Tuesday polls

Two more polls have been released during today, both showing the race essentially neck and neck.

Survation have released their final EU telephone poll for IG Group (not sure if that’s their final poll for the referendum itself, or just the final one for IG). Topline figures with changes from their weekend poll are are REMAIN 45%(nc), LEAVE 44%(+2), Undecided 11%(-2). Full tabs are here.

Surveymonkey also released new online figures this morning (for those unfamiliar with Surveymonkey as pollsters, I wrote about them here). Their topline figures in the new poll, conducted Friday-Monday are REMAIN 48%, LEAVE 49%. Changes are from their poll last week.

I don’t think any polls are due in tomorrow morning’s papers, most of the remaining final calls will presumably be showing up tomorrow afternoon or evening.

Finally a note about the ORB poll this morning. As regular readers will know, ORB figures have been a little confusing over the campaign – they have published two sets of figures, one for those 10/10 certain to vote, one for all voters. ORB have regarded the latter as their main figure, but the Telegraph have focused on the former. For their final call though ORB have been much clearer and put up an explanation on their site, with final projections of REMAIN 54%, LEAVE 46% – based on those certain to vote, and an assumption that the remaining don’t knows will split 3 to 1 in favour of Remain.

There are three polls in tomorrow morning’s papers – ORB in the telephone, YouGov in the Times and a NatCen poll in the Financial Times.

YouGov for the Times has topline figures of REMAIN 42%(-2), LEAVE 44%(+1), Don’t know or Won’t vote 13%, conducted between Friday and Sunday. While Leave nudge ahead of Remain again, YouGov continue to show an extremely close race (and it confirms the narrowing of the race from the seven point Leave lead they had a week ago).

ORB’s poll is reported in the Telegraph as showing Remain “surging back into the lead” with figures of Remain 53%(+5), Leave 46%(-3). These figures are based on only those certain to vote however, and ORB have previously suggested that they regard their figures for all voters as their primary measure. On those figures the movement is in the other direction – REMAIN 49%(nc), LEAVE 47%(+3).

Thirdly there is a NatCen poll. Full details of the NatCen poll were embargoed until midnight, but Reuters have the topline figures here. Headline voting intention is REMAIN 53%, LEAVE 47% – but it’s important to note that the fieldwork is very old, conducted between May 16th and June 12th, with two thirds of the fieldwork done before May 26th.

This means the NatCen poll is of limited use in measuring current support, but is an interesting methodological experiment. The poll was conducted online by recontacting people who took the randomly sampled British Social Attitudes Survey, making it effectively a small randomly recruited online panel (people who couldn’t be contacted online were interviewed by phone instead, taking several weeks over the fieldwork to maximise response rate). Random recruitment of online panels is often suggested as a potential way forward for polling, though it’s not necessarily a panacea (in the States Pew already have a randomly recruited online panel called the American Trends Panel, but when they benchmarked it on how representative it was compared to commercial online panels recruited from volunteers and it ended up mid table).

Looking back at other polling at about the time the NatCen poll was conducted, online polls were showing an average Remain lead of about two points, telephone polls were showing an average lead of about twelve points, so the six point Remain lead is somewhere inbetween the two.

The Natcen fieldwork took place between the significant shift towards Leave we saw at the start of June, and obviously before the possible movement back towards Remain in recent days. In the Reuters article NatCen are quoted as saying that responses moved towards Leave over the fieldwork period, though it’s not possible to tell if that was changing opinions or harder to reach people being more Leave. Slightly counter-intuitively it also says that people who answered the survey online were more Remain than people who answered by phone – though that could easily be because people who couldn’t take the survey online were older or poorer.


YouGov and ORB have new polls in the Tuesday newspapers. YouGov in the Times have topline figures of REMAIN 39%, LEAVE 46%, Don’t know or won’t vote 15%. This equates to an eight point LEAVE lead once the don’t knows are excluded, the largest that YouGov have shown since David Cameron’s draft renegotiation terms were published back in February.

There is also an ORB telephone in the Telegraph. The reporting of ORB polls is somewhat confusing – the Telegraph like to headline the figure for those certain to vote, while ORB have stated that they consider the figure for all voters to be their “headline” figure. Among those certain to vote the new figures are REMAIN 48%(nc), LEAVE 49%(+2). Among all respondents the figure is REMAIN 49%(-3), LEAVE 44%(+4)… hence by ORB’s preferred method they still have leave ahead, but there is significant movement towards Leave.

The movement towards Leave is now pretty clear, the overall lead slightly less so:

  • ICM’s polls by both online and by telephone, are now showing a clear Leave lead, compared to neck-and-neck and a remain lead earlier in the campaign (and that’s despite an online methodology change in late May that helped Remain)
  • The majority of YouGov’s polls are now showing Leave ahead, with tonight’s showing their biggest leave lead for months
  • ORB’s weekly polls have a different side in the lead depending on whether one looks at all voters or certain voters, but either way there has been a clear trend towards Leave. In late May they had Remain leads of 20 points and 13 points respectively, now it’s 5 points and minus 1 point.
  • Opinium are still showing a small Remain lead in their recent polls conducted online, though a significant methodology change to weight by social attitudes disguises another large movement towards Leave.

Everyone is showing a movement towards Leave, but the different methodologies mean that for some pollsters that has produced a clear Leave lead, for other pollsters it has brought the race to a neck-and-neck position. Still to come this week we should have phone polls from ComRes and Ipsos MORI; their previous polls in mid-May had solid Remain leads of 11 and 18 points respectively. It will be interesting to see to what extent the Remain lead will be eroded or eliminated in their polls this week (though again, note the pre-announced changed in MORI’s methodology that will help Leave anyway).

ORB have a new poll out tonight for the Independent showing a ten point lead for leave: REMAIN 45%(-4), LEAVE 55%(+4). Changes are since their last comparable poll, all the way back in April. Unlike the weekly ORB telephone polls for the Telegraph, their more infrequent polls for the Indy are done online – hence the results that are far more pro-Brexit than their poll in the week. Even accounting for that, it shows a shift towards leave that we’ve seen in many recent polls.

The ten point lead is large, but as ever, it is only one poll. Don’t read too much into it unless we see it echoed in other polling. As things stand most other online polls are still tending to show a relatively close race between Remain and Leave.

Also out today was a statement on some methodology changes from Ipsos MORI. As well as following their normal pre-election practice of filtering out people who aren’t registered to vote now the deadline for registration has passed, from their poll next week they are also going to start quotaing and weighting by education, aimed at reducing an over-representation of graduates. MORI suggest that in their last poll the change would have reduced the Remain lead by 3 or 4 points.

While they haven’t yet decided how they’ll do it, in their article they also discuss possible approaches they might take on turnout. MORI have included examples of modelling turnout based on people who say they are certain to vote and voted last time, or say the referendum is important, or who say they usually vote and so on. Exactly which one MORI end up opting for probably doesn’t make that much difference, they all have a very similar impact, reducing the Remain share by a couple of point, increasing the Leave share by a couple of points.

The combined effect of these changes is that the MORI poll in the week is going to be better for Leave due to methodological reasons anyway. If it does show another shift towards Leave, take care to work out how much of that is because of the methodology change and how much of it is due to actual movement before getting too excited/distraught.

There are three new EU referendum polls today, a telephone poll from ORB and parallel phone and online polls from ICM.

The ORB poll for the Telegraph has topline figures of REMAIN 51%(-4), LEAVE 46%(+4), Don’t know 3%(nc) – full tables are here. The Telegraph wrote it up as immigration producing a significant swing towards Leave. I would normally have been ready to dismiss that as reading far too much into a poll that was probably just reversion to the mean: if you look at ORB’s previous figures their poll last week may have shown a thirteen point lead… but the two before that were almost identical to today’s figures. Newspapers may want to write that up as “big swing to Remain” followed by “big swing to Leave”, but a more parsimonious interpretation is just “slightly wonky sample returns to normal”.

However, today’s other polls from ICM raise more interesting questions.

ICM once again carried out two parallel polls, one conducted online, one conducted by telephone. So far all but one of these experiments have found a big gulf between phone and online polls (typically online polls show a race that’s neck-and-neck, telephone polls show a lead averaging around 8-10 points). ICM’s online poll found the sort of close race we’ve come to expect, with topline figures of REMAIN 44%(-1), LEAVE 47%(+2), Don’t know 9%(-1). ICM’s telephone poll found wholly unexpected results of REMAIN 42%(-5), LEAVE 45%(+6), Don’t know 13%(-1). Full tables for both are here.

There is nothing unusual about how the ICM poll was carried out that might explain the unusual result, it was done the same way as their previous telephone polls that showed Remain leads of seven or eight points. This leaves us with two obvious possibilities:

Either there has been a genuine movement towards Leave in recent days and the movement in the ICM poll reflects that (suggesting also that the ORB poll is showing more than just reversion to the mean), or…

ICM just got a really wacky sample by polling over the bank holiday weekend, and future telephone polls will revert to the normal pattern of solid remain leads.

Right now we can’t really tell. I will only urge my normal caveats about not reading too much into an individual poll, especially one conducted over a bank holiday weekend (whether or not that makes an actual difference or is “pollster folklore” is unclear. It’s certainly possible to point to clear examples of weird results from polls with bank holiday fieldwork, but it’s possible to point to weird results from polls conducted at other times and bank holiday results that are perfectly normal. While I’d always try to avoid polling over Easter or Christmas, I suspect in reality the Spring bank holiday doesn’t make that much difference to fieldwork). It will be interesting to see if forthcoming polls show a wider trend towards Leave, and if forthcoming telephone polls give any further suggestion that the online-phone gap may be disappearing.