Two more polls today, two more significant swings towards Leave:

  • TNS’s latest poll, conducted online, has topline figures of REMAIN 40%(-1), LEAVE 47%(+4), Undecided or Wouldn’t Vote 13%(-3). The changes since their previous poll in mid-May probably understate the move towards Leave a little as TNS have made some adjustments to their methodology (asking about postal votes and if people are registered and weighting by attitudes towards immigration). Under the old methodology the poll would have shown a ten point lead for leave. Tabs are here.
  • A new ComRes telephone poll for the Sun has topline figures of REMAIN 46%(-6), LEAVE 45%(+4), Don’t know 9%(+2). Again, we see the same strong movement towards Leave that we’ve seen in other polls since the end of May.

The recent shift in favour of Leave is now undeniable, but the polls are still inconsistent in terms of whether that shift has left Leave with a clear lead, or the race neck-and-neck. Opinium and ComRes now have the race neck-and-neck; YouGov, ICM and TNS have Leave in the lead (and ORB have both, depending on if you look at their figures for all voters, or likely voters).

The result now depends on whether there is a shift back towards the status quo over the final week (or indeed, on the day itself). If you think back to the Scottish referendum there was a movement towards YES in the month before, and then Scottish voters swung back towards NO over the last fortnight. That movement towards the status quo on the final straight is a common pattern in referendums across the globe: as it gets close to polling day some voters recoil from the perceived risks of whatever unknown they are voting upon. Time will tell if we see a similar pattern over the next week and a bit.

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).


Two weeks ago ICM produced an unexpected result – they did parallel phone and online polls for the Guardian, and found a five point lead for LEAVE in both online and by phone. A five point lead for leave in an online poll was slightly unusual, but not completely out of line with the then average position of neck-and-neck. The five point lead in the telephone poll was remarkable, given most other phone polls (a) were showing a consistently different pattern to online polls and (b) were showing a robust lead for REMAIN. The poll got a lot of attention, but we reserved judgement a little – it was only one poll, and it was conducted over a bank holiday weekend so perhaps the sample could have been affected.

Today ICM have repeated that experiment and confirmed their earlier findings – their online and telephone polls are painting the same picture, and both have LEAVE with a clear lead. Topline figures by telephone are REMAIN 45%(+3), LEAVE 50%(+5), Don’t know 5% – equating to a six point leave lead of LEAVE 53%, REMAIN 47%. Topline figures online are REMAIN 44%(nc), LEAVE 49%(+2), Don’t know 7%(-2) – also equating to a six point lead for leave. Full tabs for both polls are here.

Following MORI’s methodology switch last week, Martin’s commentary on the ICM website also includes a note about educational weighting. In ICM’s case he says their last two phone polls did have a tendency to have too many people with qualifications… but when they tested correcting for it reduced the weighting efficiency but didn’t actually make any difference to the headline results.

There are two EU referendum polls in the Sunday papers – YouGov in the Sunday Times and Opinium in the Observer. Both of them have the race neck-and-neck: YouGov have REMAIN 49%, LEAVE 51%, Opinium have REMAIN 51%, LEAVE 49%. Tables for YouGov are here, for Opinium are here.

In both cases the topline figures are pretty much unchanged from figures a week ago, remaining roughly neck-and-neck. There is certainly no echo of that ten point Leave lead ORB produced on Friday. My guess is that there has been a little movement towards Leave, but perhaps not of the scale suggested by some of the more startling figures, and not necessarily a lasting one. Opinium’s poll a week ago had a significant underlying shift towards Leave, today’s unchanged figures suggest a consolidation of that movement. YouGov on the other hand showed what appeared to be a similar movement towards Leave two weeks ago, but have since moved back towards neck-and-neck.

The bigger picture from the online polls is still that the race is neck-and-neck. Next week we have a new Ipsos MORI telephone poll due – it will be interesting to see what that shows in the light of the movement towards Leave in ICM’s last phone and the methodology changes that MORI announced on Friday.

Meanwhile, the rest of the YouGov poll had some interesting questions on the campaign. Asked which campaign is more honest, makes more negative attacks, is more realistic or which lies the most there is very little difference – Leave’s ratings are marginally better, but by a tiny amount. The big divide is “scaremongering” – 41% think Remain have done more scaremongering, 28% think Leave have done more. Crucially, this comes through in the immigration and economy questions too: 55% think LEAVE have exaggerated in their claims about immigration, but 49% think the underlying claims are basically true. 63% think REMAIN have exaggerated in their claims about the economy and only 40% think the underlying claims are basically true. Perhaps this is a suggestion that Remain are overplaying their hand a little on the economy – or perhaps, a sign that Leave’s accusations of scaremongering are managing to neuter the economic argument somewhat.

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.