors, or whatever and return to the UK to be an entrepreneur.

    The U.K. Kite Mark is not the same as the French NF. It is not illegal to use a British non kite marked item in Britain. It is illegal to use a non NF marked item in France. The boilers are the exactly the same. That is the point I am making.

    My central heating engineer was not called Pierre. He is John and originally from Wakefield. (Lived in France 20 years).

    BL cars in the 1970’s were rubbish. I don’t know about Renault as I have never owned one but Peugeot were winning rally’s with their 404 and Citroen were making cars which were light years ahead of BL. Competition, particularly from Japan put BL out of its misery and Britain now has a thriving car industry, making quality cars.

    This isn’t me getting at France by the way. If they can get away with it why wouldn’t they? I am just highlighting one of the many ridiculous practices which goes on within the EU, practised by all member countries, except the Uk, who play with a straight bat and gold plate every stupid regulation that comes out. The EU is such an illusion, it wouldn’t surprise me if Derren Brown was behind it all.

    That the remainers on this site are not aware of what actually goes on in practice and will vote blindly to remain, does not surprise me but the blame for that probably lies at the door of the leave campaigns who are not adequately exposing all this nonsense.

    A concerted programme of announcing every day, half a dozen solid reasons, as to why the EU doesn’t work for the UK would have far more effect than what they are doing.

  9. Im surprised that the Leave campaign’s footie contest isn’t being regarded as an inducement to vote by the powers to be and ruled out of order.

    I suppose that if they had to think about everything from both sides this whole saga would never be over…

  10. OLDNAT:
    I didn’t suggest it was a majority. I merely said “many”

  11. Interesting that the papers are reporting infighting in the Conservative Party. The Leave side’s Pritti Patel has brought out the ‘posh’ argument against David Cameron – that didn’t do Labour much good at the last election.
    Another Tory Leaver is quoted as saying that Cameron ‘is finished’ because he disagrees with Conservative Party members. Along with Labour members and Labour voters, Conservative Party members do not seem to have the same ideas and concerns as Conservative voters. For years, some Tory MPs have been interested in nothing but leaving the EU whereas ordinary voters (including floating voters in places like Nuneaton) are getting on with their lives.

  12. @TOH

    Now back to the Cricket and the allotments.

    The England vs Sri Lanka game might not see the day out, as Sri Lanka are so poor. Men against boys.

    Look north to Headingley instead, the start of the Roses game :)

  13. @ OldNat

    Apologies – I confused two propaganda series (as Copra was involved in both). Of the Know your ally series that Candy linked, only Britain was made, plus one Know your enemy.

  14. ROBERT

    Thanks :-)

    Yes-the quality of the debate has been abysmal.

    Its partly why I have opted out of the whole thing, though my instinct is for Leave.

    You are right that the Leave camp have failed utterly to expose EU failings. A simple one appeared with the latest migration stats. Nearly half of the net EU inward migration was in respect of people who had no job to come to. Free Movement in the current EU is the freedom to exploit massive variations in Economic conditions & Standards of Living-and this in an organisation whose central Economic Pillar is a Common Monetary System allied to “Convergent” Economies & Fiscal Policy. !!!

  15. Getting certified Nothing is compulsory! http://www.marque-nf.com/en/discover-nf/

    John from Wakefield obviously knows better about the NF mark than the people who provide the certification!

    Digging a bit deeper, it seems that most countries have cunning protectionist schemes/locally high standards to protect consumers (delete as preferred) which are theoretically voluntary but may be de facto compulsory: rpaltd.co.uk/uploads/page_files/tp3-national-marks-13mar.pdf

  16. We need a British steel mark in the same way perhaps.

  17. I work for a company supplies automotive parts to France (and all across the globe).

    We don’t deal with the ‘NF’ system, as automotive businesses are largely governed by an ISO system (TS 16949). I’ve not come across NF, even as a Quality Engineer with specific responsibilities to implementing certification systems. I’d not heard of it until I read here!

    There are standards systems in Germany (VDA) and even a Japanese one, but all our global customers accept TS 16949 anyway.

  18. The U K Government has much more important things to do than protecting the rights of U K manufacturers to sell in France. It’s a bit like expecting social workers to know what’s happening to the children they’re looking after.

  19. Tut.

  20. This commentary shows clear problems with both phone and online polling.

    When I lived in Jamaica during the 1980s, there was an outstanding pollster there named Carl Stone, who was also a professor at the University of the West Indies. The late Carl Stone conducted his polls by sending out teams of students to particular areas of Jamaica. He strongly believed that telephone polls were inaccurate, and tended to reflect, at that time, a certain socio-economic group. He felt that polling people the old-fashioned way was the most accurate…and he was never wrong!

  21. @Michael Siva

    The approach of going out on the door steps would be too slow and too expensive. Devising a great measurement system for public opinion is useless unless folk are willing to pay for it.

  22. Blue on blue violence on the increase, but as @Colin says, the leavers are offering a lot of shouting, instead of exposing the many failings of the EU.

    The point on immigration is telling. We had a good natured discussion on the definition of a single market on here a few days ago, but it’s clear that the intention of the EU treaties is to develop towards a single administrative fiscal area, which makes complete sense in the context of a single market. This would mean we could move towards more balanced benefits, welfare systems and tax regimes. Nobody in the EU wants this, and without it migration distorts the market, with ordinary people syuffering the consequences.

    We are also seeing another great failure of the EU today, with news of hundreds of dead migrants off the Libyan coast. For a quick political fix, they signed a deal with Turkey that not only condones the breaching of human rights obligations, but also, as aid agencies warned, would push migrants to North Africa, which is both a much more dangerous crossing as well as offering much less opportunity to tackle the people smugglers due to the instability in Libya. EU leaders were happy to protect their reputations however, in the full and certain knowledge that their actions would lead to hundreds more drownings.

    However, as with the calling of this vote in the first place, the key driving factor for most of the Leave leaders isn’t the EU, but what happens in the Tory party on May 24th. Pretty despicable stuff, with the disgracefully deceitful Boris at it’s core.

  23. @AnthonyJWells

    This is an interesting and useful article. As ever, thank you for your time.

  24. Good points by Alec. Possibly the one good thing to come out of the Referendum is that it has shown that Boris Johnson is not a credible Prime Minister.

  25. Jacknicklaus

    “Possibly the one good thing to come out of the Referendum is that it has shown that Boris Johnson is not a credible Prime Minister.”

    Speaking as a non Tory, it seems to me the only possible Conservative leader who has come out of this with any credibility is Theresa May – mainly because she hasn’t said anything!

  26. Agreed Norbold. I’m also a non Tory but I think she has been a steady Home Secretary and avoided being dragged into the ridiculous hyperbole of some of her party colleagues. I can see her appealing to the one nation Tory MP’s.

  27. Andrea Leadsom has apparently been winning some admirers, according to PB, and from watching an interview of her on Youtube, she does seem rather impressive.

  28. @Balbs

    The naivete of some of the “Brexit” and “leave” supporters on this list astounds me.

    Do you really believe that the problems you describe vis a vis France and various countries flouting EU trade law is unique to the EU?

    Try living under the NAFTA agreement with the US and Mexico, without a Parliament. Even when dispute panels rule in Canada’s favour the US ignores the rulings if it does not suit them. Just read the sorry saga of the Canada-US Softwood Lumber dispute.

    On one occasion the US moved the northern territorial border in the Gulf of Alaska, the AB-Dixon Line negotiated by the UK in 1910, and US coast guards started arresting Canadian fishing boats in Canadian waters.

    Only after Canadian fisherman surrounded a US ferry in a Canadian port and refused to let it leave, and individual fisherman started mounting machine guns on their bow decks threatening to shoot the next US Coastguard ship that tried to arrest them did the Canadian government demand the original border be honored.


    So when was the last time a “Free Trade” agreement had a clause in it allowing a worker to sue a member state?

    When was the last time a “Free Trade” agreement contained a guaranteed minimum wage for temporary foreign workers and minimum employment rights?

    I can just picture Maggie Thatcher negotiating those rights as UK Prime Minister outside the EU.

    Canada, with 48 “Free Trade” agreements, has now paid $ billions out to foreign corporations for lost earning and profits.

    There are, for example, no funds spent in depressed economic areas under NAFTA, as there are no social clauses or agreements – hence the Mexican Free Trade zones or “Maquiladoras”:



    If “Brexiters” are so worried about incoming migrant workers and their families, why not demand UK companies overseas pay minimum wages and adhere to basic workers rights – or do you just believe people should sit where they are and starve to death?

  29. Bill Patrick

    I agree That Angela Leadsom is one to watch for the future. Another is Penny

    Andy Shadrack

    Just because you think Brexiters are naive doesn’t make it true, or that you are right. That is your opinion. Personally I think remainers are naive for believing that 50 million Turks, Albanians, Bulgarians & Romanians and the rest, will not change the UK into something unrecognisable within a generation. And they will all flock to the UK just as soon as they can, make no mistake.

  30. Robert Newark

    “And they will all flock to the UK just as soon as they can”

    What? ALL of them? Leaving their own countries wholly depopulated?

    Maybe you exaggerate just a wee bit? :-)

  31. “50 million Turks”

    Stop right there. We have a veto on Turkey joining.




    a VETO.

    We have a veto.



    I don’t know the answer to your questions-I was responding to your asertiion that nation states are governed by an international cartel of company directors.

    I assume the rules of any Canadian Free Trade Agreement are a matter for its Parliament and the representatives who legislate there.

    I don’t quite understand how a law requiring UK companies to pay UK minimum wages in Romania or Bulgaria -should they happen to operate there-is going to stop Economic Migration under EU Free Movement rules to UK from those countries when there is no such UK employer .

  33. Alun. Do we have a veto on Turks joining the EU?

    Just clarifying

  34. OLD NAT

    The combined population of Turkey Albania Bulgaria and Romania is a lot more than 50 million people.It’s inconceivable that 50 million people or anything close to that would leave so you are wrong to say a loss of 50
    million people would wholly depopulate these countries.
    Maybe you exaggerate just a wee bit?

  35. Just to be precise Alun, “we” wouldn’t have a veto, if “we” refers to the UK population. The UK government would have a veto. The “we” of the population *do* have a veto on the whole shebang in the form of the upcoming EURef. Past that “we” would only have influence on EU expansion in the same way as on any issue, by trusting representatives to do what they pledge when we vote for them. So we would have as much of a “veto” as we have on income tax rises, tuition fees, school academisation or anything else.

    Whatever you think of that is up to you, but there is a material difference.


    @ do you just believe people should sit where they are and starve to death?”

    Perhaps you can identify those countries whose emigrants to Europe face “starvation” in their own country.

    Please exclude , of course, those displaced from their homes by war, for whom shelter & food in a UNHCR is not available.

  37. Alun
    The government of the day might have a veto in theory but given that most of the political class want Turkey to join, (with pressure from the USA) then it will happen eventually, probably within a decade.

    How many countries will be admitted to the eu before someone realises that giving every one the right to settle where they want is just barmy? No individual government will be able to plan because they won’t know what numbers to plan for.

    A principle which might have been a good idea for a dozen countries, whose people enjoy roughly comparable living standards, is a recipe for disaster for an eu of 30 or 40 countries where living standards are vastly different.

  38. There may be short term practical and political reasons to frame immigration as we currently do, but long term it simply cannot be a solution.

    Our planet has finite resources. There is a massive imbalance between the rich and poor parts of it. The rich parts stock pile the assets, and are troubled with issues of excess consumption, while the other half (if not more than half) don’t have the required resources for a decent life.

    For how long can the better off nations put up the barriers?

    Until wealth is shared better globally, people will increasingly want to move from the areas without resources to areas that do have them.

    It seems to me that all our approaches currently simply do not even begin to address proper solutions, and the public don’t have the appetite to consider them either.

  39. “probably within a decade”

    Absolute claptrap.

    Do you even know anything about EU accession? Do you know about the hoops that need to be jumped through? Turkey is a million miles away from meeting them, and it’s actually getting further away.

    This whole Turkey business has been an embarrassment to the nobler parts of Vote Leave who want to campaign on issues rooted in reality.

    And the veto is very real. Some people talk about the UK having the ability to make its voice known, to decide for itself. Yet when there is an issue where the UK has a very specific, unambiguous and clearly defined power, they seek to obfuscate it, and lie about its very existence.

    This tells you all you need to know about the Leave side. They make myths about how bad things are, and then offer an extreme “cure”. When faced with the slightest scrutiny, however, the disease appears to be imagined. Vote Leave is a hypochondriac.

    We have a veto. We elect the people who will decide to use that veto. We can choose to elect people who would give us the choice in a referendum, should they ever wish to allow Turkey to join. The political reality is already that they would. But the political reality is even more deeply against Turkey joining. France, Greece, and Cyprus are even more against Turkish membership, and they each have a veto too. The question will not be available to the UK, because other countries are set diametrically opposed to it. For a new member to join, it requires unanimity.

    In the meantime, if you want the UK people to have a say on future candidates joining the EU, I recommend you turn your attentions domestically, at electing people who reflect that opinion. In the meantime, have a little read about the 33 chapters Turkey must negotiate with the EU before it even goes to a vote of member states. In the 29 years since Turkey applied, it has managed to close off one – ONE – the one on science and research.
    To give that a little more context, only 5 of the 33 were expected to be unproblematic in the initial assessment, and Turkey’s only managed one of those in nearly 30 years. Never mind the chapters that were judged moderately difficult, difficult, very difficult or “totally incompatible”. They can’t even get the easy ones sorted.

    Turkey is absolutely nowhere near fulfilling even a quarter of the criteria, and has absolutly no chance of persuading the likes of Greece and Cyprus to let it in.

    Ten years? You haven’t got a clue.

  40. Well the referendum just ended for me postal vote completed and posted back… I was genuinely undecided but opted for leave in the end mainly because I think the level of bias the government has been showing is outrageous and I don’t think it’s been a level playing field.. Now just have to make it through the next 3 weeks of hyperbole and wait for the results

  41. Alun

    So its a 5,000 to 1 outside chance then?

    Leicester City to you.

    They said it was impossible.

    It happened.

    Don’t get so worked up. It’s not good for your blood pressure!

  42. No, I’m not saying it’s 5,000 to 1. I’m saying it is impossible.

    And thank you for the well-meaning medical advice. I don’t think you know more about medicine than about the EU, but I suspect that may yet be not very much.

  43. Cotswoldtory

    Doubtless you were open minded about the EU until Cameron’s Project Fear was unveiled.

    Coincidentally, however, during our indyref some less straightforward folk posted on social media how they had just cast their postal vote and why.

    Oddly, those reasons had a remarkable symmetry with the current propaganda line being taken by the campaign that they had decided to support.

  44. Oldnat..

    I know people usually pretend they were always undecided andade their mind up at the last min… It’s fairly standard on here and other sites..

    I would say I was 60:40 for leave before the referendum was announced and open to persuasion either way.. Project fear really just cemented that 60% and stopped me listening to anything either side was saying so just went with my gut initial feeling..

    I think all this campaign will have done is to depress turnout which given that everyone seems to think the lower the turnout the better for leave seems a daft thing for remain to have done..

    I have revised down my turnout prediction from 55-60% to 50-55% with 54 or 55 being the most likely.. I am sure many on here will shout me down and insist it’s going to be in the high 60s but I just don’t get the sense people are that motivated or bothered

  45. Alun
    If your reason to post is simply to insult then I will have no more discussion with you. You are correct, I know nothing about medicine. I was merely being lighthearted.

    P.s. Your use of the word, impossible, in the context of our discussion, shows you up as the naive one. Nothing is impossible in politics.

    Good night.

  46. RN,

    I second every single one of your posts – thank you for adding a calm voice of reason to the debate.

    It isn’t my fault you said such a risible thing. If you stopped to research things before you spoke you might avoid saying things as absurd as your ten year claim.

    I don’t particularly mind when people get things factually wrong, but when it’s clearly either deliberate or an earnest prediction made in a state of total ignorance that the speaker himself ought to be aware of, it annoys me a great deal. It rather seems to me that people are trying to get away with it, saying something they have no reason to believe to try to convince others to believe it, because they think it will expedite their wider cause. It is an act of such utter dishonesty, it ought to anger everyone who has even the most passing regard for truth.

    It seems to me that Vote Leave are doing exactly that, and you’ve joined in because either you’ve had the wool pulled over your eyes, or you’re hoping to do it to others.

    Either way your comment deserved to be exposed as nonsense. I think you know this, too, given how quickly you moved from “probably” to “5,000 to 1”.

  48. Alun
    I’ve followed a bit of your spat with Robert Newark. I think that it is dangerous to assume that the rules will make it very difficult for Turkey to join the EU, or that our government’s veto will mean much.

    A few questions spring to mind:

    The EU has done a deal with Turkey to stem the flow of migrants which breaches a number of it’s own principles, so why wouldn’t they breach some more if it suited them?

    Our government may have a veto, but can they be trusted to use it? The EU might bribe them in some way – e.g. exempt us from some petty rule which the PM of the day could say was a great triumph of renegotiation.

    Other countries’ vetos may be meaningless. The EU replaced the Greek government for instance with it’s own ‘technocrats’ when it suited them. The precedent has been set – they could do it again if Greece vetoed Turkey.

  49. If people are really worried that the UK Government would let Turkey join the E.U. then that seems to me a reason to stay in. If we leave the E.U. there is nothing stopping the UK Government making their own free movement of people treaty with Turkey if people really think that is their plan,
    If we stay in however, the chances of every E.U. Nation, including Greece and Cyprus, not to mention Germany and many eastern European countries, letting Turkey join are so low as to be risable.

  50. @peteb

    I seem to recall General Elections in Greece. I hadn’t realised all the candidates were EU technocrats.

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