Monday, 20 June 2016

Can the Brexit prediction polls be trusted?

A few months ago when politicians started stating their stance on Britain’s place in the European Union and it became clear that Cameron, Corbyn, Osbourne and May were in favour of staying in whilst Johnson and Farage were the political heavy weights wanting out, the referendum seemed done and dusted before it had began and Brexit was a mere fantasy. However, with only a few more days to go until polling day, for whatever reason, the Vote Leave campaign has grown in support significantly and the polls are now neck-and-neck. However, can the prediction polls be trusted?
The Financial Times 20/6/16

It is a general rule that you can expect a 2% margin of error with prediction/opinion polls however every poll in the build up to the 2015 general election was completely wrong. Up until the day before the election, it was predicted that no party would get a majority and Labour would end up forming a coalition with the SNP. In reality though, the Conservatives got a majority of 12! This has caused many to rightly take prediction polls with a pinch of salt recently.

In May 2015, although the prediction polls predicted the number of seat wins for each party wrongly, the vote share percentage was pretty much perfect – a fact glossed over by many in the aftermath of the general election.

It is very unlikely, but maybe the prediction polls are predicting the result to be close purposefully in a ploy to increase turnout and make the result one with a high democratic backing.

I don’t believe that the prediction polls are currently completely correct as I think what people tell the polling companies and what people actually vote will be different in many cases (like the ‘silent Tories’ in 2015). Britain will most definitely vote stay inside the EU; I predict, by at least a 7-point difference - however it is worth remembering that I predicted that Donald Trump wouldn’t win the Republican nomination. Regardless of whether I’m right or not, what follows the result – whatever it may be – will be very interesting.