If I were TNS or Opinium I would be rather annoyed today. Looking through social media, twitter and so forth there are lots of comments about the polls all being wrong and it being a terrible night for the pollsters, etc, etc. Both TNS and Opinium had final call figures of REMAIN 49%, LEAVE 51% – within a point of the actual result. Far from being a terrible night, they got it pretty much spot on, and should be getting congratulated.

The last general election was a disaster for all the pollsters. Last night wasn’t the same at all, it was a very bad result for some pollsters, but other companies did very well. Below is a chart of the Leave lead in the final results of all the pollsters who did a poll in the last week or so


The polls in blue were conducted online, the polls in orange were conducted by telephone. Note that ORB and Survation’s fieldwork both finished a few days before the referendum, so one cannot rule out a change in support in the days between their fieldwork and the vote itself. Disappointingly for me personally YouGov’s final poll had Remain ahead, albeit, only by two points. Unlike in May 2015 though I’ve a good idea of what went wrong (the turnout model we used for the poll weighted down people who didn’t vote at the last general election, when in reality turnout ended up being higher than the last general election), which is something that can be worked on.

During much of the campaign discussion of polls focused on the gap between telephone and online polls. The division is, as ever, really not as simple as that – Populus showed the largest Remain lead and it was conducted online, until they stopped polling a few weeks from the referendum ICM’s telephone polls were showing figures as Leave as their online polls. However, the general trend was clear – online polls tended to show a closer race than telephone polls; online polls tended to show it neck-and-neck, telephone polls tended to show Remain clearly ahead.

Many media commentators bought into the view that phone polls were “better” in some way, and should carry more weight than online polls (a debate I sought to avoid as much as possible, as there really wasn’t good evidence either way). I suspect this has played into the perception that the polls as a whole were wrong. If you’ve spent the last few months focusing on the polls showing a solid leave lead, and playing down the polls showing a neck-and-neck race, then you’d have been very surprised by last night.

The gap between online and phone narrowed during the campaign, and that was largely due to changes in online polls. The debate about the gap between phone and online polls has focused largely on potential differences in sampling – studies like that of Matt Singh and Populus found that people gave different answers to questions on things like immigration and national identity in online and telephone polls, that people in online sample seemed to be less socially liberal than people in telephone samples. In response several online pollsters adopted things like attitudinal weights to make their samples more like phone polls… perhaps, in hindsight, it should have been the other way around.

Since the error in the polls in 2015 I’ve said that the problems won’t be solved overnight. Pollsters are experimenting with different methods. Some of those things will work, some will not – it is a learning process. The record of polls conducted online is getting more promising – the performance of the mostly online polls at the May elections was mostly good, and most of the online polls for the EU referendum were either good, or at least only a few points out. While the problems of 2015 are probably not entirely cured yet, online companies are showing clear progress, for some phone polls there is clearly still work to be done.

2,711 Responses to “EU referendum post-mortem”

1 49 50 51 52 53 55
  1. Bardin1

    It’s a bit bizarre for Gibraltar to be linked to the UK for that matter – but it’s where we are.

  2. Well, just hearing that the EU Superstate including control over all taxation, defence, borders, banking and law is possibly just around the corner. Poland ain’t happy having just escaped from one regime.

  3. TOH

    “go to war with the UK ”

    Not sure what naval forces the UK would use. Looks the frigate order isn’t going ahead.


    Maybe we could hire the Italian football team?


    No – I’m sure they wouldn’t go that far, but in my experience (my mother was married there and I visited it many times when my parents shopped there) it’s economy is very much based on ex-pats buying UK groceries etc, and also Spanish shoppers. I’m sure Spain would be happy to turn the screw a bit.

    If there are tariffs and a border control I think they will struggle to keep UK population numbers up and the justification for continued UK sovereignty (and even enthusiasm for it on the Island, currently one of the most pro-British places in the world) could wane

  5. I think the Spanish are incredibly hypocritical over Gibraltar when they hold the two territories Ceuta and Melilla in a similar position !

  6. BARDIN1
    Would be bizarre for Scotland to be linked to Gibraltar – can’t imagine Spain would be amused by that.

    Probably not, and I think Gibraltar would have to accept some sort of joint sovereignty arrangement as a minimum. But if it remains an English fiefdom then even joint sovereignty would have huge issues once England is outwith the EU. Such an arrangement between Scotland & Spain as fellow members of the EU would be much less problematic and, if it works well, could ultimately result in Gibraltarians being reconciled to joining Spain.

  7. @Andrew, to suggest Jo coxs widow should be involved in her successor is ludicrous. No other word.


    The DM reported that May actually led Boris 53 / 47 among Conservative voters – is this not the case?
    Perhaps they are making mischief.

    That was among those who voted Conservative in 2015, rather than today (so they were making mischief by choosing the most dramatic figure).

    The headline figures showed a swing away from the Tories:

    Con 32% (-6)

    Lab 32% (+3)

    Lib Dem 9% (+3)

    UKIP 16% (-1)

    SNP 4% (-1)

    PC *% (-1)

    Another 6%[1] (+1)

    (The changes are from January, before reallocation of DK etc (this didn’t) and were GB not NI – so not that meaningful).

    There is some Con to LD movement since which might suggest May appeals to lost Con voters – though whether it would bring them back is another matter. These polls show Boris more popular with UKIP voters than with Tories (this feature actually predates him coming out for Brexit), though whether he would bring them back is unsure. (And how quickly the shine is wearing off)

    [1] Not just Greens (oddly not asked separately) etc but also NI Parties as this is a UK poll.

  9. The naivete of some of the “leave” supporters on this list is so stunning, for me. Do you not understand global “real politic” at all.

    The argument in Europe between the political elites has been about how to best accommodate capital and who should do it.

    Farage and Johnson both represent a nativist British faction, while Cameron represented a faction that was willing to share power and cooperate with other European elites.

    Do you really think that the other European elites inside the remaining 27 countries are going to give the UK a better deal than Switzerland and Norway?

    If Johnson ends up being the “Chief” negotiator for the UK’s exit, how do you think the other European elites are going to treat him after all the trouble Farage and the “British” have caused in an already unstable and fragile socio-political-economic situation?

    And do you really think that international capital , the transnational corporations, are going to “thank” the “emerging” UK political elites for making life in an already unstable international marketplace even more complicated than it already was?

    Can anyone on this list tell me which European, Commonwealth or other world leaders, who can be counted as the UKs strongest friends and allies, are sending them telegrams of support for “Brexit”.

    Just who and where are these countries outside the EU that you are going negotiate “Free trade” agreements with and how long do you think it is going to take to negotiate them?

    Like it or not you have just po’d off a lot of your friends in the world, and are extremely naive if you think you are going to get better trade deals than the one you had with the EU, better than the deals the Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders have been making bi-laterally and multilaterally with other countries in the world since you abandoned them economically to join the EU in 1973.

    Is globalization a problem yes, but as a Russian political scientist correctly pointed out in the early twentieth century European workers obtained a higher standard of living than those living in Asia, Africa and Latin America through “super exploitation”.of their work and resources.

    That imbalance could not continue forever as the “iron law” of capital is to seek out the cheapest labour and cheapest cost of production.

    What the EU has represented for many of us outside Europe, is a progressive regional power as a counter balance to the hegemony of the Russians, Chinese and Americans.

    Some of us have used the rules and regulations passed by the EU as counter arguments for the worst clauses in our own “Free Trade” agreements.

    Losing the EU, with all it’s frailties, will be a huge loss to those of us who do not want to be locked into “economic trade deals” that are being negotiated behind closed doors by elites, who are not subject to any oversight of a Parliament, Human Rights Commission and Court of Justice as has been the case in Europe.

    In conclusion, and I know many on this list do not like my messages from outside the UK, but do you seriously believe you can pick up where you left off in 1973 when you joined the EU as if the balance of political power has not changed in the world?

    In the 1970s and 1980s British workers and their trade unions tried to take on the UK political and economic elites and lost, and so now you think you can take on the global and political elites without being linked to any allies in Europe? Really!!


    ” I think Gibraltar would have to accept some sort of joint sovereignty arrangement as a minimum. But if it remains an English fiefdom …..”

    Why, remember an Anglo-Dutch force captured Gibraltar from Spain in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession and the territory was subsequently ceded to Britain “in perpetuity” under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

    Gibraltarians overwhelmingly rejected proposals for Spanish sovereignty in a 1967 referendum and again in 2002. Under the Gibraltar constitution of 2006, Gibraltar governs its own affairs, though some powers, such as defence and foreign relations, remain the responsibility of the Government of the United Kingdom.

  11. OLDNAT

    I wasn’t suggesting we went to war I was asking if he thought Spain would. I am painfully aware of our reduce ability to defend our selves and would if I was in government” spend more on defence at the expense of most other things.

    ” Don’t bother to say I would be a disaster in Government I accept that already :-)

  12. Thoughtful

    I suggested the other day that some so-and-so would pick up on her medical problem.

  13. BARDIN1

    Obviously with your local knowledge i can see where you are coming from but if Spain turn the screw, no doubt we could.

  14. TOH

    What is this UK of which we speak re Gibraltar.

    If Brexit does happen, it will be the Kingdom of England & Wales.

    Way to go patriots!

  15. Medical problem irrelevant. Why is it so horribly inevitable that the compassionate, pro equality left are almost certainly going to get stuck in to May on her gender and disability. Total disgrace, but I can already see the social media posts already.


    What you have just posted to me looks to have no basis in fact.

  17. UK credit rating cut to AA by S&P.

  18. TOH

    Nothing in the future has a basis in fact, until it happens.

  19. In other news, prized moron Kelvin Mackenzie now regrets his Brexit vote. WTF.

  20. Haven’t had time to read much of the thread, but caught Syzygy and RM’s observations, and having read the Times today, feel I should chip in with some agreement.

    The paper is littered with much opining about the power vacuums, the positioning and manoeuvrings of various candidates and their allies in both Tories and Labour; in the same breath, the well-paid pundits note that we could well do with some action here, and quickly.

    But we’re not going to get that are we, while politicians wrangle over power and journos indulge it. I’m not excited reading about plots to unseat Corbyn or what’s the right moment for Osborne to announce who he’s gonna support. Wanna read about how they’re gonna fix the potential problem of losing passporting in the financial sector, and much else besides.

    It would be nice if press had practical solutions to report, instead of these playground political intrigues. But we elect peeps who are light on track records of solutions to complex problems…

  21. Rich- that surprises me. I thought that faction of nut jobs would far prefer May to Johnson. May is a strong candidate (albeit with some pretty serious weaknesses).

  22. Interesting report in the The Wall Street Journal in its leader today reporting that members of Congress are openly and keenly discussing the prospect of a new trade deal with the UK.

  23. @ToH

    I dunno, recent noises were that the U.S. would drop us way to the back of the queue regarding trade deals if we left the EU…

  24. @Andy Shadrack
    “Do you really think that the other European elites inside the remaining 27 countries are going to give the UK a better deal than Switzerland and Norway?”

    I think that many Leave voters don’t actually care that much about a trade deal with the EU, so long as the mass invasion of immigrants can be controlled. This leads to all sorts of social problems which can’t just be solved by building ever more schools, hospitals and houses. There is more to life than just economics, as has just been shown by the referendum result.

    I think the Spanish are incredibly hypocritical over Gibraltar when they hold the two territories Ceuta and Melilla in a similar position !

    Agreed, but all 3 places are relics of Empire largely populated by nationals of the former imperial power. Eventually, all of them will probably be happy to be assimilated by Morocco and Spain respectively. All 3 are worth visiting, btw.

    Gibraltar are understandably nervous because it’s only 40 years since Franco died and Spain’s path to democracy has had issues, to put it mildly.

    Unsurprisingly, the European Union Referendum Act 2015 made no special provision for Gibraltar residents other than on the voting process, yet leaving the EU will make their lives and businesses untenable.

    What do you see as their alternative?

  26. @Carfrew – “The paper is littered with much opining about the power vacuums,…”

    Of course, these days power vacuums can’t be more than 1400 watts.

  27. Lol. We’ll soon be able to have 10mW vacuums if we want!

  28. S&P just downgraded our credit rating 2 notches.


    The relevant piece says:

    ““…the EU has proved unequal to the urgent tasks of reviving economic growth and resisting security threats on its eastern and southern borders. It’s time for the U.S. to get back in the game because America needs a confident, prosperous Europe as a partner to defend the West against the rise of authoritarian regimes and global disorder.

    An important first signal would be for the U.S. to invite the U.K. to begin bilateral free-trade talks that run alongside current talks with the EU. Mr. Obama may not be able to rise above his pre-Brexit taunt that Britain will move to “the back of the queue” on trade. But this would not be his first strategic mistake.

    A trade deal with the world’s fifth-largest economy—and one of Europe’s healthiest—is in America’s interests for its own sake. A two-track trade negotiation would also help the British in their negotiation over new terms of trade with the European Union by giving Britain the leverage of a U.S. alternative. U.S.-British talks could also prod Brussels to move faster and rebuff the French protectionism that is infecting the EU-U.S. talks.

    Whether or not Mr. Obama leads, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump should.”

  30. Two party leaderships and a GE – lots of polls. Super.
    Three cheers for the two parties, PM resignation and especially the Glastonbury Kid and 30 Resigners for giving s so much news and twitter that no-one has really noticed whether the polls were on the money.
    Polls live to fight and poll another day.
    Meanwhile pre-EU Ref we were on course to be £2 trillion in debt at interest by 2020. Not even £1 trillion in debt in 2010.
    Polls on whether people know or care ?

  31. Bantams

    “Well, just hearing that the EU Superstate including control over all taxation, defence, borders, banking and law is possibly just around the corner”

    Where are you hearing that?

  32. I’m losing respect for Corbyn quite rapidly now. The reports coming from Johnson and the Labour Remain campaign team, with emails to back them up, look very poor for Corbyn and his team. It appears that they deliberately interfered with campaign scripts and messages, trying to downplay support and looking to maintain the focus more on the Tories than on Leave.

    Ultimately, this failed, but this seems to be the root cause of his critics ire, and for good reason it now seems.

    It looks like Labour is in the grip of a full on crisis and I suspect that unless Corbyn walks away for the good of the party and acts quickly to calm his erstwhile supporters – which he is showing no inclination to do – then Labour are probably going to be so fatally wounded that I doubt they will survive.

  33. “Why? It will the UK’s job to protect the integrity of Gibraltar within the UK. Do you think Spain wants to go to war with the UK over the issue? The Spanish may huff and puff but they have done that for years.”


    We could easily settle the matter re: Gibraltar, and play cricket for it. In England, early in the season, in excellent conditions for the swinging Duke ball, obviously…

    Same goes for Falklands…

  34. Is it possible there are covert Ukip agents in The Labour Party ?
    Will we soon see polls in the region of ?
    Conservative 35
    Ukip 25
    Labour Party 15
    Parliamentary Labour Party 15
    LibDem 5
    Green 5

  35. Ah, well, if Clinton or Trump, or as we might like to condense it, “Trumpton”, can go back on Obama’s warning, then that might change things.

    Or we could play cricket over it…

  36. @ToH

    The immediately above addressed to you, obviously…

  37. That actually looks plausible. Just remember to factor in the Scottish and NI parties…god knows they are ticked off enough.

  38. Labour are 100% safe in the big cities.

    This is an attempted coup – probably to install Miliband.

  39. Carfew

    as long as it’s not tennis post Indyref2…..



  41. TOH
    Good article. That’s the first sign of being able to spread our wings in the wider world. In the debate today it was only Hollobone who raised the question, all the others were obsessing over internal party politics, the EU and false admiration for Cameron.


    Anderson is a worry.

  43. @Pete B

    Lol. We’ll soon be able to have 10mW vacuums if we want!

    Of you will need thorium to run it though.

    @Carfrew could cut you deal, mates rates and all that.

  44. @Alec

    I bought a 1600W Miele recently, and have it on the minimum suction setting, and it feels like it’s about to suck the floorboards up. It could tear a hole in time…

  45. :-)

  46. @Bardini

    Well, now that Lendl’s back at the helm…

  47. PETE B

    As your probably back Obama has tracked already.


    Why, remember an Anglo-Dutch force captured Gibraltar from Spain in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession and the territory was subsequently ceded to Britain “in perpetuity” under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

    Re-read my post of 16:59 UTC on the previous page and you’ll see that I said that [in different words] and queried which of those dates Spain would accept as the “constitutional” acquisition date. If 1704 then they are “English” but if 1713 they are UKish.

    But the real question is whether they should just be abandoned to Spain or remain in the EU under Scottish care. If an E&W outwith the EU wants to retain the responsibility then it may take all of its share of the current UK navy to keep them supplied with food, clothing, etc or they could evacuate the population to E&W and let Spain do what it likes.

  49. @ Alec

    A. Johnson wanted to write JC’s speeches (well he doesn’t really have on) and press releases. I suppose he (JC) was entitled to resist the absolutely mindless sentences (his own weren’t much better).

    But nobody corrected AJ’s speeches, and he was booed, he was completely unable to handle any question really (these were not from the usual trots and momentum, but – well, academics). He was an extreme liability to the remain campaign (I really don’t know where this “he’s liked by the ordinary people”, when it seems to me that he is, well, ignored, which praises the good heart of the working classes).

    I don’t have an opinion whether JC should go or not, or he is beneficial or hurtful for the LP, but there isn’t anyone really in the PLP.

    The resignation letters, I really like this new habit of publishing them, shows that the whole lot is rotten to their cores (JC might as well be the same, but he hasn’t yet written his letter). Really a self-indulgent lot.

  50. @mrjones,

    Don’t be so sure labour are safe in the big cities, we would have thought that about Scotland not long ago. The only truly safe city is the moronic tribal Liverpool who would vote red as my grandad used to say, even if they ‘pinned a red rosette on a donkey’.

1 49 50 51 52 53 55